Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
Teaser Image

Aristide, Jean-Bertrand (1953–)

Oft-overthrown president of Haiti. Born in 1953 in Port Salut, Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide studied theology and was ordained in 1983. He became the first freely elected president of Haiti in 1990 after the end of military rule that followed the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986. Aristide's term in office lasted less than a year before the generals seized power again in September 1991. With the help of the U.S. government, he was returned to power in 1994 and General Raoul Cedras was exiled. Aristide left the priesthood in 1995 and the next year married Mildred Trouillot, a U.S. citizen.

Aristide served as president until 1996, when he stepped aside after losing his claim that the years spent in exile should not count as part of his five-year term. (The 1987 Haitian constitution prohibits the president from running for consecutive terms.) His handpicked candidate, René Preval, succeeded him in the presidency. Aristide ran again for president in 2000, won, and was sworn in for the third time. Unrest over his failure to reform Haiti's economy and allegations of corruption led to his second exile in 2004.

As an advocate of liberation theology, the controversial Catholic doctrine advocating advancement for the poor and fighting oppression, Aristide naturally came into conflict with the Duvalier government. Liberation theology was equated with communism throughout the 1980s and was therefore suspect to allies of the United States. Aristide promised to reform the nation and aid the poor, which led to grassroots support for his first election in 1990. He did not keep his promises and, in fact, proved to be as addicted to cronyism and the amassing of personal power as any of his predecessors. The failure to deliver on these pledges led to his being overthrown in February 2004. From exile in South Africa, Aristide maintained that he was still the legitimate president of Haiti and that U.S. forces had kidnapped him and spirited him out of the country.

Elizabeth Pugliese


Further Reading
Aristide, Jean-Bertrand. Peace, Justice and Power: My Return to Haiti, the United States and the New World Order. Washington, DC: National Press, 1995.; McKissick, Patricia C. History of Haiti. Maryknoll, NY: Henry Holt, 1998.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  Y
  Z
  Z
  Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer