Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, Son of Dictator Francois Duvalier

Jean-Claude Duvalier was growing up in an insular and wealthy family culture. When Francois Duvalier died in 1971, Jean-Claude inherited the presidency while still in his teens. At this time he was considered the youngest person on the globe to hold the office.


Jean-Claude Duvalier was not interested in the duties of office, delegating authority in most government matters to his mother, Simone. He made only superficial changes to his father's administration, preferring instead to be a figurehead rather than a hands-on ruler.

Jean-Claude Duvalier engaged in corruption practices, using family riches from a tobacco inheritance to steal revenues from government programs. Other illegal activities used to increase his wealth included selling human remains to medical institutions outside the country and drug trafficking.

Jean-Claude's marriage to Michele Bennett caused alienation between old-guard Duvalierists and his political appointees, his repressive policies intensifying the conflict. Ironically, his reign was considered by some as a benign period of stability in Haitian politics.

When uprisings occurred in 1985, he failed to effectively quell the violence, exiling himself to France for the next 25 years. On his return to Haiti in 2011, Jean-Claude Duvalier claimed he was back to help in reconstruction efforts. Others believed he was after $4 million in frozen assets. Foolishly grabbing the limelight, he alerted Haitian National Police, who arrested him on charges of fraud, embezzlement, and corruption. He has since been released from custody, but may still be prosecuted.

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