Former President of Haiti
Prosper Avril is a Haitian political figure who was President of Haiti from 1988 to 1990.
Early life and education
Prosper Avril was born in the small town of Thomazeau, near Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. A trusted member of François Duvalier's Presidential Guard and adviser to Jean-Claude Duvalier, Lt. Gen. Avril led the September 1988 Haitian coup d'état against a transition military government installed after Jean-Claude Duvalier's 1986 overthrow. He was President until March 1990, in a period which according to Amnesty International was "marred by serious human rights violations". He was arrested in 2001, but released in March 2004 after the 2004 Haitian rebellion overthrew Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The academic source Webster University states regarding General Prosper Avril; "Avril joined the Presidential Guard in 1969 and Papa Doc nicknamed Avril the "intelligent Prosper Avril." In 1971 Avril profited from the shift of power from François to Jean-Claude Duvalier and from weapons procurement and other programs in the 70s (he was later offered asylum by the Israeli government) and was entrusted by the Duvaliers as their "bagman" with management of much of their overseas portfolio. He was "the only person other than the Duvaliers themselves with signature authority over their foreign accounts."
Avril was forced into retirement by Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1983, but reinstated and promoted to Colonel in 1986, in the face of the popular revolt which would ultimately see Duvalier overthrown. Avril's 1986 joining of Henri Namphy's interim military junta saw protest demonstrations, and he was forced to resign; but he quickly returned, and assisted Namphy in the June 1988 Haitian coup d'état which overthrew Leslie Manigat, who had been elected in military-controlled elections and took office in February 1988.
In September 1988, a week after the St Jean Bosco massacre, Avril overthrew his former ally Namphy, and served as President of Haiti from September 17, 1988 to March 10, 1990. He was accused by human rights organizations of committing serious crimes and numerous human rights violations. Amnesty International states; "Prosper Avril, who had been head of security under former President Jean Claude Duvalier, led Haiti following a military coup in 1988 until March 1990, a period marred by serious human rights violations."
In December 1994 the Haitian police attempted to arrest Avril at his home, but were thwarted by the appearance of US soldiers, who caused sufficient delay that Avril was able to escape. "Police searching Avril's house found military uniforms, illegal police radios and a cache of weapons." He was finally arrested in 2001, shortly after Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President, for allegedly plotting against the state. Amnesty International said his arrest could be step forward for Haitian justice, and called for Avril to be tried for the grave human rights violations committed under his Presidency. Avril was freed on 2 March 2004, a few days after Aristide was ousted in the 2004 Haitian rebellion.