Duvalier, François

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Duvalier, François

(fräNswä` düvälyā`), 1907–71, dictator of Haiti (1957–71). A physician, he became director-general of the national public health service in 1946 and subsequently served as minister of health and of labor. After opposing Paul Magloire's coup in 1950, he hid in the interior, practicing medicine, until a general political amnesty was granted in 1956. In 1957, with army backing, "Papa Doc," as he was known, was overwhelmingly elected president. Reelected in a sham election in 1961, he declared himself "president for life" in 1964. His regime, the longest in Haiti's history, was a brutal reign of terror; political opponents were summarily executed, and the populace was kept in a state of abject fear by the notorious Tonton MacoutesTonton Macoutes
[Haitian Creole,=bogeymen], personal police force of dictator Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) of Haiti. Unpaid volunteers who were directly responsible only to Duvalier, they were given virtual license to torture, kill, and extort.
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. Under Duvalier, the economy of Haiti continued to deteriorate, and the illiteracy rate remained at about 90%. Duvalier nevertheless maintained his hold over Haiti. His practice of voodooism encouraged rumors among the people that he possessed supernatural powers. He died in Apr., 1971, after arranging for his son, Jean-Claude, to succeed him.


See J.-P. Gingras, Duvalier: Caribbean Cyclone (1967); A. Burt and B. Diederich, Papa Doc (1969, repr. 1990); J. Ferguson, Papa Doc-Baby Doc (1987).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Duvalier, François


Born Apr. 14, 1907, in Port-au-Prince; died there Apr. 22, 1971. Haitian statesman and politician.

In 1932, Duvalier graduated from the medical faculty of the University of Haiti. From 1932 to 1954 he worked in various medical institutions in his country, including several American medical missions. Until 1957 he was under-minister of labor and thereafter minister of labor and public health. In 1957 he made every effort to be elected president of Haiti. Duvalier established a bloody dictatorship, ruling with the support of detachments of Tonton Macoutes (his personal bodyguard) and the police. In 1964 he had the National Assembly enact a law making him president for life. Before his death he bestowed the presidency upon his son.


Diederich, B., and A. Burt. Papa Doc: Haiti and Its Dictator. London, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.