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Dignity is Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's compelling story of his three years of exile, from the coup that deposed him (September 30, 1991) to the U.N. Security Council vote in favor of military intervention (July 31, 1904). He offers an intensely personal journal of events, one that records his doubts as well as his determination in the face of criticism and uncertainty. Introductory materials familiarize the reader with events from the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier (January 1986) through the first months of Aristide's presidency. The afterword provides information on the period since Aristide's return (October 15, 1994). In a moving narrative, Aristide describes the tension of the September 1991 military coup, when he ran the risk of execution at any moment. He supplies the gruesome details of murders and summary executions perpetrated by, or with the direct approval of, the military junta. Throughout, he interjects his philosophical reflections on inhumanity, on Haiti's social history, and on his vision of his own leadership. "Aristide has clearly identified with the principles and tactics of Jesus for a long time", writes translator Carrol F. Coates in his afterword. "The Haitian people have envisioned him in the role of savior or messiah, and have even portrayed him thus in many wall paintings". Aristide conveys his alternation between elation at the continued support and celebratory receptions offered him by France, Canada, and the Haitian communities of the United States, and the anguish provoked by the slow pace of international negotiations and, in particular, by the curious talks at Governor's Island. There, U.N. negotiators shuttled between the temporary residencesof President Aristide and General Cedras in order to produce the agreement that contained inexplicable concessions to the junta but was nevertheless ignored by the junta for a full year after the date set for surrender of power. Dignity is a touching and readable account by Aristide, one that refutes much disinformation circulated about him during his exile. It also constitutes a major document for historians and students of the difficult institution of democracy in the Caribbean.
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