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The Americas

Caribbean Islands


Modern Haiti (Greater Antilles)
AD 1804 - Present Day
Incorporating Heads of State (1804-2024), Northern State (1806-1820), Département of the South (1810-1812), Republic of the North (1868-1869), Southern State of Haiti (1868-1869), & Northern Republic (1888-1889)

Lying to the south-east of Cuba, the former colony island of Hispaniola was divided when it was seized by the rebel leader, Toussaint-l'Overture. Resistance by republican France meant that only the western third of the island remained free, but this is what became the nation state of Haiti in 1804. The other two-thirds of the island eventually became independent as Dominican Republic.

This Caribbean island is neighboured to the north by Turks and Caicos Islands, to the east by Puerto Rico, to the south by Aruba, Curacao, Venezuela, and Colombia, and to the west by Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

The name 'Haiti' was originally used by the Taino natives who occupied the island prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus (the word 'ayti' meaning 'mountain land', referring to the entire island of Hispaniola). On his second voyage in 1493, Columbus landed in eastern Hispaniola to find abandoned the Spanish colony of La Navidad, its European population massacred.

Not at all dissuaded by this, he founded the first permanent Spanish Colony of La Isabela and became the island's first colonial governor. Following initial friendliness from the Xaragua chiefdom, the Taino revolted against the newcomers. They put up some of the stiffest native resistance of all of the region, but their attempts were put down one by one. Within about two decades they had largely been exterminated.

After three hundred years of colonial occupation and a switch of ownership and name to the French-owned Saint-Dominigue, it was an African-descended slave army under Toussaint-l'Overture which led the fight for independence. These slaves achieved independence under the revolutionary (and first Haitian governor), Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

Aside from the USA, Haiti is the oldest independent former colony state in the Americas. This one-third island nation in the Greater Antilles chain is extremely poor though, the poorest in the western hemisphere. This links closely to its long and troubled history since independence, one which has been - and remains - characterised by instability and bursts of despotic rule.

The state has a multi-party democratic republic, with power being shared - in theory - between a popularly elected president on the one hand, and a national assembly on the other which is responsible for selecting the prime minister.

The two officials share executive power. Powerful, violent gangs control swathes of the state though, especially the capital of Port-au-Prince, and the government is frequently helpless when it comes to controlling them. Haiti's population amounts to about eleven million (in 2023), of whom some ninety-five percent are black, five percent are mixed or white, and more than half live in urban areas.

Two official languages are spoken, French and Creole, and the population is mainly Roman Catholic, with nearly a third Protestant and a small percentage practicing Voodoo (or Voudou), an official religion. Anacaona of Xaragua, one of the best-known Taino chiefs, remains revered by today's population.

Perched high above the ocean within the lush green confines of the mountain of Bonnet-à-L'évêque which surround the small farming community of Milot are two of Haiti's most prized possessions and symbols of freedom, Citadelle Henry and the Palais Sans Souci.

Both were built in the early 1800s during the reign of Henry Christophe, an important leader of the slave rebellion which led to Haiti's independence. These two UNESCO World Heritage sites are perhaps the most impressive and iconic monuments in all of Haiti.

Caribbean Islands

(Information by John De Cleene, Peter Kessler, and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from ABC News (American Broadcasting Company, first screened 10 October 1994), from American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt, Daniel Rasmussen (Harper Perennial, 2011), from Haiti (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Ed, Cambridge University Press, 1910), from NBC (National Broadcasting Company, first screened 31 March 1995), from Oxford Atlas of World History, Patrick K O'Brien (Gen Ed, Oxford University Press, 1999), from CBS This Morning (Columbia Broadcasting System, first screened 7 July 2021), from The Times Atlas of World History, Geoffrey Barraclough (Ed, Hammond Inc, 1979), from Washington Post (various entries 1994-2021), and from External Links: Haiti (Encyclopaedia Britannica), and Haiti (Rulers.org), and Haiti (Zárate's Political Collections), and All About World Heritage (Tumblr), and Haiti President's assassination (The Guardian), and UN unable to feed 100,000 Haitians (The Guardian), and Kenya's offer to send police to Haiti (The Guardian), and Haiti PM Ariel Henry resigns (The Guardian).


