We learned about Haiti’s ruthless dictator François Duvalier who became Haiti’s “President for Life”. After his death, it was the turn of his son Jean-Claude Duvalier to take the charge of the nation. Unfortunately, he too turned to be a ruthless dictator and became known to the world as a corruption artist because his regime, just like his father’s, was of suppression, terror and corruption. So today, we are going to learn 20 interesting Jean-Claude “Baby-Doc” Duvalier facts.
1. Jean-Claude Duvalier was known by the name Baby-Doc. Unlike his father Papa-Doc, Jean-Claude was not really a doctor but only bequeathed a similar name from his father.
2. Born on 3rd July, 1951, Baby-Doc became the world’s youngest person to become a president of a nation. He became Haiti’s head of the state at the age of 19 after his father died in 1971.
3. Jean-Claude Duvalier gave Haiti a reign of terror and corruption from 1971 to 1986 when he was overthrown by a popular uprising.
4. Baby-Doc was known for his notoriously lavish lifestyle. He married in 1980. His wedding was state sponsored and had cost 3 million US dollars!
5. He made millions of dollars through drugs trade and by selling human body parts from dead Haitians.
6. Baby-Doc’s regime was less tyrannical compared to his father’s during the initial years. He moved the power from Tontons Macoutes and gave it to the Leopard Battalion of regular army. Criticisms were allowed, press restrictions were released and attempts were made to improve education in the country. This invited foreign investment and also reopened the American financial aid that was cut off during 1961.
7. Though that was a good start made by Baby-Doc, the true nature of Jean-Claude Duvalier started showing up somewhere in 1978. It was in 1978 that Haitian expatriates living in Florida attempted to invade Haiti but they were all rounded up and eventually executed.
8. Baby-Doc once again reinstated the press restriction to prevent any newspaper criticism of his activities.
9. Baby-Doc and his associates embezzled millions of dollars that entered Haiti in form of foreign aid. Baby-Doc used to ride around in expensive sport cars and even sailed in extremely expensive yachts while the rest of Haiti was under grinding poverty.
10. Jean-Claude’s father had a legacy of supporting the black majority in Haiti but Baby-Doc had no intentions to walk the same path. He was instead so attracted to wealth that he became increasingly close to the mulattos (the light-skinned elite).
11. Because of his lust for wealth, he eventually married a mulatto girl named Michelle Bennet in 1980. The wedding which had a total cost of $3 million remains the most expensive wedding in history.
12. Interestingly, Baby-Doc’s wife, Michelle Bennet was a kleptomaniac.
13. The widespread corruption throughout Haiti eventually led to revolts throughout Haiti. The uprising took maximum momentum after some thugs murdered 4 schoolgirls. Baby-Doc tried to dampen them momentum of the popular uprising by reducing the prices of staple food crops by 10%, closing various radio stations that were run independently and several other measures but he did not succeed.
14. Many business leaders and Duvalierists eventually spoke to Baby-Doc and convinced him to leave Haiti. Baby-Doc approached U.S. as asked for political asylum but U.S. refused and instead offered to help in leaving Haiti.
15. Baby-Doc eventually fled to France on 7th of February, 1986 along with his family and some other members of the Duvalier government. France actually declined his formal political asylum application but continued to live a luxurious life in exile in France.
16. In 1993 however, he had a divorce with his wife and lost most of the wealth he amassed through corruption.
17. The Global Transparency Report of 2004 listed Baby-Doc as the 6th most corrupt political leader of all times.
18. According to the Global Transparency Report, Baby-Doc had amassed a wealth of anywhere between 300 and 800 million US dollars.
19. In 2011, Jean-Claude Duvalier unexpectedly returned to Haiti after 25 years but was soon charged with embezzlement, abuse of power and corruption.
20. Carves Jean, the Haitian judge ruled on 13th January 2013 that Baby-Doc cannot be tried on grounds of human rights violation during his 15 years of Presidency simply because statute of limitation has run out for the crimes including murder, rape and torture. However, Carves ruled that Baby-Doc could be charged and tried for corruption.
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