!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News

Profile: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Positions that Jean-Bertrand Aristide has held:

  • President of Haiti (1991-1991)
  • President of Haiti (1994-1995)
  • President of Haiti (2001-2004)

Related Entities:

Jean-Bertrand Aristide was a participant or observer in the following events:

1980s: Aristide Preaches in Haiti

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest, preaches Liberation Theology in Haiti. US conservatives spread stories that he could be the next Castro. [Rogozinski, 1992; Taipei Times, 3/1/2004; Observer, 3/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Fidel Castro

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

December 1990: Aristide Wins Haiti Elections

Running against 11 other candidates, Jean-Bertrand Aristide wins the presidential elections in Haiti with a two-thirds majority. The election turnout is high and is later described as being “unquestionably the most honest Haiti has known.” [Rogozinski, 1992; London Review of Books, 4/15/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

In Haiti, the Front for the Advancement of Progress of the Haitian People (FRAPH) overthrows the government while Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is on a visit to the UN in New York. The group rules as a repressive military regime until 1994 when a US-led UN intervention puts Aristide back in power (see September 19, 1994-October 15, 1994) [Rogozinski, 1992; Observer, 3/2/2004] The junta is responsible for the massacre of hundreds—or by some estimates, thousands—of dissidents. [Turck, 2/24/2004; Observer, 3/2/2004; Jamaica Observer, 3/7/2004] The leader of the group is Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, who later acknowledges he had support from the CIA. “Emmanuel Constant is widely alleged, and himself claims, to have been in the pay of, and under the orders of, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the coup period,” Amnesty International will later report. The amount paid to Constant by the CIA during this period is $500/month. [Amnesty International, 2/7/1996; Center for Constitutional Rights, 2/18/2004; Observer, 3/2/2004; London Review of Books, 4/15/2004] Second in command is Louis-Jodel Chamblain, who had led death squads during the years of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s dictatorship and who is later convicted and implicated in multiple crimes committed during this period. [Observer, 3/2/2004; Jamaica Observer, 3/7/2004]

Entity Tags: Louis-Jodel Chamblain, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Emmanuel “Toto” Constant

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Antoine Izmery, financier of Haitian President Jean-Claude Bertrand and a known pro-democracy advocate, is dragged from church during a mass, and executed. Louis-Jodel Chamblain is later convicted in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime. [Human Rights Watch, 2/27/2004; Jamaica Observer, 3/7/2004; Amnesty International, 3/10/2004]

Entity Tags: Louis-Jodel Chamblain, Antoine Izmery, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide promises donors that he will implement neoliberal reforms if he is returned to power. He agrees to a plan calling for the privatization of some state-owned enterprises, including the country’s flour mill, cement factory, and electric company. The plan also requires the removal of import controls, reforming of customs, and the elimination of limits on interest rates. But due to strong domestic opposition, Aristide will not completely follow through with the Structural Adjustment Program once in office. [Inter Press Service, 9/28/1995]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, Neoliberalism and Globalization

US and UN military forces enter Haiti and restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the presidency. [Turck, 2/24/2004] US conservatives, such as Senator Jesse Helms, are against the intervention and criticize President Bill Clinton for engaging in unnecessary “nation building” in Haiti. Helms falsely makes the claim on the Senate floor that Aristide is “psychotic,” based on a CIA document later revealed to be a forgery. [Newsday, 3/1/2004; Taipei Times, 3/1/2004; Observer, 3/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Jesse Helms, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide informs parliament that he will appoint Smarck Michel as the country’s new prime minister. Michel—who served briefly as Aristide’s commerce minister in 1991—owns a rice-importing business and retails gasoline. According to sources interviewed by the Washington Post, his selection “was aimed at appeasing the nation’s powerful business elite” and is viewed as a prerequisite for “winning support from foreign investors and attaining international development funds.” The Post reports, “At least two US-trained economic experts—former World Bank economist Leslie Delatour and former education minister Leslie Voltaire—had threatened not to participate in key government posts if Michel were not named prime minister.” [Washington Post, 10/25/1995]

Entity Tags: Smarck Michel, Leslie Voltaire, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Leslie Delatour

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

May 4, 1995: Minimum Wage Doubled in Haiti

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide announces a doubling of the minimum wage effective June 1, 1995 from 18 gourdes to 36 gourdes per day. Articles 1 and 2 of his decree reads, “Beginning June 1, 1995, the minimum wage paid in industrial, commercial, and agricultural businesses is fixed at 36 gourdes per 8-hour day… Where the employee works per piece or per task, the price paid for a unit of production (per piece, per dozen, per gross, per meter, etc.) must allow the employee who works 8 hours to earn at least the minimum salary.” [Verhoogen, 1/1996]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