African-descended revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines is the successor to Toussaint Louverture (who had been captured by the French). He declares the independence of French-owned Saint-Dominigue on 1 January and restores the country's original Taino name of Haiti.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines of Haiti
Jean-Jacques Dessalines is seen as the father of Haitian independence, having created the nation's flag by ripping elements away from a French tricolour before he and Pétion seized the capital from French hands


Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Governor-general (Jan-Sep only). Elevated by troops.

1804 - 1806

Jacques I

Emperor, and former Governor Dessalines. Assassinated.


Dessalines has been proclaimed governor for life by his troops, but after ruling as an imperial despot by the name of Jacques I he is assassinated on 17 October 1806. The country is divided into a kingdom in the north (a 'North State') and a republic in the south, with the two sides militarily opposing each other.

Henry Christophe, ruler of the north, is invited to be president of the south and thereby unite the two halves of Haiti, but he declines, preferring to concentrate his power in the north. Names for rulers in the north are shown in red to differentiate them from those of the south.

1806 - 1807

Henry Christophe

North only. Provisional chief of the Haitian government.


Bruno Blanchet

South only. Acting president.

1807 - 1811

Henry Christophe

North only. President. Elevated to king (1811).

1807 - 1818

Alexandre A Sabès / Pétion

South only. President & dictator. Died of Yellow Fever.


Following the French invasion of Spain, the people of Santo Domingo revolt against French rule. They manage to restore Spanish control with help from Britain, but Haiti loses its own controls in Santo Domingo as a result.

Spain's American colonies declare independence in 1811
Thanks to France's occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars, Spain's colonies in the Americas quickly took the opportunity to declare their independence


Alexandre A Sabès - known generally as Pétion - embarks on a land redistribution programme to secure his shaky popular support, Nevertheless, André Rigaud, an early revolutionary leader who previously, at various times, had been both an ally and rival of Toussaint-l'Overture, leads a secession of the 'Département of the South' from the southern republic.

1810 - 1812

Rigaud sets up his own separate government (with names here shown in green). He is replaced by Jérôme-Maximilien Borgella in 1811 and, finally, in March 1812, the republic reincorporates the 'Département of the South'.

1811 - 1820

Henry I

North only. Former chief and president. Suicided.

1810 - 1811

André Rigaud

President of the 'Département of the South'.

1811 - 1812

Jérôme-Maximilien Borgella

President of the 'Département of the South'.

1818 - 1820

Jean-Pierre Boyer

South only. General. President. Reunited all of Haiti.


King Henry of the 'North State' improves the economy, but does so in part by forcing former slaves to return to work on plantations. Haitians remain devoted to the idea of a republic and have not embraced his kingdom. In the face of a mutiny, he commits suicide. The northern state is extinguished upon his death and is reabsorbed into the rest of Haiti.

Jean-Pierre Boyer of Haiti
The long-serving Jean-Pierre Boyer (1776-1850) reunited the north and south of Haiti in 1820 and also annexed newly-independent Spanish Haiti (Santo Domingo), which brought all of Hispaniola under one Haitian government by 1822

1820 - 1843

Jean-Pierre Boyer

President of a united Haiti, and dictator. Deposed.


Haitian forces led by Jean-Pierre Boyer (officially the republic's second president) invade Santo Domingo in the east when it declares independence from Spanish rule and is all-too-briefly joined to Gran Colombia.

The state of Haiti now encapsulates the entire island of Hispaniola. Slavery in the east is abolished, but Haitian monopolisation of government and power provokes permanent suspicion amongst the local population.

The future division of the two countries will be marked by constant tension. Throughout this century, inequity widens between the lighter-skinned elite, those who speak French and are based in the cities, and the darker-skinned rural Creole-speaking peasants. Rural areas are totally ignored, with services, business, and communications all being concentrated in urban areas.


France sends a fleet to recapture the island, and the president is forced to buy Haiti's continued independence with a treaty and money by which means France recognises that independence. A long series of coups follows the end of Boyer's presidency.

July Revolution of 1830
The July Revolution of 1830 in France fed on long-held and growing resentments and inequalities, while also sparking several smaller but similar revolts across Europe

1843 - 1844

Charles Rivière-Hérard

Chief executive and president. Driven out.


