Timeline: Duvalier in Haiti
Here is a brief chronology of milestones in the life of ex-Haitian dictator Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier:
- April 1971: Haitian dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier dies and his teenage son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, becomes the country’s president for life under a constitutional amendment that allowed “Papa Doc” to name his replacement. “Baby Doc” is just 19.
- April 1985: After protests by religious groups against Duvalier’s leadership, bloody confrontations are sparked between anti-government demonstrators and Duvalier’s private militia, called Tonton Macoutes.
- Nov. 27, 1985: Three students are slain by security forces in Gonaives in the first of several bloody confrontations with anti-government demonstrators.
- December 1985: Protests broaden across the impoverished country. Duvalier orders significant reshuffle of his Cabinet.
- January 1986: Duvalier’s administration closes schools and universities and forbids radio stations to report on the turmoil engulfing the country. More than 50 people are killed in disturbances, most by Tonton Macoutes. Duvalier declares 30-day state of siege.
- Jan. 31, 1986: Following weeks of unrest, White House spokesman Larry Speakes announces the collapse of the Duvalier government, a report that is later denied by Haitian and U.S. officials.
- Feb. 7, 1986: Duvalier and relatives fly to France aboard U.S. military jet. National Council of Government, consisting of three military men and two civilians, led by Duvalier’s army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, takes power. The country is destitute.
- Feb. 10, 1986: Provisional government, headed by Namphy, names 19-member Cabinet. It dissolves Assembly and Tonton Macoutes, reopens schools, frees political prisoners, and seeks to recover Duvaliers’ assets. U.S. aid resumes, after being halted because of Duvalier abuses.
- March 29, 1987: Constitution bars Duvalierists from candidacy for 10 years.
- May 2007: A Geneva court temporarily blocks the release of some of the US$6.2 million stashed in Switzerland by Duvalier. Many in Haiti considered the money to have been stolen from public funds before Duvalier was ousted.
- August 2007: Swiss government extends a freeze on Duvalier’s funds for a year.
- February 2010: In a reversal, Switzerland’s top court says at least US$4.6 million in Swiss bank accounts previously awarded to charities must be returned to the family of Duvalier.
- Jan. 16, 2011: Duvalier returns to Haiti after nearly 25 years in exile as Haiti struggles to recover from a devastating earthquake, deadly cholera outbreak, and an electoral crisis.