Former president of Haiti, René Garcia Préval, has passed away.
Last Friday morning, Préval died following a stroke and cardiac arrest.
Préval served 2 terms as Haiti’s president, from 1996 to 2001 and 2006 to 2011. He is the only Haitian leader to be freely elected, serve a full constitutional term without being assassinated or overthrown, and then peacefully hand over power to a successor – which he did following both terms.
Before becoming president, Préval owned a bakery providing bread to poor children and orphans in Port-au-Prince’s slum communities.
He later worked in low-level government positions, rising to prominence under Jean-Bertrand Aristide – who appointed him prime minister in 1990, but 2 months later, Aristide’s government was overthrown and the two went into exile.
Préval was publicly elected president when he returned to Haiti almost 6 years later. As the country’s leader, he had a reputation as an honest and efficient administrator, but his support waned during his second term, after he was criticized for showing a lack of leadership during the devastating earthquake of 2010, in which hundreds of thousands of people died.
Haiti’s current president, Jovenel Moïse decreed 6 days of national mourning in memory of Préval – which began yesterday and ends this Saturday, March 11, the day of Préval’s national funeral.
On Friday, an exhibition in honor of Préval will be held at the Museum of the Haitian National Pantheon (MUPANAH), and radio and television stations will broadcast music of circumstance with testimonies of his life’s work than will run through Saturday.
René Préval passed at way at his home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, at the age of 74.