Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Former Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier Dead

This article describes former dictator Duvalier’s rise to power, presidency, and exile from Haiti. The Duvalier regime was marked by embezzlement, violence, murders, and forced disappearances. Originally supported by the US, Duvalier’s gross human rights violations and corruption lost him US support and played a large role in his exile.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Jean-Claude Duvalier, ex-Haitian leader known as Baby Doc, dies at 63

Stephanie Hanes, The Washington Post
October 4, 2014

Jean-Claude Duvalier, the second-generation “president for life” who plunged one of the world’s poorest countries into further despair by presiding over widespread killing, torture and plunder, died Oct. 4 at his home in Port-au-Prince. He was 63.

He had a heart attack, his lawyer, Reynold George, told the Associated Press.

Despite a brief, hopeful window when it appeared that the overweight, overwhelmed dauphin might liberalize the country, the younger Duvalier soon followed in his father’s violent footsteps. Tens of thousands of Haitians were killed under the regimes, with many more tortured, according to human-rights groups.

Jean-Claude Duvalier maintained his father’s well-established terror apparatus — most notably the Tontons Macoutes, the shadowy militia whose name means “bogeymen” — and added new techniques for skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from the national treasury.

Under the younger Duvalier’s watch, Haiti became the Western Hemisphere’s epicenter for AIDS, as well as a major cocaine-trafficking stop. Although he courted the United States and other donors with promises of human-rights reforms and a business-friendly economic policy, living conditions for Haitians dipped even lower than their already dismal standing.

Illiteracy rose and life expectancy sank. When tens of thousands of desperate, malnourished “boat people” tried to flee Haiti for U.S. shores during the 1970s and ’80s, Duvalier’s response, true to form, was to demand kickbacks from their unscrupulous human smugglers.

By the time he and his family boarded a U.S. Air Force cargo plane and flew to exile in 1986, with truckloads of Louis Vuitton luggage and millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts, Duvalier had cemented his country’s status as the basket case of the Americas.

He remained unrepentant.

“I got to know Duvalier as a man who is by turn intellectually dishonest, manipulative, even downright clueless,” wrote Haitian-born journalist Marjorie Valbrun in a 2011 Washington Post essay, which recollected interviews she had conducted with Baby Doc in 2003.

“In rare but telling moments, he also seemed deeply sad,” Valbrun added. “He denied any past wrongdoing. He rejected accusations of corruption during his presidency. He dismissed allegations of officially sanctioned murders and arrests of political opponents as fictional creations of a biased news media. He never uttered a word of remorse and ceded only one major mistake: ‘Perhaps I was too tolerant.’ ”

According to official records, Jean-Claude Duvalier was born July 3, 1951. He was the only son of Simone Ovide and her husband, the doctor Francois Duvalier.

In January 2011, Jean-Claude Duvalier surprised Haitians by returning to his earthquake-damaged country with his companion, Veronique Roy. The frail-looking Baby Doc said that he was not there for politics, but because he wanted to “help.” Banking experts, however, suspected that he had arrived to circumvent new Swiss regulations preventing exiled leaders from obtaining money stolen from their countries.

He was promptly arrested and charged with embezzlement and other crimes, but remained living in a high-end hotel in the mountains of Port-au-Prince.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

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