Jean Bertrand Aristide, Politician   Leave a comment

Jean-Bertrand Aristide (born 15 July 1953) is a Haitian former Catholic priest and politician who served as Haiti‘s first democratically elected president.[1][2] A proponent of liberation theology,[3][4] Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies. He became a focal point for the pro-democracy movement first under Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier and then under the military transition regime which followed. He won the Haitian general election, 1990-1991 with 67% of the vote and was briefly President of Haiti, until a September 1991 military coup. The coup regime collapsed in 1994 under US pressure and threat of force (Operation Uphold Democracy) after Aristide agreed to roll back several reforms. Aristide was then President again from 1994 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2004.

Aristide was unexpectedly ousted in a 29 February 2004 coup d’état, in which former soldiers participated. He accused the United States of orchestrating the coup d’état against him with support from Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson and among others.[5] Aristide was forced into exile, being flown directly to the Central African Republic[5] and South Africa. He finally returned to Haiti on 18 March 2011 after seven years in exile.[6]

 Early life and church career

Aristide was born into poverty in Port-Salut, Sud Department. His father died when Aristide was only three months old,[7] and Aristide moved to Port-au-Prince with his mother, seeking a better life for him.[8] In 1958, Aristide started school with priests of the Salesian order.[9] He 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, Aristide traveled in Europe, studying in Italy, Greece,[1] and Israel. He returned to Haiti in 1982 for his ordination as a Salesian priest,[10] and was appointed curate of a small parish in Port-au-Prince.

Throughout the first three decades of Aristide’s life, Haiti was ruled by the family dictatorships of François “Papa Doc” and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. The misery endured by Haiti’s poor made a deep impression on Aristide,[8] and he became an outspoken critic of Duvalierism.[11] Nor did he spare the hierarchy of the country’s church, since a 1966 Vatican Concordat granted Duvalier the power to appoint Haiti’s bishops.[12] An exponent of liberation theology, Aristide denounced Duvalier’s regime in one of his earliest sermons. This did not go unnoticed by the regime’s top echelons. Under pressure, the provincial delegate of the Salesian Order sent Aristide into three years of exile in Montreal.[10] By 1985, as popular opposition to Duvalier’s regime grew, Aristide was back preaching in Haiti. His Easter Week sermon, “A Call to Holiness,” delivered at the cathedral of Port-au-Prince and later broadcast throughout Haiti, proclaimed, “The path of those Haitians who reject the regime is the path of righteousness and love.”[13]

Aristide became a leading figure in the “”ti legliz movement”” – Kreyòl for “little church.”[14] In September 1985, he was appointed to St. Jean Bosco church, in a poor neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. Struck by the absence of young people in the church, Aristide began to organize youth, sponsoring weekly youth masses.[15] He founded an orphanage for urban street children in 1986 called Lafanmi Selavi [Family is Life].[16]:214 Its program sought to be a model of participatory democracy for the children it served.[17] As Aristide became a leading voice for the aspirations of Haiti’s dispossessed, he inevitably became a target for attack.[18] He survived at least four assassination attempts.[9][19] The most widely publicized attempt, the St Jean Bosco massacre, occurred on 11 September 1988,[20] when over one hundred armed Tonton Macoute wearing red armbands forced their way into St. Jean Bosco as Aristide began Sunday mass.[21] As Army troops and police stood by, the men fired machine guns at the congregation and attacked fleeing parishioners with machetes. Aristide’s church was burned to the ground. Thirteen people are reported to have been killed, and 77 wounded. Aristide survived and went into hiding.[16]

Subsequently, Salesian officials ordered Aristide to leave Haiti, but tens of thousands of Haitians protested, blocking his access to the airport.[22] In December 1988, Aristide was expelled from his Salesian order.[23] A statement prepared in Rome called the priest’s political activities an “incitement to hatred and violence,” out of line with his role as a clergyman.[24] Aristide appealed the decision, saying: “The crime of which I stand accused is the crime of preaching food for all men and women.”[25] In a January 1988 interview, he said “The solution is revolution, first in the spirit of the gospel; Jesus could not accept people going hungry. It is a conflict between classes, rich and poor. My role is to preach and organize….”[7] In 1994, Aristide left priesthood, ending years of tension with the church over his criticism of its hierarchy and his espousal of liberation theology.[26] The following year, Aristide married Mildred Trouillot, with whom he had two daughters.[27]

First presidency (1991–1996)

Following the violence at the aborted 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), the “little priest” was elected President in 1990 with 67% of the vote. He was Haiti’s first democratically elected president. However, just eight months into his Presidency he was overthrown by a bloody military coup. He broke from FNCD and created the Struggling People’s Organization (OPL,Organisation Politique “Lavalas”) – “the flood” or “torrent” in Kréyòl.

