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Post-Duvalier (1986-Present)

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Post-Duvalier (1986-Present)

Henri Namphy. Leslie Manigat. Henri Namphy. Prosper Avril. Herard Abraham. Ertha Pascal-Trouillot. Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Raoul Cedras. Joseph Nerette. Marc Bazin (Provisional). Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Emile Jonassaint (Provisinal). Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Rene Preval. Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Boniface Alexandre. Rene Preval.


Henri Namphy (born Cap-Haïtien, Haiti November 2, 1932) was a Haitian general and political figure. He served as President of Haiti's interim ruling body, the National Council of Government, from 7 February 1986 to 7 February 1988. He served as President of Haiti from 20 June 1988 until his deposition on 20 September 1988.


Following the fall of the government headed by President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier, who fled the country with his family in 1986, Lieutenant General Namphy became president of the interim governing council, made up of six civilian and military members, which promised elections and democratic reforms. His regime was given the moniker “duvalierism without Duvalier”.


Namphy, who enjoyed a reputation for being honest and apolitical, had trouble in his early weeks in power; Haitians ceased their celebrations over the departure of Duvalier and started rioting and looting. In March 1986, as violence swept the capital, Port-au-Prince, the popular justice minister resigned from the ruling council and Namphy dismissed three other members who had close ties with the Duvalier regime. The new council had two other members apart from Namphy. The council had difficulty in exerting its authority because of frequent strikes and demonstrations.


An election held in October for a constituent assembly to prepare a draft constitution reflected a lack of public interest in determining the country's political future. The first attempt at elections, in November 1987, ended when some three dozen voters were killed. In January 1988 Leslie Manigat won elections that were widely considered fraudulent, and Namphy overthrew him on June 20 after Manigat had dismissed Namphy as army commander. Namphy remained in power until September 17, 1988, when he was deposed by a group of young officers organized by General Prosper Avril.


Leslie François Manigat (born August 13, 1930 in Port-au-Prince) was elected president of Haiti by a tightly controlled military held election in January 1988.


According to the Provisional Electoral Council (Conseil Electoral Provisoire, or CEP) he won the presidential election of January 17, 1988 with 50.29% of the votes, defeating ten other candidates. However, voter turnout was well under 10%. Few historians and vote monitors consider this election to have been democratic. He was inaugurated on February 7, 1988, but was overthrown by Gen. Henri Namphy on June 20, 1988. He ran for president again in the February 2006 election but was defeated, receiving 12.40% of the vote and placing a distant second behind René Préval‎.


Prosper Avril (born December 12, 1937) is a former president of Haiti, one of the most influential Haitian political figures of the last thirty years. He was born in Thomazeau village, near Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. Avril briefly served as a member of Haiti's interim ruling body, the National Council of Government, following the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986. He served as President from September 17, 1988 to March 10, 1990. He was arrested in 2001, shortly after Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President, for allegedly plotting against the state. He was kept in jail despite two court decisions ordering his release. Avril was freed when Aristide was ousted in February 2004.


Abraham enlisted in the Haïtian army as a young man. He rose to the rank of lieutenant general and became one of the few military members in the inner circle of President Jean-Claude Duvalier. Abraham supported the 1986 coup against Duvalier, and served as foreign minister for the first time under Henri Namphy from 1987 to 1988. He became acting President of Haïti on March 10, 1990 after street protests forced President Prosper Avril into exile. He gave up power three days later, becoming the only military leader in Haïti during the twentieth century to give up power voluntarily. In January 1991, Abraham helped to crush a coup attempt by Roger Lafontant.


In 1991, Abraham retired from the army and moved to the United States. He settled in Miami, Florida and drifted into obscurity. He lived near another former Haïtian politician, Gérard Latortue, who would later become prime minister. In February 2004, Abraham made a radio address from Florida calling on President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to resign.


After Aristide's forced exile from the country, a new government needed to be formed. Latortue was eventually chosen for prime minister position, and invited Abraham to return to Haïti and become interior minister. Abraham served in that position from March 2004 until a January 31, 2005 cabinet reshuffle, in which he became foreign minister. He held that position until 9 June 2006.


Ertha Pascal-Trouillot (born August 13, 1943) was the provisional President of Haiti from 1990 through 1991. She was the first woman in Haitian history to hold that office.


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 9th of 10 children and when she was 10, 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 Gonaives in Port-au-Prince. From 1975 through 1988, she held various positions as a judge in the Haitian federal courts until she became the first woman justice of the Haitian Supreme Court.


