Jump to content

Jean-Bertrand Aristide

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide returns to the National Palace in Port au Prince, Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy in October 1994
President of Haiti
In office
4 February 2001 – 29 February 2004
Prime MinisterJacques-Édouard Alexis
Jean Marie Chérestal
Yvon Neptune
Preceded byRené Préval
Succeeded byBoniface Alexandre
In office
12 October 1994 – 7 February 1996
Prime MinisterSmarck Michel
Claudette Werleigh
Preceded byÉmile Jonassaint
Succeeded byRené Préval
In office
7 February 1991 – 29 September 1991
Prime MinisterRené Préval
Preceded byErtha Pascal-Trouillot
Succeeded byRaoul Cédras
Leader of Fanmi Lavalas
Assumed office
30 October 1996
Preceded byPosition established
Personal details
Born (1953-07-15) 15 July 1953 (age 71)
Port-Salut, Sud, Haiti
Political partyLavalas Political Organization
Fanmi Lavalas
(m. 1996)
Children2 daughters
Alma materCollège Notre-Dame
State University of Haiti
University of South Africa
Ecclesiastical career
ChurchRoman Catholic Church (Salesians of Don Bosco)
Congregations served
St. Jean Bosco Church, Port-au-Prince

Jean-Bertrand Aristide (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ bɛʁtʁɑ̃ aʁistid]; born 15 July 1953) is a Haitian former Salesian priest and politician who became Haiti's first democratically elected president.[1][2] As a priest, he taught liberation theology[3][4] and, as a president, he attempted to normalize Afro-Creole culture, including Vodou religion, in Haiti.[5] Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies to become a priest. He became a focal point for the pro-democracy movement first under Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier and then under the military transition regime which followed. He won the 1990–91 Haitian general election, with 67% of the vote.

Aristide was briefly president of Haiti, until a September 1991 military coup. The coup regime collapsed in 1994 under U.S. pressure and threat of force (Operation Uphold Democracy), and Aristide was president again from 1994 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2004. He was ousted in the 2004 coup d'état after right-wing ex-army paramilitary units invaded the country from across the Dominican border. Aristide and many others have alleged that the United States had a role in orchestrating the coup against him.[6] In 2022, numerous Haitian and French officials told The New York Times that France and the United States had effectively overthrown Aristide by pressuring him to step down,[7] though this was denied by James Brendan Foley, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti at the time of the coup.[8]

Aristide went into exile in the Central African Republic[6] and South Africa. He returned to Haiti in 2011 after seven years in exile.[9]

Background and church vocation


Jean-Bertrand Aristide was born into poverty in Port-Salut, Sud on 15 July 1953. His father died three months after Aristide was born,[10] and he later moved to Port-au-Prince with his mother.[11] At age five, Aristide started school with priests of the Salesian order.[12] He was educated at the Collège Notre-Dame in Cap-Haïtien, graduating with honors in 1974. He then took a course of novitiate studies in La Vega, Dominican Republic, before returning to Haiti to study philosophy at the Grand Séminaire Notre Dame and psychology at the State University of Haiti.

After completing his post-graduate studies in 1979, Aristide travelled in Europe, studying in Italy, Greece, and at the Cremisan Monastery in the town of Beit Jala. He returned to Haiti in 1982 for his ordination as a Salesian priest,[13] and was appointed curate of a small parish in Port-au-Prince.

Between 1957 and 1986, Haiti was ruled by the family dictatorships of François "Papa Doc" and Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. The misery endured by Haiti's poor made a deep impression on Aristide himself,[11] and he became an outspoken critic of Duvalierism.[14] Nor did he spare the hierarchy of the country's church, since a 1966 Vatican Concordat granted Duvalier one-time power to appoint Haiti's bishops.[15] An exponent of liberation theology, Aristide denounced Duvalier's regime in one of his earliest sermons. This did not go unnoticed by the regime's top echelons. Under pressure, the provincial delegate of the Salesian Order sent Aristide into three years of exile in Montreal.[13] By 1985, as popular opposition to Duvalier's regime grew, Aristide was back preaching in Haiti. His Easter Week sermon, "A call to holiness", delivered at the cathedral of Port-au-Prince and later broadcast throughout Haiti, proclaimed: "The path of those Haitians who reject the regime is the path of righteousness and love."[16]

Aristide became a leading figure in the Ti Legliz movement, whose name means "little church" in Kreyòl.[17] In September 1985, he was appointed to St. Jean Bosco church, in a poor neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. Struck by the absence of young people in the church, Aristide began to organize youth, sponsoring weekly youth Masses.[18] He founded an orphanage for urban street children in 1986 called Lafanmi Selavi [Family is Life].[19]: 214  The program sought to be a model of participatory democracy for the children it served.[20] As Aristide became a leading voice for the aspirations of Haiti's dispossessed, he inevitably became a target for attack.[21] He survived at least four assassination attempts.[12][22] The most widely publicized attempt, the St. Jean Bosco massacre, occurred on 11 September 1988,[23] During the attempt over one hundred armed Tontons Macoute wearing red armbands forced their way into St. Jean Bosco as Aristide began Sunday Mass.[24] As army troops and police stood by, the men fired machine guns at the congregation and attacked fleeing parishioners with machetes. Aristide's church was burned to the ground. Thirteen people are reported to have been killed, and 77 wounded. Aristide survived and went into hiding.[19]

