History, Continued U.S. Influence
Francois Duvalier, Papa Doc, Haitian president, Magloire, domestic crisis
In 1939 President Stenio J. Vincent, first elected in 1930, took steps to remain in office beyond the expiration of his second term and to augment his semidictatorial powers. However, when he was confronted with strong local opposition and U.S. disapproval, Vincent announced that he would not seek reelection. The Haitian legislature then elected Elie Lescot, a former minister to the United States, as president. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Lescot, with unanimous approval of the legislature, joined the Allied forces in World War II by declaring war on Japan on December 8 and on Germany and Italy on December 12. Early in 1942 Haiti permitted U.S. antisubmarine aircraft to make use of the Port-au-Prince landing field.
Haiti signed the charter of the United Nations on June 26, 1945, becoming one of the original members. Growing political disturbances in Haiti led, on January 11, 1946, to the military overthrow of Lescot, who fled to Miami, Florida. On August 16 Dumarsais Estime was elected president.
Haiti signed the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (also known as the Rio Treaty) in September 1947 and the charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) in April 1948. During 1949 Haitian revolutionaries, with encouragement from the Dominican government, precipitated a domestic crisis and provoked Estime to declare a state of siege on November 15. In May 1950 the Haitian president was forced to resign, and a military junta ruled the country until elections were held on October 8. Paul E. Magloire, a soldier and member of the junta, won the presidency by a large majority.
The Magloire government encouraged foreign investment to strengthen the national economy and settled differences with the Dominican Republic. In 1956, however, controversy developed over the extent of Magloire’s term of office, and in December of that year he relinquished all power. Political uncertainty followed until September 1957, when Francois Duvalier (known as “Papa Doc”), who had been a member of the Estime government, was elected president.
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