What caused Aristide’s downfall?
Haiti has had a volatile history since a slave revolt established its independence from France in 1804. The country has seen more than 30 coups and only one democratic transition of power in that time. Years of political and economic disorder led the U.S. military to intervene in 1915, beginning a 19-year occupation. In 1934, Haiti regained sovereign rule, then suffered through years of instability and oppression under the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family, which ended in 1986. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who championed the cause of the poor, won the country’s first democratic presidential election in 1990. A military coup six months later deposed him, and he spent three years in exile in the United States until U.S. military action restored him to power. In recent years, experts say, Aristide had grown increasingly autocratic. A coalition of armed groups formed to oust him, and more than 100 people have died in the escalating violence, according to news reports.