Haitian President Francois Duvalier

The early years of independent politics in Haiti are marked by coup d'états and violence as several powerful political leaders clash for total control over the country. One of these notorious figures in this era of political turmoil is François Duvalier, more popularly known as "Papa Doc".


Francois Duvalier was Haiti's president for fourteen years from 1957 until his death in 1971. Before becoming the country's most powerful man, he was a physician in local hospitals and communities in the country where he treated the poor from infectious tropical diseases such as malaria and typhus. With his recollection of brutal political conflicts happening in Haiti during his time, Francois Duvalier was inspired to enter the world of politics. He was selected by then President Dumarsais Estimé as the National Public Health Service's Director General.

In the 1957 presidential elections, Duvalier won by a landslide with a populist-based campaign and the solid support of the military. His entire term was marked by repression, corruption and dictatorship. A total of 30,000 Haitians were murdered during his reign in order to discourage and scare his critiques and enemies in doing anything against him. Also, Duvalier's political tactics was based on the voodoo tradition where he formed a personality cult to surge his power and control over the country. In 1964, he was titled as a "President for Life", which was meant to legally prolong his position as president like that of dictators.

Francois Duvalier was succeeded after his death by his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, who had a somewhat similar regime marked by corruption and violence.

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Read more: corruption, Voodoo, Francois Duvalier, government Corruption, Papa Doc, 1971, Dumarsias Estime, 1957, Malaria, Typhus, Repression, Dictator, President for Life, duvalier

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