On October 4, 2014, former Haitian strongman Jean-Claude Duvalier, popularly known as “Baby Doc,” died from a heart attack in his home in Port-au-Prince. He was 63 years old.
Duvalier’s death closes a turbid chapter in Haitian history, particularly for those who suffered from the deaths, torture and disappearances attributed to his 15-year rule. The self-proclaimed Haitian “President for life” died before he could be prosecuted on charges of corruption and human rights abuses.
Duvalier leaves behind a mixed legacy. On the one hand, there are victims of his authoritarian rule, some of whom were eager and willing to pursue claims against him in court. Yet, a significant part of popular opinion has a favorable view of his time as leader of Haiti. For example, current President Michel Martelly, who kept cordial if not warm ties with Duvalier, called the deceased president “an authentic son of the country.” However, President Martelly has decided against holding a state funeral for Duvalier.
Duvalier’s death raises important questions about what comes next in what many see as a legal process vital to attaining justice and to furthering reconciliation efforts in the Caribbean nation.
For more information on Duvalier’s death and legacy, click on the following links:
- Duvalier’s death derails Haiti’s hope to find closure, (Al Jazeera America)
- Jean-Claude Duvalier Dies at 63; Ruled Haiti in Father’s Brutal Fashion, (New York Times)
- Haiti’s former dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier denied state funeral, (Reuters)
- No state funeral for ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, (Miami Herald)
- Haitian Ex-Dictator Is Questioned in Court Over Reign, (New York Times)