Dominican Republic is formed out of the former Santo Domingan eastern two-thirds of the island following a revolt against Haitian rule. Independence is gained thanks to a Dominican rebel movement called La Trinitaria. Frequent Haitian invasions in the 1840s and 1850s fail to re-conquer it.

1844 - 1845

Philippe Guerriere

President. Died in office.

1845 - 1846

Jean-Louis Pierrot

President. Overthrown.

1846 - 1847

Jean-Baptiste Riché

President. Died in office.

1847 - 1859

Faustin I Soulouque

President. Emperor from 1849. Abdicated.


The wealthy cattle-rancher, Pedro Santana, relinquishes his position as president of Dominican Republic and is replaced by his former minister of war and marine matters, Manuel José Jimenes González.

In the same year, the forces of soon-to-be Emperor Faustin of Haiti invade the country, and President Jimenes is forced to appeal to Santana for military assistance. The Haitians are thrown back across the border and Santana overthrows Jimenes.


Emperor Faustin attempts again to reconquer the lost Dominican Republic lands during the Dominican War of Independence in 1857. His forces are again defeated, notably at the Battle of Las Carreras.

Battle of 19th March 1844
The Dominican War of Independence saw the country's 1844 declaration of independence underlined by victory against Haiti at the 'Battle of 19 March', otherwise known as the Battle of Azua, in 1844, but the war spluttered on until 1856

1858 - 1859

One of Faustin's generals, Fabre-Nicolas Geffrard, mounts a rebellion and sets up a rival revolutionary committee with himself as president. He succeeds in overthrowing Faustin in 1859, restores the republic, and becomes the new dictator. He is a relatively enlightened ruler by Haitian standards and controls the country until 1867, when he himself is deposed and has to flee to Jamaica.

1858 - 1867

Fabre-Nicolas Geffrard

President (in opposition to 1859). Deposed & exiled.

1863 - 1865

Opponents to the return of Spanish rule in Dominican Republic launch the Restoration War. Haiti, equally fearful of the return of the Spanish, gives aid to the revolutionaries.

1867 - 1869

Sylvain Salnave

President. Shot and killed during secessionist war.

1868 - 1869

Two secessionist movements divide Haiti. In April, Nissage-Saget, a disappointed leader who had helped to set up the government after the ousting of Geffrard in 1867, now secedes from Haiti to form the 'Republic of the North' (with its leader shown in red).

In May, Michel Domingue gains control of a southern region and declares the 'Southern State of Haiti' with himself as its president (shown in green). In December 1869, Nissage-Saget overthrows the legitimate president of all of Haiti, Sylvain Salnave, and then takes over the south to reunited Haiti under his rule.

Citadel Sans Souci, Haiti
Perched high above the ocean within the lush green confines of the mountain Bonnet-à-L'évêque which surround the small farming community of Milot are two of Haiti's most prized possessions and symbols of freedom, with the Palais Sans Souci being one of them, built in the early 1800s during the reign of Henry Christophe

1868 - 1869


Provisional president of the north. United Haiti.

1868 - 1869

Michel Domingue

President of the south. Defeated.

1869 - 1874


President of a reunified Haiti. Overthrown and fled.

1874 - 1876

A revolution overthrows Nissage-Saget who flees the country. Michel Domingue, former ruler of the secessionist south, now takes his turn as president. Yet another revolution ousts him, and then Pierre-Théomas Boisrand, known as Boisrond-Canal, seizes power.

1874 - 1876

Michel Domingue

Former president of the south. Now full president. Ousted.

1876 - 1879

Pierre-Théomas Boisrand-Canal

Dictator. Fled to Jamaica.


Having seized power to form an entirely unofficial presidency, albeit one which is accepted anyway, Pierre-Théomas Boisrand, known as Boisrond-Canal, loses his leadership in a third revolution in five years and himself flees the country. After a provisional government replaces Boisrond-Canal, one Lysius Salomon 'the Younger' gains control over the government.

Coronation of Faustin I, Haiti
The coronation of General Faustin Soulouque as Emperor Faustin I of Haiti, in April 1852, drew in the crowds of the island's well-to-dos but his reign would end in 1859

1879 - 1888

Lysius Salomon 'the Younger'

President. Ousted by civil war. Fled to France.


Perhaps not entirely unexpectedly given the recent cycle of seizures of office and usurpations, Salomon's rule does not restore stability. Jean-Pierre Boyer-Bazelais leads a revolution against him but this fails.

