General Paul Eugène Magloire was elected President of Haiti in 1950 with ninety-nine percent of the vote in an army-monitored election and the official support of the army, church, elite, and American embassy behind him. He implemented a successful economic program and oversaw a period of the best economic growth in Haiti in a century, reforming the banking system, attracting foreign investment, fostering tourism, and instituting a Five Year Plan in 1951 to boost agricultural expenditures.
In 1957, Haitian elections put Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier in power as “president-for-life.” When he died in 1971, his son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier took over. There were no elections during either regime, and both presidents used force to keep the populace subservient. Papa Doc was dependent on his secret police, the Ton-Ton Macoutes (Haitian Creole for Bogeymen), to use violence against the people. Although Baby Doc formally disbanded the Macoutes, the group continued throughout his regime as the Volunteers for National Security, and maintained the same violent presence.
The Haitian President, Elie Lescot had been granted the powers of a dictator by his congress and was backed by the United States. He was representative of the mulatto ruling class during a time when black political radicalism was growing in Haiti. Lescot was also closely tied with the Dominican Dictator Rafael Trujillo. The Haitian student journal, Zinglins, had criticized President Lescot’s dictatorship and begun a call for freedom of press even as early as May 1945. The government quickly suppressed this opposition voice. However, the editors of another stude
On February 7, 1986, Haiti's dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier fled the country for France after a non-violent campaign for his removal (see "Haitians overthrow regime, 1984-1986"). Before leaving, he set up the National Governing Council (CNG), under the leadership of Henri Namphy, to rule the country.