Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

Categories: History | Society

The world is full of dangerous psychopaths who can meet on your way at any moment. But there are worse situations, for example, if a scoundrel and a maniac turns out to be in power and becomes the grief of an entire nation. One of these unsympathetic characters — Francois Duvalier, or simply Papa Doc, led Haiti from 1957 to 1971. This time became a terrible page in the history of a long-suffering state, which fate did not particularly spoil.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

Francois Duvalier's career began quite decently. Having a medical education, he devoted a lot of effort to healthcare, participating in sanitary missions and helping residents of remote villages. Duvalier could have left a good memory of himself in many generations of Haitians if he had not gone into politics.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

One of the most educated people in his country, Francois Duvalier was appointed Assistant Minister of Labor, and later Minister of Public Health and Labor in the government of the first black President of Haiti Dumarce Estime. After the overthrow of Estime by the military junta, Dr. Duvalier hid from the authorities, and in 1956, when the persecution of supporters of the former head of state subsided, he took part in the presidential elections.

Duvalier lost this election, but he did not become sad. Throughout 1956, the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince was shaken by explosions that killed and maimed citizens. This was done by supporters of Duvalier, who, thus, sowed panic among the population and prepared the ground for seizing power by force. But chance intervened in the fate of the Dock — the legitimate president went on the run, and the snap elections became Duvalier's finest hour.

Realizing that he could lose the election again, the cunning doctor persuaded the undisputed favorite of the pre-election race, teacher Daniel Fignolet, to join the coalition. Together, Fignolet became president, but held this position for only 19 days. At one of the government meetings, General Kebro, Duvalier's right-hand man, arrested Fignolet. After the legitimate president was expelled from the country with his family, riots broke out in Port-au-Prince, which Kebro, with the approval of the Doc, brutally suppressed.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

According to the most conservative estimates, at least 1,000 people died then. At the same time, there were no wounded during the shootings of the demonstrations — they were simply loaded together with the corpses into trucks and buried alive in the jungle. When the popular unrest was suppressed, Kebro announced new presidential elections, which were held on October 22, 1957. They were held without voter registration and without any control. As expected, Francois Duvalier became president, and the parliament was formed from his most ardent supporters.

The new president plunged the Haitians, who were not spoiled by a quiet life, into a real hell on earth. Papa Doc believed that in order to maintain stability in the country, at least 500 people should be executed per year, but he constantly exceeded the plan. Simply put, no one really controlled the repression carried out by the guard of the new president, which immediately began to be called Tonton Macoutes.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

Initially, these formations were called VSN - Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (National security Volunteers). They were supposed to ensure order in the cities and villages of the country and were formed from volunteers. Those who wanted to serve the motherland and the Pope were given weapons and virtually unlimited power over ordinary Haitians. The Tonton Macoutes were not paid a salary and they were guided by the rule "the wolf's feet are fed".

The name Tonton Macoute is closely associated with local Creole beliefs and the voodoo cult. The word tonton translates as "uncle", and in Haiti it is used as a synonym for the word "sorcerer". There were legends among the islanders that Tontons go to villages with a bag (macoute) and put children in them, which they then kill and eat. It turns out that the Tonton macoute is a creepy, hostile entity to man and it was not too different from reality.

Papa Doc's guard worked very simply — a man was accused of plotting against the president, after which Tonton Macoutes were sent to him. The victim was thrown into a stone bag without trial or investigation, or simply killed, and all his property was taken by "sorcerers".

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

Haiti has always had a strong belief in otherworldly forces and especially the voodoo cult. Duvalier's henchmen actively used it — they wore dark glasses, white shirts and black trousers, which made them look like Baron Saturday— one of the most influential voodoo deities, personifying death. Often, to enhance the effect of Tonton Macoutes, white paint was applied to the face, which made them look like the dead.

These people used the most terrible tortures and executions - they burned people alive, stoned them, hacked them to pieces with axes and machetes. Corpses were often displayed to instill fear in people. Haitians believed that Tonton Macoutes could see through walls, read minds, and were absolutely invulnerable. Some islanders were sure that they were not people at all, but zombies who were raised from the graves by powerful voodoo sorcerers to serve Papa Doc.

From 1957 to 1961, the Duvalier regime killed more than 30 thousand people, but this figure is most likely seriously underestimated. The fear of Doc and his army of zombies was so great that when the president announced his indefinite powers in 1964, no one even thought to be outraged.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

In order to create the appearance of legality of the ongoing reform, a referendum was held. There was one question on the ballots — "Do you agree?". Only one of the answers was available — "Yes". Having received the presidency for life, Duvalier finally lost his mind and officially declared himself Baron Saturday.

Papa Doc constantly emphasized his connection with the other world. When President Kennedy refused Haiti financial assistance and tried to organize a coup in the country, Duvalier personally held a voodoo ceremony, during which he pierced the figure of the American president with needles.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

In 1961, Doc suffered a heart attack and while he was ill, his duties were performed by Clement Barbeau, the organizer and inspirer of the Tonton Macoutes. Returning to business, Duvalier first of all put the henchman who tried the power behind bars, and then, after a little thought, ordered him to be executed. After a while, at one of the voodoo ceremonies, the priest told Papa Doc that Barbo's spirit had moved into a black dog. After that, all dogs of this color were killed in the country by presidential decree.

Over time, a whole list of titles and addresses approved by Doc appeared, which allowed him to be called the "indisputable leader of the revolution", "patron of the common people", "corrector of mistakes" and so on. Terror in the country has intensified many times - Papa Doc personally held daily meetings on "state security", at which lists of Haitians doomed to death were approved.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

At the same time, Duvalier did not forget to put his hand into the state treasury, which was completely at his disposal, like a personal bank account. Tonton macoutes could appear at any factory in the country and demand money from the owner in the name of the president "to support the revolution" and no one dared to refuse them.

Papa Doc also proved himself in literature. After learning about Mao Zedong's quote book, the dictator wrote his book "Thoughts of Duvalier", which every resident of the country was obliged to purchase for a fantastic $ 15 for them. Few people could afford such a luxury, so the collection of the president's thoughts was distributed in installments, by deducting money from wages.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

In his speeches addressed to the people, Francois Duvalier skillfully exploited the ideas of the fight against racism. The President told his people that he was sent from above to bring equality and freedom from prejudice to black people. The frankly delusional dreams of a dictator who had gone crazy under the influence of power and money were bizarrely intertwined with the ideas of the Negro - a philosophical doctrine based on a protest against racism.

The capital of the country in the 60s turned into a set for filming horror films — severed heads lay in piles on the squares of Port-au-Prince, and corpses of hanged people swayed on the balconies of houses swollen from the heat. Robberies, rapes, abductions of women and children became commonplace and no one was surprised that the villains were acting on behalf of Papa Doc and solely for the purpose of "protecting the revolution and the common people."

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

During the years of Pope Doc's rule, Haiti's economy, already poor, was destroyed to the ground. More than 200 thousand people inhabiting the north-west of the country were continuously starving, and human trafficking became a common business. Haitians sold their children into slavery for a couple of dollars in the hope that they would at least be fed.

Such an eerie kind of entrepreneurship as blood trading has also appeared in the country. In 1971, shipments with 2,500 liters of blood were sent to the United States twice a month. Francois Duvalier wanted to inherit his power, and after Doc's death, the reins of power were in the hands of his son Jean-Claude Duvalier. The new dictator was dubbed Baby Doc and he continued to terrorize the country.

Francois Duvalier - President of Haiti, sorcerer, revolutionary dreamer and leader of the "zombie army"

Daddy Doc and Baby Doc

The offspring of Francois Duvalier did not have the grasp and mind of his father, but managed to hold on "at the helm" from 1971 to 1986. He was removed from office and fled to France, having rendered his country the last service - stealing several hundred million dollars from the treasury. In 2011, Baby Doc visited his homeland, but was arrested. Later, the heir to the Dock was released under house arrest and he died in 2014 at his home in Port-au-Prince from a heart attack.

Despite the fact that the Haitian people parted with the Duvalier family in 1986, the consequences of the wise rule of Papa Doc and Baby Doc are still being felt. As before, Haiti remains one of the poorest and most dangerous countries on the planet and it is unlikely that anything will change in the near future.

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