1888 - 1889

Civil war erupts, with Salomon being driven out in the same year. General François Denys Légitime and General Louis Mondestin Florvil Hippolyte violently contest control of Haiti. Hippolyte secedes to form a 'Northern Republic', in which he operates as its president.

In the south, Légitime installs a series of three puppet heads of state in rapid succession. Boisrond-Canal is brought back from Jamaica to be one of them. Légitime himself takes a turn as chief executive and president. Finally, in 1889, Hippolyte triumphs and takes over the government of the entire country.

1889 - 1896

Louis Mondestin Florvil Hippolyte

In the north. Then full president. Died in office.

1890s -1905

Foreign interventions begin. The United States attempts to gain special military and commercial advantages in Haiti. The US gains control over customs operations in 1905. In the lead-up to the First World War it also gains other important concessions.

Spanish-American War 1898
The USA was seemingly goaded into war against Spain by feverish claims by the press that the Spanish were behind the loss of the USS Maine off the coast of Cuba, but it was a war which Spain was unlikely to win

1896 - 1902

Tirésias Antoine Auguste Simon-Sam

President. Fled to France.


Unrest deposes Simon-Sam, who escapes to Paris. A nine-month civil war follows, and the indomitable Boisrond-Canal even becomes provisional president until Piere Nord Alexis finally gains control and ends the turmoil.

1902 - 1908

Pierre Nord Alexis

President and dictator. Expelled to Jamaica.

1906 - 1908

The Cuban elections of 1902 are disputed, leading to a revolt and US intervention. US provisional governors take charge of Cuba for three years (the first being William Howard Taft, soon to be US president).

An elected government resumes Cuban control of its affairs, but the US retains its right to intervene. This takes place over a backdrop of large numbers of poor labourers arriving from elsewhere in the Caribbean over the next quarter of a century, especially Haiti and Jamaica, to fill the island's shortage of labour.

1904 - 1908

France and Germany intervene in Haiti following an attack on their representatives by native soldiers. In March 1908, major powers send warships to Port-au-Prince in protest over severe government treatment of suspected revolutionaries.

William Howard Taft, governor of Cuba, 1906
William Howard Taft, 1906, in Cuba's Palace of Havana, in charge of Cuban administration (photo courtesy Miriam and Ira D Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library)


In November, General Antoine Simon revolts against the Alexis government and brings it down in December 1908. Alexis is expelled and exiled to Jamaica. Simon himself is overthrown only three years later and has to flee to Jamaica.

1908 - 1911

Antoine Simon

President. Fled to Jamaica.

1911 - 1912

In July 1911, Jean-Jacques Dessalines Michel Cincinnatus Leconte declares himself supreme chief of the revolution and, a month later, ousts Simon, who flees to Jamaica. Leconte only lasts a year until he is killed when his presidential palace is blown up. The national assembly elects Tancrède Auguste as president, but in 1913 he dies in office (possibly poisoned).

1911 - 1912

Michel Cincinnatus Leconte

President. Blown up along with the presidential palace.

1912 - 1913

Tancrède Auguste

President. Died in office (poisoned?).

1913 - 1914


President. Fled to Jamaica.


A series of three military leaders rule in quick succession, the second of which is jailed and then murdered in that same jail. Yet another military leader, Joseph Davilmar Théodore, takes over and lasts an entire three months before he too is driven out.

Palace of Justice in Haiti
The US occupation of Haiti in 1915, in an attempt to provide the fractious nation with a less brutal or unreliable level of government, included taking the Palace of Justice

1914 - 1915

Joseph Davilmar Théodore

President. Ousted. Fled.


After a few days of rule by committees led by the military, Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam becomes president. In July, another revolution erupts, Sam flees to the French legation, and soon after, he is dragged out, impaled, and dismembered.


Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam

President. Impaled and dismembered.

1915 - 1934

Two hours after Sam is killed, the USA occupies Haiti in an attempt to stabilise it and impose a lasting government. Haitians suspect that the Americans are more interested in protecting American interests and establishing a base to guard the approach to the Panama Canal.

Rear Admiral Caperton declares martial law and takes over the country's administration of Haiti. The Haitian congress elects Sudre Dartiguenave as president on 12 August, and he promptly takes office.

