Dr. François Duvalier (14 April 1907 – 21 April 1971), also known as Papa Doc, was a Haitian politician who served as the President of Haiti from 1957 to 1971. He was elected president in the 1957 general election on a populist and black nationalist platform. After thwarting a military coup d'état in 1958, his regime rapidly became more autocratic and despotic. An undercover government death squad, the Tonton Macoute, indiscriminately killed Duvalier's opponents; the Tonton Macoute was thought to be so pervasive that Haitians became highly fearful of expressing any form of dissent, even in private. Duvalier further sought to solidify his rule by incorporating elements of Haitian mythology into a personality cult.
Prior to his rule, Duvalier was a physician by profession. He graduated from the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Michigan on a scholarship that was meant to train Black doctors from the Caribbean to take care of African-American servicemen during World War II. Due to his profession and expertise in the medical field, he acquired the nickname "Papa Doc". He was unanimously "re-elected" in a 1961 presidential election in which he was the only candidate. Afterwards, he consolidated his power step by step, culminating in 1964 when he declared himself President for Life after another sham election, and as a result, he remained in power until he died in April 1971.
- Communism has established centres of infection... No area in the world is as vital to American security as the Caribbean...We need a massive injection of money to reset the country on its feet, and this injection can come only from our great, capable friend and neighbor the United States.
- Quoted in Elizabeth Abbott, Haiti: An insider's history of the rise and fall of the Duvaliers (Simon & Schuster, 1988, ISBN 0-671-68620-8), p. 101.
- I accept the people's will. As a revolutionary, I have no right to disregard the will of the people.
- Quoted in Elizabeth Abbott, Haiti: An insider's history of the rise and fall of the Duvaliers (1988), p. 103.
- Bullets and machine guns capable of daunting Duvalier do not exist. They cannot touch me... I am already an immaterial being. No foreigner is going to tell me what to do! If the OAS claims the right to intervene because of repressive conditions, why don't they land troops in Alabama?
- Quoted in Elizabeth Abbott, Haiti: An insider's history of the rise and fall of the Duvaliers (1988), p. 111.
- God and the people are the source of all power. I have twice been given the power. I have taken it, and damn it, I will keep it forever.
- Quoted in Elizabeth Abbott, Haiti: An insider's history of the rise and fall of the Duvaliers (1988), p. 112.
- François Duvalier was the most monstrous ruler of a country that had a long history of tyranny. He stayed in power far beyond his elected term by terrorizing the population with an infamous secret police and by exploiting the more sinister aspects of the local Voodoo religion. He ruled through fear and corruption but provided an anti-Communist stability that ensured him the essential support of the United States. Under his administration, the country deteriorated to become the poorest in the western hemisphere. He built his power so well that he died in office and was succeeded peacefully by his son.
- Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 164
- In the Caribbean nation of Haiti it was the eleventh year of rule by François Duvalier, the little country doctor, friend of the poor black man, who had become a mass murderer. In a midyear press conference he lectured American journalists, “I hope the evolution of democracy you’ve observed in Haiti will be an example for the people of the world, in particular in the United States, in relation to the civil and political rights of Negroes.” But there were no rights for Negroes or anyone else under the rule of the sly but mad Dr. Duvalier. One of the cruelest and most brutal dictatorships in the world, Duvalier’s government had driven so many middle- and upper-class Haitians into exile that there were more Haitian doctors in Canada than in Haiti. On May 20, 1968, the eighth coup d’état attempt against Dr. Duvalier began with a B-25 flying over the capital, Port-au-Prince, and dropping an explosive, which blew one more hole in an eroded road. Then a package of leaflets was dropped, which did not scatter because the invaders had not untied the bundle before dropping it. Then another explosive was dropped in the direction of the gleaming white National Palace, but it failed to explode. Port-au-Prince supposedly thus secured, the invasion began in the northern city of Cap Haïtien, where a Cessna landed with men opening tommy-gun fire at the unmanned control tower. The invaders were quickly killed or captured by Haitian army troops. On August 7 the ten surviving invaders were sentenced to death.
- Mark Kurlansky, 1968: The Year That Shook the World (2004)