During the World Bank’s annual meeting, the Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressure Haiti to sign a letter of intent assuring the US, IMF, and other donors that Haiti would proceed with the Structural Adjustment Program that President Aristide had agreed to in August 1994 (see August 1994) before he was restored to power by a US-led multinational force. Haiti, whose parliament and population are strongly opposed to the neoliberal reforms, refuses to sign the letter. [Multinational Monitor, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Smarck Michel, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

US Vice President Al Gore visits Haiti on the one-year anniversary of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return to power. During his visit, he meets with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and stresses the need for his government to comply with the structural reforms which he had agreed to implement in August 1994 (see August 1994). “We discussed the need for continuing international assistance to meet the developmental requirements of Haiti and the steps the government of Haiti and its people need to take in order to ensure the continued flow of these funds,” Gore recounts during a brief press conference. Earlier in the month, Aristide’s government refused to sign a letter of intent assuring the US, IMF, and other donors that the country would follow though with the mandated reforms (see Early October 1995). [Inter Press Service, 10/16/1995; Multinational Monitor, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: International Monetary Fund, Albert Arnold (“Al”) Gore, Jr., Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Haitian Prime Minister Smarck Michel resigns after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s cabinet refuses to accept the privatization package that the US, IMF, and other international donors have been pushing. He is replaced by Foreign Minister Claudette Werleigh. Michel will return to the Haitian political arena in 2004 when he is appointed as planning minister (see Mid-March 2004) following the February ouster of Aristide. [Inter Press Service, 10/16/1995; Multinational Monitor, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: Smarck Michel, International Monetary Fund, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Presidential elections are held and Rene Preval wins in a landslide victory. He succeeds the popular Jean-Bertrand Aristide who is barred from running again because of the Haitian constitution’s prohibition on consecutive presidential terms. [CNN, 12/16/1995; CNN, 12/17/1995]

Entity Tags: Rene Preval, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

After being postponed three times during the last seven months, Haitian parliamentary and local elections are finally held with a turnout of about 60 percent. Voters must fill some 7,625 posts in the legislature, mayoral commissions, and local and rural councils that were made vacant in January 1999, when the congress and local offices were disbanded by President Rene Preval (see January 1999). The Lavalas party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide wins the elections by a landslide, winning 15 of the 19 contested Senate seats and some 80 percent of the seats in the House of Assembly. However the results are challenged by the opposition, the US, and the Organization of American States, which say that Haiti’s electoral council did not use the proper formula to calculate the votes. As a result of the controversy, the opposition will boycott the June 9 run-off elections (see July 9, 2000) as well as the presidential elections in November (see November 2000). More significantly, aid donors threaten that they will continue to withhold $500 million in aid if the government does not come to an agreement with the opposition. [BBC, 5/22/2000; BBC, 5/22/2000; BBC, 5/30/2000; BBC, 7/8/2000; BBC, 7/14/2000; CBS News, 11/29/2000; Associated Press, 12/7/2000; US Department of State, 2/23/2001; Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; Turck, 2/24/2004; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004; Taipei Times, 3/1/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Rene Preval

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Political groups opposed to the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide form the Democratic Convergence, a coalition made up of roughly 200 groups, which is headed by former Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul, a previous Aristide supporter and leader of the Convention for Democratic Unity. [Boston Globe, 2/14/2004; Turck, 2/24/2004] The Convergence is a product of the USAID program, “Democracy Enhancement,” the purpose of which is to “fund those sectors of the Haitian political spectrum where opposition to the Aristide government could be encouraged.” Financial support for the Convergence comes from the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is associated with the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy. The IRI receives about $3 million annually from Congress, as well as millions more from private Haitian and US interests. The organization’s board includes a number of “current or former Republican Party officials, Republican officeholders, or members of Republican administrations.” The IRI’s activities in Haiti are not completely understood and Roger Noriega, the US permanent representative to the Organization of American States, has always refused to elaborate on the organization’s work in Haiti. [Z Magazine, 7/1994; Boston Globe, 2/14/2004; Turck, 2/24/2004; Interhemispheric Resource Center, 2/27/2004; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004]

Entity Tags: Roger Francisco Noriega, US Congress, USAID, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, National Endowment for Democracy, Evans Paul, International Republican Institute, Democratic Convergence

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

July 9, 2000: Run-Off Elections Held in Haiti

Haiti holds run-off elections for candidates who failed to win a majority of the votes in the May 21 elections (see May 21, 2000). However 10 senators from the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide who won only by plurality, and not by majority, are not required to run, prompting immediate criticism from the US, UN, the OAS, and the opposition parties. Donor nations and organizations threaten to continue withholding $400 million in aid. [BBC, 7/11/2000; BBC, 7/14/2000; BBC, 2/7/2001; Miami Herald, 2/28/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Organization of American States (OAS)

