Jean-Bertrand Aristide (born July 15, 1953) is a Haitian politician and former Roman Catholic priest, who served as Haiti's first democratically elected president. He was briefly President of Haiti in 1991, prior to a September 1991 military coup, and was President again from 1994 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2004.
Aristide was ousted in a February 2004 rebellion, in which former soldiers participated. He said the U.S. had orchestrated a coup d'état against him, and received support from, among others, several members of the U.S. congress and Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson. Aristide was forced into exile, being flown directly out of Haiti to the Central African Republic, eventually settling in South Africa.
Aristide was born into poverty in 1953 in Port Salut, on Haiti's southern coast. His father, a small farmer, died when he was three months old. His mother moved the family to Port-au-Prince, seeking a better life for her two children. At the age of five, Aristide started school with Catholic priests of the Salesian order. He was educated at the College Notre Dame in Cap-Haïtien, graduating with honors in 1974. He then took a course of novitiate studies in La Vega, Dominican Republic before returning to Haiti to study philosophy at the Grand Seminaire Notre Dame and psychology at the State University of Haiti. After completing his post-graduate studies in 1979, Aristide traveled in Europe, studying in Italy, Greece and Israel. Aristide returned to Haiti in 1982 for his ordination as a Salesian priest. He was appointed curate of a small parish in Port-au-Prince.