Pascal-Trouillot was chief justice when she temporarily became Haïti's first female president on March 13, 1990 following a military coup in which general Herard Abraham overthrew the government run by Prosper Avril and then immediately agreed to give up power. At her inauguration, she vowed to implement democracy. Nearly a year later, her government was nearly overthrown in a coup d'etat where she was allegedly kidnapped by Duvalier loyalist Roger Lafontant and forced to read a statement over Haïtian television announcing Lafontant as her successor. Lafontant was forced to flee soon after, after which Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected and sworn in as president.


Aristide had Pascal-Trouillot arrested under charges of complicity in the coup d'état of January 7. She was released the next day after U.S. intervention in Port-au-Prince. The U.S. demanded a lift on the ban on departure. Pascal-Trouillot left the country shortly after to return more than a year later. Since then, she lives away from the public eye and is currently working on drafting volumes of the Biographical Dictionary of Haïti.


Jean-Bertrand Aristide (born July 15, 1953) is a Haitian politician and former Roman Catholic priest, who served as Haiti's first democratically elected president. He was briefly President of Haiti in 1991, prior to a September 1991 military coup, and was President again from 1994 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2004. He was then ousted in a February 2004 rebellion in which former soldiers participated. Accusing the U.S. of orchestrating a coup against him, he was forced into exile and eventually settled in South Africa.


Early life, Education and Church Career

Aristide was born into poverty in Port Salut in 1953, and his father was killed when he was a small child. He was taken in by Catholic priests of the Salesian order. Aristide was educated at the College 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 Seminaire Notre Dame and psychology at the State University of Haiti. After completing his post-graduate studies in 1979, he traveled in Europe, studying in Italy, Greece and Israel. Aristide returned to Haiti in 1983 for his ordination as a Salesian priest.

He was appointed curate of a small parish in Port-au-Prince and then a larger one in the La Saline slums, gaining the affectionate Kreyòl nickname "Titide" or "Titid." An exponent of liberation theology, he became a leading figure in the more radical wing of the Catholic faith in Haiti (the ti legliz — from the Kréyòl for "little church"), and broadcast his sermons on the national Catholic radio station. In a January 1988 interview with National Catholic Reporter, Aristide 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...." Father Aristide was expelled from his Salesian order in 1988, at which time the Salesians said the priest's political activities were an "incitement to hatred and violence" and out of line with his role as a clergyman. In 1994 Aristide left the priesthood. This action enabled him the following year to marry Mildred Trouillot, a US citizen, with whom he now has two daughters. Aristide survived several assassination attempts while preaching liberation theology in Haiti.


First presidency

Following the violence at the abortive national elections of 1987, the 1990 elections were approached with caution. Aristide announced his candidacy for the presidency and 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", and the "little priest" was elected President with 67% of the vote. Taking office on February 7, 1991, he broke from FNCD and created the OPL (Organisation Politique "Lavalas") - "the flood" or "torrent" in Kréyòl.


1991 Coup d'état

On September 1991, after his own government – led by Prime Minister René Préval – failed a non-confidence vote by the FNCD-controlled parliament, Aristide attempted to rule alone. The army performed a coup against him. He was deposed on September 29, 1991, and, 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. The elections were scheduled, but were canceled. Aristide and other sources claim that both the coup and the election cancellation were the result of pressure from the American government. However, The New York Times reported that, "No evidence suggests that the C.I.A. backed the coup or intentionally undermined President Aristide. In fact, the agency has acted to help him at times, for example through a program that is now training bodyguards to protect him should he return to Haiti from his exile in the United States." But some of the military officers who led the coup, as well as Emmanuel Constant, the organizer of the FRAPH death squads which killed Aristide supporters after the coup, beginning in 1993, were reportedly receiving payments from the C.I.A. High ranking members of the Haitian National Intelligence Service (S.I.N.), which had been set up and financed in the 80's by the C.I.A. as part of the war on drugs, were also allegedly involved in the coup, and were reportedly still receiving funding and training from the C.I.A. for intelligence-gathering activities at the time of the coup. This funding reportedly ended after the coup.


Aristide spent his exile first in Venezuela and then in the United States, working hard 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. 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.


Return

Under U.S. and international pressure, the military regime backed down and U.S. troops were deployed in the country by President Bill Clinton. On October 15, 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti to complete his term in office. Aristide disbanded the Haitian army, and established a civilian police force.

