Published February 23, 2004
Recent events in Haitian history:
Dec. 16, 1990 — Jean-Bertrand Aristide (search), then a Roman Catholic priest popular among the urban poor, becomes Haiti's first democratically elected president after nearly 30 years of dictatorship under the Duvalier family (search).
Sept. 30, 1991 — The army overthrows Aristide's government, forcing the president into exile in the United States.
Sept. 19, 1994 — U.S. troops intervene to restore Aristide to power.
Feb. 6, 1995 — Aristide disbands the Haitian army and replaces it with a civilian police force.
Dec. 23, 1995 — René Preval, Aristide's protégé, elected president. Term limit prohibits Aristide from running.
May 21, 2000 — Aristide's Lavalas Family (search) party sweeps legislative elections that observers say were flawed. The international community puts millions in foreign aid on hold until results are revised.
Nov. 26, 2000 — Aristide wins a second term as president in elections boycotted by major opposition parties who claimed fraud in the legislative elections.
Feb. 7, 2001 — Aristide takes office for his second term.
Dec. 17, 2001 — Gunmen raid the national palace in what the government calls a coup attempt. Opponents say the government staged the attack to distract attention from its shortcomings.
December 2001 — Fearing a mass exodus of Haitian boat people, the Bush administration makes a secret decision to keep Haitian asylum-seekers jailed until their cases are decided.
July 2002 — Government-endorsed cooperative banks collapse across Haiti, losing the life savings of thousands amid allegations the accounts were used to launder drug money. Violent protests ensue and more Haitians try to reach U.S. shores.
Oct. 29, 2002 — More than 200 illegal Haitian migrants jump overboard from a boat just off the Florida coast and rush onto a major Miami highway.
April 3, 2003 — Aristide's government officially sanctions Voodoo as a religion, allowing practitioners to begin performing ceremonies from baptisms to marriages.
September 2003 — A wave of protests begin against Aristide, spreading across the country. Dozens are killed and injured in clashes between police and government opponents.
Feb. 5, 2004 — Armed rebels seize control of Gonaïves, Haiti's fourth-largest city, starting a popular uprising that threatens Aristide's presidency.
Feb. 16, 2004 — Ex-soldiers returned from exile in the Dominican Republic seize the strategically located central town of Hinche.
Feb. 21, 2004 — An international delegation visits to press for a truce. Aristide agrees to share power, but his political opponents insist he must step down. The foreign diplomats leave without an agreement.
Feb. 22, 2004 — Rebels seize Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city, and vow to press on to the capital, Port-au-Prince.