Jean-Claude Duvalier (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃klod
dyvalje]), nicknamed “Baby Doc” (Haitian Creole: Bebe Dòk) (3
July 1951 – 4 October 2014), was the
President of Haiti
President of Haiti from
1971 until he was overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986. He
succeeded his father François "Papa Doc" Duvalier as the ruler of
Haiti after his death in 1971. After assuming power, he introduced
cosmetic changes to his father's regime and delegated much authority
to his advisors. Thousands of Haitians were killed or tortured, and
hundreds of thousands fled the country during his presidency. He
maintained a notoriously lavish lifestyle (including a state-sponsored
US$ 3 million wedding in 1980) while poverty among his people
remained the most widespread of any country in the Western
Relations with the United States improved after Duvalier's ascension
to the presidency, and later deteriorated under the Carter
administration, only to again improve under
Ronald Reagan due to the
strong anti-communist stance of the Duvaliers. Rebellion against
the Duvalier regime broke out in 1985 and Baby Doc fled to France in
1986 on a U.S. Air Force flight.
Duvalier unexpectedly returned to
Haiti on 16 January 2011, after two
decades in self-imposed exile in France. The following day, he was
arrested by Haitian police, facing possible charges for
embezzlement. On 18 January, Duvalier was charged with
corruption. On 28 February 2013, Duvalier pleaded not guilty to
charges of corruption and human rights abuse. He died of a heart
attack on 4 October 2014, at the age of 63.
1 Early life
2 President of Haiti
2.1 Political and economic factors
7 External links
Duvalier was born in
Port-au-Prince and was brought up in an isolated
environment. He attended Nouveau College Bird and Institution
Saint-Louis de Gonzague. Later, he studied law at the University of
Haiti under the direction of several professors, including Maître
President of Haiti
In 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 press censorship. 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 "non-fiscal 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 tolerant
toward "Baby Doc" in areas such as human rights monitoring and foreign
countries were more generous to him with economic assistance. The
Nixon administration restored the United States aid program for Haiti
On 27 May 1980, Duvalier married
Michèle Bennett Pasquet in a wedding
that cost US$ 2 million. The extravagance of the couple's
wedding did not lack local critics, though The Christian Science
Monitor reported that "the event ... was enthusiastically
received by a majority of Haitians". Discontent among the business
community and elite intensified in response to increased corruption
among the Duvaliers and the Bennett family's dealings, which included
selling Haitian cadavers to foreign medical schools and trafficking in
narcotics. Increased political repression added to the volatility of
The marriage also estranged the old-line Duvalierists in the
government from the younger technocrats whom Duvalier had appointed,
including Jean-Marie Chanoine, Frantz Merceron, Frantz-Robert Estime
and Theo Achille. The Duvalierists' spiritual leader, Duvalier'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.
Over time, Michèle grew to become a power in her own right. For
example, she dressed down ministers at cabinet meetings while her
In response to an outbreak of
African swine fever virus
African swine fever virus on the island
in 1978, U.S. agricultural authorities insisted upon total eradication
of Haiti's pig population in 1982. 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
HIV/AIDS was becoming a major problem in
Haiti caused tourism to decline dramatically in the early 1980s. By
the mid-1980s, most Haitians expressed hopelessness and helplessness,
as economic conditions worsened and hunger and malnutrition
Widespread discontent began in March 1983, when Pope John Paul II
visited Haiti. The pontiff declared that “things must change in
Haiti”, and he called on “all those who have power, riches and
culture so that they can understand the serious and urgent
responsibility to help their brothers and sisters”. He called
for a more equitable distribution of income, a more egalitarian social
structure, and increased popular participation in public life. This
message revitalized both laymen and clergy, contributed to increased
popular mobilization and expanded political and social activism.
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.
Duvalier 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. Duvalier's wife and advisers, intent on maintaining
their grip on power, urged him to put down the rebellion and remain in
Jean-Claude and Michèle Duvalier en route to the airport to flee the
country, 7 February 1986
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 their departure. On 30 January
1986, Duvalier had initially accepted, 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
U.S. intelligence team. Duvalier declared "we are as firm as a
monkey tail." He departed on 7 February 1986, flying to France in a
U.S. Air Force aircraft.
The Duvaliers settled in France. For a time they lived a luxurious
life, but eventually separated on 19 June 1990. Although he
formally applied for political asylum, his request was denied by
French authorities. Duvalier lost most of his wealth with his 1993
divorce from his wife. While apparently living modestly in exile,
Duvalier did have supporters, who founded the François Duvalier
Foundation in 2006 to highlight 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
A private citizen, named Jacques Samyn, unsuccessfully sued to expel
Duvalier as an illegal immigrant (the Duvaliers were never officially
granted asylum in France). In 1998, a Haitian-born photographer,
Gérald 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. 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.
The 2004 Global Transparency Report listed Duvalier as the sixth-most
corrupt world leader – between
Slobodan Milošević and Alberto
Fujimori – having amassed between US$ 300 million and
US$ 800 million.
Following the ousting of president
Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February
2004, Duvalier announced his intention to return to
Haiti to run for
president in the 2006 elections for the National Unity Party; however,
he did not become a candidate.
On 22–23 September 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.
René Préval rejected Duvalier's apology and, on 28
September, he said that, while Duvalier was constitutionally free to
return to Haiti, he would face trial if he did so. Duvalier's
radio broadcast address was given in French and not Haitian Creole,
the language spoken by the majority of Haitians.
In February 2010, a Swiss court agreed to release more than
US$ 4 million to Jean-Claude Duvalier, although the Swiss
Foreign Ministry said it would continue to block the release of the
Duvalier lived in Paris with Véronique Roy, his longtime companion,
until his return to
Haiti in late January 2011.
On 16 January 2011, during the presidential election campaign,
Duvalier returned to
Haiti after 25 years. Accompanied by
Véronique Roy, he flew in from Paris, indicating that he wanted to
help: "I'm not here for politics. I'm here for the reconstruction of
Haiti", he said. However, many argued that Duvalier returned to
Haiti to gain access to the US$ 4 million frozen in the Swiss
Haiti also claimed this money, arguing that the assets
were of "criminal origin" and should not be returned to Duvalier. By
virtue of Swiss law, however, states claiming money in Switzerland
have to demonstrate that they have started criminal investigations
against offenders holding money in the country. According to an
article by Ginger Thompson in The New York Times, "if Mr. Duvalier had
been able to slip into the country and then quietly leave without
incident... he may have been able to argue that
Haiti was no longer
interested in prosecuting him—and that the money should be his."
Mac McClelland of Mother Jones magazine:
The former dictator was greeted at the
Port-au-Prince airport with
cheering and celebratory chanting ... The word from Duvalier is
that he's come to help his country. According to everyone on the
street and on the radio, the Americans and the French conspired to
bring him here to upset current president René Préval, who's been
accused of fixing his country's recent elections.
On 18 January 2011, he was taken into custody at his hotel by Haitian
authorities. He was charged with corruption, theft, and
misappropriation of funds committed during his 15-year presidency. He
was released but was subject to recall by the court.
By 22 September 2011, legal procedures against him appeared to have
stalled. He was reported to be living under a loosely enforced house
arrest, enjoying a life of luxury in a suburb of Port-au-Prince.
By 30 January 2012, it was announced that the former president would
face charges of corruption, but not of human rights abuses.
After the former president failed to appear for three previously
scheduled court hearings, a Haitian judge issued a warrant ordering
him to appear before the court 28 February 2013. Duvalier did so and
for the first time pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption and
human rights abuse.
On 4 October 2014, Duvalier died of a heart attack at the age of
^ a b "Jean-Claude Duvalier, former Haitian dictator, dies aged 63".
The Guardian. 4 October 2014. Archived from the original on 8 December
2015. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
^ Cook, Lonzo; Segal, Kim; Zarrella, John; Snow, Mary; Basu, Moni (19
January 2011). "Charges filed against 'Baby Doc' Duvalier in
Haiti". CNN. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011.
^ a b "'Firm as a Monkey Tail': Jean‑Claude 'Baby Doc'
Duvalier". Life. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009.
^ a b c d Abbott, Elizabeth (2011). Haiti: A Shattered Nation. Rev.
and updated from Haiti: The Duvaliers and Their Legacy (1988).
New York: The Overlook Press. ASIN B013JQLXKW.
ISBN 978-1-59020-989-9. LCCN 2013496344.
OCLC 859201061. OL 25772018M.
^ a b c Carroll, Rory (18 January 2010). "'Baby Doc' Duvalier charged
with corruption in Haiti". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January
^ a b Valme, Jean (28 February 2013). "Ex‑
'Baby Doc' Duvalier faces corruption charges for first time since
revolt". NBC News. Reuters. Archived from the original on 8 December
^ "At 19, President for Life Jean‐Claude Duvalier". The New York
Times. April 26, 1971. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 5,
^ Simons, Marlise (March 5, 1986). "Critic of Duvalier Is Most Trusted
Man in Haitian Junta". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
Retrieved February 5, 2018.
^ Shaw, Karl (2005) . Power Mad! [Šílenství mocných] (in
Czech). Praha: Metafora. p. 52. ISBN 80-7359-002-6.
^ a b c d e Metz, Helen Chapin, Dominican Republic and Haiti :
Country Studies, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C., December 1989, ISBN 0-8444-1044-6.
^ Goodsell, James Nelson (15 July 1980). "Haitians wonder which
advisers will have Duvalier's ear". The Christian Science Monitor.
Boston. ISSN 0882-7729. Archived from the original on 28
September 2015. The ... wedding was one of the most glittering
events this capital city had ever seen. It cost perhaps
$2 million, and while some Haitians ... question such an
expenditure, the event in the view of longtime observers was
enthusiastically received by a majority of Haitians.
^ a b Moody, John; Brelis, Dean; Diederich, Bernard (10 February
Haiti Bad Times for Baby Doc: As violent protests grow, a
besieged dictator imposes martial law". Time. ISSN 0040-781X.
Archived from the original on 30 March 2009.
^ Moody, John; Brelis, Dean; Diederich, Bernard (10 February 1986).
Haiti Bad Times for Baby Doc: As violent protests grow, a
besieged dictator imposes martial law". Time. Vol. 127
no. 6. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on 30
March 2009. While Jean‑Claude sometimes dozes through Cabinet
meetings, his wife scolds ministers.
^ Abrams, Elliott (November 2014). "Getting Rid of Baby Doc".
Commentary. 138: 27–30. ISSN 0010-2601 – via Opposing
Viewpoints in Context.
^ Ebert, Allan (1985). "Porkbarreling Pigs in Haiti: North American
'Swine Aid' an Economic Disaster for Haitian Peasants". Multinational
Monitor. Washington, DC. ISSN 0197-4637. Archived from the
original on 3 October 2006.
^ "History of
Haiti - JEAN-CLAUDE DUVALIER, 1971-86".
^ "'Things in
Haiti must change,' pope tells Duvalier". The
Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. 10 March
1983. p. 15. ISSN 1064-7317. The Roman Catholic pontiff
responded with a stern lecture to the island country’s tiny moneyed
elite, telling the 31-year-old president-for-life of the Western
Hemisphere’s poorest country, ‘Things must change in
Haiti.’ ... ‘I call on all those who have power, riches and
culture so that they can understand the serious and urgent
responsibility to help their brothers and sisters,’ [Pope
John Paul II] said.
^ "Comparative Criminology - North America - Haiti". sdsu.edu.
Archived from the original on 25 June 2010.
Jean-Claude Duvalier Fast Facts". CNN. 24 June 2015. Retrieved 19
^ a b Valbrun, Marjorie (16 April 2003). "A-hed: Exile in France Takes
Toll On Ex‑Tyrant 'Baby Doc'". The Wall Street Journal. New
York. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 10 September
^ Jacobs, Stevenson (23 April 2007). "Haiti: Loyalists Seek Dictator's
Return". The Washington Post. Associated Press. ISSN 0190-8286.
Archived from the original on 5 February 2013.
^ Haitian exiles want to take “Baby Doc” to court
^ "History: Not just fade away: Jean‑Claude Duvalier".
Channel 4. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008.
^ "World's Ten Most Corrupt Leaders". Infoplease. Retrieved 6 August
Corruption Report" (PDF). Transparency International.
Retrieved 6 August 2009.
Haiti vote attracts 30 candidates", BBC News, 16 September 2005.
^ Stevenson Jacobs, "Exiled dictator apologizes for 'wrongs' in rare
address to Haitians", Associated Press (SignOnSanDiego.com), 24
^ Olson, Alexandra (28 September 2007). "Haiti's president says
ex‑dictator must face justice if he returns from exile". San Diego
Union‑Tribune. Associated Press. ISSN 1063-102X. Archived from
the original on 6 October 2014.
^ Carroll, Rory (26 September 2007). "Penniless in exile, Baby Doc
Haiti to forgive him". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077.
Archived from the original on 6 October 2014.
^ Wilentz, Amy (6 February 2010). "The Dechoukaj This Time". The New
York Times (Opinion). p. WK12. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from
the original on 14 February 2010. Last week, a Swiss court agreed to
release more than $4 million in no doubt ill‑gotten gains
to Jean‑Claude Duvalier.
^ "Swiss court awards
Haiti funds to Baby Doc Duvalier ", BBC News, 4
^ Kushner, Jacob (17 January 2011). "Haiti's 'Baby Doc' in
surprise return from exile". Salon. Associated Press. Archived from
the original on 27 May 2013.
^ Thompson, Ginger (20 January 2011). "Some See a Cash Motive in
Duvalier's Return". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January
^ McClelland, Mac (January 16, 2011). "Baby Doc is Back". Mother
Jones. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
^ Charles, Jacqueline; Clark, Lesley; Daniel, Trenton (18 January
2011). "Charges filed against ex‑dictator Jean‑Claude
'Baby Doc' Duvalier". The Miami Herald. ISSN 0898-865X.
Archived from the original on 11 August 2011.
^ Phillips, Tom (22 September 2011). "Will 'Baby Doc' Duvalier ever
face justice in Haiti?". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
^ Delva, Joseph Guyler (30 January 2012). "Haiti's Jean Claude
Duvalier Trial: 'Baby Doc' Faces
Corruption Charges". The Huffington
Post. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
^ Reuters in
Port-au-Prince (30 January 2012). "Baby Doc avoids human
rights abuse charges in Haiti". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April
Jean-Claude Duvalier on IMDb
Jean-Claude Duvalier collected news and commentary". The New York
Jean Claude Duvalier and Michele Bennet Wedding 25 May 1980 on YouTube
PROFILE: Haiti's Jean-Claude Duvalier: The story of a former dictator
upon his return home. Daniel Schwartz, CBC News, 17 January 2011
WikiLeaks cables: 'Baby Doc' Duvalier's possible return to Haiti
concerned US, The Guardian, 17 January 2011
Did Baby Doc Duvalier Return to
Haiti to Pressure Préval in the
Election?, video report, Democracy Now!, 19 January 2011
President of Haiti
Heads of State of Haiti
Council of Secretaries of State
Executive Government Council
ISNI: 0000 0000 7859 5869
BNF: cb12142087t (data)