What is Duvalierism?

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Duvalierism refers to the political regime or style of political rule that is named after Haiti’s former president Jean-Claude Duvalier. Known as “Baby Doc”, Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 up to his exile in 1986. He followed after his father’s rule of Haiti and he became famous for his style of political rule. Back in his time as president of Haiti, Duvalier was known to have embezzled government funds to support his luxurious lifestyle at the expense of his own people. Duvalier was also known to be abusive of his power towards the poor people of Haiti and was even involved in drug trafficking. This style of political rule paved the way for the term Duvalierism or a presidency filled with corruption, abuse, and exploitation.

Duvalier was said to be engulfed by his mighty power as president of Haiti during his time. He also recruited cronies and allies who helped him abuse his power and authority which later earned him his wealth through illegal means. Through earnings in the government-supported tobacco monopoly, Duvalier created an account which he used for personal expenditures. This illegal and unrecorded account was said to be filled through government-initiated ventures. Duvalier was also known to engage in drug trafficking and was abusive at his time of the presidency that he even allowed for the export and sale of body parts from many dead Haitians just for money.

Duvalierism or Duvalier’s style of rule eventually angered enough people in Haiti and a revolt against Duvalier’s government that started in 1985. People participated in street protests and raided food distribution facilities to send their strong message against Duvalier. By 1986, the US government also put pressure on Duvalier to honor his people and leave his country. The Duvaliers was eventually forced out of their own country but the so-called Duvalierism form of government is said to have persisted in present times. Post-Duvalier Haiti continues to become one of the most corrupt and abusive governments around the world. The Duvalierism legacy lives on in Haiti with many political supporters of the former president.

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