History, Democratic Elections and Military Takeover
Leslie Manigat, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, military coup, outspoken advocate, Lieutenant General
Leslie Manigat was elected president in January 1988 but was ousted by the military in June. Lieutenant General Prosper Avril emerged from a subsequent power struggle as Haitiís president. Renewed political unrest, sparked by deteriorating economic conditions, led Avril to resign the presidency and flee in March 1990. Internationally supervised elections in December resulted in a landslide presidential victory for Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest and an outspoken advocate for the poor. After the army crushed a mutiny led by former officials of the Duvalier regime, Aristide was inaugurated in February 1991. He was ousted by a military coup the following September and went into exile in the United States.
The OAS imposed sanctions on the new military regime, but negotiations for Aristideís return to office moved slowly. Of the thousands of Haitians who attempted to flee to the United States, more than half were sent back to Haiti by the U.S. Coast Guard. The UN imposed sanctions in June 1993, then suspended them in August after the Haitian military and Aristide agreed on a plan for his reinstatement as head of a democratic government by October 30. The military government, led by Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras, refused to step down and the UN reimposed sanctions in mid-October. In December, Aristideís prime minister and chief negotiator in Haiti, Robert Malval, resigned. Gasoline and oil shortages caused by UN sanctions left relief organizations unable to deliver food and medical supplies, although fuel was being successfully smuggled into Haiti from the Dominican Republic. In May 1994 the UN imposed broader sanctions, including a ban on international air travel, against Haitiís military rulers. The new sanctions, aimed at forcing them to step down and allow Aristide to return to power, permitted only food and medicine to be shipped into Haiti. In response to economic conditions worsened by sanctions and continued repression by the military, the number of Haitians fleeing the country and seeking political asylum in the United States greatly increased. An additional 20,000 refugees attempted to reach the United States in 1994. The UN passed a resolution that authorized member states to use all necessary means to facilitate the return of Aristide.
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