Subsequently, Salesian officials ordered Aristide to leave Haiti, but tens of thousands of Haitians protested, blocking his access to the airport.[25] In December 1988, Aristide was expelled from his Salesian order.[26] A statement prepared by the Salesians called the priest's political activities an "incitement to hatred and violence", out of line with his role as a clergyman.[27] Aristide appealed the decision, saying: "The crime of which I stand accused is the crime of preaching food for all men and women."[28] In a January 1988 interview, he said "The solution is revolution, first in the spirit of the Gospel; Jesus could not accept people going hungry. It is a conflict between classes, rich and poor. My role is to preach and organize...."[10] In 1994, Aristide left priesthood, ending years of tension with the church over his criticism of its hierarchy and his espousal of liberation theology.[29] Aristide married Mildred Trouillot, on 20 January 1996, with whom he had two daughters.[30][31]

First presidency (1991–96)


Following the violence at the aborted national election of 1987, the 1990 election was approached with caution. Aristide announced his candidacy for the presidency. Following a six-week campaign, during which he dubbed his followers the "Front National pour le Changement et la Démocratie" (National Front for Change and Democracy, or FNCD), Aristide was elected president in 1990 with 67% of the vote in what is generally recognized as the first honest election in Haitian history. However, just eight months into his presidency he was overthrown by a bloody military coup. He broke from FNCD and created the Struggling People's Organization (OPL, Organisation Politique "Lavalas") – "the flood" or "torrent" in Kréyòl. The coup d'état overthrowing Aristide occurred six weeks after the 200-year anniversary of Bois Caïman, a Vodou ceremony during which Haitians planned the Haitian Revolution of 1791, which the Aristide government had commemorated at the National Palace.[32]

A coup attempt against Aristide had taken place on 6 January, even before his inauguration, when Roger Lafontant, a Tonton Macoute leader under Duvalier, seized the provisional president Ertha Pascal-Trouillot the first and only woman president.[33] After large numbers of Aristide supporters filled the streets in protest and Lafontant attempted to declare martial law, the army crushed the incipient coup.[34]

During Aristide's short-lived first period in office, he attempted to carry out substantial reforms, which brought passionate opposition from Haiti's business and military elite.[35] He sought to bring the military under civilian control, retiring the commander in chief of the army Hérard Abraham, initiated investigations of human rights violations, and brought to trial several Tontons Macoute who had not fled the country.[35] He also banned the emigration of many well known Haitians until their bank accounts had been examined.[35] His relationship with the National Assembly soon deteriorated, and he attempted repeatedly to bypass it on judicial, Cabinet and ambassadorial appointments.[35] His nomination of his close friend and political ally, René Préval, as prime minister, provoked severe criticism from political opponents overlooked, and the National Assembly threatened a no-confidence vote against Préval in August 1991. This led to a crowd of at least 2000 at the National Palace, which threatened violence; together with Aristide's failure to explicitly reject mob violence, this permitted the junta, which would topple him, to accuse him of human rights violations.[35] The nomination of Marie-Denise Fabien Jean-Louis, a Duvalier-linked physician with no diplomatic experience, as minister of foreign affairs, also received significant opposition from many within the Lavalas movement.[36]

1991 coup d'état


In September 1991 the army performed a coup against him (1991 Haitian coup d'état), led by army general Raoul Cédras, who had been promoted by Aristide in June to commander in chief of the army. Aristide was deposed on 29 September 1991, and after several days sent into exile, his life only saved by the intervention of U.S., French and Venezuelan diplomats.[37] In accordance with the requirements of article 149 of the Haitian Constitution, Superior Court justice Joseph Nérette was installed as président provisoire to serve until elections were held within 90 days of Aristide's resignation. However, real power was held by army commander Raoul Cédras.[38] High-ranking members of the Haitian National Intelligence Service (SIN), which had been set up and financed in the 1980s by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as part of the war on drugs, were involved in the coup, and were reportedly still receiving funding and training from the CIA for intelligence-gathering activities at the time of the coup, but this funding reportedly ended after the coup.[39] The New York Times stated, "No evidence suggests that the C.I.A. backed the coup or intentionally undermined President Aristide."[39] However, press reports about possible CIA involvement in Haitian politics before the coup sparked congressional hearings in the United States.[40]

A campaign of terror against Aristide supporters was started by Emmanuel Constant after Aristide was forced out of power. In 1993, Constant, who had been on the CIA's payroll as an informant since 1992, organized the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haïti (FRAPH), which targeted and killed Aristide supporters.[40][41][42]

Aristide spent his exile first in Venezuela and then in the United States, working to develop international support. A United Nations trade embargo during Aristide's exile, intended to force the coup leaders to step down, was a strong blow to Haiti's already weak economy.[43] President George H. W. Bush granted an exemption from the embargo to many U.S. companies doing business in Haiti, and president Bill Clinton extended this exemption.[44][45]

In addition to this trade with the United States, the coup regime was supported by massive profits from the drug trade thanks to the Haitian military's affiliation with the Cali Cartel; Aristide publicly stated that his own pursuit of arresting drug dealers was one event that prompted the coup by drug-affiliated military officials Raul Cedras and Michel Francois (a claim echoed by his former secretary of State Patrick Elie). Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) expressed concern that the only U.S. government agency to publicly recognize the Haitian junta's role in drug trafficking was the Drug Enforcement Administration, and that, despite a wealth of evidence provided by the DEA proving the junta's drug connections, the Clinton administration downplayed this factor rather than use it as a hedge against the junta (as the U.S. government had done against Manuel Noriega). Nairn in particular alleged that the CIA's connections to these drug traffickers in the junta not only dated to the creation of SIN, but were ongoing during and after the coup. Nairn's claims are confirmed in part by revelations of Emmanuel Constant regarding the ties of his FRAPH organization to the CIA before and during the coup government.[citation needed]

1994 return

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returns triumphantly to the National Palace at Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Following large pro-Aristide demonstrations by Haitian expats (estimated over 60,000 demonstrators in New York City)[46] urging Bill Clinton to deliver on his election promise to return Aristide to Haiti, U.S. and international pressure (including United Nations Security Council Resolution 940 on 31 July 1994), persuaded the military regime to back down and U.S. troops were deployed in the country by President Bill Clinton. On 15 October 1994, the Clinton administration returned Aristide to Haiti to complete his term in office.