1915 - 1922

Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave

President. Forced from office.

1916 - 1918

While the First World War is raging in Europe, the USA and Haiti ratify a treaty which gives the Americans control over Haiti's customs, financial affairs, police, and public works and sanitation. Increases in public debt and customs changes are subject to American approval. American control is to last for twenty years.

Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1914
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia and the German empire inspects his troops on the eve of war in 1914, a war which none of the tributary German principalities had any chance of escaping

In 1918, American marines supervise new elections, and a new constitution is introduced which allows foreigners to own land in Haiti. A consequence of American governance is the ascendancy of mulattos in Haiti's own government. Blacks resent their own exclusion and discriminatory treatment by American marines.

The marines introduce a corvée (a form of enforced unpaid labour) which requires people of black origin to take part in providing public services. Although the marines improve health clinics and sewage systems, these are still regarded as being inadequate. Peasant guerrillas, called cacos, attack marine bases and operations.


President Dartiguenave is overthrown and replaced by Eustache Antoine François Joseph Louis Borno, who governs until 1930 when he too is forced to resign as part of the country's near-endless cycle of coups and counter-coups.

1922 - 1930

Eustache Borno

President. Forced out.

1930 - 1934

After a brief interval following the overthrow of Borno, Haiti elects its national assembly for the first time since 1918. Sténio Joseph Vincent is raised to the office of president.

Rafael Trujillo
Rafael Trujillo, a particularly blood-soaked dictator of the neighbouring Dominican republic during one of the world's bloodiest centuries, who met an appropriate end at the hands of an assassin

Four years later, in 1934, the USA withdraws its marines from Haiti. However, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American president, retains control over Haiti's finances until 1941. The US also maintains indirect control over Haiti itself until 1947.

1930 - 1941

Sténio Joseph Vincent

President. Pressured to retire.


The many working labourers who had migrated into Cuba from 1906 onwards to help with the island's labour shortages - especially from Haiti and Jamaica - are now expelled by the dictator, Gerardo Machado y Morales.


A plebiscite authorises President Vincent to extend his term of office to 1941. The constitution is amended to provide for the direct election of the president by popular vote, a marked change from the national assembly electing the president of its choice or a strongman leader taking the office by force.

German troops enter Poland on 1 September 1939
Nazi-led German troops are shown here progressing in good order through a Polish town on the first day of the invasion, 1 September 1939, two days before the official start of the Second World War


President Trujillo of Dominican Republic has his army massacre all Haitians living there, between 17,000-35,000 of them. As a result, and possibly to avoid the spectre of another Haitian invasion, Haiti is paid compensation.

1941 - 1946

Élie Lescot

President. Ousted by military.

1945 - 1946

Haiti has fulfilled its obligations during the Second World War by declaring against Germany and Japan. The only role it plays, though, is in supplying the United States with raw materials and serving as a base for a United States Coast Guard detachment.

In 1945, representatives of fifty countries gather at the 'United Nations Conference on International Organization' in California's San Francisco, USA, between 25 April and 26 June 1945.

In that time they draft and then sign the UN charter, which creates this new international organisation. It is hoped that it will be able to prevent another world war like the one just ended. As a charter member, Haiti joins on 24 October 1945.

Founding of the United Nations
In San Francisco, USA, in summer 1945, representatives of fifty countries signed the United Nations charter to establish a new, international body which was tasked with upholding the human rights of citizens the world over

In the following year, 1946, a wave of violent strikes by workers and students lead to Lescot being ousted from office. The military sponsors the election of Dumarsais Estimé as his replacement.

1946 - 1950

Dumarsais Estimé

President. Deposed and fled to USA.


Yet another revolution sees President Estimé being deposed after he attempts to extend his term, and a military junta is established. The junta installs General Paul Eugène Magloire as president, using a plebiscite.

1950 - 1956

Paul Eugène Magloire

President. Resigned.

1957 - 1986

Following the resignation of President Magloire, the Duvalier family rules the country as dictators under a series of provisional governments. It takes thirty years of growing general frustration and resentment before the Duvaliers are overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986.

1957 - 1971

François Duvalier 'Papa Doc'

'President for life' from 1964. Dictator.

1971 - 1986

Jean-Claude Duvalier 'Baby Doc'

Son. Dictator. Overthrown and fled to France.

