HAITI POLITICS: Rene Preval Biography
René García Préval was born 17 January 1943. He was a Haitian politician and President of Haiti between 1996 and 2001, in 2006 he was elected for a second term of five years.
His father, agronomist of profession and prosperous rural proprietor, had been minister of Agriculture in the government of the general Paul Magloire (1950-1956), and was forced to leave Haiti in 1963 with all its family after the military coup d’etat that ended in The dictatorship of François Duvalier, Pope Doc , and the son of Jean-Claude Duvalier, which lasted until 1986.
During his exile, René Préval studied agronomy at the universities of Gembloux and Leuven in Belgium, but did not graduate. He also lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his father worked as a UN official in the direction of development projects, and later spent five years in Brooklyn (New York), working as a waiter (1970-1975).
Upon his return to Haiti, he joined the National Institute of Mineral Resources. In 1978 he took a course in geothermal science at the University of Pisa (Italy) and returned to his country in 1979. He opened a bakery in Port-au-Prince, where the orphanage was run by the Salesian Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Who struck a close friendship and began his political career, in opposition to Duvalier.
Founder in 1986 of the left-wing group Honor and Respect for the Constitution and chairman of the Pa Bliyé Committee, dedicated to investigating the whereabouts of the disappeared, he was one of the top leaders of the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL), the leftist coalition founded by Aristide, And after the triumphal election of the latter as President of the Republic (December 16, 1990), he was appointed prime minister, Minister of Defense and Minister of the Interior, positions he held from February 13, 1991 until the coup d’etat of General Raoul Cédras (30 of September of the same year), that took to the exile in Venezuela. Both returned to Haiti in October 1994, and were reinstated in their posts following a US military intervention authorized by the UN Security Council.
As Aristide was constitutionally unable to stand for election on December 17, 1995, René Préval was the Lavalas candidate and was elected with 87.9% of the votes, although with a abstention of more than 70% of the census and boycott of The main opposition leaders, who launched several allegations of fraud, so the Organization of American States (OAS) had to certify the validity of the scrutiny, despite some irregularities. He took possession of the headquarters of the State on February 7, 1996.
Although Préval was not accused directly of corruption, despotism or violation of human rights, his detractors affirm that during his presidency he was but a puppet in the hands of Aristide, although it officially broke with this one in November of 1996. The mandate was characterized by a complete political paralysis, since after the local and legislative elections of 19 June 1997, plagued with irregularities, the Assembly rejected three times the nominations of prime minister proposed by the president. In January 1999, the crisis was aggravated by rejecting deputies to Jacques-Édouard Alexis as prime minister. Préval replied by closing the Parliament and ruling by decree from 25 of March of 1999.
During his tenure, he carried out some economic reforms, privatized several state-owned enterprises under the pressure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and promoted or supported various investigations into human rights violations by elements of the army and police. But the withdrawal of the blue helmets, at the end of 1997, triggered a resurgence of violence. The author and the circumstances of the shooting in which his sister was injured in Port-au-Prince on January 12, 1999, were still unknown, in which the chauffeur of the car in which she was traveling died.
Despite his poor relations with the military, Préval was the first democratically elected president in Haiti who exercised his mandate until its expiration. On 7 February 2001 he transferred power to his mentor Aristide, who had been re-elected by overwhelming majority (91.8% of the votes) in November 2000, amid boycotts and allegations of fraud by the bourgeois opposition or simply Nostalgic of Duvalier. The conflict culminated in a new military revolt that precipitated Aristide’s exile in the Republic of South Africa in February 2004.
Préval announced his retirement from politics, but the permanent crisis of the country did not give him respite. The interim Government, supported by a new United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), organized presidential and legislative elections. At the last moment, under the pressure of his supporters and some of the countries with blue helmets, he accepted to stand for the elections of February 7, 2006, but intervened very little in the electoral campaign. He detached himself from Aristide and presented himself under the banner of his own movement, Frente por la Esperanza, although his opponents continued to link him to the exile.
After a very confused electoral scrutiny and various demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and other cities, in the fear of massive fraud, the Provisional Electoral Council recognized that Préval had been the winner, obtaining 51.15% of the votes, a result he made Unnecessary a second round, thanks to the support of Aristide supporters. The second most voted candidate, among 33 contestants, was Leslie Manigat, with 11.72% of the votes. Despite numerous irregularities, international observers considered that counting had democratic validity. Participation reached 63% of those enrolled.
In the legislative elections held on the same day, the Front for Hope obtained only 11 of the 20 senators and 20 seats of the 97 of the Assembly. After the failure of the period of democratic transition that followed Aristide’s exile, the new president found himself with a very fragmented parliament, in which he lacked a majority, more inclined to obstruction than to compromise. That is why he was in favor of establishing a Government of national union.
Before taking office, Préval visited the UN to seek international assistance, as well as several countries: the Dominican Republic, in an attempt to improve relations degraded by an old migratory conflict; Brazil, Argentina and Chile, three of the main contributors to the mission of the blue helmets; The United States and Canada, where he obtained new financial promises, and finally Cuba and Venezuela, whose leaders promised him various aids.
During his investiture speech in Port-au-Prince on 14 May 2006, the new president called for the continuation of MINUSTAH and called for peace and reconciliation. He urgently needed money to revive a moribund economy and UN aid to neutralize the armed gangs that continued to act with violence and impunity in the capital’s suburbs. His opponents were decrying their troubled relations with chimeras ( CHIME ), armed squads that his predecessor had used to repress the opposition.
On June 9, Préval fulfilled his promise to form a government of openness and coalition, with Jacques-Édouard Alexis as prime minister, and composed of representatives of the five main parties with parliamentary representation. His first announcement was a social integration program funded by international aid.
Other News: Former Haitian President Rene Preval Passes Away – 3 March 2017
Former Haitian President Rene Preval, 74, the first leader in Haiti’s history to win a democratic election, serve a full term and peacefully hand power to a successor, died on Friday after falling unconscious at his home.
The cause of death for the two-time president was not made public. His sister, Marie-Claude Calvin, said an autopsy would determine the cause. She said “he sounded fine” the three times she spoke to him on Friday, but that medics at a nearby clinic were unable to save his life after he collapsed.
“It was too late, he died. All that happened very quickly,” Calvin said.
President Jovenel Moise described Preval as a “dignified son of Haiti,” in a statement on Twitter. The United States extended condolences, saying Preval had “shepherded his country through tragic times and good times.”
– Rene Preval Biography (René García Préval)