Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Haiti’s former President of Life, died on Saturday of a heart attack. He was 63.
Duvalier became President of Haiti in 1971 at the age of 19 following the death of his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier.
The younger Duvalier picked up where his father left off. Backed up by the notorious Ton Ton Macoute, thousands of political opponents were jailed or murdered. Amidst this backdrop of death, destruction and poverty, Duvalier lived a life of opulence. As with his father, successive administrations both Democratic and Republican tolerated the Duvaliers because of their anti-communist stance against Cuba. Unfortunately, just because one is an anti-communist, it doesn’t make one in favor of freedom and liberty.
By late 1985, Duvalier’s position proved untenable amidst increasing unrest and the Reagan Administration arranged for him to leave office. He did so in February 1986 when boarding a U.S. military jet to France where he would spend 25 years in exile. In 2011, Duvalier unexpectedly returned to Haiti. He would promptly be arrested and charged with corruption and human rights abuses. Although Haiti doesn’t have the political violence it once had, it is still profoundly corrupt. All of this would bring the case against Duvalier to a standstill. He would spend his last years living in comfort never having to answer for his crimes while his countrymen continue live in abject poverty, squalor and disease. This is his legacy.