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

The prime minister of Haiti says that Guy Philippe and others are planning to overthrow the Aristide government. Philippe and the other plotters flee across the Dominican border before they can be arrested. [Human Rights Watch, 2/27/2004; Miami Herald, 2/28/2004]

Entity Tags: Guy Philippe, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Jean-Bertrand Aristide runs unopposed in Haiti’s presidential elections and wins with 91.5 percent of the vote. The opposition Democratic Convergence party does not participate in the elections in protest of the May 21, 2000 congressional and municipal elections (see May 21, 2000) which its members claim were rigged. The election turnout is disputed. Though some news agencies report a low turnout of between 5 percent and 10 percent, Aristide’s party, as well as five US-based NGOs—Global Exchange, the Quixote Center, Witness for Peace, and Pax Christi—estimate the figure at 61 percent, or 3 million of Haiti’s voters. [BBC, 7/7/2000; CBS News, 11/29/2000; Associated Press, 12/7/2000; Global Exchange, 2001; Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; Turck, 2/24/2004; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004; Z Magazine, 5/5/2004] These figures are also supported by USAID-commissioned Gallup polls taken both before and after the elections, but which are suppressed by the US. [Z Magazine, 5/5/2004]

Entity Tags: Democratic Convergence, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, USAID

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Clinton holdover US Ambassador to Haiti Brian Dean Curran complains that Stanley Lucas of the Republican-dominated International Republican Institute (IRI) is “undermining” international efforts to help Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Democratic Convergence come to a compromise over Haiti’s contested 2000 congressional elections (see May 21, 2000). [Newsday, 3/16/2004]

Entity Tags: Stanley Lucas, Brian Dean Curran, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, International Republican Institute, Democratic Convergence

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Observers note a remarkable anti-Aristide bias in the US mainstream media during this period. [Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Under the leadership of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Haitian government engages in cooperative projects with Cuba and Venezuela. The Chavez government offers to provide oil at significantly reduced prices, and treaties between Haiti and Cuba result in a presence of more than 800 Cuban medical workers in Haiti. In an explicit challenge to US domination of the regional trade patterns, Haiti works with other island nations to create a regional trading bloc that “may be a bulwark against the FTAA and other [US-led] initiatives.” Haiti and other Latin American countries regularly discuss regional strategies to reduce US hegemony in the region. [Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

February 7, 2001: Aristide Takes Office

Jean-Bertrand Aristide takes office amid criticisms that his party won the previous year’s congressional elections unfairly. [BBC, 2/7/2001]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Stanley Lucas, the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) senior program officer for Haiti, tells an audience on Radio Tropicale that there are three ways to get rid of newly elected Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide: call early elections and vote him out, charge him with corruption and let the courts imprison him, or assassinate him. With the blessing and assistance of the Bush administration, the IRI, a subsection of the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy, will step up its campaign to get rid of Aristide. The IRI, using $3 million in US taxpayer funds, will train and fund anti-Aristide candidates, help unite them into a single anti-Aristide bloc, and, according to a former US ambassador to Haiti, work to block all internationally-proposed power-sharing agreements in order to heighten Haiti’s political crisis and encourage a coup against Aristide. The IRI also will help in the Bush administration’s failed attempt to precipitate a coup against Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (see April 12, 2002). Lucas himself is a charismatic, wealthy Haitian exile with a history of training Haitian insurgents and deep, murky ties to right-wing organizations and politicians in America, particularly longtime Aristide foe Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Bush’s Latin American envoy Otto Reich. [Salon, 7/16/2004]

Entity Tags: Stanley Lucas, International Republican Institute, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Radio Tropicale, Otto Juan Reich, Jesse Helms