Aristide's first term ended in February 1996, and the constitution did not allow him to serve consecutive terms. There was some dispute over whether Aristide, prior to new elections, should serve the three years he had lost in exile, or whether his term in office should instead be counted strictly according to the date of his inauguration; it was decided that the latter should be the case. René Préval, a prominent ally of Aristide and Prime Minister in 1991 under Aristide, ran during the 1995 presidential election and took 88% of the vote. There was about 25% participation in these elections.


Second presidency

In late 1996, Aristide broke from the OPL over what he called its "distance from the people" 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. The Fanmi Lavalas won the 2000 legislative election, but the opposition leaders claimed that a number of the seats were invalid. Aristide then was elected later that year in an election boycotted by most opposition political parties. "In the 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party claimed victory with a turnout that hardly rose above 10 per cent of the voters. The opposition, as well as members of the international community, contested the results and accused the government of manipulating them." Aristide's party controlled the Provisional Election Commission, which declared the official results when counting had barely even begun, and ignored the constitutional requirement to hold a run-off. At the time, however, CNN Election Watch reported a turnout of 60% with over 92% voting for Aristide. Only later did the above figure of a 10% voter turnout appear.

Aristide called for France, the former colonizer of the country, to pay $21 billion in restitution to Haiti.


2004 rebellion

After a violent rebellion in 2004, Aristide was forced out of Haiti. Looters raided his villa. 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 vigilante groups. Aristide stated 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. Authorities said his temporary asylum there had been negotiated by the United States, France and Gabon. On March 1, 2004, US Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), 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. Aristide's lawyers claimed that the U.S., under then President George W. Bush, was arming anti-Aristide troops. U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd questioned Bush Administration officials about possible U.S. involvement in the coup.


Almost immediately after the Aristides were transported from Haiti, 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 Aristides were in the island for several months until the Jamaican government gained acceptance by the Republic of South Africa for the family to relocate there.

Aristide has accused the U.S. of deposing him. In a 2006 interview, he said the U.S. went back on their word regarding compromises he made with them over privatization of enterprises to ensure that part of the profits would go to the Haitian people and then "relied on a disinformation campaign" to discredit him. According to a book review by Stuart Neatby, Peter Hallward has also claimed in his book, "Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment" that an orchestrated smear campaign was launched against Aristide prior to the 2004 coup.


Accomplishments

Under Aristide's leadership, his party 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 (which had primarily been used against the Haitian people), establishing improved human rights and political freedoms; 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 attempting to reduce the level of government corruption.


Criticism and Accusations

Accusations of widespread human rights abuses

Human Rights Watch accused the Haitian police force under President Aristide, and his political supporters, of attacks on opposition rallies. They also said that the emergence of armed rebel groups seeking to overthrow Aristide reflected "the failure of the country’s democratic institutions and procedures." A statement was attributed to Aristide in which he endorsed the practice of "necklacing" opposition activists, i.e. placing a gasoline-soaked tire around the neck and setting it ablaze. Aristide was quoted as saying on August 27, 1991, "What a beautiful tool! ... It smells good. And wherever you go, you want to smell it." However, there is some suspicion that Aristide's speech was edited to make it sound as if he was advocating "necklacing" his opponents, when he was actually urging his supporters not to use violence against their opponents.


The OAS/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti, known as MICIVIH (its French acronym) found that the human-rights situation in Haiti improved dramatically following Aristide's return to power in 1994. Amnesty International reported that Haiti was "descending into a severe humanitarian and human rights crisis" after Aristide's departure in 2004.


Accusations of drug trafficking

Drug trafficking was allegedly a major source of money. Canadian police arrested Oriel Jean, Aristide's security chief and one of the most trusted friends, for money laundering. Beaudoin Ketant, a notorious international drug trafficker, Aristide's close partner, and his daughter's godfather, confessed that Aristide "turned the country into a narco-country. It's a one-man show. You either pay (Aristide) or you die." Aristide denied the allegation, and the U.S. has not charged him directly with involvment in the drug trade.


Accusations of corruption

Haitian investigators claimed to have discovered extensive embezzlement and money laundering by Aristide's administration, in which millions of dollars of public funds were allegedly lost to sophisticated financial transactions. Aristide has forcefully denied these accusations. The Haitian government filed a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit in the U.S. in Miami, Florida, in November of 2005, alleging that Aristide and his associates took hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from the long distance company IDT, and that IDT diverted into a secret offshore bank account controlled by Aristide payments that should have gone to the Haitian company Teleco. The lawsuit was suspended by the Haitian government on June 30, 2006.

