Francois Duvalier's Violations of the 1957 Constitution

François Duvalier, Haiti's 40th President, raised in a prosperous family and well-educated, obtained his medical degree from the University of Haiti. He was a compassionate public-health official, who brought relief to Haitians suffering outbreaks of tropical illnesses. This earned him the name Papa Doc. He retained it forever, using it as a tool of manipulation.


After Duvalier returned from exile (due to a coup of a political ally), he ran on a populist platform for the presidency. Supported by the Haitian Army, he attacked mulatto elites, aligning himself with black nationals. He won the election against Déjoie, a mulatto real-estate tycoon.

In office, he swept the government clean of Déjoie loyalists and established a new constitution, the Constitution of 1957. And then he began violating its provisions. He dismissed upper and lower chambers of Parliament and introduced a General Assembly. When the 1964 campaign season began, he ran against himself, in defiance of the provision forbidding re-election. The electoral results were a sham of democratic principles. All votes cast were for Duvalier.

Remaining in office, Duvalier put the amended 1957 Constitution up for a vote. It was unanimously approved in another sham election. The new Constitution gave him unadulterated powers and allowed him to choose his successor.

As a ruler, Duvalier ran a repressive regime, with political assassinations numbering up to 30,000. What kept Duvalier in office until his death in 1971 was his manipulation of U.S. foreign policy, and the Haitian masses, who alternately adored and feared him.

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Read more: Government, Francois Duvalier, constitution, Universite D'Etat D'Haiti, Louis Dejoie, Constitution Facts, Government

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