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Post-Occupation (1915-1986)

Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave. Louis Borno. Louis Eugene Roy.Stenio Vincent. Elie Lescot. Franck Lavaud. Dumarsais Estime. Lavaud. Paul Magloire. Joseph Nemours Pierre-Louis (Provisional). Franck Sylvain (Provisional). Executive Government Council (Provisional). Daniel Fignole (Provisional) Antonio Thrasybule Kebreau. Francois Duvalier. Jean-Claude Duvalier.

PSDPhilippe Sudre Dartiguenave (1863 - 1926) was a Haïtian general and political figure. He served as the president of Haïti between 12 August 1915 and 15 May 1922 in a government set up by the United States after their intervention began on July 27, 1915 and deposed Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam as a possible threat to Haitian American Sugar Company.


LBLouis Borno (born 20 September 1865–died 29 July 1942) was a lawyer (law degree earned in 1890 at the Faculty of Paris) and Haitian politician. He served as President of the Republic of Haiti from 1922 to 1930 during the period of the American occupation of Haiti (1915-1934). Borno was of Mulatto heritage, being the son of a French father and a Black Haitian mother.

Nationalist Minister

In 1899, he was a diplomat in the Dominican Republic; then, in 1908, served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for President Nord Alexis.

The country of Haiti, devastated by internecine conflicts and the mismanagement of its leaders, was looked upon as a target for domination by the United States, which extended its influence throughout the Caribbean after the construction of the Panama Canal by invoking the Monroe Doctrine.

In 1914, the United States under President Woodrow Wilson presented a project for the control of customs and finances of Haiti. Borno, then Foreign Minister of President Theodore Davilmar, refused. The United States responded by confiscating the reserves of the National Bank of Haiti.

On 28 July 1915, a Haitian mob killed President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam in the legation of France, where he had taken refuge. The same day, U.S. troops landed in the country. They organized the election of a new president, Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, and immediately imposed a protectorate. Borno, appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, negotiated a U.S. commitment to the economic development of the country and refused to transfer any territory. The U.S. military got its start in January 1917.

American contempt and brutality against the indigenous population led to armed revolts in the countryside carried out by "cacos," farmers who had remained armed since the war of independence and were imbued with a culture of rebellion. U.S. troops claimed several thousand victims. Embarrassed by media coverage of the war and disappointed at the ineffectiveness of the occupation, U.S. President Harding decided in 1922 to improve the level of American administrators and appointed as High Commissioner Major General John H. Russell.

Cooperating President

When President Dartiguenave served out his term, Louis Borno was elected by the State Council on 10 April 1922, to the surprise of the Americans. Borno, however, soon came to an agreement with Russell. He maintained a policy of "honest and frank cooperation," as Borno called it and persuaded the Americans to help develop the country economically.

The Haitian state was in debt. The external debt alone was equivalent to 4 years of the government budget. Borno decided in June 1922 to take out a loan of 23 million dollars to clear all debts. He reduced export taxes and soon the trade deficit balanced.

Infrastructure improvements were particularly impressive: 1700 km of roads were made usable, 189 bridges were built, many irrigation canals were rehabilitated, hospitals, schools, and public buildings were constructed, and drinking water was brought to the main cities. Port au-Prince became the first city of Latin America to have phone service available with automatic dialing. Agricultural education was organized with a central school of agriculture and 69 farms in the country.

Borno relied on the Catholic Church, with congregations coming from France to develop low-cost quality education throughout the country. Aware that many Haitians did not speak French, he was the first president to authorize the use of Creole in the education system.

He went to the United States in 1926 where he met President Calvin Coolidge. He mainly settled old border conflicts with Dominican President Horacio Vásquez in 1929.

But Borno refused to organize free elections. He maintained a Council of State, whose 21 members were appointed by himself. Thus he was re-elected by it on 12 April 1926. The print media was upset about this. Borno tried to regulate it and even imprisoned some journalists.

The world economic crisis that began in 1929 changed American policy. President Herbert Hoover sought to disengage itself from Haiti. He appointed a commission for this purpose, chaired by Cameron Forbes, who arrived in December 1929.

