5 reasons why Haiti's Jean-Claude Duvalier is infamous

With the return of "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti, it recalls a time when one family ruled the island nation.

4. Violent ouster

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier's spectacular fall from power in 1986 placed his family's near 30-year-rule in stark relief. With aid from international donor funds, he and his father had ruled for decades while brutally suppressing opponents through a private militia known as the Tontons Macoutes. Baby Doc had brazenly embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from national coffers. And these actions might have all been eventually brushed under the rug if Duvalier had not fallen out of favor with the international community and failed to squelch a popular uprising.

In 1986, amid massive unrest after antigovernment demonstrators clashed with security forces and his private militia, Baby Doc was flown out of Haiti on a US military jet to France. Before boarding the plane, Duvalier declared: “We are as firm as a monkey tail.” The reality had still not set in days later when France balked at his request for asylum: "If I had believed that the only country in the world which I feel close to would not welcome me, then I would never have given up power," The New York Times quoted him saying.

4 of 5
of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.