Legacy of Evil: Papa Doc, Haiti’s Vodou Dictator
François Duvalier claimed to be immortal, the reincarnation of a dark spirit: Baron Samedi. He built a torture room in the Presidential Palace, talked to the decapitated heads of his enemies, and used the Tonton Macoute to terrorize Haiti.• Dec. 13, 2023
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Papa Doc Duvalier was one of the most ruthless dictators in history, ruling Haiti with an iron fist from 1957 to 1971. He was a medical doctor educated in Michigan, in the United States who then used voudou and his own Wagner type militia called the Tonton Macoute to spread terror and unimaginable violence to consolidate power.1
But he had a secret: he had diabetes. After a diabetic coma, he woke up even more ruthless than before. He changed the Constitution twice, won rigged elections with the help of voodoo priests and the lwas, and had absolute power. Papa Doc killed more than 60,000 Haitians.
Haiti was France’s richest colony in the 18th century, one of the most prosperous nations in the Caribbean. It was so fertile that it was was known as “the pearl of the Antilles.” Revolting against the French masters, Haiti became the first slave colony to overthrow its oppressors, the first free black republic in the world in 1803. Then the French asked for monetary reparations which Haitians had to pay to avoid invasion, and the U.S. occupied and robbed Haiti of its riches. Events like the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba and the assassination of John F. Kennedy played a role in Haiti’s history as well.
After Papa Doc Duvalier’s death, his “fat playboy” son, Jean-Claude Duvalier aka Baby Doc, came to power and managed to continue his father's kleptocracy for 15 more years before finally being overthrown.
Now, Port-au-Prince as well as the rest of the country are in complete chaos, ruled by gangs and with virtually no government, no state officials left: Haiti is a failed state.
1. Albin Krebs Papa Doc, a Ruthless Dictator, Kept the Haitians in Illiteracy and Dire Poverty The New York Times, April 1971 ⇤