Jean-Claude Duvalier

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Jean-Claude Duvalier (nicknamed "Bébé Doc" or "Baby Doc") (born July 3, 1951) was the ruler of Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. He succeeded his father, François "Papa Doc" Duvalier as the ruler of Haiti upon his father's death in 1971.


Early life

He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and was raised in an isolated environment. He attended the most prestigious Haitian schools, College Bird and Saint-Louis de Gonzague. Later, under the direction of several prominent professors, including Maitre Gerard Gourgue, at the University of Haiti, he studied law. During April, 1971, he assumed the presidency of Haiti at the age of 19 upon the death of his father, François Duvalier (nicknamed "Papa Doc"), becoming the world's youngest president.[1] Initially, Jean-Claude Duvalier resisted the dynastic arrangement that had made him Haiti's leader, having preferred that the presidency go to his older sister Marie-Denise Duvalier, and was content to leave substantive and administrative matters in the hands of his mother, Simone Ovide Duvalier, and a committee led by Luckner Cambronne, his father's Interior Minister, while he attended ceremonial functions and lived as a playboy.[2]

Political and economic factors

Duvalier was invested with near-absolute power by the constitution. He took some steps to reform the regime, by releasing some political prisoners and easing press censorship. However, there were no substantive changes to the regime's basic character. Opposition was not tolerated, and the legislature remained a rubber stamp.

Much of the Duvaliers' wealth came from the Régie du Tabac (Tobacco Administration). Duvalier used this "nonfiscal account", established decades earlier, as a tobacco monopoly, but he later expanded it to include the proceeds from other government enterprises and used it as a slush fund for which no balance sheets were ever kept.[3]

By neglecting his role in government, Duvalier squandered considerable domestic and foreign goodwill and facilitated the dominance of Haitian affairs by a clique of hardline Duvalierist cronies, the so-called "dinosaurs". Foreign officials and observers also seemed more tolerant toward "Baby Doc" in areas such as human rights monitoring, and foreign countries were more generous to him with economic assistance. The Nixon administration restored the US aid program for Haiti in 1971.[3]

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