Because of the economic crisis, Haitian farmers became upset. On December the 6, an excited group faced some U.S. marines who fired on them and killed some.

The Forbes Committee resolved to organize free elections and end the American administration, but remained pessimistic about the sustainability of democracy in Haiti. The opposition chose a provisional president, Louis Eugene Roy, who took power on 15 May 1930.

Louis Eugène Roy (died October 27, 1939) was a prominent Haïtian banker that was selected by U.S. General John H. Russell, the American High Commissioner to Haïti, to serve as that country's interim president, following the resignation of Louis Borno. Roy served from May 15 to November 18, 1930, during which time his major duty was to oversee elections to the new National Assembly. When the Assembly selected Sténio Vincent as president, Roy stepped down.

In October 1930 Haitians chose a national assembly for the first time since 1918. It in turn elected as president Sténio Joseph Vincent.


Sténio Joseph Vincent (1874-1959) was President of Haiti from November 18, 1930 to May 15, 1941. A former mayor of the capital Port-au-Prince, he ran a popular campaign for the presidency by focusing on his opposition to the American occupation of the island, which he successfully ended in August 1934 when U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew the Marines. In 1935, a plebiscite extended his term to 1941 and amended the constitution such that future presidents would be elected by popular vote.


In October 1937, during the Vincent presidency, troops and police from the Dominican Republic massacred thousands of Haitian labourers living near the border in the Parsley Massacre. The Dominican government agreed to compensate the slain workers’ relatives the following year, but only part of the promised amount was actually paid. Vincent stepped down in 1941 and was succeeded by Élie Lescot.


Elie Lescot (December 9, 1883 – October 20, 1974) was the President of Haiti from May 15, 1941 to January 11, 1946.

Lescot was born in Saint-Louis du Nord, Haiti. He became president when Sténio Vincent resigned. He had Haiti participate in World War II on the side of the allies, at the request of the United States. Due to economic problems and political discontent, he was overthrown in a military coup. He died nearly 30 years later in Laboule, Haiti. His son, Gérard Lescot (1914-), was also a Haitian politician and served as foreign minister in his government from 1943 to 1946.

After replacing Sténio Vincent as president in 1941, he quickly established a tyrannical and corrupt dictatorship, surviving through his close ties with the USA, which provided military and economic aid in exchange for supporting the Allies in World War II. After declaring war on the Axis powers in 1941 Lescot suspended the constitution and assumed ‘emergency powers’. In 1944 he extended his presidential term from five years to seven. After the war, his attempts to muzzle the opposition press sparked student-led demonstrations. Major Paul Eugene Magloire led a military coup against Lescot in 1946, when he fled to the USA. Later, he returned to Haiti.

It is alleged that Rafael Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic, provided him with funds to bribe members of the Haitian Assembly to secure his election in 1941. During his government, political opponents were arbitrarily arrested and foreign assets appropriated for his family's enrichment.

Lescot was drawn from the mulatto (mixed ethnic) social and political elite. After studying in Canada, where he secured a doctorate, he had a varied career in business, as a diplomat, and as a cabinet minister.

Dumarsais Estimé (1900 Verrettes - July 20, 1953) was a Haïtian political figure. He served as the President of Haïti from 16 August 1946 until 10 May 1950.

He was born in the small city of Verrettes, on the Eastern part of the Artibonite District.

He was overthrown by the Haitian army, held under house arrest, then exiled to Paris.

Paul Eugène Magloire (July 19, 1907 – July 12, 2001) was a Haïtian military ruler from 1950 to 1956.

Paul Magloire was born a general's son. In 1946 he participated in a successful coup against the president, Élie Lescot. When his successor, President Dumarsais Estimé tried to extend his term of office in 1950, Magloire ousted him with the help of a local elite and retook power.

During Magloire's rule, Haïti became a favorite tourist spot for US and European tourists. His anti-communist position also gained favorable reception from the US government. Notably, he used revenues from the sale of coffee to repair towns, build roads, public buildings, and a dam. He also oversaw the institution of women's suffrage. Magloire was very fond of having a vivid social life, staging numerous parties, social events, and ceremonies.

