Haiti's Baby Doc - Jean-Claude Duvalier - Died long before his Death

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:
On Mon, Oct 13, 2014 I received an announcement that Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier,  the son of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, president of Haiti, had died.    It was authored by the Afrocentricity International.   It took a very adversarial hostile tone in describing both Papa Doc and his son and their very different administrations.  

Haitian President For Life Francois Papa Doc Duvalier

Jean-Claude Baby Doc Duvalier - former President of Haiti at age 19

 This is my statement in response to the article by Afrocentricity International:

Interesting take on the Duvaliers' reign over Haiti - and a take with which I differ - Of course mine is not from the standpoint of being a Haitian - but from the standpoint of a militant/activist/artist/entertainer who had the privilege of touring Haiti during the time that Papa Doc Duvalier was still living and running the country.  I went to Haiti Cheri in December 1968 and stayed til June 1969 - and I had such a wonderful experience, I actually considered expatriating there.
I also took my daughter, Kira, who was 2 years old at the time.  I was touring at the time with the Ishangi Dancers,  a African/cultural dance troupe.  While in Haiti We met the great Katherine Dunham, who had been living there for quite some time.  She introduced us to Papa Doc Duvalier.   I was surprised to find that he not only spoke English fluently, but that he knew more about Black history than most American Black historians did - and was quite versed in the international impact of the transAtlantic slave trade. 

I later learned that he was part of the Negritude Movement, a philosophy on our residual Blackness despite the oppression and brainwashing of whites, which was  originally fostered by Senegalese President Leopold Sedar Senghor, and Guinean President Sekou Toure.  Not only had he rid Haiti of the "mulatto" (light bright, damned near white) elite who had reigned over the darker skinned, African oriented Haitians, but he had instituted programs for the study of African and African American history.  He also elevated the darker skinned Haitians who had been kept in subservient positions to positions of responsibility.  The fact is PAPA DOC DUVALIER WAS MUCH LOVED BY MOST HAITIANS - contrary to what meanstream whites and political adversaries allege.

I just recently pulled this from Wikipedia, which corroborates my ongoing support of Papa Doc (and don't get it twisted - I said "Papa Doc", not Baby Doc:   "Lucky enough to be schooled and literate in a country where few were educated, Duvalier witnessed the political turmoil of his country. The United States occupation of Haiti which began in 1915, left a powerful impression on the young Duvalier. He was also aware of the latent political power of the poor black majority and their resentment against the tiny mulatto elite.[7] Duvalier became involved in the négritude movement of Haitian author Dr. Jean Price-Mars. He began an ethnological study of Vodou that later paid enormous political dividends.[7][8] In 1938, Duvalier co-founded the journal Les Griots. In 1939, Duvalier married Simone Ovide, with whom he had four children: Marie Denise, Nicole, Simone and Jean-Claude."

Papa Doc Duvalier was also very fiercely protective of Haiti's borders - and would not allow whites to come in and set up businesses unless they could be headed up, run and staffed by Haitians - a factor that did not set well with the French or the US.  He was fiercely proud of the fact that Haiti was self liberated and, while poor in economics - as a result of French and American embargoes; they were rich in cultural heritage.  I used to go into the homes and see his picture everywhere.  And none of the people in the streets or communities appeared to be afraid of the Tonton - which is what they were affectionately called.

His wife a former nurse,  was very sweet - as wer  his daughters.  But when I met Jean-Claude, and it was clear to see that Jean-Claude was what one in America would have considered a special needs or special ed child.  In fact, Papa Doc stated that he had been deprived of oxygen at birth.  Interestingly enough, Marie Denise Duvalier  who had married one of the officers of the Tonton Macoute -  was clearly as smart as, if not smarter, than her dad, and could have easily run the county upon his demise.  However, because of residual African traditions of leadership being passed on to the son, this was not to be.  Also interesting is that no one talks about what happened to the rest of Papa Doc's family - where are they now???
Now as to Papa Doc's reign of terror - or alleged reign of terror - I was there for 6 months - not an entire life time, but enough to observe whether that was actually happening during his administration.  I moved about freely.  Walked through the village barefooted; fit in with the rest of my Haitian brothers and sisters - to the extent possible.   I went to the Mahogany Mart; I watched the drummer Ti RoRo in the park.  I participated with the RaRa band on Christmas morning that went through and pulled people out of their homes in an impromptu parade that went throughout the village.  

There were many references to Papa Doc fostering Voodoo (or Voudu) in Haiti - which, by the way, was the residual African rituals that had been kept alive there for centuries.  It was made to look as if he had suddenly resurrected it - probably because the Catholics had tried to subjugate Haitians to their religious beliefs.  However, one had but to sit on the porch at night and hear drumbeats all over - throughout the mountains to know that Haitian spiritual beliefs in the Loas and the Divine Horsemen had never left.  I personally walked through fire during my Dumbalawado initiation.  

I had gotten so fully into the Haitian culture during my stay that I rode side saddle on a donkey from Kentscoff to the food mart.  I learned how to carry heavy loads on my head using a dougla (?) balancing a basket so my hands were free to do other things.  I rode up to the Citadel in a rickety Peugeot, and stayed there for a week - I could see the world from there.  No doubt that was how they defeated Napoleon's army - they saw them coming a mile off. 
And the only time I encountered the TonTon Macoute was when they shut down the borders because of a threatened invasion from Trinidad; and when a white woman at the airport tried to sneak Haitian treasures out of the country without paying the appropriate duty.  When she refused, they informed her that she was going to be held in jail until she paid the duty.  Redfaced she came up with the money immediately. 

I stayed in Petionville - in a small house we rented while we were there - the electricity would go on and off depending on what was happening with the generator.  We cooked over coals in the kitchen; bought food in the market - and ate everything natural, the way it grew from the ground or the trees.  I even tried my hand at washing clothes on the rocks, the way the Haitian ladies did.  They got a big kick out of me trying this - I was the community  joke!  But it was all in fun. I spoke just enough French to learn and understand Creole, and was able to carry on a pretty decent conversation. 
While that does not equate to an entire lifetime, it does equate to a great experience in Haiti.  In fact, it was not until Papa Doc died, and Baby Doc was allowed to take over that you really saw any problems.  His dad never intended for him to run the country, which is why he had declared himself president for life.  But ill health undermined that possibility.  

Additionally one of the daughters had married someone the father did not approve of, so without a real succession plan in place; and following an antiquated right of succession protocol, Haiti ended up with a President who was mentally retarded.

The wedding that took place with Michele Bennett, was more a matter of manipulation to get their hands on the country's money than any thing else - it cost the country millions - most of which went into her family's pockets.  While the allegations that Papa Doc had appropriated funds was blatantly untrue - most of the funds were used to set up schools, a TV station and to try and improve roads, under Papa Doc - but because the foreign contractors would come in and bring their own crew, he with held funds until and unless Haitians were also trained to participate as well.  When Baby Doc, at 19, and already mentally challenged, became the new president - it was clear he had no means of discernment, was easily manipulated and could be flattered into doing things that otherwise most leaders would not fall prey to. 

Also note, it was the first time I ever heard of Haitians leaving Haiti en masse, almost immediately  after Baby Doc and the light bright wife he married so her family can rob the country blind.  Things deteriorated rapidly as the monies were shifted from the needs of the people to the greed of the new "President" and his wife. 