Aristide received the 1996 UNESCO Prize for human rights education.[47]

Opposition (1996–2001)


In late 1996, Aristide broke from the OPL over what he called its "distance from the people"[48] and created a new political party, the Fanmi Lavalas. The OPL, holding the majority in the Sénat and the Chambre des Députés, renamed itself the Organisation du Peuple en Lutte, maintaining the OPL acronym.

Fanmi Lavalas won the 2000 legislative election in May, but a handful of Senate seats were allocated to Lavalas candidates that critics claimed should have had second-round runoffs (as the votes of some smaller parties were eliminated in final vote counts, which had also been done in earlier elections). Critics argue that FL had not achieved a first-round majority for this handful of senate seats. Critics also charge that Fanmi Lavalas controlled the Provisional Election Commission which made the decision, but their criticism is of a vote count technique used prior in Haiti history.[49] Aristide then was elected later that year in the 2000 presidential election, an election boycotted by most opposition political parties, now organised into the Convergence Démocratique. Although the U.S. government claimed that the election turnout was hardly over 10%, international observers saw turnout of around 50%[citation needed], and at the time, CNN reported a turnout of 60% with over 92% voting for Aristide.[50] The Bush administration in the U.S. and Haitian expatriate opposition leaders in Florida would use the criticism over the election to argue for an embargo on international aid to the Haitian government.

Second presidency (2001–2004)


In 2003, Aristide called for France, the former colonizer of the country, to pay $21 billion[51] in restitution to Haiti for the 90 million gold francs supplied to France by Haiti in restitution for French property, including enslaved people, that was appropriated in the Haitian rebellion, over the period from 1825 to 1947.[52]

2004 overthrow


It has been alleged that after his return to power in 2001, Aristide increasingly relied on street gangs to enforce his will and to terrorize his political opponents. After the murder of Amiot Métayer, the leader of the pro-Aristide Lame Kanibal (Cannibal Army) gang in the Raboteau slum in the northern city of Gonaïves in September 2003, Métayer's partisans, believing that Aristide had ordered his killing, rose up against the president.[53] On 5 December 2003, organized pro-Aristide forces committed and encouraged violent attacks and threats against University of Port-au-Prince students protesting against Aristide.[54]

In early 2004, the Cannibal Army was joined in its fight against the government by former military and police, many of whom had been in exile in the Dominican Republic and who had been launching cross-border raids since 2001.[55] The paramilitary campaign was headed by ex-police chief Guy Philippe and former FRAPH death squad founder Louis Jodel Chamblain.[56] In February 2004, pro-Aristide forces were accused of committing a massacre in the city of Saint-Marc.[57]

The rebels soon took control of the North, and eventually laid siege to, and then invaded, the capital. Under disputed circumstances, Aristide was flown out of the country by the U.S. with assistance from Canada and France on 28 February 2004.[58] Aristide and his bodyguard, Franz Gabriel, stated that he was the victim of a "new coup d'état or modern kidnapping" by U.S. forces. Mrs. Aristide stated that the personnel who escorted him wore U.S. Special Forces uniforms, but changed into civilian clothes upon boarding the aircraft that was used to remove them from Haiti.[59][60] Jamaican prime minister P. J. Patterson released a statement saying "we are bound to question whether his resignation was truly voluntary, as it comes after the capture of regions of Haiti by armed insurgents and the failure of the international community to provide the requisite support. The removal of President Aristide in these circumstances sets a dangerous precedent for democratically elected governments anywhere and everywhere, as it promotes the removal of duly elected persons from office by the power of rebel forces."[6] Meanwhile, National Palace security agent Casimir Chariot said that Aristide left of his own free will.[61] Aristide's Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune, also said that Aristide's resignation was genuine.[62]

After Aristide was flown out of Haiti, looters raided his villa.[63] Most barricades were lifted the day after Aristide left as the shooting had stopped; order was maintained by Haitian police, along with armed rebels and local vigilantes.[64] Almost immediately after the Aristide family was transported from Haiti, the prime minister of Jamaica, P. J. Patterson, dispatched a member of parliament, Sharon Hay-Webster, to the Central African Republic. The leadership of that country agreed that Aristide and his family could go to Jamaica. The Aristide family remained on the island for several months until the Jamaican government gained acceptance by the Republic of South Africa for the family to relocate there.