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

With the exception of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, 34 heads of state attending the Organization of American States (OAS) summit, pledge to direct their “Ministers to ensure that negotiations of the FTAA [Free Trade Area of Americas] Agreement are concluded no later than January 2005 and to seek its entry into force as soon as possible thereafter, but in any case, no later than December 2005.” [Haitian Times, 4/18/2001; Andean Community, 4/22/2001; Haiti Weekly News, 5/2/2001] According to an unnamed senior offical at the US State Department, the declaration also lays the groundwork for creating a legal pretext for blocking aid to countries. [US Congress, 7/15/2003 pdf file; London Review of Books, 4/15/2004] The section of the declaration discussing the OAS’s commitment to democracy reads: “… any unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the Hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state’s government in the Summit of the Americas process….To enhance our ability to respond to these threats, we instruct our Foreign Ministers to prepare, in the framework of the next General Assembly of the OAS, an Inter-American Democratic Charter to reinforce OAS instruments for the active defense of representative democracy.” [Andean Community, 4/22/2001; Haiti Progres, 4/25/2001] During the summit, before the final declaration is made, Haiti is singled out as the region’s problem democracy. “Democracy in certain countries is still fragile,” Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien says, “We are particularly concerned about the case of Haiti. We note the problems which continue to limit the democratic, political, economic, and social development of this country.” [Haiti Progres, 4/25/2001] Press reports note the ant-Aristide atmosphere. The BBC reports, “Correspondents say the presence of Mr. Aristide at the summit has been an embarrassment to some of the leaders, who agreed that only democratic countries would be included in the Free Trade Zone of the Americas.” [BBC, 4/22/2001] The New York Post similarly recounts, “Diplomats said the expressions of concern about Haiti were to make sure that Aristide can’t use his presence at the summit… to claim he has international support.” [New York Post, 4/23/2001] And according to Reuters, “the Summit decided to comment on Haiti because leaders did not want Aristide to return home in triumph.” [New York Post, 4/23/2001; Haiti Progres, 4/25/2001]

Entity Tags: Jean Chretien, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Hugo Chavez Frias, Organization of American States (OAS)

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US International Relations

Seven of the eight Haitian senators, whose elections are still being disputed by the Democratic Convergence (see May 21, 2000), resign after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide tells the General Assembly of the Organization of American States that he will hold new elections for the contested Senate seats within six months. But the Democratic Convergence is not satisfied with the concession and maintains its insistence that he resign and that it be put in charge of a non-elected “transition” government. [BBC, 6/8/2001; Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; Turck, 2/24/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Democratic Convergence

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Roger Noriega, a Kansas native of Mexican descent and fervent critic of Latin American leaders Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is appointed US Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States. [Newsday, 3/1/2004; Inter-American Development Bank, 12/31/2005 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Roger Francisco Noriega, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Hugo Chavez Frias, Fidel Castro

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

A USAID-commissioned Gallup poll indicates that 61.6 percent of the survey’s participants sympathize or are members of Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, while only 13 percent say they support the Democratic Convergence or any of its associated parties. Sixty percent of the respondents indicate that the Haitian leader they trust most is Aristide, though several say they trust no one. Democratic Convergence leader Gerard Gourgue, with only 3.7 percent, is the next most trusted politician. [Z Magazine, 5/5/2004]

Entity Tags: USAID, Gerard Gourgue, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

The US ships 20,000 M-16s to the Dominican Republic. Though some US officials will later claim that the weapons transfer had only been agreed to at this time—not completed—there will be much evidence to the contrary. [Fox News, 3/2/2004; Washington Times, 3/4/2004; Newsday, 3/16/2004; Web Ready Corporation, 3/26/2004] According to the Florida-based website, fuerzasmildom.com, which provides a detailed history and description of the Dominican military forces, the Dominican military receives a “donation of 20,000 surplus M16 rifles from the US Military Assistance Program” in October 2002. [Web Ready Corporation, 3/26/2004] Additionally, according to one of the staff aides of US Senator Christopher Dodd, several Defense Department letters written in 2002 and 2003 appear to show that the weapons transfer had been completed. [Newsday, 3/16/2004] After Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is ousted a year and a half later, his attorney, Ira Kurzman, will tell Fox News that the guns had been provided to the Dominican Republic by the US “in an operation called Jade Project where they [sic] secretly trained Dominican army people.” [Fox News, 3/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Ira Kurzman, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Christopher Dodd

