Aristide, Jean-Bertrand

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Aristide, Jean-Bertrand

Jean-Bertrand Aristide (zhän´ bĕrtränd´ ä´rēstēd´), 1953–, president of Haiti (1991, 1994–96, 2001–4). A radical Catholic priest who defended liberation theology, he worked among Haiti's poor and was part of a group of progressive priests who opposed the Duvalier dictatorship. He studied theology and sociology in Canada, England, Italy, and Israel, and was ordained in 1982. Expelled from his order in 1988 because of his revolutionary teachings, he became the candidate of a coalition of leftist parties in the 1990 presidential elections and was elected with an overwhelming majority. He was overthrown in a bloody military coup seven months after taking office, and went into exile in Venezuela and later the United States. Aristide was returned to power in 1994 with the aid of the U.S. army. He formally resigned from the priesthood in 1994 and married in 1996. In 1995, René Préval was elected to succeed Aristide, who was barred from running. Aristide was again elected president in 2000, but political unrest resulting from contested parliamentary election results (also in 2000) led to political unrest and, in 2004, an armed uprising. Under pressure from the United States and France, Aristide resigned and went into exile; he subsequently accused U.S. and French officials of coercion and kidnapping. He returned to Haiti in 2011.

See his autobiography (1992).

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