 

Accusations of embezzlement of telecom revenues

According to a report by Christopher Caldwell in the July 1994 American Spectator, Aristide stole Haiti's telecom revenues while in the United States. Caldwell claims that, between 1991 and 1994, Aristide ordered that the proceeds from Haiti's international phone traffic, handled by the Latin American division of AT&T, be moved to a numbered offshore bank account in Panama.


Some officials have been indicted by an US court. The companies which allegedly made deals with Aristide included IDT, Fusion Telecommunications, and Skytel; critics claim the two first companies had political links. AT&T reportedly declined to wire money to "Mont Salem".

 

Red carpet welcome in South Africa

Aristide, his family, and bodyguards were welcomed to South Africa by several cabinet ministers, 20 senior diplomats, and a guard of honour. Receiving a salary from and provided staff by the South African government, Aristide lives with his family in a government villa in Pretoria. In South Africa, Aristide became an honorary research fellow at the University of South Africa, learned Zulu, and on April 25, 2007, received a doctorate in African Languages.

 

Possible return to Haiti

After René Préval, a former ally of Aristide, was elected president of Haiti, he said it would be possible for Aristide to return to Haiti.

On December 21, 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.


Since the election, some high ranking members of Lavalas have been targets for violence. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a leading human rights organizer in Haiti and a member of Lavalas, disappeared in August 2007. His whereabouts remains unknown.

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


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


Anti-globalization comments

In 2000 Aristide published an anti-globalization book The Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization. The book made accusations against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.


Raoul Cédras (born Jérémie, Haiti July 9, 1949) is a military officer, and de facto ruler of Haiti from 1991 to 1994.

Cédras was a Lieutenant General in the Forces Armées d'Haïti (the Haitian army) and was responsible for the coup d'état which ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide September 29, 1991. During August 1991, Aristide's own government held a non-confidence vote with 83 going against him, with only 11 supporting him. Aristide resigned on September 29/30, 1991 and flew into exile. Some 56 people lost their lives, throughout Haiti, during September 29-30, violence.

Some human rights groups criticized Cédras's rule, alleging that innocent people were killed by the FAdH military and FRAPH paramilitary units.


While remaining the de facto leader of Haiti as commander of the country's armed forces, Cédras did not retain his position as head of state, preferring to have other politicians as official presidents. As required by Article 149, of the 1987 Haitian Constitution, Haiti's Parliament appointed Supreme Court Justice Joseph Nérette as provisional President, to fill in until elections could be held. The elections were called for December, 1991, however, these were blocked by the American government. At a later date, Nérette resigned and was replaced by Supreme Court Justice Émile Jonassaint.


Under the delegation of U.S. president Bill Clinton, the former President Jimmy Carter, accompanied by Senator Sam Nunn and General Collin Powell, urged Provisional President Émile Jonassaint to relinquish his control in 1994, in order to avoid a potential invasion. Jonassaint resigned. General Cédras had indicated his desire to remain in Haiti. However, the Americans did not think this was the best solution and convinced the General that, in the national interest, he should consider departing for Panama. The United States reportedly rented three properties from Cédras, putting U.S. personnel in them, presumably to protect the houses from being looted.


After leaving Haiti, Cédras went to Panama where he remains. Aristide then returned to power in Haiti and would be forced into resigning again in 2004.

 

Joseph Nérette (April 9, 1924 - April 29, 2007) was a Haïtian judge and political figure. He served as the president of Haïti between 1991 and 1992.

He died of lung cancer in Port-au-Prince on April 29, 2007, aged 83.

 

Marc Louis Bazin (born 6 March 1932) is a former World Bank official, former United Nations functionary and Haïtian Minister of Finance and Economy under the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier. He was prime minister of Haïti appointed on June 4, 1992 by the military government that had seized power on September 30, 1991.


He was considered the favorite candidate of the George H. W. Bush administration and the bourgeois population of Haïti when the country could no longer last in foreign relations as a military dictatorship and had to open the government up to free elections in 1990. Bazin was seen as a front runner if the elections were to happen before the Left in Haïti had time to reorganize. He received 14% of the vote, Jean-Bertrand Aristide winning with 67%. Aristide's popularity was with the people, not with the powers that be, and he was deposed less than nine months into his term. In June 1992, the military officials who had led the coup appointed Bazin as acting prime minister. Washington's initial response was that he held the post illegally, but they soon warmed up to him and pressed Aristide to negotiate with the military and Bazin.