In 1954, when Hurricane Hazel ravaged Haïti and relief funds were stolen, Magloire's popularity fell. In 1956 there was a dispute about when his presidency would end; he fled the country amid strikes and demonstrations. When François Duvalier took the presidency, he stripped Magloire of his Haïtian citizenship.

In 1986, when Baby Doc Duvalier lost power, Magloire returned to Haïti from New York. Two years later he became an unofficial army advisor. He died in 2001.

Pierre-Louis, qui étudia la physique et le droit, fut d'abord un professeur de physique au Lycée Philippe Guerrier. Après avoir travaillé comme professeur de droit de 1928 à 1937 il devint juge de la Cour municipale de Cap-Haïtien.

Après la révolution de Janvier 1946 et jusqu'à son élection au Sénat, il fut président de la Cour suprême.

Après le départ de Paul Magloire, il annonça dans un discours radiodiffusé le 12 Décembre 1956 qu'au regard de la Constitution il devenait président par intérim d'Haïti.

Il annonça également la tenue d'élections pour avril 1957 et ordonna la libération de l'ancien candidat à la présidentielle et riche propriétaire de plantation de Louis Dejoie et d'autres prisonniers politiques.

Au début de Janvier 1957, il fit saisir les biens de l'ancien président Paul Magloire.

Nemours Pierre-Louis fut Président par intérim du 12 décembre 1956 au 3 février 1957.

Il fut remplacé par Franck Sylvain qui devint président par intérim à son tour le 7 Février 1957.

Franck Sylvain a obtenu un diplôme en droit et travailla alors comme avocat.

En 1934, il fut le fondateur du journal anti-communiste "La Croisade". Il a également été un des fondateurs du "Rassemblement du Peuple Haïtien" , un parti clandestin.

Pendant le règne de Paul Magloire de 1950 à 1956, il était juge et a acquis une prestigieuse réputation, après avoir exprimé une opinion dans une instance contre un ami proche du président.

Le 7 Février 1957, il fut désigné par le Parlement comme le successeur de Joseph Nemours Pierre-Louis, président par intérim d'Haïti.

Le président Franck Sylvain assuma sa charge présidentielle pendant seulement 56 jours puis il fut déposé par le général Léon Cantave.

Après sa présidence, il a écrit ses mémoires sous le titre "Les 56 Jours de Franck Sylvain"

Léon Cantave est né le 4 juillet 1910 à Mirebalais dans le centre d'Haïti.

Avec le sénateur Luc Dejoie, ils font chuter le président Paul Magloire en decembre 1956. Franck Sylvain devient président par intérim avant d'être lui-même remplacé par Léon Cantave le 1er avril 1957.

Commandant des forces armées, il prend le pouvoir en renvoyant le gouvernement qui l’avait limogé le 20 mai 1957.

  • 1er avril 1957 au 6 avril 1957 : Léon Cantave
  • 6 avril 1957 au 24 avril 1957 : Conseil Exécutif de Gouvernement
  • 24 avril 1957 au 20 mai 1957 : Conseil militaire
  • 20 mai 1957 au 25 mai 1957 : Léon Cantave
  • 25 mai 1957 au 14 juin 1957 : Daniel Fignolé

Peu après, l’armée appel Daniel Fignolé pour diriger un nouveau gouvernement provisoire. Ce dernier fut renvoyé moins d’un mois plus tard par François Duvalier.

Léon Cantave fut mis d’office à la retraite.

En 1963, il tenta de renverser le gouvernement Duvalier en envahissant Haiti par la République dominicaine. Il échoua et ses troupes furent repoussées par celles restées fidèles à Duvalier.

En 1964, il fut arrêté par le gouvernement dominicaine et expulsé vers la France.

Léon Cantave meurt le 16 février 1967 à Paris.

Daniel Fignolé was provisional head of state of Haiti for three weeks in 1957. His short reign lasted from 25 May - 14 June and he was replaced by Antonio Thrasybule Kebreau, Chairman of the Military Council.

