Hearts of Darkness: The Duvaliers’ Black Revolution (1957–1986)

  • Philippe R. Girard


On September 22, 1957, Haitians went to the polls to select a new president. President Paul Eugène Magloire had resigned the previous December, and Haiti had since been plagued by an instability unseen since 1915. Six governments had come and gone in a nine-month span; two elections had already been cancelled; Haiti had even gone through a one-day civil war. As always, the Haitian polity was divided in two camps separated by a racial and social line. Mulattoes and the urban middle class rallied behind Louis Déjoie, a light-skinned man who made little secret of the prejudices common to his class. Oblivious to the military’s importance in Haitian politics and to the majority black electorate he would face on election day, he announced during the campaign that he would, if elected, destroy the army and send all blacks back where they belonged: the fields. His main opponent, François Duvalier, was a shy black physician whom one candidate dismissed as a “profoundly stupid little man.”1 But Duvalier appealed to poor Blacks, in part because he evoked the legacy of Dumarsais Estimé, a popular black president of the 1940s, and in part because he had spent years fighting tropical diseases such as yaws in the Haitian countryside. Two other candidates, Daniel Fignolé and Clément Jumelle, had a significant constituency, but the campaign was so violent that both dropped out before the voting even began.


Dominican Republic Paradise Lost Poor Black Urban Middle Class Racial Pride 
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  1. 1.
    Quoted in Bernard Diederich and Al Burt, Papa Doc: Haiti and its Dictator ( 1969; reprint, Maplewood, NJ: Waterfront Press, 1991 ), 80.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Quoted in Elizabeth Abbott, Haiti: The Duvaliers and Their Legacy ( 1988; reprint, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991 ), 133.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Graham Greene, The Comedians (1966; reprint, New York: Bantam Books, 1967), ii (emphasis added).Google Scholar

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© Philippe R. Girard 2005

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  • Philippe R. Girard

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