Bazin is also a fervent political opponent of Aristide, and ran in the 2006 election for the presidency of Haïti, but was reported to have received only about 0.68% of the vote in the 35-candidate race.


Émile Jonassaint (1913, Port-de-Paix - – October 24, 1995, Port-au-Prince) was a Haïtian Supreme Court Justice and political figure.

He served as Haiti's President of the Constituent Assembly during the 1987 Constitution.


He served as Head of the Provisional Government of Haiti president of Haiti for five months (May 11 and October 12) in 1994 after the military regime had forced Jean-Bertrand Aristide,the elected president,out of the country in 1991. During his presidency, the military conducted some of the harshest human rights abuses.

Throughout 1994 the U.S. government put pressure on the repressive Haitian military Leaders to resign and allow the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to return to the country and restore Constitutional order. On July 31, 1994 the UN Security Council called for all necessary means to be taken for the return of elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power -- (Resolution 917). About 100 UN monitors went to the Dominican Republic-Haiti border in mid-August to stop oil smuggling, which was sustaining the Haitian military leaders.


In response, Émile Jonassaint, declared a state of siege and accused the world of having "declared war on poor Haiti, which has harmed nobody." Throughout August the army and its paramilitary ally, the 'Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti', continued to murder Aristide supporters while organizing parades of "volunteers" to fight an invasion.


On September 18, 1994 President Bill Clinton sent former president Jimmy Carter, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell, and Sen. Sam Nunn to negotiate the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide with Emile Jonassaint, Head of the Provisional Government in Haiti. Emile Jonassaint signed was is known as the Port-au-Prince Accord and step down as Head of the Provisional Government of Haiti upon the return of the elected President. On October 24, 1995, Jonassaint died at the age of 82.


René Garcia Préval (French pronunciation: [ʀəne pʀeval]; born January 17, 1943) is a Haitian politician and agronomist who has been the President of the Republic of Haiti since May 2006. He previously served as President from February 7, 1996, to February 7, 2001, and as Prime Minister from February 1991 to October 11, 1991.


Early life and career

Préval was born in Marmelade, Cap-Haïtien. He studied Business at the College of Gembloux and the University of Leuven in Belgium[1] and also studied Biology at the University of Pisa in Pisa, Italy.


Préval's father, an agronomist also, had risen to the position of Minister of Agriculture in the government of Général Paul Magloire, the predecessor of Duvalier. Leaving Haiti because his political past presented him as a potential opponent, Preval's father found work with UN agencies in Africa.


After spending five years in Brooklyn, New York, occasionally working as a restaurant waiter, Préval returned to Haiti and obtained a position with the National Institute for Mineral Resources. Préval was very much involved in the agricultural workings of society. After a few years, he opened a bakery in Port-au-Prince with some business partners. While operating his company, he continued to be active in political circles and charity work, such as providing bread to the orphanage of Salesian Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, with whom he developed a close relationship.


After the election of Aristide as president in 1990, Préval served as his Prime Minister from February 13 to October 11, 1991, going into exile following the September 30, 1991 military coup.


On December 6, 2009, Preval married Elisabeth Débrosse Delatour—one of his economic advisors and widow of Leslie Delatour, the former governor of Haiti's central bank. Preval's first and second marriages, to Guerda Benoit and Solange Lafontant respectively, both ended in divorce.

 

First presidency

In 1996, Préval was elected as president for a five-year term, with 88% of the popular vote. Upon his 1996 inauguration, Préval became the second democratically elected head of state in the country's 200-year history. In 2001, he became the second President of Haiti to leave office as a result of the natural expiration of an uninterrupted term, the first being General Nissage Saget, president from 1869 to 1874.


As president, Préval instituted a number of economic reforms, most notably the privatization of various government companies. By the end of Préval's term, the unemployment rate (though still quite high) had fallen to its lowest level since the fall of Duvalier. Préval also instituted an aggressive program of agrarian reform in Haiti's countryside. His presidency, however, was also marked by fierce political clashes with a parliament dominated by opposition party members (OPL) and an increasingly vocal Fanmi Lavalas (party of the former president), which opposed the structural adjustment and privatization program of Préval's government.

As president, Préval was a strong supporter of investigations and trials related to human rights violations committed by military and police personnel.

Préval dissolved the parliament in 1999 and ruled by decree for the duration of the final year of his presidency.

  

  

bushprevalRené Préval and George W. Bush in the Oval Office 

Préval ran again as the Lespwa candidate in the Haitian presidential election of 2006. The election took place after nearly two years of international peacekeeping, which some described as an unelected dictatorship. Partial election results, released on February 9, indicated that he had won with about 60% of the vote, but as further results were released, his share of the vote slipped to 48.7% – thus making a run-off necessary. Several days of popular demonstrations in favour of Préval followed in Port-au-Prince and other cities in Haiti. On February 14, Préval claimed that there had been fraud among the vote counts, and demanded that he be declared the winner outright of the first round. Protesters paralyzed the capital with burning barricades and stormed a luxury hotel — Hotel Montana, located in the affluent suburb of Petionville — to demand results from Haiti's nearly week-old election as ex-President Rene Preval fell further below the 50% needed to win the presidency. On February 16, 2006, Préval was declared the winner of the presidential election by the Provisional Electoral Council with 51.15% of the vote, after the exclusion of "blank" ballots from the count.


He was sworn in on May 14, following Haiti's legislative run-off vote in April; he could not be sworn in until a sitting Parliament was in place. When he was sworn in, Préval emphasized the importance of unity, saying that division was Haiti's "main problem" and that Haitians had to "work together". On May 17, he nominated Jacques-Édouard Alexis, who had served as Prime Minister during Préval's first term, as Prime Minister again. After taking office, Préval immediately signed an oil deal with Venezuela and traveled to the United States, Cuba, and France.


Préval drew much of his support from Haiti's poorest people; he was especially widely supported in the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. However, many of the poor demanded that the former President Aristide be allowed to return and that civil enterprise workers fired by the Latortue government be reinstated. This caused increasing tension in the slums of Port-au-Prince. Préval promised to build a massive road system which would boost trade and transportation around the country.

Since Preval's induction, the economy has been on a sizeable increase.

 

Latin American integration

Haiti under Préval has been cooperating diplomatically and fraternally with countries of Latin America. Haiti's Latin American alliance provides the country with much of its needed aid. The slowly-stabilizing country has seemingly benefited in a rather solid economic partnership with Venezuela. This recent friendship between Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and the Haitian president has resulted in various economic agreements. 4 power plants (a 40-megawatt, a 30-megawatt, and two 15-megawatts) are set to be built in Haiti. An oil refinery is also scheduled to be installed, with a production capacity of 10,000 barrels of oil per day. Venezuela's aid to Haiti is founded upon a historic act where the newly-independent Haiti welcomed and tended to Simón Bolívar and provided military power to aid Bolivar's cause in liberating Latin America.


Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and other Cuban diplomats such as Vice President Esteban Lazo Hernandez have thanked Haiti for consistently voting in the United Nations General Assembly against the United States embargo against Cuba.


Préval's diplomatic relations with fellow Latin American nations have opened up many economic opportunities for Haiti. Préval has met with many Latin American leaders such as Fidel Castro, Evo Morales of Bolivia (with an economic situation similar to Haiti's), Martín Torrijos of Panama, and Leonel Fernandez of the neighboring Dominican Republic. Relations with Dominican Republic have strengthened largely due to Préval's willingness to end volatile temperaments and to the two presidents' focus on cooperation. Dominica was Préval's first foreign visitation. Préval then visited the United States, where he was congratulated by US President Bush for his reelection. Préval had claimed that except for his visit to the Dominican Republic, he wanted the US to be his first diplomatic visit in office, putting it ahead of his eventual diplomatic visits to Venezuela, Cuba and France. The US considered Préval's meeting with Bush a good sign of excellent US-Haitian relations under his administration.


April 2008 riots

In early April 2008, riots broke out over the high cost of food; since 2007, prices for a number of essential foods, including rice, had risen by about 50%. As the riots continued, rioters attacked the presidential palace on April 8 but were driven away by UN soldiers. On April 9, Préval called for calm; he said that high food prices were a problem around the world, but that the problem would not be solved by destroying stores, and he said that he had "ordered Haitian police and UN soldiers to put an end to the looting". Despite demands for all taxes on food imports to be lifted, Préval said that he could not do so because the money was greatly needed; he pledged to increase food production in Haiti so that the country would not be so dependent on imports, but this fell short of what many protesters demanded. On April 12, the Senate voted to remove Prime Minister Alexis‎ from office, and Préval announced that the price per 23  of rice would be reduced from $51 to $43. According to Préval, the rice would be subsidized with international aid, and the private sector was willing to reduce the price by $3. He also said that he was going to seek Venezuelan assistance in improving the economic situation.