Antonio Thrasybule Kebreau (1909-1963) was Chairman of the Military Council and President of the Republic of Haiti from 14 June - 22 October 1957. His short reign followed that of Daniel Fignolé and preceded that of Dr. François "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

  François Duvalier (April 14, 1907 – April 21, 1971), was the President of Haiti from 1957 to his death.

Duvalier first won acclaim in fighting diseases, earning him the nickname "Papa Doc" ("Daddy Doc[tor]" in French). He opposed a military coup in 1950, and was elected President in 1956 on a populist and black nationalist platform. His rule, based on a purged military, a rural militia and the use of a personality cult and voodoo, resulted in a brain drain from which the country has not recovered. Ruling as President for Life since 1964, he was succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Baby Doc".

Early life

Duvalier was born in Port-au-Prince, the son of Duval Duvalier, a justice of the peace, and Ulyssia Abraham, a baker. As his mother was mentally unstable and lived in an asylum until her death in 1921, Duvalier was largely raised by an aunt.

Duvalier completed a degree in medicine from the University of Haiti in 1934. He served as staff physician at several local hospitals. He spent a year at the University of Michigan studying public health. In 1943, he became active in a U.S.-sponsored campaign to control the spread of contagious tropical diseases, helping the poor to fight typhus, yaws, malaria and other tropical diseases that ravaged Haiti for years. His patients affectionately called him "Papa Doc", a moniker that he would use throughout his life.

Lucky enough to be schooled and literate in a country where all but a tiny handful were uneducated, Duvalier witnessed the political turmoil of his country. The invasion and occupation of U.S. Marines on Haitian soil in 1915, followed by incessant violent repressions of political dissent, and American-installed puppet rulers, left a powerful impression on the young Duvalier. He was also aware of the latent political power of the poor black majority and their resentment against the tiny mulatto elite.

Duvalier became involved in the négritude movement of Haitian author Dr. Jean Price-Mars. He began an ethnological study of Vodou, Haiti's native religion that would later pay enormous political dividends. In 1938, Duvalier co-founded the journal Les Griots.

In 1939 Duvalier married Simone Ovide, with whom he had four children: Marie Denise, Nicole, Simone and Jean-Claude, their only son.

Political rise

In 1946, Duvalier aligned himself with President Dumarsais Estimé and was appointed director general of the National Public Health Service. In 1949, Duvalier served as minister of both health and labour but when General Paul Magloire ousted President Estimé in a coup d'état, Duvalier left the government and was forced into hiding until an amnesty was declared in 1956.

In December 1956, Magloire resigned and left Haiti to be ruled by a succession of provisional governments. On September 22, 1957, presidential elections pitted Louis Déjoie, a mulatto land-owner and industrialist from the north of Haiti, against Duvalier, who was backed by the military. Duvalier campaigned as a populist leader, using a noiriste strategy of challenging the mulatto elite and appealing to the Afro-Haitian majority. He described his opponent as part of the ruling mulatto class that was making life difficult for the country's rural black majority. The election resulted in Duvalier defeating Déjoie with 678,860 votes. Déjoie polled 264,830 votes, independent candidate Jumelle a mere percentage of the electorate. Duvalier's only opponent among the Black proletarians, Daniel Fignole, had been forcibly exiled before election, thus leaving Duvalier a path for a landslide.


After being sworn in on October 22, Duvalier exiled most of the major supporters of Déjoie and had a new constitution adopted in 1957.

President Duvalier promoted and patronised members of the black majority in the civil service and the army. In mid-1958, the army, which had supported Duvalier earlier, tried to oust him in another coup but failed. In response, Duvalier replaced the chief of staff with a more reliable officer and then proceeded to create his own power base within the army by turning the army's Presidential Guard into an elite corps aimed at maintaining Duvalier's power. After this, Duvalier dismissed the entire general staff and replaced it with officers owing their positions and their loyalty to him.

In 1959, he also created a rural militia, the Milice Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (MVSN, English: National Security Volunteers), commonly referred to as the Tonton Macoutes after a Creole term for the bogeyman, to extend and bolster support for the regime in the countryside. The Macoutes, which by 1961 had twice the numbers of the regular army, never developed into a real military force but still was more than a mere secret police.