Baby Doc's "escape" to France, and alleged living a life of luxury was also a hoax - and belies the fact that there were photos of him doing work as a menial gardener. The country has tried to make a scape goat out of a diminished capacity person who was not fit to serve as a leader.  The sad fact is that Haitians allowed the debacle that was the presidency under Duvalier to continue for more than 15 years!  This was unconsciounable!  It took the $2 million wedding to be the straw that broke the camel's back!  Also telling was the fact that the "Regan administration was friendly towards Baby Doc."  No doubt because he was no threat to anything in the US, and his very image and comportment was more in line with that of a buffoon than than of a Black leader that any one would take seriously.  He was the exact opposite of his father in every way - much the same as Clarence Thomas is the exact opposite of Thurgood Marshall.  Baby Doc would be kind of non threatening Negro Regan would support. 

Clearly, when Aristede became president, and Haiti began to rise again, the Bush Administration feared the example of a true Black leader and the marking of the 200th anniversary Haiti's self liberation, would spark even more self pride among Blacks in the US and continue to foster the solidarity that was beginning to happen between Africa, Haiti, the Caribbean and African Americans. This is why Bush had him forcibly removed from his office - under the B.S. guise of "protecting" him.  As far as Martelly is concerned - once again, Haiti had the opportunity to elect Wyclef Jean, who loved Haiti, and would have made a great president; but they blew it because of some bogus rule no doubt concocted to prevent him from running for office.   - He would have done far better for the country. 

Again, from the period of time I spent there, I learned a lot, but not everything about Haiti - enough to know that I will always love it and the Haitian people.  Six months is a pretty good window for observation.  I have the utmost respect for the fact that Papa Doc was more than aware of what whites could do to ruin his country - he had already seen it in the US, the Virgin Islands and other surrounding countries. He was also well aware that the US and France hated Haiti because they had liberated themselves.  There were quizzlings among his people who would have sold him out for a nickel in order to get their hands on the money those governments were offering for his assassination - which is why his own police/army TonTon were so hated among the whites - they were as precise and accurate as Dessalines and L'Overture!    Make no mistake about it.
My brief experiences in Haiti, inspired several of my friends decided to go vacation there,  as opposed to the usual Caribbean spots, and they were pleasantly surprised.  In fact, until Papa Doc's death, several of us went back and forth.  It was after Baby Doc really lost it that they had to forcibly remove Katherine Dunham from Haiti for her own safety - she did not want to leave.  But by that time things had gotten out of control.

In fact, I had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Dunham after she returned to the US.  She was saddened by the fact that they were not able to rise above tradition and elect a president who would have either followed in Papa Doc's footsteps, or taken the country in another direction.  We both knew that the country under Baby Doc was doomed.  She never returned, but she always loved Haiti.

On the plus side, Haiti has always had the capacity to reinvent herself - I just hope that she has not forgotten how to do so.  I also hope that this kind of mis information does not continue to be passed on.  There is a decided difference between the two Duvaliers.  And only someone who was in support of Haiti being overrun by white missionaries would see Papa Doc as being a terrorist against his own people.  I saw too many times when he and the people interacted in a positive manner to allow this kind of irresponsible reportage to go unchallenged - they adored Papa Doc - hated Baby Doc.

  My understanding is that Baby Doc allegedly came back to Haiti to run for president again, was arrested, and then later "acquitted" for his crimes.  However, the 25 years that had elapsed, and the tragedies that had ensued since his exile had obviously softened some of the attitudes toward him.  In the three years since his return, he lived pretty much as a celebrity and a hero prior to his death on October 4, 2014.  With still so many issues unresolved - the renovation of Haitian homes, Aristede's continued contribution to his country despite the hostilities on Martelly's part; the mystery of what's happened to the millions of dollars in funds raised internationally to help rebuild Haiti, and help those who were victims of the 2010 earthquake - Haiti's focus must be on it's future and not the vilification of people who had little, if anything, to do with more than 25 years of turmoil.   
I truly hope Baby Doc rests in peace. 

Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

The Death of Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier
                                            by Afrocentricity Intenational 
"On Sunday, October 5, 2014, Former President for life, Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as “Baby Doc,” died of an apparent heart attack. He was 63.

