Ertha Pascal-Trouillot

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Ertha Pascal-Trouillot
48th President of Haiti
In office
March 13, 1990 – February 7, 1991
Preceded by Hérard Abraham (Acting)
Succeeded by Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Personal details
Born (1943-08-13) August 13, 1943 (age 71)
Pétionville, Haiti
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Ernst Trouillot
Profession Lawyer

Ertha Pascal-Trouillot (born 13 August 1943) was the provisional President of Haiti for 11 months in 1990 and 1991. She was the first woman in Haitian history to hold that office.[1]


Her father, Thimocles, was an iron worker and died when she was young. Her mother Louise (née Dumornay) was a seamstress and embroiderer. Pascal-Trouillot was the ninth of ten children. When she was 10 years old, she and one of her brothers went to the Lycée François Duvalier and was mentored by her future husband, Ernst Trouillot, who was 21 years her senior. In 1971, she received her law degree from the École de Droit des Gonaïves in Port-au-Prince, becoming the country's first woman lawyer.[2] Between 1975 and 1988, she held various positions as a judge in the Haitian federal courts until she became the first woman justice of the Supreme Court of Haiti.[3]

Provisional President[edit]

Pascal-Trouillot was chief justice when she temporarily became Haiti's first female president on 13 March 1990, following a revolt that overthrew the government run by Prosper Avril. General Hérard Abraham remained in charge for three days and then transferred power to Pascal-Trouillot in a public ceremony. As provisional head of state, her job was to coordinate the transition to democracy with the Council of State, which had veto power over her. She oversaw the first truly free elections in Haiti on 16 December 1990 (Haitian general election, 1990–1991), which Jean-Bertrand Aristide won with 67% of the vote.

On 6 January 1991, a coup attempt seeking to pre-empt an Aristide presidency took place when Roger Lafontant, a Tonton Macoute leader under Jean-Claude Duvalier, seized the provisional president Ertha Pascal-Trouillot and declared himself president. After large numbers of Aristide supporters filled the streets in protest and Lafontant attempted to declare martial law, the army (still led by General Abraham) crushed the incipient coup.[4]

Aristide had Pascal-Trouillot arrested under charges of complicity in the January attempted coup d'état. She was released the next day after US intervention in Port-au-Prince. The US demanded that the ban on her departure be lifted. Pascal-Trouillot left the country shortly thereafter but returned more than a year later. Since then, she has lived away from the public eye and is currently working on drafting volumes of the Biographical Encyclopedia of Haïti.[5]


  1. ^ Skard, Torild (2014) "Ertha Pascal-Trouillot", Women of power - Half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press, ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0.
  2. ^ E. L. Bute and H. J. P. Harmer, The Black Handbook: The People, History and Politics of Africa and the African Diaspora, London & Washington: Casssell, 1997, p. 51.
  3. ^ Johnson, Anne Janette, "Ertha Pascal-Trouillot.", March 1992. 30 April 2008.
  4. ^ Collins, Edward Jr.; Cole, Timothy M. (996), "Regime Legitimation in Instances of Coup-Caused Governments-in-Exile: The Cases of Presidents Makarios and Aristide", Journal of International Law & Practice 5(2), p. 220.
  5. ^ "Profil d'Ertha Pascal-Trouillot", 21 February 2008. 30 April 2008.
Political offices
Preceded by
Hérard Abraham
Coat of arms of Haiti.svg
President of Haiti

Succeeded by
Jean-Bertrand Aristide