1971 - 1980s

'Baby Doc' begins a process of relaxing some of the terror and human-rights abuses which have ruined Haiti's international reputation. Tourism increases, and the economy improves a little. Nevertheless, by the mid-1980s, the Tontons Macoutes number some 15,000, and yet are unable to quell numerous demonstrations against the regime.

Haiti's feared Tontons Macoutes in 1988
Papa Doc's main tool for the maintenance of his regime and its grasp on the population throughout much of this period was the 'Tonton Macoutes', renamed in 1971 as the 'Milice de Voluntaires de la Sécurité Nationale' or MVSN ('Volunteers for National Security')

During the 1970s an outbreak of swine flu requires the extermination of pigs, destroying the ability of the peasant population to make a living. To make matters worse, AIDS ('Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome') sweeps through Haiti in the 1980s to devastate the population. The country's tourism industry collapses.

1986 - 1988

In February 1986, Lieutenant General Henri Namphy, commander-in-chief of the army, overthrows Jean-Claude Duvalier ('Baby Doc'). The United States helps him escape to France while Namphy takes over the government as chairman of the military junta, which is labelled the 'National Council of Government'. Namphy allows Leslie Manigat to become president through fraudulent elections on 7 February 1988.

1986 - 1988

Henri Namphy

Dictator. Arrested, restored, deposed, and exiled.


Leslie Manigat

President, tightly controlled by Namphy. Deposed. Exiled.


Namphy continues to rule from behind the scenes as head of the military junta until he himself is fired as commander-in-chief on 17 June and is immediately arrested. Just two days later he returns to power as commander-in-chief and head of the junta. Manigat is swiftly deposed and exiled.

Panama Canal
Building the Panama Canal was an immense project for its time, but the USA's need for it was vital as it would allow them coast-to-coast access on either side of their country without having to sail all the way around the southern tip of South America

Namphy then takes over control of the government both as head of the military junta and as president until 17 September 1988, when he is again deposed and this time is exiled. Lieutenant General Prosper Avril succeeds Namphy as president, head of the junta, and dictator.

1988 - 1990

Prosper Avril

Dictator. Resigned and fled to the USA.

1990 - 1994

A coup ousts Avril and the office of president sees two more brief appointees. Haiti's first female president, Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, is given the task of steering Haiti towards free and fair democratic elections, which she does by February 1991.


Hérard Abraham

Acting president (10-13 Mar only). Stepped down voluntarily.

1990 - 1991

Ertha Pascal-Trouillot

Provisional (female) president (13 Mar-7 Feb).

1991 - 1994

Former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide wins the elections, taking power on 7 February 1991. A no-confidence vote sees him resign and fly off into exile while the country is again left in chaos. In exile in the United States, he maintains his claim to the presidency. Brigadier General Raoul Cédras, commander-in-chief of the army, takes over as head of a three-man junta.

Haiti's Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, acting president
Ertha Pascal-Trouillot served as provisional president of Haiti for eleven months between 1990-1991, the country's first female president and the first female president of African descent in the Americas


Jean-Bertrand Aristide

President. Democratically elected. Resigned and exiled.

1991 - 1994

Raoul Cédras

Junta leader and dictator.


Cédras appoints a series of nominal presidents until, in 1993, he is forced temporarily to acknowledge Aristide as the legitimate president. He quickly appoints another of his own choosing though. The United States occupies Haiti, persuades Cédras to resign, and restores Aristide.

1994 - 1996

Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Restored to office by the US.

1996 - 2001

René Préval

President. Authoritarian.


Préval dissolves parliament in 1999 and rules by decree. Aristide is re-elected in 2000 in a vote which appears to be the result of massive fraud. Just before his inauguration on 7 February 2001, the 'Democratic Convergence', an alliance of fifteen opposition parties, forms an alternative government and designates Gerard Gourgue as the provisional or parallel president. Aristide assumes office anyway and the parallel presidency stands down.

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti
Even in 2015, twice-ousted Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was urging thousands of supporters outside his house to vote for the presidential candidate of the political faction which he himself had founded, although that candidate would eventually lose out to Jovenel Moïse in a troublesome election process

2001 - 2004

Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Restored to office by the US. Resigned and left the country.


Gerard Gourgue

Parallel president in opposition (Feb only).