Aristide later claimed that France and the U.S. had a role in what he termed "a kidnapping" that took him from Haiti to South Africa via the Central African Republic.[65] However, authorities said his temporary asylum there had been negotiated by the United States, France and Gabon.[66] On 1 March 2004, U.S. congresswoman Maxine Waters, along with Aristide family friend Randall Robinson, reported Aristide had told them that he had been forced to resign and had been abducted from the country by the United States and that he had been held hostage by an armed military guard.[67] According to Waters, Mildred Aristide called her at her home at 6:30 am, informing her that "the coup d'etat has been completed". She also stated how Jean-Bertrand Aristide claimed the U.S. embassy in Haiti's chief of staff came to his house and threatened that he, alongside many other Haitians would be killed if he did not resign.[6] Aristide's letter, which is described as his resignation, does not actually contain Aristide clearly and officially resigning. Representative Charles Rangel, D-New York, expressed similar words, saying Aristide had told him he was "disappointed that the international community had let him down" and "that he resigned under pressure" – "As a matter of fact, he was very apprehensive for his life. They made it clear that he had to go now or he would be killed."[6] When asked for his response to these statements Colin Powell said that "it might have been better for members of Congress who have heard these stories to ask us about the stories before going public with them so we don't make a difficult situation that much more difficult" and he alleged that Aristide "did not democratically govern or govern well".[6] CARICOM, an organization of Caribbean countries that included Haiti, called for a United Nations investigation into Aristide's removal, but were reportedly pressured by the U.S. and France to drop their request. Some observers suggest the rebellion and removal of Aristide were covertly orchestrated by these two countries and Canada.[68][42]

In 2022, Thierry Burkard, the French ambassador to Haiti at the time, told the New York Times that France and the United States had effectively orchestrated a coup against Aristide by forcing him into exile.[7] In response to this, James Brendan Foley, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti at the time of the coup, called these claims untrue, stating that it was never U.S. policy to remove Aristide. He said that Aristide had requested a U.S. rescue and that the decision to dispatch a plane to carry him to safety had been agreed upon following night-time discussions at the behest of Aristide.[8]

In a 2006 interview, Aristide claimed the United States reneged on compromises he made with it over the privatization of enterprises to ensure that part of the profits from those enterprises would be distributed to the Haitian population and then relied on a disinformation campaign to discredit him.[48]

Exile (2004–2011)


After being cast into exile, in mid-2004 Aristide, his family, and bodyguards were welcomed to South Africa by several cabinet ministers, 20 senior diplomats, and a guard of honor.[69][70] Receiving a salary from and provided staff by the South African government,[71] Aristide lived with his family in a government villa in Pretoria.[72] In South Africa, Aristide became an honorary research fellow at the University of South Africa, learned Zulu, and, on 25 April 2007, received a doctorate in African languages.[73]

On 21 December 2007, a speech by Aristide marking the new year and Haiti's Independence Day was broadcast, the fourth such speech since his exile; in the speech he criticized the 2006 presidential election in which Préval was elected, describing it as a "selection", in which "the knife of treason was planted" in the back of the Haitian people.[74]

Since the election, some high-ranking members of Lavalas have been targets for violence.[75][76] Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a leading human rights organizer in Haiti and a member of Lavalas, disappeared in August 2007.[77] His whereabouts remain unknown and a news article states: "Like many protesters, he [Wilson Mesilien, coordinator of the pro-Aristide 30 September Foundation] wore a T-shirt demanding the return of foundation leader Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a human rights activist and critic of both U.N. and U.S. involvement in Haiti who disappeared in August."[78]

Return to Haiti


In a confidential 2008 United States embassy cable, former U.S. ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson emphasized that: "A premature departure of MINUSTAH would leave the [Haitian] government...vulnerable to...resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces – reversing gains of the last two years. MINUSTAH is an indispensable tool in realizing core USG [U.S. government] policy interests in Haiti."[79]

At a meeting with U.S. State Department officials on 2 August 2006, former Guatemalan diplomat Edmond Mulet, then chief of MINUSTAH, urged U.S. legal action against Aristide to prevent the former president from gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti.

At Mulet's request, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki to ensure that Aristide remained in the country.[80]

U.S. ambassador James Foley wrote in a confidential 22 March 2005 cable that an August 2004 poll "showed that Aristide was still the only figure in Haiti with a favorability rating above 50%".[81]

After René Préval, a former ally of Aristide, was elected president of Haiti in 2006, he said it would be possible for Aristide to return to Haiti.[82][83]

On 16 December 2009, several thousand protesters marched through Port-au-Prince calling for Aristide's return to Haiti, and protesting the exclusion of Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party from upcoming elections.[84]

On 12 January 2010, Aristide sent his condolences to victims of the earthquake in Haiti just a few hours after it occurred, and stated that he wished to return to help rebuild the country.[72][85]

On 7 November 2010, in an exclusive interview (the last given before his return to Haiti) with independent reporter Nicolas Rossier in Eurasia Review and the Huffington Post, Aristide declared that the 2010 elections were not inclusive of his party, Fanmi Lavalas, and therefore not fair and free. He also confirmed his wishes to go back to Haiti but stated that he was not allowed to travel out of South Africa.[86]

In February 2011, Aristide announced that he would return to Haiti within days of the ruling Haitian government removing impediments to him receiving his Haitian passport.[87] On 17 March 2011, Aristide departed for Haiti from his exile in South Africa. U.S. president Barack Obama had asked South African president Jacob Zuma to delay Aristide's departure to prevent him from returning to Haiti before a presidential run-off election scheduled for 20 March. Aristide's party was barred from participating in the election, and the U.S. feared his return could be destabilizing.[88] On Friday, 18 March 2011, he and his spouse arrived at Port-au-Prince Airport, and were greeted by thousands of supporters.[89] He told the crowd waiting at the airport: "The exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas is the exclusion of the Haitian people. In 1804, the Haitian revolution marked the end of slavery. Today, may the Haitian people end exiles and coups d’état, while peacefully moving from social exclusion to inclusion."[9]

Post-exile (2011–present)


After Aristide returned to Haiti in 2011, he initially abstained from political involvement. However, on 12 September 2014, Aristide was ordered under house arrest by Judge Lamarre Belzaire while under a corruption investigation.[90] Aristide's lawyers and supporters of Fanmi Lavalas questioned the legality of the judge's order under Haitian law as well as the judge's impartiality.