In the name of nationalism, Duvalier expelled almost all of Haiti's foreign-born bishops, an act that earned him excommunication from the Catholic church. In 1966, Duvalier managed to persuade the Holy See to allow him to nominate the Catholic hierarchy for Haiti.


Heart attack and Barbot affair

On May 24, 1959, Duvalier suffered a massive heart attack, possibly as a result of an insulin overdose; he had been a diabetic since early adulthood and also suffered from heart disease and associated circulatory problems. During this heart attack he was unconscious for nine hours; many associates believed that he suffered neurological damage during these events that affected his mental health and made him paranoid.

While recovering, Duvalier left power in the hands of Clement Barbot, leader of the Tonton Macoutes. Upon his return, Duvalier accused Barbot of trying to supplant him as president and had him imprisoned. In April, 1963, Barbot was released and began plotting to remove Duvalier from office by kidnapping his children. The plot failed and Duvalier subsequently ordered a massive search for Barbot and his fellow conspirators. When during the search Duvalier was told that Barbot had transformed himself into a black dog, Duvalier ordered that all black dogs in Haiti be put to death. Barbot was later captured and shot by the Tonton Macoutes in July, 1963. In other incidents, Duvalier ordered the head of an executed rebel to be packed in ice and brought to him to allow him to commune with the dead man's spirit.

Constitutional changes

In 1961, he began violating the provisions of the 1957 constitution: first he replaced the bicameral legislature with a unicameral body. Then he called a new presidential election, though his term was to expire only in 1963 and the constitution prohibited reelection. The election, in which he was the sole candidate, resulted in an official tally of 1,320,748 votes to zero. Upon hearing the results of the election, Duvalier proclaimed: "I accept the people's will. As a revolutionary, I have no right to disregard the will of the people." The New York Times commented: "Latin America has witnessed many fraudulent elections throughout its history but none has been more outrageous than the one which has just taken place in Haiti." On June 14, 1964, a blatantly rigged constitutional referendum made "President for Life", a title previously held by seven Haitian presidents. An implausible 99.9 percent voted in favor, and all ballots were premarked "yes." The new document granted Duvalier--or "Le Souverain," as he was called--absolute powers as well as the right to name his successor.

Foreign relations

His relationship with the United States proved difficult. In his early years, Duvalier often rebuked the United States for its friendly relations with the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo (killed in 1961), while leaving Haiti, "the poor negro Republic out in the cold". The Kennedy administration (1961/63) was particularly disturbed by Duvalier's repressive and authoritarian rule and allegations that he misappropriated aid money, then a substantial part of the Haitian budget, and a Marine mission to train Tonton Macoutes. Acting on the charges, Washington cut off most of its economic assistance in mid-1962, pending stricter accounting procedures which Duvalier refused. Duvalier publicly renounced all aid from Washington on nationalist grounds, portraying himself as a "principled and lonely opponent of domination by a great power."

Duvalier misappropriated millions of USD of international aid, including 15 millions USD annually from the United States. He transferred those money to personal accounts. Another Duvalier's method to obtain foreign money was to gain foreign loans, including 4 million USD from Cuban president Fulgencio Batista. Duvalier also organized forced blood transfusion on a mass scale. He eventually sent the blood to the transfusion stations in the United States.

After Kennedy's assassination in November 1963 - which Duvalier later claimed resulted from a curse that he had placed on him.  The U.S. eased its pressure on Duvalier, grudgingly accepting Duvalier as a bulwark against communism. Duvalier skillfully exploited tensions between the United States and Cuba, emphasizing his anti-communist credentials and Haiti's strategic location as a means of winning U.S. support:


Communism has established centres of infection... No area in the world is as vital to American security as the Caribbean... We need a massive injection of money to reset the country on its feet, and this injection can come only from our great, capable friend and neighbor the United States."

Duvalier enraged Fidel Castro of Cuba by voting against the country in a OAS meeting and subsequently at the UN where a trade embargo was imposed on Cuba. Cuba answered by breaking off diplomatic relations and Duvalier subsequently instituted a campaign to rid Haiti of communists.

