The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Haiti

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This page contains a list of the greatest Haitian Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 19,576 Politicians, 40 of which were born in Haiti. This makes Haiti the birth place of the 71st most number of Politicians behind Paraguay, and Bolivia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Haitian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Haitian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Haitian Politicians.

Photo of Jean-Jacques Dessalines

1. Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758 - 1806)

With an HPI of 66.65, Jean-Jacques Dessalines is the most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 53 different languages on wikipedia.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines (Haitian Creole: Jan-Jak Desalin; French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ ʒak dɛsalin]; 20 September 1758 – 17 October 1806) was the first Haitian Emperor, and leader of the Haitian Revolution, and the first ruler of an independent Haiti under the 1805 constitution. Initially regarded as governor-general, Dessalines was later named Emperor of Haiti as Jacques I (1804–1806) by generals of the Haitian Revolutionary army and ruled in that capacity until being assassinated in 1806. He spearheaded the resistance against French massacres upon Haitians, and eventually became the architect of the 1804 Haitian Massacre against the remaining French residents of Haiti, including some supporters of the revolution. Alongside Toussaint Louverture, has been referred to as one of the fathers of the nation of Haiti.Dessalines was directly responsible for the country, and, under his rule, Haiti became the first country in the Americas to permanently abolish slavery. Dessalines served as an officer in the French army when the colony was fending off Spanish and British incursions. Later he rose to become a commander in the revolt against France. As Toussaint Louverture's principal lieutenant, he led many successful engagements, including the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot. In 1802, Louverture was betrayed and captured, and sent to prison in France, where he died. Thereafter, Dessalines became the leader of the revolution and Général-Chef de l'Armée Indigène on 18 May 1803. His forces defeated the French army at the Battle of Vertières on 18 November 1803. Saint-Domingue was declared independent on 29 November and then as the independent Republic of Haiti on 1 January 1804, under the leadership of Dessalines, chosen by a council of generals to assume the office of governor-general. He ordered the 1804 Haitian massacre of the remaining French population in Haiti, resulting in the deaths of between 3,000 and 5,000 people, including women and children, as well as thousands of refugees. Some modern historians classify the massacre as a genocide due to its systemic nature. Notably, he excluded surviving Polish Legionnaires, who had defected from the French legion to become allied with the enslaved Africans, as well as the Germans who did not take part in the slave trade. He granted them full citizenship under the constitution and classified them as black, along with all other Haitian citizens. Tensions remained with the minority of mixed-race or free people of color, who had gained some education and property during the colonial period.

Photo of Boniface Alexandre

2. Boniface Alexandre (1936 - 2023)

With an HPI of 61.42, Boniface Alexandre is the 2nd most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Boniface Alexandre (French pronunciation: [bɔnifas alɛksɑ̃dʁ]; 31 July 1936 – 4 August 2023) was a Haitian politician. Alexandre served as the provisional president of Haiti following the 2004 coup d'état that removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office. He served until May 2006.

Photo of Jean-Claude Duvalier

3. Jean-Claude Duvalier (1951 - 2014)

With an HPI of 60.59, Jean-Claude Duvalier is the 3rd most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Jean-Claude Duvalier (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃klod dyvalje]; 3 July 1951 – 4 October 2014), nicknamed "Baby Doc" (French: Bébé Doc, Haitian Creole: Bebe Dòk), was a Haitian politician who was the President of Haiti from 1971 until he was overthrown by a popular uprising in February 1986. He succeeded his father François "Papa Doc" Duvalier as the ruler of Haiti after his death in 1971. After assuming power, he introduced cosmetic changes to his father's regime and delegated much authority to his advisors. Thousands of Haitians were killed or tortured, and hundreds of thousands fled the country during his presidency. He maintained a notoriously lavish lifestyle (including a state-sponsored US$2 million wedding in 1980) while poverty among his people remained the most widespread of any country in the Western Hemisphere.Relations with the United States improved after Duvalier's ascension to the presidency, and later deteriorated under the Carter administration, only to normalize under Ronald Reagan due to the strong anti-communist stance of the Duvaliers. Rebellion against the Duvalier regime broke out in 1985, and Duvalier fled to France in 1986 on a U.S. Air Force flight. Duvalier unexpectedly returned to Haiti on 16 January 2011, after two decades in self-imposed exile in France. The following day, he was arrested by Haitian police, facing possible charges for embezzlement. On 18 January, Duvalier was charged with corruption. On 28 February 2013, Duvalier pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption and human rights abuse. He died of a heart attack on 4 October 2014, at the age of 63.