During the elections of 1991 and 2000 of Aristide and the 1995 and 2006 elections of Rene Preval, the turnout of the total voting population hovered at around 60–70%. In the years following the 2010 earthquake, turnout in elections dropped significantly to 20%. During this period, the right-wing rose to power, with mass voter disenfranchisement.[91] In late 2016 Aristide, for the first time in many years, returned to electioneering, touring the country to promote Fanmi Lavalas candidates; the election results (decried by his party as illegitimate) returned to power right-wing forces in the country, with only a 20% voter turnout.[92]



Under president Aristide's leadership, the Haitian government implemented many major reforms. These included greatly increasing access to health care and education for the general population, increasing adult literacy and protections for those accused of crimes, improving training for judges, prohibiting human trafficking, disbanding the Haitian military, establishing an improved climate for human rights and civil liberties, doubling the minimum wage, instituting land reform and assistance to small farmers, providing boat construction training to fishermen, establishing a food distribution network to provide low cost food to the poor at below market prices, building low-cost housing, and reducing government corruption.[93]

Achievements in education


During successive Lavalas administrations, Jean-Bertrand Aristide and René Préval built 195 new primary schools and 104 secondary schools. Prior to Aristide's election in 1990, there were just 34 secondary schools nationwide. Lavalas also provided thousands of scholarships so that children could afford to attend church/private schools. Between 2001 and 2004, the percentage of children enrolled in primary school education rose to 72%, and an estimated 300,000 adults took part in Lavalas sponsored adult literacy campaigns. This helped the adult literacy rate rise from 35% to 55%.[94]

Achievements in health care


In addition to numerous educational advances, Aristide and Lavalas embarked on an ambitious plan to develop the public primary health care system with Cuban assistance. Since the devastation unleashed by Hurricane Georges in 1998, Cuba entered a humanitarian agreement with Haiti whereby Haitian doctors would be trained in Cuba, and Cuban doctors would work in rural areas. At the time of 2010 Haiti earthquake, 573 doctors had been trained in Cuba.[95]

Despite operating under an aid embargo, the Lavalas administration succeeded in reducing the infant mortality rate as well as reducing the percentage of underweight newborns. A successful AIDS prevention and treatment program was also established, leading the Catholic Institute for International Relations to state: the "incredible feat of slowing the rate of new infections in Haiti has been achieved despite the lack of international aid to the Haitian government, and despite the notable lack of resources faced by those working in the health field".[96]

Disbanding the army and paramilitary units – the Fad'H, Tonton Macoutes, and Attaches


The Lavalas political project has long been dedicated to promoting a civilian police force and disbanding the long-time tools of elite repression in Haiti which have been the country's brutal military and paramilitary forces. The government under Aristide launched the first trial of paramilitary death squads and successfully jailed many after aired on Haitian public television trials of FAdH [97] and FRAPH [97] members involved in massacres of civilians.

Trials were held bringing to justice a handful of wealthy individuals from among Haiti's upper class that had financed paramilitary death squads, including individuals such as Judy C. Roy (who has acknowledged her financing of the FLRN death squads) of whom held close ties with the former dictators Raoul Cedras and Jean-Claude Duvalier.[97] Reforming the country's security services though posed a constant problem for Lavalas, as the U.S. sought to undermine these reform efforts by seeking to re-insert its right-wing allies into the police force. The Lavalas government also faced a lack of resources, due to cuts in aid to Haiti with US policies under the first presidency of George W. Bush. Meanwhile, there was continued prevalence of corruption in connection with the drug trade.[98]



Accusations of human rights abuses


Human Rights Watch accused the Haitian police force under Aristide and his political supporters of attacks on opposition rallies. They also said that the emergence of armed rebels seeking to overthrow Aristide reflected "the failure of the country's democratic institutions and procedures".[99] According to a study by researcher Jeb Sprague, the armed rebel paramilitary units received vital support from a handful of Haitian elites, Dominican governmental sectors, and foreign intelligence. The undermanned Haitian police faced difficulties in repelling cross-border attacks led by the ex-army paramilitary rebels.[98]

Videos surfaced showing a portion of a speech by Aristide on 27 August 1991, occurring just after military personnel and death squad members attempted to assassinate him, in which he says "Don't hesitate to give him what he deserves. What a beautiful tool! What a beautiful instrument! What a beautiful piece of equipment! It's beautiful, yes it's beautiful, it's cute, it's pretty, it has a good smell, wherever you go you want to inhale it."[100] Critics allege that he was endorsing the practice of "necklacing" opposition activists, placing a gasoline-soaked tire around a person's neck and setting the tire ablaze;[101] others argue he was actually speaking about people using the constitution to empower themselves and to defend their country against right-wing death squads. Earlier in the speech he is quoted as saying "Your tool in hand, your instrument in hand, your constitution in hand! Don't hesitate to give him what he deserves. Your equipment in hand, your trowel in hand, your pencil in hand, your Constitution in hand, don't hesitate to give him what he deserves."[100][102]

Although there were accusations of human rights abuses, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti, known by the French acronym MICIVIH, found that the human rights situation in Haiti improved dramatically following Aristide's return to power in 1994.[103] Amnesty International reported that, after Aristide's departure in 2004, Haiti was "descending into a severe humanitarian and human rights crisis".[104] BBC correspondents say that Aristide is seen as a champion of the poor, and remains popular with many in Haiti.[105] Aristide continues to be among the most important political figures in the country, and is considered by many to be the only really popular, democratically elected leader Haiti has ever had.[106] Yet his second administration was targeted for destabilization and is remembered as a time of great difficulty of many.