Duvalier's relationship with the neigbouring Dominican Republic were always tense: in his early years, Duvalier emphasised the differences between the two countries. In April 1963, relations were brought to the edge of war by the political enmity between Duvalier and the Dominican president Juan Bosch. Bosch, a left-leaning Democrat, provided asylum and support to Haitian exiles who plotted against the Duvalier regime. Duvalier ordered his Presidential Guard to occupy the Dominican Embassy in Pétionville, aiming at apprehending an army officer believed to have been involved in Barbot's plot to kidnap Duvalier's children. The Dominican president reacted with outrage, publicly threatened to invade Haiti, and ordered army units to the frontier. However, as Dominican military commanders expressed little support for an invasion of Haiti, Bosch refrained from the invasion and settled for a mediation by the OAS.

Duvalier also supported Pan-African ideals.


Duvalier's government was soon accused of being one of the most repressive in the hemisphere. Within the country, Duvalier used both political murder and expulsion to suppress his opponents; estimates of those killed are as high as 30,000. Attacks on Duvalier from within the military were treated as especially serious. When bombs were detonated near the Presidential Palace in 1967, Duvalier had nineteen Presidential Guard officers shot in Fort Dimanche. A few days later Duvalier had a public speech during which he read the "attendance sheet" with names of all 19 killed officers. After each name he said "absent". After reading the whole list Duvalier remarked "All were shot."

Haitian communists and suspected communists, in particular, bore the brunt of the government's repression. Duvalier targeted them both as a means to secure U.S. support as a bulwark against Communist Cuba (see below) and on principle: Duvalier had personally been exposed to communist and leftist ideas early in his life and rejected them. On April 28, 1969, Duvalier instituted a campaign to rid Haiti of all communists, promulgating a law stipulating that "Communist activities, no matter what their form, are hereby declared crimes against the security of the State," and prescribing the death penalty for individuals prosecuted under this law.


Social and economic policies

Duvalier employed intimidation, repression and patronage to supplant the old mulatto elites with a new elite of his own making. Corruption — in the form of government rake-offs of industries, bribery, extortion of domestic businesses, and stolen government funds — enriched the dictator's closest supporters. Most of these supporters held sufficient power to enable them to intimidate the members of the old elite who were gradually co-opted or eliminated.

Educated professionals fled Haiti in droves for New York City, Miami, French-speaking Montreal, Paris, and several French-speaking African countries, exacerbating an already serious lack of doctors and teachers. Some of the highly skilled professionals joined the ranks of several UN agencies to work in development in newly-independent nations such as Ivory Coast, and Congo. The country has never recovered from this brain drain.

The government confiscated peasant land holdings to be allotted to members of the militia, who had no official salary and made their living through crime and extortion. The dispossessed swelled the slums by fleeing to the capital to seek meagre incomes to feed themselves. Malnutrition and famine became endemic. Most of the aid money given to Haiti was spent improperly.

Nonetheless, Duvalier enjoyed significant support among Haiti's majority black rural population who saw in him a champion of their claims against the historically dominant mulatto élite. During his fourteen years in power, he created a substantial black middle class, chiefly through government patronage. Duvalier also initiated the development of Mais Gate Airport, now known as Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

Personality cult and voodoo

Duvalier fostered a personality cult around himself, and claimed to be the physical embodiment of the island nation. He also started to revive the traditions of vodou, later on using them to consolidate his power as he claimed to be a houngan, or vodou priest himself. In an effort to make himself even more imposing, Duvalier deliberately modeled his image on that of Baron Samedi. He often donned sunglasses to hide his eyes and talked with the strong nasal tone associated with the loa. The Duvalier regime propaganda even stated that "Papa Doc: was one with the loas, Jesus Christ, and God himself". The most celebrated image from the time shows a standing Jesus Christ with hand on a seated Papa Doc's shoulder with the caption "I have chosen him". There was even a Duvalierist variant of the Lord's Prayer.

Duvalier also held in his closet the head of his former opponent Blucher Philogenes who tried to overthrow him in 1963. Duvalier held night conversations with the head.