A coup attempt against Aristide had taken place on January 6, even before his inauguration, when Roger Lafontant, a Tonton Macoute leader under Duvalier, seized the provisional President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot and declared himself President. After large numbers of Aristide supporters filled the streets in protest and Lafontant attempted to declare martial law, the Army crushed the incipient coup.[28]

During Aristide’s short-lived first period in office, he attempted to carry out substantial reforms, which brought passionate opposition from Haiti’s business and military elite.[29] He sought to bring the military under civilian control, retiring the Commander in Chief of the Army Hérard Abraham, initiated investigations of human rights violations, and brought to trial several Tontons Macoute who had not fled the country.[29] He also banned the emigration of many well known Haitians until their bank accounts had been examined.[29] His relationship with the National Assembly soon deteriorated, and he attempted repeatedly to bypass it on judicial, Cabinet and ambassadorial appointments.[29] His nomination of his close friend and political ally, René Préval, as Prime Minister, provoked severe criticism from political opponents overlooked, and the National Assembly threatened a no-confidence vote against Préval in August 1991. This led to a crowd of at least 2000 at the National Palace, which threatened violence; together with Aristide’s failure to explicitly reject mob violence this permitted the junta which would topple him to accuse him of human rights violations.[29]

 1991 coup d’état

In September 1991 the army performed a coup against him (1991 Haitian coup d’état), led by Army General Raoul Cédras, who had been promoted by Aristide in June to Commander in Chief of the Army. Aristide was deposed on 29 September 1991, and after several days sent into exile, his life only saved by the intervention of US, French and Venezuelan diplomats.[30] 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.[31] The elections were scheduled, but were canceled under pressure from the United States Government. Aristide and other sources claim that both the coup and the election cancellation were the result of pressure from the American government.[32][33][34] High ranking members of the Haitian National Intelligence Service (SIN), which had been set up and financed in the 1980s by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as part of the war on drugs, were involved in the coup, and were reportedly still receiving funding and training from the CIA for intelligence-gathering activities at the time of the coup, but this funding reportedly ended after the coup.[35] The New York Times said that “No evidence suggests that the C.I.A backed the coup or intentionally undermined President Aristide.”[35] However, press reports about possible CIA involvement in Haitian politics before the coup sparked Congressional hearings in the United States.[36]

A campaign of terror against Aristide supporters was started by Emmanuel Constant after Aristide was forced out. In 1993, Constant, who had been on the CIA’s payroll as an informant since 1992, organized the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haïti (FRAPH), which targeted and killed Aristide supporters.[37][38][39]

Aristide spent his exile first in Venezuela and then in the United States, working to develop international support. A United Nations trade embargo during Aristide’s exile, intended to force the coup leaders to step down, was a strong blow to Haiti’s already weak economy.[40] President George H.W. Bush granted an exemption from the embargo to many US companies doing business in Haiti, and President Bill Clinton extended this exemption.[41][42]

In addition to this trade with the US, the coup regime was supported by massive profits from the drug trade thanks to the Haitian military’s affiliation with the Cali Cartel and the drug-affiliated government in the neighboring Dominican Republic; Aristide publicly stated that his own pursuit of arresting drug dealers was one event that prompted the coup by drug-affiliated military officials Raul Cedras and Michel Francois (a claim echoed by his former Secretary of State Patrick Elie). Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) expressed concern that the only US government agency to publicly recognize the Haitian junta’s role in drug trafficking was the DEA, and that despite a wealth of evidence provided by the DEA proving the junta’s drug connections, the Clinton administration downplayed this factor rather than use it as a hedge against the junta (as the US government had done against Manuel Noriega). Conyers expressed concern that this silence was due to the CIA’s connections to these military officers dating back to the creation of the Haitian Intelligence service known as SIN, as Alan Nairn’s research has shown: “We have turned a very deaf ear to what is obviously a moving force… it leads you to wonder if our silence is because we knew this was going on and [because of] our complicity in drug activity…”[43] Nairn in particular alleged that the CIA’s connections to these drug traffickers in the junta not only dated to the creation of SIN, but were ongoing during and after the coup. Nairn’s claims are confirmed in part by revelations of Emmanuel Constant regarding the ties of his FRAPH organization to the CIA before and during the coup government.