Accusations of corruption


Some officials have been indicted by a U.S. court.[107] Companies that allegedly made deals with Aristide's government included IDT, Fusion Telecommunications, and Skytel; critics claim the first two companies had political links to Aristide. AT&T reportedly declined to wire money to "Mont Salem".[108][109][110][111] Aristide's supporters say corruption charges against the former president are a deliberate attempt to keep a popular leader from running in elections.[112]



In 2000, Aristide published The Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, which accused the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund of working on behalf of the world's wealthiest nations rather than in the interest of genuine international development. Aristide called for "a culture of global solidarity" to eliminate poverty as an alternative to the globalization represented by neocolonialism and neoliberalism.[113]


  • (With Laura Flynn) The Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, Common Courage Press, 2000.
  • Dignity, University of Virginia Press, 1996; translated from Dignité, Éditions du Seuil, 1994.
  • Névrose vétéro-testamentaire, Editions du CIDIHCA, 1994.
  • Aristide: An Autobiography, Orbis Books, 1993.
  • Tout homme est un homme, Éditions du Seuil, 1992.
  • Théologie et politique, Editions du CIDIHCA, 1992.
  • (With Amy Wilentz) In the Parish of the Poor: Writings from Haiti, Orbis Books, 1990.


  1. ^ "Military ousts Haiti's leader, claims power President Aristide en route to France; fighting kills 26". The Boston Globe. 1 October 1991.
  2. ^ "Haiti: The impact of the 1991 coup". International Journal of Refugee Law. June 1992. Archived from the original on 4 September 2015.
  3. ^ Hari, Johann (17 September 2010). "How Our Governments Snuffed Out a Democracy And Kidnapped a President: A Modern Parable". The Huffington Post.
  4. ^ Damning the Flood Archived 25 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Richard Pithouse, Mute Magazine, 14 October 2008
  5. ^ McAlister, Elizabeth (June 2012). "From Slave Revolt to a Blood Pact with Satan: The Evangelical Rewriting of Haitian History". Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses. 41 (2). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications: 187–215. doi:10.1177/0008429812441310. S2CID 145382199. Archived from the original on 22 July 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Aristide says U.S. deposed him in 'coup d'etat'". CNN. 2 March 2004. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  7. ^ a b Porter, Catherine; Méheut, Constant; Apuzzo, Matt; Gebrekidan, Selam (20 May 2022). "The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparations to Enslavers". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  8. ^ a b Foley, James (24 May 2022). "No, the U.S. did not try to overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti". Miami Herald.
  9. ^ a b Archibold, Randal C. (18 March 2011). "Just Days Before Election, Aristide Returns to Cheers and Uncertainty in Haiti". The New York Times.
  10. ^ a b "Portrait of a Folk-Hero: Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide". Archived from the original on 22 August 2012.
  11. ^ a b Danner, Mark (4 November 1993). "Haiti on the Verge". The New York Review. Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Aristide no stranger to struggle". Associated Press. 16 February 2004. Archived from the original on 21 February 2004. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  13. ^ a b Danner, Mark (18 November 1993). "The Prophet". The New York Review. Archived from the original on 8 September 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  14. ^ Gallo, Michael F. (Fall 1989). "Hope in Haiti? An interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide". Touchstone Magazine. 3 (3). Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Concordat Watch: Papa Doc's Concordat (1966)". Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  16. ^ Hallward, Peter (May–June 2004). "Option Zero in Haiti". New Left Review. 27 (May–June 200). Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  17. ^ Rohter, Larry (24 July 1994). "Liberal Wing of Haiti's Church Resists Military". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  18. ^ Farmer, Paul (2005). The Uses of Haiti, 3rd edition. Common Courage Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-1567513448.
  19. ^ a b Wilentz, Amy (1989). The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. Simon and Schuster. pp. 348–353. ISBN 978-0671641863.
  20. ^ Bernat, J. Christopher (1 June 1999). "Children and the Politics of Violence in Haitian Context: Statist violence, scarcity and street child agency in Port-au-Prince". Critique of Anthropology. 19 (2). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications: 121–138. CiteSeerX doi:10.1177/0308275x9901900202. S2CID 145185450. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  21. ^ French, Howard (24 September 1988). "Attack on Priest Called Haiti Catalyst". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  22. ^ Farmer, Paul. "Who is Aristide, from Uses of Haiti". Common Courage Press. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  23. ^ Belleau, Jean-Philippe (2 April 2008). "Massacres perpetrated in the 20th Century in Haiti". Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence. ISSN 1961-9898. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  24. ^ Treaster, Joseph B. (23 September 1988). "Haiti Terrorists Form in New Groups". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  25. ^ Farmer, Paul (2005). The Uses of Haiti, 3rd edition. Common Courage Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-1567513448.
  26. ^ Treaster, Joseph B. (18 December 1988). "A Haitian Priest is Ousted by Order". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  27. ^ Corbett, Bob. "Aristide resigning his priesthood?". Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  28. ^ Farmer, Paul (2005). The Uses of Haiti, 3rd edition. Common Courage Press. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-1567513448.