Death and succession

Duvalier held Haiti in his grip until his death in early 1971. His 19-year-old son Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Baby Doc", succeeded as president.

Jean-Claude Duvalier (nicknamed Bébé Doc or Baby Doc) (born July 3, 1951) succeeded his father, François "Papa Doc" Duvalier as the ruler of Haiti from his father's death in 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986.

Early life

He was born in Port-au-Prince, and was raised in an isolated environment. He attended the most prestigious Haitian schools, College Bird and the Saint-Louis de Gonzague. Later, under the direction of several prominent professors, including Maitre Gerard Gourgue, at the University of Haiti, he studied law. During April, 1971, he assumed the presidency of Haiti at the age of 19 upon the death of his father, François Duvalier (nicknamed "Papa Doc"), becoming the world's youngest president. Initially, Jean-Claude Duvalier resisted the dynastic arrangement that had made him Haiti's leader, having preferred that the presidency go to his older sister Marie-Denise Duvalier, and was content to leave substantive and administrative matters in the hands of his mother, Simone Ovide Duvalier, and a committee led by Luckner Cambronne, his father's Interior Minister, while he attended ceremonial functions, and lived as a playboy.

Political and economic factors

Duvalier was invested with near-absolute power by the constitution. He took some steps to reform the regime, by releasing some political prisoners and easing censorship on the press. However, there were no substantive changes to the regime's basic character. Opposition was not tolerated, and the legislature remained a rubber stamp.

Much of the Duvaliers' wealth came from the Régie du Tabac (Tobacco Administration). Duvalier used this "nonfiscal account," established decades earlier, as a tobacco monopoly, but he later expanded it to include the proceeds from other government enterprises and used it as a slush fund for which no balance sheets were ever kept.

By neglecting his role in government, Duvalier squandered considerable domestic and foreign goodwill and facilitated the dominance of Haitian affairs by a clique of hardline Duvalierist cronies, the so-called "dinosaurs." Foreign officials and observers also seemed more tolerant toward "Baby Doc," in areas such as human-rights monitoring, and foreign countries were more generous to him with economic assistance. The United States restored its aid program for Haiti in 1971.



Jean-Claude miscalculated the ramifications of his May 1980 wedding to Michèle Bennett Pasquet, a mulatto divorcée with an unsavory reputation. Her first husband, Alix Pasquet, was the son of a well-known mulatto officer who had led an attempt to overthrow Papa Doc Duvalier. Although Jean-Claude himself was light-skinned, his father's legacy of support for the black middle class and antipathy toward the mulatto elite had enhanced the appeal of Duvalierism among the black majority of the population. With his marriage, Jean-Claude appeared to be abandoning the informal bond that his father had labored to establish.

The extravagance of the couple's wedding, which cost an estimated $3 million, further alienated the people. Discontent among the business community and elite intensified in response to increased corruption among the Duvaliers and the Bennetts, as well as the repulsive nature of the Bennetts' dealings, which included selling Haitian cadavers to foreign medical schools and trafficking in narcotics. Increased political repression added to the volatility of the situation.

The marriage also estranged the old-line Duvalierists in the government from the younger technocrats whom Jean-Claude had appointed, including Jean-Marie Chanoine, Fritz Merceron, Frantz-Robert Monde, and Theo Achille. The Duvalierists' spiritual leader, Jean-Claude's mother, Simone Ovide Duvalier, was eventually expelled from Haiti, reportedly at the request of Michèle Duvalier. With his wife Duvalier had two children, François Nicolas and Anya.


In response to an outbreak of African swine fever virus on the island in 1978, U.S. agricultural authorities insisted upon total eradication of Haiti's pig population. The Program for the Eradication of Porcine Swine Fever and for the Development of Pig Raising (PEPPADEP) caused widespread hardship among the peasant population, who bred pigs as an investment.

In addition, reports that AIDS was becoming a major problem in Haiti caused tourism to Haiti to decline dramatically in the early 1980s. By the mid-1980s, most Haitians felt hopeless, as economic conditions worsened and hunger and malnutrition spread.