Photo of Alexandre Pétion

4. Alexandre Pétion (1770 - 1818)

With an HPI of 59.30, Alexandre Pétion is the 4th most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Alexandre Sabès Pétion (French pronunciation: [alɛksɑ̃dʁ sabɛs petjɔ̃]; 2 April 1770 – 29 March 1818) was the first president of the Republic of Haiti from 1807 until his death in 1818. One of Haiti's founding fathers, Pétion belonged to the revolutionary quartet that also includes Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his later rival Henri Christophe. Regarded as an excellent artilleryman in his early adulthood, Pétion would distinguish himself as an esteemed military commander with experience leading both French and Haitian troops. The 1802 coalition formed by him and Dessalines against French forces led by Charles Leclerc would prove to be a watershed moment in the decade-long conflict, eventually culminating in the decisive Haitian victory at the Battle of Vertières in 1803.

Photo of Jean-Pierre Boyer

5. Jean-Pierre Boyer (1776 - 1850)

With an HPI of 59.26, Jean-Pierre Boyer is the 5th most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Jean-Pierre Boyer (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ pjɛʁ bwaje]; 15 February 1776 – 9 July 1850) was one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution, and the president of Haiti from 1818 to 1843. He reunited the north and south of the country into the Republic of Haiti in 1820 and also annexed the newly independent Spanish Haiti (Santo Domingo), which brought all of Hispaniola under one Haitian government by 1822. Serving as president for just under 25 years, Boyer managed to rule for the longest period of time of any Haitian leader.

Photo of René Préval

6. René Préval (1943 - 2017)

With an HPI of 59.24, René Préval is the 6th most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.

René Garcia Préval (French pronunciation: [ʁəne ɡaʁsja pʁeval]; 17 January 1943 – 3 March 2017) was a Haitian politician and agronomist who twice was President of Haiti, from early 1996 to early 2001, and again from mid-2006 to mid-2011. He was also Prime Minister from early to late 1991 under the presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In addition to being the first elected head of state since independence to serve a full term, the first to be elected to full terms of office without succeeding, the first to peacefully transfer power, and the first former prime minister to be elected president, Préval was also the first elected head of state in Haitian history to do so. Préval promoted privatization of government companies, agrarian reform, and investigations of human rights abuses. His presidencies were marked by domestic tumult and attempts at economic stabilization, with his latter term seeing the destruction brought by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Photo of Ariel Henry

7. Ariel Henry (b. 1949)

With an HPI of 57.47, Ariel Henry is the 7th most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Ariel Henry (French pronunciation: [aʁjɛl ɑ̃ʁi]; born 6 November 1949) is a Haitian neurosurgeon and politician who has served as the acting president of Haiti and the acting prime minister of Haiti since 20 July 2021, after the assassination of president Jovenel Moïse. He is also serving as the acting Minister of Interior and Territorial Communities. He became involved in a controversy due to his refusal to cooperate with the authorities over his links with Joseph-Félix Badio, one of the suspects accused of orchestrating the assassination of Jovenel Moïse on 7 July 2021. Officers who investigated the case suspected Henry was involved with planning the assassination.On 11 March 2024, Henry announced that he would resign when a transitional presidential council is created.