  29. ^ Rohter, Larry (17 November 1994). "Aristide decides to quit as priest". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  30. ^ Pierre-Pierre, Gary (21 January 1996). "Many in Haiti Are Troubled By Marriage Of Aristide". New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  31. ^ "Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Tumultuous Career". Archived from the original on 20 January 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  32. ^ McAlister, Elizabeth (2012). "From Slave Revolt to a Blood Pact with Satan: The Evangelical Rewriting of Haitian History". Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses. 41 (2): 187–215. doi:10.1177/0008429812441310. S2CID 145382199. Archived from the original on 22 July 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  33. ^ Juste, Jonel (1 June 2023). "Foreign Head of State Immunity: Lafontant v. Aristide (1994)". Medium. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  34. ^ Collins, Edward Jr., Cole, Timothy M. (1996), "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.
  35. ^ a b c d e Collins, Edward Jr., Cole, Timothy M. (1996), "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 219.
  36. ^ Dumas, Pierre-Raymond (1997). La transition d'Haïti vers la démocratie: essais sur la dérive despotico-libérale [Haiti's Transition to Democracy: Essays on the Despotic-Liberal Drift] (in French). Port-au-Prince: Imprimeur II. p. 50. ISBN 978-99935-614-1-5. OCLC 38080575.
  37. ^ Collins, Edward Jr., Cole, Timothy M. (1996), "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 199.
  38. ^ "Leader of Haiti Ousted Military Takes Over After Seizing Aristide". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1 October 1991. Archived from the original (reprint) on 10 November 2012.
  39. ^ a b French, Howard W.; Time Weiner (14 November 1993). "C.I.A. Formed Haitian Unit Later Tied to Narcotics Trade". New York Times. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  40. ^ a b Jim Mann (2 November 1993). "Congress to Probe CIA-Haiti Ties". Los Angeles Times.
  41. ^ Rupert Cornwell (7 October 1994). "CIA 'helped to set up terror group' in Haiti". The Independent. London.
  42. ^ a b Mark Weisbrot (22 November 2005). "Undermining Haiti". The Nation. Archived from the original on 17 January 2022.
  43. ^ Victoria Graham (27 August 1993). "UN Ready To End Haiti Sanctions". The Seattle Times.
  44. ^ Sydney P. Freedberg, Rachel L. Swarns (3 November 1994). "Poorly Enforced Sanctions Botch U.S. Embargo of Haiti". The Seattle Times.
  45. ^ Carl Hartman (18 February 1994). "Americans Step Up Business With Haiti Despite Sanctions". The Seattle Times.
  46. ^ Faison, Seth (12 October 1991). "Thousands of Haitians Protest Coup". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  47. ^ "Summary list of UNESCO Prizes: list of prizewinners". unesdoc.unesco.org. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  48. ^ a b Peter Hallward (22 February 2007). "An Interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide". London Review of Books. pp. 9–13.
  49. ^ Dailey, Peter (13 March 2003). "Haiti: The Fall of the House of Aristide". New York Review of Books. 50 (4). Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  50. ^ "Election watch Haiti". CNN. 26 November 2000. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  51. ^ Rhodes-Pitts, Sharifa (4 January 2004). "A call for $21 billion from France aims to lift Haiti's bicentennial blues". Boston Globe. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  52. ^ MacDonald, Isabel (16 August 2010). "France's debt of dishonour to Haiti". The Guardian. London.
  53. ^ "Le fil des événements entourant l'assassinat de Amiot Métayer". Alterpresse. 10 October 2003.
  54. ^ "Soros Foundation in Haiti Denounces Attacks on Students by Pro-Government Forces". FOKAL. 10 December 2003.
  55. ^ Klarreich, Kathie (23 February 2004). "Letter From Haiti: A Battle of Cannibals And Monsters". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008.
  56. ^ Steven, Dudley (15 February 2004). "Disparate forces behind the violent opposition in Haiti". Boston Globe.
  57. ^ "Requiem pour la Scierie". Alterpresse. 30 April 2004.
  58. ^ "Haiti's Aristide defiant in exile". BBC News. 8 March 2004.
  59. ^ "Aristide Kidnapped by US Forces?". Globalpolicy.org. 1 March 2004. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  60. ^ "Exclusive: Aristide and His Bodyguard Describe the U.S. Role In His Ouster". Democracynow.org. 16 March 2004. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  61. ^ "Aristide's Last Days". Tampa Bay Times. 28 February 2006.
  62. ^ "Aristide avait "démissionné" en 2004, dit son ancien Premier ministre". Radio Kiskeya. 6 October 2010. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  63. ^ Associated Press (1 March 2004). "Looters pick through Aristide's villa: Letters about the CIA, FBI left behind". CNN. Archived from the original on 5 March 2004. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  64. ^ "Haitians emerge to work, or party". CNN. Reuters. 1 March 2004. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  65. ^ Paul Farmer (15 April 2004). "Who removed Aristide?". London Review of Books. pp. 28–31.
  66. ^ Associated Press (1 March 2004). "Aristide arrives for African exile". CNN International. Archived from the original on 5 March 2004. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  67. ^ "Rep Maxine Waters: Aristide Says 'I Was Kidnapped'". Democracy Now. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  68. ^ Thalif Deen (13 April 2004). "US, France Block UN Probe of Aristide Ouster". Inter Press Service.
  69. ^ Munnion, Christopher (1 June 2004). "Mbeki rolls out the red carpet for exile Aristide". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  70. ^ Momberg, Eleanor (1 June 2004). "Warm welcome for Aristide". Independent Online (IOL). Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  71. ^ Political Bureau (25 June 2009). "Ex president living it up in SA". Independent Online (IOL). Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  72. ^ a b Smith, David (15 January 2010). "Haiti's exiled former president vows to return". London: Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  73. ^ "Exiled Aristide gets SA doctorate" Archived 28 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine, iafrica.com, 26 April 2007.
