Tonton Macoutes (tŏntŏnˈ mäkōtˈ) [key] [Haitian Creole, = bogeymen], personal police force of dictator Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) of Haiti. Unpaid volunteers who were directly responsible only to Duvalier, they were given virtual license to torture, kill, and extort. They murdered hundreds of Duvalier's opponents, sometimes publicly hanging the corpses as warnings. After Papa Doc's death (1971), his son Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) changed their name to the National Security Volunteers, though they continued to terrorize the citizenry. After the overthrow of Baby Doc (1986), although officially disbanded, the group continued to spread terror.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.