CBC News Online
Two days after he was
named the new interim prime minister of Haiti, Gérard
Latortue arrived in the capital of Port-au-Prince from
Florida were he had been living for 10 years.
Latortue hadn't been in Haiti for about 15 years before
being sworn in as prime minister, having worked as an
academic, United Nations official and business consultant
The choice of Latortue, 69, as prime minister is seen as a
compromise, as he doesn't have ties to any political party
Although the Haitian constitution states that the prime
minister is the head of government, Haiti had been
effectively run by former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Now, Latortue is expected to run the government while
interim President Boniface Alexandre will serve a symbolic
Some Haitians, supporters of Aristide, refuse to recognize
Latortue as the new leader of Haiti, calling him a
technocrat who has no idea how Haitians live.
Latortue is married with three adult children. He hosted two
Haitian television programs while living in South Florida
and is an avid book collector, especially of those on
Latortue advocates free elections and an independent
civilian police force for Haiti.
1934: Born in Gonaives, Haiti.
1960: Returns to Haiti after studying at the
Institute of Political Sciences and the Institute of
Economic and Social Development in Paris. Works as a lawyer
and law school professor.
1961: Co-founds an institute for business and
economic study in Port-au-Prince, saying there was nowhere
for Haitians to study economics in their own country.
1963: Flees the regime of François (Papa Doc)
Duvalier. Latortue would live in Jamaica and Washington
before moving to Puerto Rico and working as an economics
teacher. He would later join the United Nations Organization
for Industrial Development, living in Togo and Ivory Coast
in West Africa before rising to chief negotiator and living
1988: Returns to Haiti to join the government of
Leslie Manigat as foreign minister. The army would stage a
coup four months later, forcing Latortue to return to the
1994: Moves to South Florida to work as an
international business consultant and radio show host.
2001: Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide offers
Latortue a job in his cabinet. Latortue turns him down.
March 2003: The Haitian Television Network of America
(HTN) launches, featuring Latortue on two talk shows,
Revue de la semaine and L'inviter.
March 9, 2004: The seven-member Council of Sages,
formed after the resignation of Aristide, names Latortue the
new interim prime minister of Haiti.
Latortue is an an international
business consultant who served as foreign minister in 1988
to former President Leslie Manigat. He is an economist who
spent part of his career with the United Nations, living in
Togo and the Ivory Coast. For the past year he has been
calling for Bush to help oust elected President Aristide.
Now that Aristide has been kidnapped and the US has troops
in the country, Latortue's wish has come true and the US has
appointed him the acting Prime Minister.
Former Boca Raton, FL-based
businessman; chosen by a seven member "council of sages" to
become interim prime minister of Haiti following
Jean-Bertrand Aristide's February 2004 ouster.
Latortue was born in Gonaives, Haiti's fourth largest city.
He studied politics and economics in Paris and, after
returning to Haiti, worked as a lawyer and law professor. He
founded the Institute of Economics and Business Study in
1961, but fled the dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc"
Duvalier in 1963. He served as a chief negotiator for the
United Nations Industrial Development Organization in
Vienna. In 1998, Latortue returned to Haiti to join the
government of Leslie Francois Manigat; he fled again when a
military coup ousted Manigat. In Florida, Latortue hosted
two talk shows on the Miami-based Haitian Television
According to the British
newspaper the Guardian's March 17, 2004 edition: Latortue's
"chief political advisor is a friend and fellow long-term
south Florida resident, as is the defence minister elect,
and another man who is being touted for the PM's chief of
staff. Three of them appeared cosily on the Haitian
Television New of America network, where they were co-hosts
of a weekly review show." (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1171148,00.html)
Latortue has been criticized by
other Caribbean governments and human rights groups for
hailing the anti-Aristide rebels, a varied group that
includes former FRAPH paramilitary leaders and who killed
civilians prior to and following Aristide's ouster as
"freedom fighters." Rights groups have also criticized
Latortue for considering reforming the Haitian army, which
ousted Aristide in 1991 and killed some 5000 Haitians.
Before leaving Florida for the
Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on March 10, Latortue told
reporters that former military leader and leader of the
violent armed rebels Guy Philippe is "one of the ones who
helped bring democracy back to Haiti."
Gérard Latortue (born June 19,
1934) is the current Prime Minister of Haiti.
He was an official in the United
Nations for many years, and he served as foreign minister of
Haiti briefly during 1988. He was living in the United
States when he was appointed to head the new provisional
government in Haiti on March 9, 2004. He arrived in Haiti on
March 10 and was sworn in on March 12, 2004.
The government of Percival
Patterson in Jamaica has refused to recognise Latortue's
administration, as has the government of St Kitts and Nevis
and the African Union.
After his arrival on Wednesday, he said he understands
Haiti’s problems, even though he hasn’t been living in the
“We who are living outside the country may not suffer the
same kind of pain,” he said. “But we feel it just as much
when we see the wounds caused by what’s happening in the
He spent part of his career with the UN Industrial
Development Organization in Africa, and also worked as an
international business consultant in Miami. Most recently,
he has been living in Boca Raton, Fla., but has returned
to visit Haiti several times a year.
Latortue and interim President Boniface Alexandre will
begin organizing elections and building a new government
for Haiti. Under Aristide, the prime minister’s position
was largely ceremonial.
It was unclear whether Neptune, who was appointed by
Aristide, would remain in Haiti.
Latortue said he would either restructure the police or
reconstitute the army to improve security, said Anne-Marie
Issa, a member of the council that picked Latortue.
Haiti’s army, which ousted Aristide months after he became
the nation’s first freely elected president in 1990, was
disbanded in 1995 after a US invasion restored Aristide to
Aristide has been staying in the presidential palace in
the Central African Republic since March 1. On Wednesday,
a South African delegation visited him there to discuss
his long-term asylum plans, Foreign Minister Charles
Wenezoui told The Associated Press.
After the visit, South Africa Deputy Foreign Affairs
Minister Aziz Pahad said the African Union - an
organization representing 53 African nations - should
arrange Aristide’s long-term asylum plan.