  74. ^ "Exiled former Haitian president stirs supporters with speech", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), 22 December 2007.
  75. ^ "Dr. Maryse Narcisse Kidnapped in Haiti" Archived 2 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine Dr. Maryse Narcisse – a member of the National Commission of the Fanmi Lavalas Party – was kidnapped in October 2007, and later freed after a ransom was paid.
  76. ^ Amnesty International Index: AMR 36/008/2007 – Wilson Mésilien, the successor to Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, had to go into hiding following death threats.
  77. ^ Fondasyon Mapou and the Haitian Priorities Project (14 August 2007). "We are urging for the safe return of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine". Press release. Toronto Haiti Action Committee. Archived from the original on 24 February 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  78. ^ Katz, Jonathan M.; AP (29 February 2008). "Thousands march in Haiti on anniversary of Aristide's departure". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  79. ^ "Subject: Why We Need Continuing Minustah Presence in Haiti" U.S. Embassy Port Au Prince, 1 October 2008 15:48 – WikiLeaks
  80. ^ "Haiti: A/s Shannon's Meeting With Minustah Srsg" U.S. Embassy Port Au Prince (Haiti), Wed, 2 August 2006 19:01 UTC
  81. ^ "Lavalas Torn Between Boycotting Wlections and Moving Forward" U.S. Embassy Port Au Prince
  82. ^ "Haiti 'to allow' Aristide return". BBC. 23 February 2006.
  83. ^ "Thousands demand Aristide return". BBC. 16 July 2006.
  84. ^ "Aristide supporters protest election ban in Haiti". Reuters. 17 December 2009.
  85. ^ "Aristide wishes to leave SA for Haiti". IOL News. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  86. ^ Rossier, Nicolas (15 February 2011). "An Exclusive Interview With Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide". Huffington Post.
  87. ^ "Haiti's former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide vows to return". Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  88. ^ "Returning to Haiti, Aristide says Haitians who fought for democracy are happy he's coming home". Washington Post. 18 March 2011. Archived from the original on 10 December 2018.
  89. ^ Joseph Guyler Delva and Pascal Fletcher (19 March 2011). "Aristide makes triumphant Haiti return before vote". Reuters Africa. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012.
  90. ^ Archibold, Randal C. (12 September 2014). "Ex-President of Haiti Put Under House Arrest". The New York Times.
  91. ^ "Haiti's Unrepresentative Democracy: Exclusion and Discouragement in the November 20, 2016, Elections" (PDF). Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  92. ^ Charles, Jacqueline (28 November 2016). "Banana farmer wins Haiti presidency, according to preliminary results". Miami Herald. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  93. ^ Stephen Lendman (16 December 2005). "Achievements Under Aristide, Now Lost". ZNet. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012.
  94. ^ Hallward, Peter (2007). Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment. Verso Press. p. 133.
  95. ^ Edmonds, Kevin. "The Undermining of Haitian Healthcare: Setting the Stage for Disaster". NACLA, 22 February 2010.
  96. ^ Hallward, Peter. Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment. Verso Books, 2007, p. 134.
  97. ^ a b c Sprague, Jeb. "Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti". Monthly Review Press, 2012.
  98. ^ a b Sprague, Jeb (15 August 2012). "Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti". Monthly Review.
  99. ^ "Haiti: Aristide Should Uphold Rule of Law". Human Rights Watch. 13 February 2004.
  100. ^ a b "Aristide's "Pe Lebrun" speech". Haïti Observateur. 27 September 1992. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  101. ^ Associated Press (17 February 2004). "Haiti's Aristide prepares for a fight". USA Today. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  102. ^ Lisa Pease (1 February 2010). "America's Sad History with Haiti, Part 2". Consortium News.
  103. ^ "Three Years of Defending Human Rights". United Nations. September 1995. Archived from the original on 10 March 2008.
  104. ^ "Haiti Human Rights". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010.
  105. ^ "UN troops disperse Haiti protesters supporting Aristide". BBC News. August 2014.
  106. ^ "America's subversion of Haiti's democracy continues". The Guardian. 13 March 2012.
  107. ^ "Indictments in Alleged Aristide Corruption Case". Press release. Haiti Democracy Project. 8 December 2009. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  108. ^ O'Grady, Mary Anastasia (28 July 2008). "Aristide's American Profiteers". Opinion. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  109. ^ O'Grady, Mary Anastasia (3 June 2005). "Aristide's Past Deserves More Intense Scrutiny". Opinion. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  110. ^ O'Grady, Mary Anastania (12 February 2007). "The Haiti File". Opinion. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  111. ^ Vardi, Nathan (10 December 2009). "Will Bribery Probe Hit IDT? Company dealt with indicted Haitian telco official". Forbes. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  112. ^ "Aristide supporters clash with Haiti police". Al Jazeera. 1 October 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  113. ^ Aristide, Jean-Bertrand; L'Ouverture, Toussaint (2008). "Introduction". In Nesbitt, Nick (ed.). The Haitian Revolution. New York City: Verso Books. p. xxxiii. ISBN 978-1844672615.




Political offices
Preceded by President of Haiti
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Haiti
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Haiti
Succeeded by
Party political offices
New political party Leader of Fanmi Lavalas