 1994 return

Under US and international pressure (including United Nations Security Council Resolution 940 on 31 July 1994), the military regime backed down and US troops were deployed in the country by President Bill Clinton. On 15 October 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti to complete his term in office.[44] Aristide disbanded the Haitian army, and established a civilian police force. The noted speaker, academic, and historian Noam Chomsky is highly critical of what he calls hidden American imperialist actions in Haiti: “When Clinton restored Aristide – Clinton of course supported the military junta, another little hidden story… he strongly supported it in fact. He even allowed the Texaco Oil Company to send oil to the junta in violation of presidential directives; Bush Sr. did so as well – well, he finally allowed the president to return, but on condition that he accept the programs of Marc Bazin, the US candidate that he had defeated in the 1990 election. And that meant a harsh neoliberal program, no import barriers.[45]

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.[unreliable source?][46]

Opposition (1996–2001)

In late 1996, Aristide broke from the OPL over what he called its “distance from the people”[32] 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 in May, but a number of Senate seats which should have had second-round runoffs were allocated to Lavalas candidates which, while leading, had not achieved a first-round majority of all votes cast. Fanmi Lavalas controlled the Provisional Election Commission which made the decision.[47] Aristide then was elected later that year in the 2000 presidential election, an election boycotted by most opposition political parties, now organised into the Convergence Démocratique. Although the US government claimed that the election turnout was hardly over 10%, international observers saw turnout of around 50%, and at the time, CNN reported a turnout of 60% with over 92% voting for Aristide.[48] Only later did allegations surface mentioning the above figure of a 10% voter turnout.[49]

Second presidency (2001–2004)

Aristide called for France, the former colonizer of the country, to pay $21 billion[50] in restitution to Haiti for the 90 million gold francs extorted from Haiti by France over the period from 1825 to 1947. Later it was revealed that this claim of repayment from France might have been one of the main reasons behind the coup d’état of 2004.[51]

 2004 destabilization and coup

For more details on this topic, see 2004 Haitian coup d’état.

In February 2004, the assassination of gang leader Amiot Metayer sparked a violent rebellion that culminated in Aristide’s removal from office. Amiot’s brother, Buteur Metayer, blamed Aristide for the assassination, and used this as an argument given in order to form the National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Haiti.[52] Joined by other groups[53] the rebels quickly took control of the North, and eventually laid siege to, and then invaded, the capital. Under disputed circumstances, Aristide was flown out of the country by the U.S. on 28 February 2004.[54]

Earlier in February, Aristide’s lawyer had claimed that the U.S. was arming anti-Aristide troops.[55] Aristide later stated that France and the US had a role in what he termed “a kidnapping” that took him from Haiti to South Africa via the Central African Republic.[56] However, authorities said his temporary asylum there had been negotiated by the United States, France and Gabon.[57] On 1 March 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.[58]

After Aristide was removed from Haiti, looters raided his villa.[59] 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.[60] 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.[5][61] According to Rep. Maxine Waters D-California, Mildred Aristide called her at her home at 6:30 am to inform her “the coup d’etat has been completed”, and Jean-Bertrand Aristide said the US Embassy in Haiti’s chief of staff came to his house to say he would be killed “and a lot of Haitians would be killed” if he refused to resign immediately and said he “has to go now.”[5] Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York expressed similar words, saying Aristide had told him he was “disappointed that the international community had let him down” and “that he resigned under pressure” – “As a matter of fact, he was very apprehensive for his life. They made it clear that he had to go now or he would be killed.”[5] When asked for his response to these statements Colin Powell said that “it might have been better for members of Congress who have heard these stories to ask us about the stories before going public with them so we don’t make a difficult situation that much more difficult” and he alleged that Aristide “did not democratically govern or govern well”.[5] CARICOM, an organization of Caribbean countries that included Haiti, called for a United Nations investigation into Aristide’s removal, but were reportedly pressured by the US and France to drop their request. Some observers suggest the rebellion and removal of Aristide were covertly orchestrated by these two countries.[62][63] Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson released a statement saying “we are bound to question whether his resignation was truly voluntary, as it comes after the capture of sections of Haiti by armed insurgents and the failure of the international community to provide the requisite support. The removal of President Aristide in these circumstances sets a dangerous precedent for democratically elected governments anywhere and everywhere, as it promotes the removal of duly elected persons from office by the power of rebel forces.”[5] In a 2006 interview, Aristide said the US 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.[64]

 Exile (2004–2011)

After being cast into exile, in mid-2004 Aristide, his family, and bodyguards were welcomed to South Africa by several cabinet ministers, 20 senior diplomats, and a guard of honour.[65][66] Receiving a salary from and provided staff by the South African government,[67] Aristide lived with his family in a government villa in Pretoria.[68] In South Africa, Aristide became an honorary research fellow at the University of South Africa, learned Zulu, and on 25 April 2007, received a doctorate in African Languages.[69]

