René Préval

President of Haiti / Political Leader

Born: 17 January 1943
Birthplace: Haiti
Best known as: President of Haiti, 1996-2000, 2006-present
René Garcia Préval is the president of Haiti. The son of a former agriculture minister there, he spent many years away from Haiti, studying in Belgium and working menial jobs in New York. He returned to his native country in the 1970s and became a follower and colleague of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Préval helped Aristide rise to the presidency in 1990, and supported him through ups and downs, succeeding Aristide as president in 1996. After Préval's one term, Aristide again took office (in 2000) and their political relationship became strained. When Aristide was forced from power in 2004, Préval took over in an effort to restore order, taking office as president again in May of 2006. Natural disasters -- storms in 2008 and a major earthquake in 2010 -- have stymied his attempts to improve Haiti's living conditions.

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