Full Name: François Duvalier aka Papa Doc
Profession: Dictator and President of Haiti
Why Famous: Duvalier, also known as 'Papa Doc' on account of his medical training, was President for Life of Haiti until his death in 1971. He ruled on a black nationalist platform, reinforced by the Tonton Macoute—a paramilitary militia under his direct command which murdered and intimidated political opponents.
After his death, his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as 'Baby Doc,' ruled until being overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986.
While Duvalier has been characterised as a terrifying dictator, his early political career begun in public health. At this point the name 'Papa Doc' was more affectionate that frightening, as he was called this by patients who he helped to treat as part of United States campaign to control contagious tropical diseases in Haiti.
He was then part of the Haitian government, ultimately as Minister of Health and Labor—from which role he stepped down in 1950 after a coup d'état when he returned to practicing medicine.
Duvalier was elected President of Haiti in 1957, winning by pitting the black majority against the 'mulatto' (mixed black-white) minority elite.
Following this, he consolidated his rule with increasingly violent methods. This culminated in his declaring himself 'President for Life' in 1961.
- 1954-09-25 Francois "Doc" Duvalier wins Haitian presidential election
- Obituary: Baby Doc Duvalier Like father, like son - The Economist