On 21 December 2007, a speech by Aristide marking the new year and Haiti’s Independence Day was broadcast, the fourth such speech since his exile; in the speech he criticized the 2006 presidential election in which Préval was elected, describing it as a “selection,” in which “the knife of treason was planted” in the back of the Haitian people.[70]

Since the election, some high ranking members of Lavalas have been targets for violence.[71][72] Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a leading human rights organizer in Haiti and a member of Lavalas, disappeared in August 2007.[73] His whereabouts remain unknown and a news article states,”Like many protesters, Wilson Mesilien, coordinator of the pro-Aristide 30 September Foundation wore a T-shirt demanding the return of foundation leader Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a human rights activist and critic of both UN and US involvement in Haiti.”[74]

 Return to Haiti

After René Préval, a former ally of Aristide, was elected president of Haiti in 2006, he said it would be possible for Aristide to return to Haiti.[75][76]

On 16 December 2009, several thousand protesters marched through Port-au-Prince calling for Aristide’s return to Haiti, and protesting the exclusion of Aristide’s populist Fanmi Lavalas party from upcoming elections.[77]

On 12 January 2010, Aristide sent his condolences to victims of the earthquake in Haiti just a few hours after it occurred, and stated that he wishes to return to help rebuild the country.[78][79]

On 7 November 2010, in an exclusive interview with independent reporter Nicolas Rossier in Eurasia Review and the Huffington Post, Aristide declared that the 2010 elections were not inclusive of his party Fanmi Lavalas and therefore not fair and free. He also confirmed his wishes to go back to Haiti but that he was not allowed to travel out of South Africa.[80]

In February 2011, Aristide announced “I will return to Haiti” within days of the ruling Haitian government removing impediments to him receiving his Haitian passport.[81] Since he was ousted by the US government in 2004, Aristide has said that he would return to the field of education.[82] This would mark the 2nd return of former political leaders, as former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier returned to Haiti in January 2011[83] An anonymous government official told the Agence France-Presse news agency that the Haitian government had issued a passport for Aristide on 7 February, but his lawyer stated that they had not received the document, nor been informed of its issue by the government.[84]

On March 15, 2011, Aristide’s Lavalas party stated in an interview that his return is due to both health reasons for needing warmer climate as well as to aid earthquake victims.[85]

On March 17, 2011, Aristide departed for Haiti from his exile in South Africa. U.S. President Barack Obama had asked South African President Jacob Zuma to delay Aristide’s departure to prevent him from returning to Haiti before a presidential run-off election scheduled for Sunday. Aristide’s party was barred from participating in the elections, and the U.S. fears his return could be “destabilizing”.[86] On Friday, March 18, 2011, he arrived at Port-au-Prince airport, and was greeted by thousands of supporters.[87] He told the crowd waiting at the airport, “The exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas is the exclusion of the Haitian people. In 1804, the Haitian revolution marked the end of slavery. Today, may the Haitian people end exiles and coup d’états, while peacefully moving from social exclusion to inclusion.”[6]


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 primarily had been used against the Haitian people), establishing improved human rights and political freedom; 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.[88]

Achievements in education

During the fragmented rule of Lavalas, Jean Bertrand Aristide and Rene Preval built 195 new primary schools and 104 secondary schools. Prior to Aristide’s election in 1990, there were just 34 secondary schools nationwide. Lavalas also provided thousands of scholarships so that children could afford to attend church/private schools. Between 2001 and 2004, the percentage of children enrolled in primary school education rose to 72%, and an estimated 300,000 adults took part in Lavalas sponsored adult literacy campaigns. This helped the adult literacy rate raise from 35% to 55%.[89]

Achievements in health care

In addition to numerous educational advances, Aristide and Lavalas embarked on an ambitious plan to develop the public primary health care system with Cuban assistance. Since the devastation unleashed by Hurriance George in 1998, Cuba entered a humanitarian agreement with Haiti whereby Haitian doctors would be trained in Cuba, and Cuban doctors would work in rural areas. At the time of the January 12th earthquake, 573 doctors had been trained in Cuba.[90]

Prior to the election of Aristide, health care services had been primarily concentrated in the capital of Port-au-Prince. The Aristide government renovated and built new health care clinics, hospitals and dispensaries throughout the country, spending more on health care than any previous government.[91] Despite operating under an aid embargo, the Lavalas administration succeeded in reducing the infant mortality rate as well as reducing the percentage of underweight newborns.[92] A successful AIDS prevention and treatment program was also established, leading the Catholic Institute for International Relations to state, the “incredible feat of slowing the rate of new infections in Haiti has been achieved despite the lack of international aid to the Haitian government, and despite the notable lack of resources faced by those working in the health field.”[93]

 Wikileaks and Aristide

The release of many documents through Wikileaks has provided a great deal of insight into how the international community (United States, Canada, France and Brazil) has regarded Aristide, his lasting influence, the coup, and his exile.

