The Duvaliers: The End of an Era | The Haitian Times

On October 4, 2014, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the self-styled former president-for-life of Haiti, died as a result of a cardiac arrest at the home of a friend in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petion-Ville. One can only hope that his passing brings to an end the era in which the history of Haiti is compressed and associated exclusively with the Duvaliers’ reign (1957-86). For reasons that would be hard to explain to anyone with a basic understanding of historical events, some historians went as far as to describe the Duvaliers’ time in power, particularly the Papa Doc stretch (1957-71) as the Third World version of Hitler’s Nazi regime (1933-45), even though the two systems’ raison d’être and political philosophies were poles apart.

The Duvalier Era began on October 22, 1957 when Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, a medical doctor-turned politician, became Haiti’s president following a disputed election that his detractors still insist was unfairly decided by the Haitian military. A believer in “Noirisme,” an intellectual-led movement dedicated to ending the mulattos’ suffocating control of Haiti’s economic and political life, which had been institutionalized under the U.S occupation (1915-34), Papa Doc was essentially the long-awaited political messiah that the black majority desperately needed. Unfortunately, historians of all stripes are unanimous in their verdict that he not only failed to deliver on the black majority’s expectations but became a tyrant deserving a prominent place in the pantheon of the 20th century worst villains. via | The Haitian Times


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