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

The Haiti Democracy Project (HDP) is formally established. At its official launching, which takes place at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., speakers warn that the current “crisis” in democracy in Haiti is worsening at an ever increasing pace. “… Luigi Einaudi opened the talks with dire predictions that Haiti was fast approaching a point where diplomatic means would no longer contribute to solve the crisis. According to Einaudi, those concerned about Haiti should at this time be gathering for a ‘wake.’ The rapidly deteriorating economic situation, the inability of the main protagonists to advance the negotiating process and the increasing protest demonstrations throughout the country made for a very bleak future.” US ambassador to the OAS, Roger Noriega also speaks at the ceremony. At one point, Noriega says, referring to the contested 2000 Haitian elections (see May 21, 2000), “We have to get them [The Haitian people] that opportunity as they will not participate in a farce.” [Haiti Democracy Project, 11/20/2004] Attending the event are some questionable figures including Stanley Lucas and Olivier Nadal. Lucas is said to be the point man in Haiti for the USAID-financed International Republican Institute, which is providing training and funds to anti-Aristide Haitian rebels in the Dominican Republic (see (2001-2004)). Nadal is a Miami-based Haitian businessman and the former president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce. [Haiti Democracy Project, 11/20/2004] Nadal is implicated in a peasant massacre that occurred in the Haitian town of Piatre. In 1990, a group of peasants were killed by Nadal’s security after they squatted on unused land that he owned. [Haiti Progres, 7/21/1999; National Coalition for Haitian Rights, 4/24/2004] The prominent businessman Antoine Izmery said shortly before he was murdered that Nadal had been one of the financiers of the 1991 coup d’etat (see October 31, 1991) that ousted Aristide from office. And in 1994, the United States government froze Nadal’s assets because of his suspected involvement in the coup. [Haiti Progres, 7/21/1999] The Haiti Democracy Project is funded by the wealthy, right-wing Haitian Boulos family, which owns several companies including Pharval Pharmaceuticals, the USAID-funded Radio Vision 2000, the Delimart supermarket, and Le Matin. In February 2002, Rudolph Boulos was under investigation for his possible involvement in the assassination of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique who had been very critical of Pharval after contamination of the company’s “Afrebril and Valodon” syrups with diethyl alcohol had resulted in the deaths of 60 children. [Haiti Progres, 7/21/1999; Haiti Weekly News, 2/28/2002; Knight Ridder, 3/11/2004; Haiti Democracy Project, 11/20/2004] The project’s board of directors includes Rudolph Boulos, CEO of Pharval Laboratories; Vicki Carney of CRInternational; Prof. Henry F. Carey of Georgia State University; Timothy Carney, US ambassador to Haiti (1998-1999); Clotilde Charlot, former vice-president of the Haitian Association of Voluntary Agencies; Lionel Delatour of the Center for Free Enterprise and Democracy (CLED); Ira Lowenthal, an “Anthropologist”; Charles Manus; Orlando Marville, Chief of the OAS electoral mission to Haiti in 2000; James Morrell, the Haiti Democracy Project’s executive director; Lawrence Pezzullo, US special envoy for Haiti (1993-1994); and Ernest H. Preeg, US ambassador to Haiti (1981-1983). [Haiti Democracy Project, 3/26/2004]

Entity Tags: Luigi Einaudi, Lionel Delatour, Orlando Marville, Roger Francisco Noriega, Stanley Lucas, Vicki Carney, Timothy Carney, Lawrence Pezzullo, Rudolph Boulos, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Olivier Nadal, James Morrell, Antoine Izmery, Charles Manus, Ernest H. Preeg, Clotilde Charlot, Henry F. Carey, Ira Lowenthal, Jean Dominique, Haiti Democracy Project

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

During a rally celebrating the anniversary of his first inauguration in 1990, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide announces that his government is doubling the minimum wage from 36 to 70 gourdes (or about $1.60) a day, despite the strong disapproval of Haiti’s business elites. [Office of Representative Maxine Waters, 2/18/2004; CIS Resource Information Center, 9/20/2005] This marks the second time since his return to office in 1994 that he has doubled the minimum wage (see May 4, 1995).

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

The Haitian Press Agency (AHP) reports that diplomats at the Organization of American States are openly circulating demands for the removal of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. “One document’s author suggested that it would be best if the situation kept deteriorating, saying that any aid should be blocked until 2005 in order to eliminate the party in power, Fanmi Lavalas [Lavalas Family], which will be of no help to the population, according to him.” [Black Commentator, 5/15/2003] Though the news report does not provide any names, one possible source for the remarks is Roger Noriega, the US permanent representative to the Organization of American States. Noriega is a known critic of Aristide.

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Roger Francisco Noriega

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Dominican police arrest five Haitians, including Arcelin Paul, the official Democratic Convergence representative in the Dominican Republic, who they believe are plotting the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government. Also at this time, there is a US build-up along the Dominican border, where “900 US soldiers patrol jointly with the Dominican army, whom they have armed with 20,000 M16s.” Ben Dupuy, general secretary of the left-wing party PPN, tells the left-wing Haiti Progres, “There is no doubt these guys are true terrorists working with the CIA under Dominican protection.” Documentary filmmaker Kevin Pina, who has been covering Haiti for over a decade, calls this the “US funding of the Haitian ‘Contras.’” A September 2003 article in the magazine, Dollars and Sense, will comment: “Whatever we call them, there is an organized and well-funded armed group with ties to the Convergence, based in the Dominican Republic, which aims to overthrow the Aristide government. The Bush administration’s support for the Convergence and its refusal to denounce this violence, as well as the US military presence along the border, through which the ‘Manman’ army easily travels, clearly implicates the United States in this aim.” [Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Arcelin Paul, Democratic Convergence, Ben Dupuy

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Haiti uses more than 90 percent of its foreign reserves to pay $32 million in debt service to its international creditors, requiring Aristide’s government to end fuel subsidies and slash spending on health and education programs. Haiti’s debt is of dubious legality, however, as the London-based Haiti Support Group explains: “Haiti’s debt to international financial institutions and foreign governments has grown from $302 million in 1980 to $1.134 billion today. About 40 per cent of this debt stems from loans to the brutal Duvalier dictators, who invested precious little of it in the country. This is known as ‘odious debt’ because it was used to oppress the people, and, according to international law, this debt need not be repaid.” The debt payment increases public dissatisfaction with Aristide’s administration. [Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004; London Review of Books, 4/15/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide demands that France return the money Haiti had paid to its former colonizer in service of a dubious debt agreement the country had been forced to accept—under threat of recolonization—in 1825 (see 1825). The exact amount, with interest added and adjusted for inflation, is $21,685,135,571.48. [Haiti Action (.net), 8/5/2003; Newsday, 12/3/2003; Miami Herald, 12/18/2003; London Review of Books, 4/15/2004] France will later back the removal of Aristide in February 2004 (see February 25, 2004). [New York Times, 2/26/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

In Washington, there is an anti-Aristide demonstration sponsored by the Haiti Democracy Project. Several hundred protesters, including many Haitian Americans and recent exiles, attend the event. Many of the demonstrators arrive in buses from New York and Boston. [Miami Herald, 1/30/2004]

Entity Tags: Democratic Convergence, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Rebels take over cities in northern Haiti and move towards Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, overrunning President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s local police forces and vowing to overthrow him. [New York Times, 2/29/2004] The rebels include various factions. The leading groups are led by Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a convicted murderer and former death squad leader under “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and Guy Philippe, also a known human rights violator (see October 31, 1991) (see 1997-1999). [CounterPunch, 3/1/2004; Amnesty International, 3/3/2004; Associated Press, 3/3/2004]

Entity Tags: Louis-Jodel Chamblain, Roger Francisco Noriega, Jean-Claude Duvalier, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

In the evening, Aristide family friend Randal Robinson calls Aristide’s residence in Port-au-Prince. An unfamiliar voice answers the phone and says that both the president and his wife are busy and cannot take the call. [Democracy Now!, 3/1/2004]