November 2004 Dominican President Leonel Fernandez gave a speech in front of other regional leaders in which he said Aristide commanded “great popular support” within Haiti and called for his inclusion in the country’s democratic future.[94]

January 2005 USA pressuring South Africa to hold Aristide, or face the loss of potential UN Security Council seat

“Bienvenu later offered to express our shared concerns in Pretoria, perhaps under the pretext that as a country desiring to secure a seat on the UN Security Council, South Africa could not afford to be involved in any way with the destabilization of another country….2 (S) Bienvenu speculated on exactly how Aristide might return, seeing a possible opportunity to hinder him in the logistics of reaching Haiti. If Aristide traveled commercially, Bienvenu reasoned, he would likely need to transit certain countries in order to reach Haiti. Bienvenu suggested a demarche to CARICOM countries by the U.S. and EU to warn them against facilitating any travel or other plans Aristide might have…. Both Bienvenu and Barbier confided that South African mercenaries could be heading towards Haiti, with Bienvenu revealing the GOF had documented evidence that 10 South African citizens had come to Paris and requested Dominican visas between February and the present.”[95]

A June 2005 cable states: “the GOB (Government of Brazil) officials made clear continued Brazilian resolve to keep Aristide from returning to the country or exerting political influence”[96] “the GOB had been encouraged by recent South African Government commitments to Brazil that the GSA (Government of South Africa) would not allow Aristide to use his exile there to undertake political efforts”[96]

Fall of 2008: On Preval’s fear Aristide would return to Haiti via Venezuela

President Rene Preval made reference to these rumors, telling the Ambassador that he did not want Aristide “anywhere in the hemisphere.” Subsequent to that, he remarked that he is concerned that Aristide will accept the Chavez offer but deflected any discussion of whether Preval himself was prepared to raise the matter with Chavez.[97]


 Accusations of 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”.[98]

Videos surfaced showing a portion of a speech by Aristide on 27 August 1991 where he says “Don’t hesitate to give him what he deserves. What a beautiful tool! What a beautiful instrument! What a beautiful piece of equipment! It’s beautiful, yes it’s beautiful, it’s cute, it’s pretty, it has a good smell, wherever you go you want to inhale it.”[99] Critics allege that he was endorsing the practice of “necklacing” opposition activists – placing a gasoline-soaked tire around a person’s neck and setting the tire ablaze[100] – However, just earlier in the speech, and edited from the videos, he is quoted as saying “Your tool in hand, your instrument in hand, your constitution in hand! Don’t hesitate to give him what he deserves. Your equipment in hand, your trowel in hand, your pencil in hand, your Constitution in hand, don’t hesitate to give him what he deserves.”[99] There is some suspicion that Aristide’s speech was edited to make it sound as if he were advocating “necklacing” when he was actually urging his supporters not to use violence but to use the constitution and voting instead.[101]

Although there were accusations of human rights abuses, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti, known by the French acronym MICIVIH, found that the human rights situation in Haiti improved dramatically following Aristide’s return to power in 1994.[102] Amnesty International reported that, after Aristide’s departure in 2004, Haiti was “descending into a severe humanitarian and human rights crisis.”[103]

 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.[104] Aristide has forcefully denied these accusations.[105] The unelected interim government in Haiti, which took office with the support of the U.S. and France, following Aristide’s ouster filed a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit in the US in Miami, Florida, in November 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 elected Preval government on 30 June 2006.[106][107]

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 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.[108] At the time Aristide, Haiti’s first elected president had been forced into exile by the U.S. funded Haitian military, so money was needed to bring about his return. These remain allegations, as no charges have been ruled on in court.

Some officials have been indicted by a US court.[109] Companies that 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”.[110][111][112][113]


Aristide has published a number of books including an autobiography in 1993 and Nevrose vetero-testamentaire (1994) with excerpts of his masters and doctoral theses.

In 2000 Aristide published the book Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization that accused the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund of working on behalf of the world’s wealthiest nations rather than in the interest of genuine international development. Aristide called for “a culture of global solidarity” to eliminate poverty as an alternative to the globalization represented by neocolonialism and neoliberalism.[114]

In 2005 the documentary Aristide and The Endless Revolution appeared. In the film Nicolas Rossier investigates the events leading up to the 2004 coup against Aristide.[115]


Posted February 29, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Politicians

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