Jean-Claude Duvalier

By Bobby Heald

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Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Baby Doc" (July 3, 1951 - October 4, 2014), was the President of Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. He succeeded his father Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier as the ruler of Haiti after the latter's death in 1971. After assuming power, he introduced many changes to his father's regime and delegated much authority to his advisors. During his reign, Duvalier was accused of embezzlement, corruption and crimes against humanity, including torture, kidnappings, and extrajudicial executions, during his 15 years as president.

Continuing his father's legacy

Jean-Claude's father was a medical doctor, dubbed Papa Doc during his time on a U.S. Army–sponsored disease-eradication campaign in rural Haiti. Jean-Claude was just his son. The borrowed identity made sense. Baby Doc had inherited his father’s presidency and systems of extortion, torture, and intimidation, many bound up in his secret police, the dread Tonton Makout. A Tonton Macoute was a special operations unit within the Haitian paramilitary force created in 1959. In 1970, the militia was officialy renamed the Milice de Volontaires de la Securite Nationale. The picture below shows Papa Doc in a meeting making the secret police. Papa Doc Duvalier created theTontons Macoutes because he perceived the military to be a threat to his power. He would maintain that dynasty, then lose control of it, only to see its power continue in spite of him in ways that still torment the country today.
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Creative Piece

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Essential Question

How did Papa Doc influence Jean-Claude Duvalier's rule over Haiti and what problems did the nation have?