Entity Tags: Randal Robinson, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Mildred Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is escorted on a US-charted jet to the Central African Republic. The details of this event are disputed.
US' version of events - Aristide contacts US ambassador James Foley on the night of January 28 and asks him three questions: “What did he think would be best for Haiti? Would the United States guarantee his protection? And could he choose his destination for exile?” At 11pm, Ambassador Foley informs Aristide that the United States can ensure his safe departure if he decides to resign and adds that this is what the Bush administration feels he should do. [Independent, 3/2/2004; Associated Press, 3/2/2004; Washington Post, 3/3/2004] Aristide and his American wife decide that they will accept the American offer. [Washington Post, 3/3/2004] Later in the night, Foley attempts to email the president but Aristide’s computer has already been packed. [Washington Post, 3/3/2004] Some time after midnight, Ambassador Foley telephones the US Embassy’s second-ranking officer in Port-au-Prince, Luis Moreno, and asks that he escort Aristide and his wife to the airport. [Washington Post, 3/3/2004] Shortly after 4 am, US Diplomat Luis Moreno arrives at the gates of Aristide’s residence in the suburb of Tabarre with a fellow US diplomat and six State Department security officers. Inside Aristide’s house the lights are on. Aristide meets Moreno at the door with his suitcases packed. “You know why I’m here,” Moreno says in Spanish. “Yes, of course,” Aristide is quoted as saying in response. Moreno asks Aristide for a resignation letter and Aristide promises to give one to him before he leaves the island. “You have my word and you know my word is good,” Aristide is quoted as saying. They then travel to the airport in separate vehicles, without any further conversation. They arrive at the airport and about 20 minutes before the plane arrives, Moreno again asks for the letter. Aristide provides the letter and then the two converse for the next few minutes. “I expressed sadness that I was here to watch him leave,” Moreno later tells The Washington Post. “Sometimes life is like that,” Aristide responds. “Then I shook his hand and he went away.” [Aristide, 2/28/2004; Reuters, 3/1/2004; Washington Post, 3/3/2004] A US-charted commercial plane arrives in Port-au-Prince at approximately 4:30am. [Aristide, 2/28/2004; Associated Press, 3/2/2004] US authorities do not force Aristide onto the leased plane. He goes willingly. [BBC, 3/1/2004; Associated Press, 3/2/2004] At 6:15am, the plane departs. [Miami Herald, 2/29/2004] “He was not kidnapped. We did not force him on to the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly, and that’s the truth,” Secretary of State Colin Powell claims. [BBC, 3/1/2004; Associated Press, 3/2/2004] “The allegations that somehow we kidnapped former President Aristide are absolutely baseless, absurd.” [Reuters, 3/2/2004]
Aristide's version of events - US soldiers arrive at Aristide’s residence and order the president not to use any phones and to come with them immediately. Aristide, his wife Mildred and his brother-in-law are taken at gunpoint to the airport. Aristide is warned by US diplomat Luis Moreno that if he does not leave Haiti, thousands of Haitians would likely die and rebel leader Guy Philippe would probably attack the palace and kill him. Moreover, the US warns Aristide that they are withdrawing his US-provided security. [Democracy Now!, 3/1/2004; BBC, 3/1/2004; Associated Press, 3/2/2004] Aristide composes and signs a letter explaining his departure. [Democracy Now!, 3/1/2004; Associated Press, 3/2/2004] The president, his wife, and his brother-in-law board a commercial jet charted by the US government. His own security forces are also taken and directed to a separate section of the plane. During the flight, Aristide and his wife remain in the company of soldiers. The shades on the windows of the plane are kept down. Soldiers tell him they are under orders not to tell him where he is going. [Democracy Now!, 3/1/2004] The plane stops first in Antigua, where it stays on the ground for two hours, and then flies for six hours across the Atlantic to the Central African Republic. Aristide is unable to communicate with anyone on the ground during the entire 20-hour period he is on the plane because it is presumably not equipped with a telephone. Shortly before touchdown, Aristide is informed that the destination is the Central African Republic. Upon arrival, Aristide is escorted to the “Palace of the Renaissance,” where he makes one phone call to his mother in Florida and her brother. He is provided a room with a balcony, but is not permitted to move around, and he remains in the company of soldiers. [Democracy Now!, 3/1/2004; Associated Press, 3/2/2004] His phone is taken away by African authorities and [Miami Herald, 3/3/2004] he is not provided a replacement or a landline. On the morning of March 1, he contacts US Congresswomen Maxine Waters and family friend Randall Robinson with a cell phone that is smuggled to him.(see March 1, 2004) [Democracy Now!, 3/1/2004] In an interview with CNN, he says he considers the events a “coup d’etat” and a “modern” version of kidnapping. [Inter Press Service, 3/2/2004]
Joseph Pierre's version of events - According to Joseph Pierre, a concierge at Aristide’s residence, whose account is reported in the French newspaper Lib´┐Żration, Aristide is taken away early Sunday morning by US soldiers. “White Americans came by helicopter to get him. They also took his bodyguards. It was around two o’clock in the morning. He didn’t want to leave. The American soldiers forced him to. Because they were pointing guns at him, he had to follow them. The Americans are second only to God in terms of strength.” [Independent, 3/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Mildred Aristide, Maxine Waters, Joseph Pierre, Roger Francisco Noriega, Randal Robinson, James Foley, Luis Moreno, Colin Powell

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

With the removal of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Boniface Alexandre, chief justice of the Supreme Court, is sworn in as president at the home of Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, in conformance with Haiti’s constitutional rite of succession. The ceremony is attended by US Ambassador James Foley. However without a parliament (see January 2004), his appointment cannot be approved as required by Haiti’s 1987 Constitution. [Reuters, 2/29/2004; New York Times, 2/29/2004; Miami Herald, 3/1/2004]

Entity Tags: Boniface Alexandre, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, James Foley

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

March 1, 2004: Aristide Says He Was Kidnapped

In the Central African Republic, Haitian President-in-exile Jean-Bertrand Aristide, uses a smuggled phone to contact US Congresswoman Maxine Waters and family friend Randall Robinson and “emphatically” denies that he had resigned (see February 28, 2004-March 1, 2004). Robinson tells Democracy Now that he had an early morning phone conversation with Aristide. “He did not resign. He was abducted by the United States in the commission of a coup,” Randall tells Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Maxine Waters speaks with the president at about 9am. “He’s surrounded by military.” Waters will explain to Goodman. “It’s like he is in jail, he said. He says he was kidnapped.” She provides an account of Aristide’s exit that differs dramatically from the description of events that had been provided by the Bush administration the day before. [Democracy Now!, 3/1/2004] Later in the day, Aristide is permitted access to the press. When read a copy of his resignation letter, Aristide claims it’s a fraud. “That’s not right. They took out the sentence where I said, ‘If I am obliged to leave in order to avoid bloodshed.’ They took that off the document. That’s why they are lying to you by giving to you a false document,” Aristide says. [Reuters, 3/1/2004; Reuters, 3/1/2004]

Entity Tags: Maxine Waters, Randal Robinson, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide flies from the Central African Republic to Jamaica despite objections from the United States and the new government of Haiti. Haiti’s new leadership then announces that it is temporarily suspending Haiti’s membership in the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and that Haiti’s ambassador to Jamaica will be recalled. [Guardian, 3/15/2004; Xinhua News Agency (Beijing), 3/15/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

