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Jean-Bertrand Aristide

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Jean-Bertrand Aristide (born 15 July 1953) is a former Haitian priest and politician who became Haiti’s first democratically elected president. A proponent of liberation theology, Aristide was appointed to a Roman Catholic parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies to become a priest of the Salesian order. He became a focal point for the pro-democracy movement first under Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier and then under the military transition regime which followed. He won the Haitian general election between 1990 and 1991, with 67% of the vote and was briefly president of Haiti, until a September 1991 military coup. The coup regime collapsed in 1994 under U.S. pressure and threat of force (Operation Uphold Democracy). Aristide was then president again from 1994 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2004. However, Aristide was ousted in the 2004 coup d’état after right-wing ex-army paramilitaries invaded the country from across the Dominican border. Aristide has claimed the United States helped orchestrate the coup against him. Aristide was later forced into exile in the Central African Republic and South Africa. He finally returned to Haiti in 2011 after seven years in exile.