2010 Earthquake

Just before 5 p.m. on January 12, the city of Port-au-Prince was hit by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake which destroyed a wide area of buildings and homes, including the National Palace – the residence of the President. Initial reports indicated that diplomats were unable to contact President Préval and they feared he might be trapped beneath the rubble of the building. However later reports – including ones quoting the Haitian ambassador to the United States, Raymond Alcide Joseph – said that the President and First Lady Elisabeth Delatour Préval had escaped unharmed and had been moved to a safe location on the island. The couple were about to enter their home when the earthquake struck. Préval and his wife were able to step away from the building before the house collapsed, escaping injury.

Much of the Haitian government, including President Préval, has relocated to a police barracks near Toussaint Louverture International Airport. The death toll has so far been estimated to be possibly in excess of 200,000.


Boniface Alexandre (born 31 July 1936) is a politician in Haïti. He served as acting president of Haïti from 2004 to 2006. The 2004 Haitian rebellion was a coup d'etat removing President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the Americas on February 29, 2004. Following this, Alexandre, as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and therefore next in the presidential line of succession, assumed the office of president. During Alexandre's acting presidency, Amnesty International reported "excessive use of force by police officers", extrajudicial executions, a lack of investigations into these, escalation of "unlawful killings and kidnappings by illegal armed groups", failure of officials to prevent and punish violence against women, dysfunctionality of the justice system, and forty or more people imprisoned without charge or trial.

Alexandre left office on May 14, 2006, when René Préval, winner of the February 2006 presidential election, was sworn in as president

Michel Joseph Martelly (born 12 February 1961), also known by his stage name "Sweet Micky", is the President of Haiti following his victory in the presidential election of 2011. Before entering the political scene, Martelly was a performing and recording artist, composer and businessman.


In July 2010, he announced that he would be running for the Presidency of Haiti. Martelly previously supported the disbanded Haitian military, FAd'H, and supporters of the 1991 coup d'état, such as the notorious killing squad the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haïti (FRAPH).


michelmattelyOn 4 April 2011, a senior Haitian official announced that Martelly had won the second round of the election against candidate Mirlande Manigat. The election is widely regarded as having been undemocratic and fraudulent. Martelly was only included in the run-off after pressure from the OAS and the United States government, turnout was extremely low (under 24%) and the country's largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas, had been excluded from the electoral process. Martelly's campaign was managed by the Spanish firm Solas, which has ties to Spain's People's Party.


  Martelly was born in Côtes-de-Fer, a small town on the southeastern coast of Haiti near Jacmel. The middle-class son of a petroleum plant supervisor, Martelly is self-taught keyboard player and singer. After graduating from high school, Martelly briefly enlisted in the Haitian Military Academy. Following an unsuccessful stint in the Armed Forces, Martelly subsequently moved to the United States where he briefly enrolled at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado. In 1986, after one semester, he returned to Haiti just as Jean-Claude Duvalier, then president-for-life, was heading into exile. Martelly later on returned to the U.S. with his then-girlfriend, Sophia, whom he later married in a small ceremony in Miami, Florida. Martelly continued to work on a construction site for a year until moving back to Haiti in 1987. Upon their return to Haiti, Martelly had his first breakthrough in the musical industry when he began playing keyboard as a fill-in musician in local venues in Petionville and Kenscoff, some of the upscale suburbs of Port-au-Prince.  

 

Music

Michel Martelly has been heralded as a pioneer of a unique brand of kompas music, a style of Haitian dance music sung in predominantly Haitian Creole language. Originally, Compas, or Kompa, was the creation of Nemours Jean-Baptiste. Martelly, a keyboardist and the self-proclaimed President of Compas, popularized a nouvelle génération, or "new generation" style, of smaller bands with few members that relied predominantly on synthesizers and electronic instruments to reproduce a fuller sound. Martelly's and Sweet Micky's live performances and recordings are sometimes laced with "burlesque" and humorous sociopolitical commentaries and satires. Outlandish and outspoken, Sweet Micky has been known to drink publicly while performing in wigs, costumes, and Scottish kilts, and occasionally remove his own attire while performing. While arguably the most recognized and applauded musician and public personality in Haiti, Martelly's performance style has sometimes ignited controversy throughout Haitian communities. After completing his high school at the Saint-Louis de Gonzague, he tried a career in engineering, however, his musical talent and his entertainer's skills took over his professional life so he became a popular recording artist and entertainer.