2004 - 2006

Following a brief period of armed rebellion Aristide flies into exile for a second time. In the same year, 2004, severe floods in the south-west of Dominican Republic, and in parts of Haiti itself, leave more than two thousand dead or disappeared.

The UN Security Council authorises the USA to send in its military to stabilise the chaotic country and supervise provisional elections. Many other countries join the Americans when the UN creates the 'United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti' (known by its French initials, 'Minustah').

The Minustah crackdown involves brutality and human-rights abuses which are condemned. René Préval manages to return to power in 2006 through fresh elections, with particular support coming from the poor.

UN peacekeepers in Haiti in 2004
With the intention of restoring a secure and stable environment to Haiti, the 'United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti' (Minustah) was established on 1 June 2004 by the UN security council

2006 - 2011

René Préval



Haiti, with nearly the same population figure as Dominican Republic but half the land space, bears the unenviable reputation of being the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

The country's woes continue as riots take place against the government and the UN's Minustah operation, both of which are blamed for the high cost of living. A series of destructive hurricanes kill nearly eight hundred, while also destroying crops, and displacing hundreds of thousands.


A massive earthquake destroys much of Port-au-Prince, kills 316,000, and uproots a third of the population. The processes of government come to a temporary standstill while an international relief effort gets underway.

In the wake of this disaster, cholera strikes and kills thousands more. In the midst of all this calamity, elections are slightly delayed but are held, with Michel Martelly, a popular musician, winning the presidency.

Aftermath of the 2010 earthquake which devestated Haiti
The devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti brought an outpouring of sympathy and support from around the world after more than 300,000 people lost their lives

2011 - 2016

Michel Martelly

President. Ruled by decree (2015-2016). Resigned.


Another hurricane, Hurricane Sandy, strikes Haiti, inhibiting relief efforts which have been taking place since the country's previous disasters had wrought so much destruction on an already-under-invested infrastructure.

2015 - 2016

Fresh electoral disputes prompt Martelly to dissolve parliament and rule alone. When elections are finally held, Martelly's chosen successor is a disappointment, fraud is alleged, and the opposition candidate refuses to participate. Martelly resigns, and an interim president is chosen.

New elections are held in 2016, and Jovenel Moïse wins a clear majority. Despite having a democratically-elected president, the country remains unstable. Corruption abounds and, in 2020, Moïse, like so many before him, decides to rule by decree.

2017 - 2021

Jovenel Moïse

President. Ruled by decree (2020). Assassinated by gunmen.


Jovenel Moïse is assassinated, killed in his own home while his wife is seriously injured. The murder appears to be inspired by foreign elements. Six people, including one US citizen, are subsequently arrested and seven are reportedly killed as Haitian security forces pursued the gunmen responsible.

However, the confused political situation which has been produced by the late president's authoritarian leadership means that no one is immediately certain of who now governs the country.

Civil unrest in Haiti in 2023
Civil unrest gripped Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake, with the situation apparently being unrecoverable in the short term

2021 - 2024

Dr Ariel Henry

Acting president and prime minister.

2021 - 2023

Powerful, violent, law-breaking gangs virtually control the country, especially the capital of Port-au-Prince, and the temporary government is helpless when it comes to being able to control them.

On 16-17 July 2023, the World Food Programme (WFP) announces that it will be unable to feed a hundred thousand Haitians in this month as the UN agency has insufficient funding to meet burgeoning humanitarian needs in the embattled Caribbean nation.

An offer from Kenya on 4 August 2023 to dispatch police officers to Haiti is welcomed by Haitian officials, but it prompts concern amongst human rights groups who say the move could worsen the country's already dire security crisis. The move is anyway delayed.

2024 - On

Michel Patrick Boisvert

Acting president and prime minister.


With the embattled Dr Henry having formally resigned on 24 April 2024, he is succeeded by Michel Patrick Boisvert as acting president and prime minister as part of a transitional presidential council.

Dr Ariel Henry, acting president of Haiti
The embattled Haitian prime minister, Ariel Henry, resigned following a gang insurrection against his government which plunged the country into anarchy and prevented his return from a trip to Kenya

Boisvert has already been fulfilling the role since Henry had been unable to return to the country following a diplomatic mission. The airport is unusable. The gangs promise that more trouble is to come.

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