Gerard Latortue

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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 Network.[1]

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."[2]

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.[3]

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."[4]