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Coup triggered by Aristide's 10 commandments.

In the early hours of Sept. 30, 1991, a military faction ousted Haiti's first freely elected president, Fr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He was uninjured, but two companions were wounded in gunfire that left more than 100 people dead.

Aristide was taken under the protection of the U.S. ambassador to the personal aircraft of Venezuelan President Carlos Perez and flown to safety in Caracas.

The drama, however, had begun several days earlier, at the United Nations. There, on Sept. 25, in an impassioned speech laden with religious symbolism, Aristide had laid out 10 commandments of democracy. He pleaded for respect for the rights of the world's and Haiti's poor. As his speech ended to thunderous applause, he made the sign of the cross toward the General Assembly, "in the name of the people, and of our sons, and of the Holy Spirit, amen."

As president since February 1991, Aristide had donated to charities his $10,000-a-month salary; he invited peasant groups for meals at the National Palace; he made a surprise inspection of the Haitian IRS when he heard $1 million had been laundered from the office; and he called up radio talk shows to answer constituents' complaints.

Caption: --CNS/KNA Fr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide

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Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:5HAIT
Date:Oct 24, 2014
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