Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide survived an apparent assassination attempt Monday when gunmen opened fire on his motorcade, injuring two passersby.
Aristide was leaving a courthouse in Port-au-Prince, providing testimony for a money laundering case against Jean Anthony Nazaire, former commissary of the Haitian national police, when bullets flew toward his car.
Ira Kurzban, a Miami attorney who represents Aristide, told NBC News that "at least two people standing in front of the car were hit and there (was) blood on the right front bumper and headlight of the vehicle."
"Thank God no one was killed and at least one of the shooting victims was taken to the university medical center that President Aristide was instrumental in founding," Kurzban told the outlet.
Protests in support of the still-popular former president broke out soon after. Aristide is regarded as heroic by many in the country for working his way to the top post as the country's first democratically elected president after growing up in poverty. An adherent of liberation theology, the former Catholic priest played an instrumental role in expelling dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986, whose family ruled the country for almost 30 years.
Elected twice as president, Aristide was forced to flee the country both times, the first time in 1991 to Venezuela, and then later to the United States after a military coup against him. He was returned to office in 1994 with the help of pressure from the U.S. Then, in 2004, the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush backed a coup against him and he was flown out of the country – a move Aristide described as a kidnapping, when he had to spend his first months in exile in Jamaica before relocating to South Africa.
Aristide returned to Haiti in 2011 – following a massive earthquake the year before which devastated the country – so that he could be a part of the rebuilding process.
Posted March 22, 2017