Photo of Anacaona

8. Anacaona (b. 1474)

With an HPI of 55.90, Anacaona is the 8th most famous Haitian Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Anacaona (1474?–1504), or Golden Flower, was a Taíno cacica, or female cacique (chief), religious expert, poet and composer born in Xaragua. Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, Ayiti or Quisqueya to the Taínos (the Spaniards named it La Española, i.e., Hispaniola — now known as the Dominican Republic and Haiti) was divided into five kingdoms, i.e., Xaragua, Maguana, Higüey, Maguá, and Marién. Anacaona was born into a family of caciques. She was the sister of Bohechío, the ruler of Xaragua.She succeeded Bohechío as cacica after his death.In 1503, Nicolás Ovando, the governor of the island, visited Xaragua. He suspected an insurrection was brewing among the Taíno chiefs, including Anacaona, presently in the kingdom. Ovando gave the order for the caciques to be captured and burned. Anacaona was hanged.

Photo of Jean-Bertrand Aristide

9. Jean-Bertrand Aristide (b. 1953)

With an HPI of 55.80, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is the 9th most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ bɛʁtʁɑ̃ aʁistid]; born 15 July 1953) is a Haitian former Salesian priest and politician who became Haiti's first democratically elected president. As a priest, he taught liberation theology and, as a president, he attempted to normalize Afro-Creole culture, including Vodou religion, in Haiti. Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies to become a priest. He became a focal point for the pro-democracy movement first under Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier and then under the military transition regime which followed. He won the 1990–91 Haitian general election, with 67% of the vote. Aristide was briefly president of Haiti, until a September 1991 military coup. The coup regime collapsed in 1994 under U.S. pressure and threat of force (Operation Uphold Democracy), and Aristide was president again from 1994 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2004. He was ousted in the 2004 coup d'état after right-wing ex-army paramilitary units invaded the country from across the Dominican border. Aristide and many others have alleged that the United States had a role in orchestrating the coup against him. In 2022, numerous Haitian and French officials told The New York Times that France and the United States had effectively overthrown Aristide by pressuring him to step down, though this was denied by James Brendan Foley, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti at the time of the coup.Aristide went into exile in the Central African Republic and South Africa. He returned to Haiti in 2011 after seven years in exile.

Photo of Faustin Soulouque

10. Faustin Soulouque (1782 - 1867)

With an HPI of 54.91, Faustin Soulouque is the 10th most famous Haitian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Faustin-Élie Soulouque (French pronunciation: [fostɛ̃ eli suluk]; 15 August 1782 – 3 August 1867) was a Haitian politician and military commander who served as President of Haiti from 1847 to 1849 and Emperor of Haiti from 1849 to 1859.Soulouque was a general in the Haitian Army when he was appointed President of Haiti. He acquired autocratic powers, purged the army of the ruling elite, installed black loyalists in administrative positions and the nobility, and created a secret police and private army. Soulouque was an enthusiastic vodouisant, maintaining a staff of bokors and manbos, and gave the stigmatized vodou religion semi-official status which was openly practiced in Port-au-Prince. Soulouque declared the Second Empire of Haiti in 1849 after being proclaimed Emperor under the name Faustin I, and formally crowned in 1852. Several unsuccessful attempts to reconquer the Dominican Republic eroded his support and he abdicated in 1859 under pressure from General Fabre Geffrard and Dominican military victory. Soulouque was temporarily exiled to Jamaica before returning to Haiti where he died in 1867. Soulouque was the last Haitian head of state to have participated in the Haitian Revolution, the last to have been born prior to independence, the last ex-slave and the last to officially style himself as a king or emperor.

People

Pantheon has 46 people classified as Haitian politicians born between 1474 and 1980. Of these 46, 18 (39.13%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Haitian politicians include Ariel Henry, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and Michel Martelly. The most famous deceased Haitian politicians include Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Boniface Alexandre, and Jean-Claude Duvalier. As of April 2024, 5 new Haitian politicians have been added to Pantheon including Jean-Jacques Honorat, Fabre Geffrard, and Hérard Abraham.

Living Haitian Politicians

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Deceased Haitian Politicians

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Newly Added Haitian Politicians (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 24 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.