Afrocentricity International
neither mourns nor celebrates his death. Instead, we see his death as an opportunity to take stock of the legacy his reign has left behind, as well as an opportunity to challenge the current government to live up to its obligation to uphold human rights in Haiti and ensure justice for the Haitian people.

Jean-Claude Duvalier was just 19 when, in 1971, he took over the presidency after the death of his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Initial hopes that Jean-Claude Duvalier would depart from the brutal reign of his father were quickly dashed as he continued the authoritarian rule underpinned by the murderous secret police, the Tontons Macoutes. It is estimated that between 20,000 to 30,000 Haitians were killed by this secret paramilitary force during the reign of both father and son. Jean-Claude Duvalier’s rule was marred by ubiquitous corruption and human rights abuses that prompted more than 100,000 Haitians to flee the country. For a country of about 11 million, it is currently estimated that 1 million Haitians live abroad, due largely to the brutality and legacy of the Duvalier governments.
As the president of the so-called poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Jean-Claude Duvalier lived lavishly while in function. His wedding in 1980 is estimated to have cost 5 million dollars, news of which trickled down to the masses and was one of the seeds of his eventual downfall. Upon his exile in 1986, Jean-Claude Duvalier held $200 million to $500 million in foreign bank accounts, and was living a luxurious life in France. The 29- year rule of the Duvaliers failed to build and maintain a workable infrastructure and establish institutional governmental norms that would facilitate a state apparatus to address the needs of the people. Rather Jean Claude Duvalier’s rule led to a nation operated by NGOs. By 2010 several sources have estimated Haiti to have over 10,000 NGOs (second only to Afghanistan).

Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti soon after the earthquake of 2010. He claimed to have returned as a gesture of reconciliation and solidarity with the nation. Afrocentricity International, however, believes words of reconciliation and solidarity are empty gestures without true justice. Since his return, Duvalier has faced numerous sham court proceedings meant to quell calls for reparation and justice by the thousands of people tortured and whose family members were killed under his rule. He was often spotted at some of Port-au-Prince’s

most posh restaurants or at the homes of Haiti’s economic elite. The current government of Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly has populated his government with Duvalier supporters while Martelly himself held company frequently with the former dictator. The tacit, and not so subtle message, was that Duvalier had the support of the current government while enjoying the comfortable life he was accustomed to when he was head of state.

In stark contrast to the support the murderous Duvalier has received from the State, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide - a man who has dedicated his life to people of Haiti, and is currently working to establish a medical school in Haiti - is under constant threat of legal prosecution on false charges from the Martelly government. His detailed security force, a service provided to all former presidents, has mysteriously disappeared, setting the ground for what many believe is a possible assassination attempt. In response, hundreds of people have surrounded Aristide’s house saying, in effect, “We will protect Aristide if the state fails to do its job.” The truth is that Martelly and his minions are fearful of what Aristide and his Lavalas party represent, as they are keenly aware that Lavalas is still a political force to contend with in Haiti. Indeed, Martelly was elected president through a US supported process, where the majority of the voting public boycotted because Lavalas and its political candidates were barred from participation.

As Afrocentricity International reflects upon the death of Jean-Claude Duvalier, let us thus not lose sight of the battle that our brothers and sisters in Haiti are still fighting against the forces of Western Hegemony. Afrocentricity International is therefore urging all of its international chapters on every continent to mark the death of Jean Claude Duvalier as the turning of a page in the battle against western hegemony and corrupt African leadership. The Duvaliers have gone the way of Mobutu Sese Seko or Félix Houphouët-Boigny, heads of states who left little behind but memories of oppression. We therefore stand firmly and ask the Haitian people to continue to support justice, freedom, peace, and Maat! Herekh! Herekh! Unity is our Aim, Victory is our Destiny!"

As I said, this is their reportage, which I've refuted in the previous statement.  


Stay Blessed &


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