Ertha Pascal-Trouillot was the provisional President of Haiti from 1990 through 1991. She was the first woman in Haitian history to hold that office.
Early life and education
Her father, Thimocles, was an iron worker, and died when she was young. Her mother Louise (née Dumornay) was a seamstress and embroiderer. Pascal-Trouillot was the 9th of 10 children and when she was 10, she and one of her brothers went to the Lycée François Duvalier and was mentored by her future husband, Ernst Trouillot, who was 21 years her senior. In 1971, she received her law degree from the École de Droit des Gonaives in Port-au-Prince. From 1975 through 1988, she held various positions as a judge in the Haitian federal courts until she became the first woman justice of the Haitian Supreme Court.
Pascal-Trouillot was chief justice when she temporarily became Haïti's first female president on March 13, 1990 following a revolt that overthrew the government run by Prosper Avril. General Herard Abraham remained in charge for three days, and then transferred the power to Ertha Trouillot. As provisional head, her job was to coordinate the transition to democracy with the Council of State, which had veto power over her. She oversaw the first truly free elections in Haiti on December 16 1990 (Haitian general election, 1990–1991), which Jean-Bertrand Aristide won with 67% of the vote. On 6 January 1991 a coup attempt seeking to pre-empt an Aristide presidency took place, when Roger Lafontant, a Tonton Macoute leader under Duvalier, seized the provisional President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot and declared himself President. After large numbers of Aristide supporters filled the streets in protest and Lafontant attempted to declare martial law, the Army crushed the incipient coup.
Aristide had Pascal-Trouillot arrested under charges of complicity in the January attempted coup d'état. She was released the next day after U.S. intervention in Port-au-Prince. The U.S. demanded a lift on the ban on departure. Pascal-Trouillot left the country shortly after, but returned more than a year later. Since then, she lives away from the public eye and is currently working on drafting volumes of the Biographical Dictionary of Haïti.