Widespread discontent began in March 1983, when Pope John Paul II visited Haiti. The pontiff declared that "Something must change here." He went on to call for a more equitable distribution of income, a more egalitarian social structure, more concern among the elite for the well-being of the masses, and increased popular participation in public life. This message revitalized both laymen and clergy, and it contributed to increased popular mobilization and to expanded political and social activism.

In 1984 Ernest Preeg, American ambassador to Haiti (1981-1983) wrote a monograph on Haiti's part in the Reagan Caribbean Basin Initiative. One paragraph stated..."It can honestly be said that the Jean-Claude Duvalier presidency is the longest period of violence-free stability in the nation's history."

A revolt began in the provinces in 1985. The city of Gonaïves was the first to have street demonstrations and raids on food-distribution warehouses. From October 1985 to January 1986, the protests spread to six other cities, including Cap Haïtien. By the end of that month, Haitians in the south had revolted. The most significant rioting there broke out in Les Cayes.

Jean-Claude responded with a 10 percent cut in staple food prices, the closing of independent radio stations, a cabinet reshuffle, and a crackdown by police and army units, but these moves failed to dampen the momentum of the popular uprising against the dynastic dictatorship. Jean-Claude's wife and advisers, intent on maintaining their grip on power, urged him to put down the rebellion and remain in office.

In January 1986, the Reagan administration began to pressure Duvalier to renounce his rule and to leave Haiti. Representatives appointed by Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga served as intermediaries who carried out the negotiations. At this point a number of Duvalierists, and business leaders, met with the Duvaliers and pressed for their departure. The United States rejected a request to provide asylum for Duvalier, but offered to assist with the Duvaliers' departure. Duvalier had initially accepted on January 30, 1986 and President Reagan actually announced his departure, based on a report from the Haitian CIA Station Chief who saw Duvalier’s car head for the airport. En route, there was gunfire and Duvalier’s party returned to the palace unnoticed by the American intelligence team. Duvalier declared “we are as firm as a monkey tail.” He departed on February 7, 1986, flying to France in an American Air Force aircraft.


The Duvaliers settled in France. For a time they lived a luxurious life. Although he formally applied for political asylum, his request was denied by French authorities. Jean-Claude lost most of his wealth with his 1993 divorce from Michèle. While apparently living modestly in exile, Duvalier does have supporters, who founded the Francois Duvalier Foundation in 2006 to promote positive aspects of the Duvalier presidency, including the creation of most of Haiti's state institutions and improved access to education for the country's black majority.

A private citizen, Jacques Samyn, unsuccessfully sued to expel Duvalier as an illegal immigrant (the Duvaliers were never officially granted asylum in France). Then, in 1998, a Haitian-born photographer, Gerard Bloncourt, formed a committee in Paris to bring Duvalier to trial. At the time, the French Ministry of the Interior said that it could not verify whether Duvalier still remained in the country due to the recently enacted Schengen Agreement which had abolished systematic border controls between the participating countries.[11] However, Duvalier's lawyer Sauveur Vaisse said that his client was still in France and denied that the exiled leader had fallen on hard times.

Following the resignation of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, Duvalier announced his intention to return to Haiti. In 2004, he announced his intentions to run for president of Haiti in the 2006 elections for the Party of National Unity; however, he did not become a candidate.

On September 22–September 23, 2007, an address by Duvalier to Haitians was broadcast by radio. Although he said exile had "broken" him, he also said that what he described as the improving fortunes of the National Unity Party had "reinvigorated" him, and he urged readiness among his supporters, without saying whether he intended to return to Haiti. President René Préval rejected Duvalier's apology and, on September 28, he said that while Duvalier was constitutionally free to return to Haiti, he would face trial if he did so.

On January 16, 2010, Duvalier announced that he would ask a foundation set up in the name of his mother to transfer an estimated US$8 million of its assets to the American Red Cross in light of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

In February, 2010, a Swiss court agreed to release more than $4 million to Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Duvalier reportedly lives modestly in Paris with Veronique Roy, his longtime companion and chief public-relations representative. Roy is the granddaughter of Paul Magloire, President of Haïti from 1950 to 1956.

From: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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