CARICOM members meet in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis and call for a UN investigation into the February 29 ouster (see February 28, 2004-March 1, 2004) of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s. “In the light of contradictory reports still in circulation concerning the departure of President Aristide from office, heads of government (of CARICOM) believed that it is in the compelling interest of the international community that the preceding events and all the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power from a constitutionally elected head of state, be fully investigated,” the statement reads. [CARICOM, 3/26/2004; Inter Press Service, 4/13/2004] US Secretary of State Colin Powell will dismiss CARICOM’s call for a probe on April 5. “I don’t think any purpose would be served by an inquiry. We were on the verge of a bloodbath and President Aristide found himself in great danger.” [US Department of State, 4/5/2004; Agence France-Presse, 4/5/2004; Washington Times, 4/6/2004; Inter Press Service, 4/13/2004] And according to diplomatic sources interviewed by Inter Press Service, the US and France intimidate CARICOM into delaying its official request for a UN inquiry. Both countries warn that they will veto any resolution calling for a probe. [Inter Press Service, 4/13/2004 Sources: Unnamed sources]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Colin Powell, Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice demands that Jamaica expel Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the region, claiming that his presence in the Caribbean will increase tension in Haiti. She also threatens Jamaica, saying that if anything happens to US soldiers in Haiti, that Jamaica would be blamed and subjected to the full force of the US. [Democracy Now!, 4/25/2004]

Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Gerard Latortue, Haiti’s Interim Prime Minister, defends his government by denying that Haiti is a failed state. In his defense, Latortue states that he won’t “stay one minute in this job if there are flagarant cases of human-rights violations.” Latortue also blames former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide for orchestrating violence from his exile in South Africa. [Globe and Mail, 2/8/2005]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Gerard Latortue

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

The US State Department releases a report on human rights in Haiti one year after the ouster of Jean Bertrand Aristide. The report concludes that human rights violations have remained high under the interim government but that the interim government is not responsible for the abuses. [US Department of State, 2/28/2005]
bullet The report condemns members of the former military (FAd’H), members of the paramilitary Revolutionary Army for the Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), and the Haitian National Police (HNP) for using “deadly-force.” [US Department of State, 2/28/2005]
bullet The report also provides numerous examples of the HNP arresting Lavalas supporters without warrant and detaining them for extended periods of time without charge. The report condemns these actions as being in direct violation of the Haitian Constitution which states that a detainee cannot spend longer than 48 hours without hearing a charge before a judge. Of the people detained without charge, the report lists So Anne (Lavalas activist, folk singer, imprisoned May 2004, still imprisoned as of February 28, 2005), Father Gerard Jean-Juste (a well-known Catholic bishop, pro-Aristide activist, imprisoned October 13 and released November 29), and various members of the Lavalas Party in the Senate and Municipal government. The highest profile prisoner mentioned in the report is former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, who as of February 28, 2005, has yet to hear a charge against him. [US Department of State, 2/28/2005]
bullet The report documents various killings of Aristide/Lavalas supporters that have taken place over the past year. The report assigns blame for some of the killings to the HNP. For others, the report concludes that the perpertrators of the killings could not be determined. [US Department of State, 2/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Gerard Latortue, Haitian National Police, US Department of State

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Protests break out in Port-au-Prince calling for the return of ousted Prime Minister Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Two protesters are shot dead by Hatian Police. Witnesses say that the police created a roadblock and began firing tear gas to disperse the crowd. The crowd refused to disperse, and the police began shooting into the crowd of people. Before shots were fired protesters were chanting “George Bush is the biggest terrorist!” Aristide has repeatedly blamed Bush for his ouster. Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a friend of Aristide who was jailed after Aristide left the country, says that “the people are revolting only to ask for what they voted for.” The deaths of the two protesters marks the one year anniversary of the rebellion. [Associated Press, 2/28/2005] The new government of Haiti had previously announced its temporary withdrawal from CARICOM because of the organization’s refusal to recognize the new interim government (see March 15, 2004).

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Discussions from the “Ottawa Initiative” meeting in January (see January 2003) are leaked to the CBC in an interview with Denis Paradis, Canada’s Secretary of State for Latin America. Paradis concludes from the “Ottawa Initiative” that “the international community wouldn’t want to wait for the five-year mandate of President Aristide to run its course in 2005.” Paradis states that a consensus was reached that “Aristide should go.” Paradis also says that military occupation might be necessary after an intervention and “until elections can be held.” [News Haiti, 8/28/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Denis Paradis

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Ordering 

Time period


Email Updates

Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database

 
Donate

Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
Donate Now

Volunteer

If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.
Contact Us

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike