Jean-Claude Duvalier

Jean-Claude Duvalier

Infobox Officeholder

name =Jean-Claude Duvalier
imagesize =
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order =33rd
office =President of Haiti
term_start =April 21, 1971
term_end =February 6, 1986
primeminister =
predecessor =François Duvalier
successor =Henri Namphy
birth_date =July 3, 1951
birth_place =Port-au-Prince, Haiti
death_date =
death_place =
nationality =
party =
spouse =Michèle Bennett
relations =
children =One daughter and one son
residence =
alma_mater =
occupation =
profession =
religion =

website =
footnotes =

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 at the University of Haiti, he studied law but never expressed any particular interest in politics or Haitian affairs. Nevertheless 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. He initially resented 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, while he attended ceremonial functions and lived as a playboy.Abbott, Elizabeth. "Haiti: The Duvaliers and Their Legacy" McGraw-Hill New York 1988 ISBN 0-07-046029-9]

Political and economic repression

Partly in response to American pressure, Jean-Claude initially made some efforts to blunt the harsher edges of his father's regime. He released some political prisoners, slightly eased press censorship and initiated some judicial reforms. However, no real changes were made to the regime's basic character. Haiti remained a police state in which no opposition was tolerated.

Jean-Claude was vested with absolute power by the Constitution. However, after a few years he limited his interest in government to various schemes and misappropriations of funds. Much of the Duvaliers' wealth, which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, 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, Jean-Claude squandered considerable domestic and foreign goodwill and facilitated the dominance of Haitian affairs by a clique of hardline Duvalierist cronies known as the dinosaurs. The public displayed more affection toward Jean-Claude than they had displayed for his more formidable father. 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. [Metz, Helen Chapin "Dominican Republic and Haiti : Country Studies" Federal Research Division, Library of Congress Washington, DC December 1989 ISBN 0-8444-1044-6] ]


Jean-Claude miscalculated the ramifications of his May 1980 wedding to Michèle Bennett Pasquet, a mulatto divorcée with an unsavory reputation. François Duvalier had jailed her father, Ernest Bennett, for bad debts and other shady financial dealings. 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. By marrying a mulatto, Jean-Claude appeared to be abandoning the informal bond that his father had labored to establish. The marriage also estranged the old-line Duvalierists in the government from the younger technocrats whom Jean-Claude had appointed. The Duvalierists' spiritual leader, Jean-Claude's mother, Simone, was eventually expelled from Haiti, reportedly at the request of Michèle Duvalier. With his wife Duvalier had two children, Francois Nicolas and Anya.

The extravagance of the couple's wedding, which cost an estimated $3 million further alienated the people. Popular discontent 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.

Discontent and revolt

In response to an outbreak of African swine fever virus, U.S. agricultural authorities oversaw the mass eradication of Haiti's pig population. The Program for the Eradication of Porcine Swine Fever and Development of Pig Raising (PEPPADEP) caused widespread hardship among the peasant population, many of whom had 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. [ History of Haiti] ]

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.

A revolt began in the provinces two years later. 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 profitable grip on power, urged him to put down the rebellion and to 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. The United States rejected a request to provide asylum for Duvalier, but offered to assist with the dictator's departure. Duvalier had initially accepted on January 30, 1986 and the White House actually announced his departure. At the last minute, however, Jean-Claude decided to remain in Haiti, declaring “we are as firm as a monkey tail.” His decision provoked increased violence in the streets, reaching Port-au-Prince. [ My country is Haiti: a summary of Haiti 's history from colonial times to 1994] ]

At this point, Minister of Public Works Alix Cineas and Lieutenant General Henri Namphy, along with others in the military, confronted the Duvaliers and demanded their departure. Left with no bases of support, Jean-Claude consented, leaving behind a country economically ravaged, lacking functional political institutions, and devoid of any tradition of peaceful self-rule.


The Duvaliers settled in France. For a time they lived a luxurious life - a villa in the hills of Cannes, two apartments in Paris, a chateau, along with a Ferrari. Although he formally applied for Political Asylum, his request was denied by French authorities and he was subsequently placed under house arrest for some time. [ Haitian exiles want to take ``Baby Doc" to court] ] Jean-Claude lost most of his wealth with his 1993 divorce from Michèle. [ Exile in France Takes Toll On Ex-Tyrant 'Baby Doc'] ] While apparently living in penniless exile, Duvalier does have some supporters, who founded the Francois Duvalier Foundation in 2006 to promote positive aspects of the dictatorship, including the creation of most of Haiti's state institutions and improved access to education for the country's black majority. [ Haiti: Loyalists Seek Dictator's Return] ]

A private citizen, Jacques Samyn, 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. 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. [ Not just fade away] ]

Following the ousting 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. [ "Haiti vote attracts 30 candidates"] , BBC News, September 16, 2005.]

On September 22–September 23, 2007, an address by Duvalier to Haitians was broadcast by radio. In this address, he said: "If, during my presidential mandate, the government caused any physical, moral, or economic wrongs to others, I solemnly take the historical responsibility ... to request forgiveness from the people and ask for the impartial judgment of history." 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. [Stevenson Jacobs, [ "Exiled dictator apologizes for 'wrongs' in rare address to Haitians"] , Associated Press (, September 24, 2007.] 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. [ [ "Haiti's president says ex-dictator must face justice if he returns from exile"] , Associated Press ("International Herald Tribune"), September 28, 2007.]

Duvalier reportedly lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Paris with Veronique Roy, his longtime girlfriend and chief public-relations representative. Veronique Roy is the granddaughter of Paul Magloire, President of Haïti from 1950 to 1956. [ Baby Doc’s return to Haiti seen as play to contain Preval] ]

Popular culture

Swedish band Sator made a song about him called "Baby Doc Holiday" on theiralbum "Stock Rocker Nuts."Fact|date=February 2008

New Zealand artist Luke Hurley has a song entitled "Duvalier" on his album "Luke Hurley - The Best of 1981-2006." [ Hear "Duvalier" by Luke Hurley] ]

A story arc in the "Doonesbury" comic strip had the character of Uncle Duke running the "Baby Doc College of Offshore Medicine" in Haiti in the mid-1980s. Uncle Duke was subsequently turned into a zombie slave, purchased by Duvalier as a manservant, and then taken with the Duvaliers into their exile in France.Fact|date=February 2008


External links

* [ Haiti, 1.000 Gourdes, 1973, Jean Claude Duvalier]
* [ Jean Claude Duvalier and Michele Bennet Wedding 25 Mai 1980]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Jean-Claude Duvalier — (* 3. Juli 1951 in Port au Prince), genannt Baby Doc, ist ein Politiker und früherer Diktator Haitis. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 1.1 Jugend 1.2 Präsident 1.3 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jean-Claude Duvalier — 33º presidente de Haití 22 de abril de 1971 – 7 de febrero de 1986 …   Wikipedia Español

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  • Jean-Claude Duvalier — llamado Bébé Doc (Puerto Príncipe, 1951) Político haitiano. Hijo de François Duvalier, accedió a la presidencia tras la muerte de su padre en 1971. Este mismo año creó el cuerpo de los Leopardos, para contrarrestar el poder autónomo de los tonton …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jean-Claude Duvalier — noun son and successor of Francois Duvalier as president of Haiti; he was overthrown by a mass uprising in 1986 (born in 1951) • Syn: ↑Duvalier, ↑Baby Doc • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dictator, ↑potentate …   Useful english dictionary

  • Jean-Claude Duvallier — Jean Claude Duvalier Jean Claude Duvalier, dit Baby Doc ou Bébé Doc, fils de François Duvalier, dit Papa Doc, fut président dictateur d Haïti de 1971 à 1986. Né le 3 juillet 1951 à Port au Prince, il accède lors du décès de son père, en avril… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jean-Claude — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Jean Claude est un prénom composé masculin. Jean Claude Brialy (1933 2007) est un acteur français. Jean Claude Duvalier (1951) fut président dictateur d… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Duvalier, Jean-Claude — ▪ president of Haiti byname  Baby Doc,  French  Bébé Doc  born July 3, 1951, Port au Prince, Haiti    president of Haiti from 1971 to 1986.       The only son of François (“Papa Doc”) Duvalier, Jean Claude succeeded his father as president for… …   Universalium

  • Duvalier, Jean-Claude — ► (n. 1951) Político haitiano, hijo de François Duvalier. Fue conocido también con el nombre de Bebé Doc . Sucedió a su padre como presidente vitalicio de la República …   Enciclopedia Universal

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