Skip to main content

Aristide, Jean-Bertrand (1953–)

Aristide, Jean-Bertrand (1953–)

Jean-Bertrand Aristide (b. July 15, 1953) was president of Haiti in 1991, 1994–1996, and 2001–2004. A onetime Roman Catholic priest, Aristide took office on February 7, 1991, as the country's first democratically elected president since Haitian independence in 1803. Ordained in 1982 and a supporter of liberation theology, he was hailed as a savior by Haiti's poverty-stricken masses but viewed with suspicion by the Haitian elite. Overthrown by a military coup seven months after his inauguration, a Aristide was restored to the presidency in 1994 by a U.S.-led invasion and completed his five-year term in 1996. Constitutionally barred from a second consecutive term, he was succeeded by René Préval, his former prime minister and protégé. Aristide returned to win a second term in a controversial 2000 election, running against six unknown candidates in a vote boycotted by Haiti's organized opposition and by international monitors, except for a small group from Caribbean nations.

Commencing his second term in February 2001, Aristide became increasingly authoritarian, creating his own version—known as chimères—of the reviled Tonton Macoute of the twenty-nine-year Duvalier dictatorship ending in 1986. National alienation grew. His base was eventually reduced to pockets of support in the slum neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, the capital, and the peasant countryside. By late 2003 his position had become untenable against a fractured opposition of university students, the business community, and former members of the Haitian army, dissolved by Aristide in 1991. In the pre-dawn hours of February 29, 2004, Aristide fled the country aboard a U.S. government plane for eventual South African exile. Replaced by a two-year transitional government, new elections were held in February 2006, returning Préval to the presidency and leaving open the prospect for Aristide's eventual return.

See alsoDuvalier, Jean-Claude; Haiti; Tonton Macoutes.


Works by Aristide

In The Parish of the Poor: Writings from Haiti, ed. and trans. Amy Wilentz. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1990.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide: An Autobiography, ed. Linda Maloney. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993.

Other Sources

Deibert, Michael. Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005.

Dupuy, Alex. The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti, the International Community, and Haiti. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.

Fatton, Robert Jr. Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy. Boulder, CO: Lynn Rienner Publishers, 2002.

Griffiths, Leslie. The Aristide Factor: A Biography of Haiti's First Democratically Elected President. Oxford, UK: Lion Publishing, 1997.

                                            Don Bohning

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Aristide, Jean-Bertrand (1953–)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . 20 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Aristide, Jean-Bertrand (1953–)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . (April 20, 2019).

"Aristide, Jean-Bertrand (1953–)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . Retrieved April 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.