 

Recording career

By 1988, Martelly's musical talent, charismatic persona, and his pattering style of compas had gained tremendous popularity at El Rancho Hotel and Casino and The Florville, another local venue. That year, he recorded his first single, Ooo La La, which became an instant hit, followed by "Konpas Foret des Pins" which was released in 1989, also a number hit from his debut album "Woule Woule". During the period of about 1988-2008 Michel Martelly using his stage name Sweet Micky recorded fourteen studio albums and a number of live CDs. His music blends Haitian music with fresh interpretations of compas, zouk, reggae, salsa, Caribbean soca and jazz-fusion. In 1997, Martelly's appeal to other musical genres was evident when Wyclef Jean of The Fugees featured him on the title track for Jean's solo effort Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival featuring the Refugee Allstars. As Jean proclaims on 'The Carnival,' "Surprise - it's Sweet Micky, y'all!" Also in 1997, Martelly released an album containing one of his most celebrated hits, Pa Manyen ("Don't Touch"). The song is an adaptation of "Angola", composed by the renowned artist/composer/record producer Ramiro Mendes (of the Mendes Brothers), first recorded by Cesária Évora, the legendary Cape Verdean singer. Pa Manyen went on to be featured in various compilation albums, including the popular Putumayo Presents: French Caribbean in 2003. The song was also covered by Venezuelan singer, Soledad Bravo as "Canta, Canta Corazon" and by Jose Luiz Cortes of Cuba. See also the Mendes Brothers' original version of the song, performed by Ramiro Mendes included in the group's 1997 album - Para Angola Com Um Xi Coracao. Martelly is also notorious for his cursing on stage as well as using homophobic slurs.

 

Political career 

Martelly's relationships with members of Haiti's past governments and with U.S. diplomats has been met with mixed opinions and criticism by music fans and activists alike. Martelly is reportedly a friend of President René Préval, and has previously acknowledged such friendships as well as the one with Lt. Col. Michel François, the former Port-au-Prince police chief, who was later convicted in absentia of human rights abuses.


Prior to the coup that overthrew Aristide, Martelly operated a nightclub called the Garage, often frequented by Haitian military and other members of the ruling class. Later, after a second coup had overthrown Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Martelly played a free concert to oppose the return of the ousted president and any American presence on the troubled island. The charismatic Martelly refused to back down from criticism of his affiliations with politicians and government officials. As he once stated to a news reporter, "I don't have to defend myself....It's my right. It's my country. I can fight for whatever I believe in."


In 1997, Michel Martelly participated in "Knowledge is Power", an HIV educational music video with a message about preventing the spread of HIV. His humanitarian work as the President of the Foundation Rose et Blanc, created by his wife Sophia and himself, to help the poor and disenfranchised of the country, was the basis for his choice as the Good Will Haitian Ambassador for the Protection of the Environment by the current Haitian Government. In 2010 he ran for President of Haiti where he challenged the results as to whether he placed second, making the runoff, or third. On 3 February 2011, it was announced that he would participate in a run-off election scheduled for 20 March 2011. Martelly proposes to re-instate the Armed Forces of Haiti, which were disbanded by former president Aristide in 1995.


On 4 April 2011, a senior official announced that Martelly had won the presidential run-off election against candidate Mirlande Manigat with more than 60% of the vote. His success is attributed by some to the fact that he hired a professional marketing firm, Ostos and Sola, and also held political rallies with music in a traditional Haitian style. Martelly was sworn in as President of Haiti on 14 May 2011. The following day, the incumbent Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, resigned to allow Martelly to choose his own Prime Minister.

 

Personal life 

Martelly currently lives in Haiti, but held several homes in Palm Beach, Florida, which he subsequently lost through defaulting on the mortgages. He lives with his wife and former manager, Sophia, and their four children. In 2006, Martelly announced his unofficial retirement from recording and performing but two years later announced a return to music with a new single, Magouyè, and the video/short film, "Bandi Legal yo ki rive". He is a cousin of Port-au-Prince hotel manager and musician Richard Morse.

From: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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