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liberation Theology

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Jean-Bertrand Aristide

(b. 1953)

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(b. 15 July 1953).

President of Haiti 1991–6, 2001–4 Born in Port Salut, he became a priest of the Salesian order. He was a committed preacher of liberation theology, but the more the political content of his sermons grew, the more he was opposed by the church hierarchy and his order, and the more venerated he was by the people. He was suspended from the priesthood in 1987 and, following the creation of his own popular Lavalas (‘landslide’) movement, was elected President with 67 per cent of the popular vote in 1990. Taking office on 7 February 1991, he was deposed by a military coup on 30 September 1991 and went into exile in the USA. There, his socialist leanings ensured that he was supported by US public opinion only with some ambiguity, but President Clinton none the less ordered a (peaceful) invasion to enable Aristide to return on 15 October 1994. On 7 February 1996, he was succeeded by René Prevál of his Lavalas movement, who had been elected with almost 90 per cent of the vote. Amidst general allegations of widespread corruption, Aristide was elected for a second non-consecutive term in 2001. The elections were boycotted by the opposition, and international aid was frozen. Aristide survived a domestic coup attempt, but sporadic violence against his rule continued, and in 2004 he left the country.

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