Magloire, Paul Eugène (1907–2001)

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Magloire, Paul Eugène (1907–2001)

Paul Eugène Magloire, president of Haiti (1950–1956) was born in Cap Haitien into a family of the country's black elite. Magloire received an education at the Lycée Philippe Guerrier, at the military academy, and at the National University, where he earned a law degree. As commander of the Palace Guard, he and two mulatto officers organized the coup that toppled the dictatorship of Élie Lescot in January 1946. After serving as minister of the interior under President Dumarsais Estimé, Magloire again conspired against his superior: when Estimé sought to prolong his rule in violation of Haiti's constitution, Magloire joined in the coup to overthrow him.

Supported by the Roman Catholic Church, the Haitian military, and the U.S. government, Magloire's presidency, from December 1950 to December 1956, represented a return to power of Haiti's mulatto elite in cooperation with blacks like Magloire himself. Instead of continuing the social reforms started by his predecessor, Magloire focused on economic modernization with the help of private, foreign (mainly U.S.) investments, U.S.-government aid programs, and U.S.-backed international agencies like UNESCO. While lavishing money on showy development projects such as the Point Four-sponsored irrigation project in the Artibonite Valley, the regime did little for the bulk of the country's population. It not only suppressed civil liberties and independent unions, but also aggravated conditions for the peasantry by allowing the country's best land to be taken over by foreign-owned agro-export industries. By increasing Haiti's dependence on agro-exports, Magloire contributed to the ecological and human disaster that explains the poverty of most Haitians today as well as the heavy migratory overflow that has characterized the country since his time. At the end of his term, he fled abroad due to intense political pressure. When François "Papa Doc" Duvalier became president in 1957, Magloire became the country's favorite scapegoat, and he was even stripped of his Haitian nationality. In 1986, when the Duvaliers lost power, Magloire returned from exile. In 1988 he was made an adviser to the Haitian army. He died in 2001 at the age of ninety-three.

See alsoDuvalier, François; Haiti.


David Nicholls, From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour, and National Independence in Haiti (1979).

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Haiti: State Against Nation (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Abbott, Elizabeth. Haiti: The Duvaliers and Their Legacy. Rev. and updated ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.

Bernardin, Raymond. General Paul Eugène Magloire: Une biographie politique. Coconut Creek, FL: Educa Vision, 2004.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Haiti, State against Nation: The Origins and Legacy of Duvalierism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990.

                                        Pamela Murray