Jean Dominique and the Duvalier Era

It is always thought wiser to teach a man to fish than to hand him one. This is a sentiment that Jean Dominique shaped his career around upon returning to Haiti from private school in France. Working with the poor, he took his training in agronomy to teach the peasantry how to sustain themselves through skillful use of the land.


Because of his efforts, which included showing peasant farmers how to avoid being in debt to wealthy landowners, Dominique was imprisoned for six months due to the connivance of the landowners who convinced the authorities to jail him so they could hold on to their control over the peasants. Upon his release from jail, he became a fierce detractor of François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier and his militant regime.

He would continue to oppose this regime, as well as that of 'Baby Doc', Jean-Claude Duvalier, and would later find himself exiled to New York after the independent radio station he founded in the early 1960's, Haiti's first outlet to broadcast Creole, named Radio Haiti Inter, was shut down multiple times by Duvalier after Dominique's harsh criticisms against the government. He had initially joined the station, then called Radio Haiti, as a reporter, but had bought the lease in 1971 and began a fierce campaign for democracy in the electoral process as well as economic and social justice. He'd made another sizeable investment into the broadcast field with the founding of Haiti's first film club in the 60's. He would later go on to make 'But, I Am Beautiful', one of Haiti's first documentaries.

Upon his return from exile in 1986, after spending six years in America, he was met by 60,000 people with the suggestion that he run for president. This he declined to do and later joined the Lavalas party, which would win the elections in 1990.

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