Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide arrives in South Africa

By: Cerone White

On this day in Caribbean history, May 31, 2004, ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family received a first-class diplomatic welcome from South Africa making this new home in exile. Just a day before he and his family planned on making Jamaica their temporary home.

Aristide, a politician in Haiti, first came to notoriety when he was appointed to become a Priest in a Roman Catholic parish in Port -au-Prince after finishing his studies. Later on in his life, Aristide ran for the office of the president in 1990 and won. He was in power up until September 1991 before the military coup regime collapsed in 1994 under US pressure and the threat of force. Aristide took office again from 2001 – 2004 but this would be his last time serving as president of Haiti. In 2004, Aristide was ousted blaming the United States of arranging the coup d’état against him with support from the Jamaican government which was headed by then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson among other world leaders. In 2011, after more than seven years of being exiled, Aristide finally returned to Haiti.

Did You Know:

While being in exile in South Africa Aristide received a salary from the South African government and he and his family were provided staff to help with chores. He also became an honorary research fellow at the University of South Africa and he learned Zulu, the native tongue of South Africa. On April 25, 2007, Aristide received his doctorate in African Languages from the University of South Africa.

 

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