Ertha Pascal-Trouillot

Ertha Pascal-Trouillot
President of Haiti
In office
13 March 1990 – 7 February 1991
Preceded by Hérard Abraham (Acting)
Succeeded by Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Personal details
Born (1943-08-13) 13 August 1943 (age 76)
Pétion-Ville, Haiti
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Ernst Trouillot
Alma mater University of Haiti

Ertha Pascal-Trouillot (born 13 August 1943)[1] was the provisional President of Haiti for 11 months in 1990 and 1991. She was the first woman in Haitian history to hold that office.[2]


Ertha Pascal-Trouillot was born on Aug. 13, 1943, in the well-to-do suburb of Petionville in the cool hills above the crowded capital.[1] Her father, Thimbles, was an iron worker and died when she was young. Her mother Louise (née Dumornay) was a seamstress and embroiderer. Pascal-Trouillot was the ninth of ten children. When she was 10 years old, 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.


When she started university, she wanted to pursue a career in science but she met her mentor who convinced her to pursue it in law and later in politics.[citation needed] In 1971, she received her law degree from the École de Droit des Gonaïves in Port-au-Prince, becoming the country's first woman lawyer.[citation needed]


Ertha Pascal-Trouillot was a judge in many federal courts during the years 1975 to 1988 before she finally became the first woman justice in the Supreme Court of Haiti.[citation needed] Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot became a lower-court judge in 1980 during the Duvalier dictatorship. Her husband served as counsel to the National Bank, from which the dictators are said to have obtained a fortune. Although they were not supporters of the Duvaliers.[citation needed] While serving as Chief Justice she became the country's provisional president on March 13, 1990, and was made responsible to organize a general election. It was to her credit that she could bring about violence-free elections which brought Jean Bertrand Aristide to the post of president with a 67% win.[citation needed]

Between 1975 and 1988, she held various positions as a judge in the Haitian federal courts until she became the first woman justice of the Supreme Court of Haiti.[better source needed] [3]

Away from the public eye, Ertha Pascal-Trouillot had a committee[clarification needed] which helped in running the affairs of the country and also the elections.[clarification needed] She also got the support of the army.[clarification needed][citation needed] After the victory of Jean Bertrand Aristide, she was arrested and charged for the Coup.[citation needed] It has never been proved that Ertha Pascal-Trouillot was in fact involved in the Coup.[citation needed] Due to the US intervention she was released in a day.{{clarification needed}[citation needed] She then quit her role in active politics and left Haiti.[citation needed] Ertha Pascal-Trouillot is back in Haiti but away from the public eye.[citation needed] She has immersed herself into the work of compiling the history of Haiti.[4]

Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot primary task as Provisional President was to steer Haiti toward early elections in coordination with a 19-member Council of State that had been given veto power over her. She was in charge of managing the council and trying to avoid outright combat and she's also expected to act and complete the task of her role and serve the people. Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot spent her first day as President today working in very big, three-story yellow house, studying a list of more than 40 names for cabinet posts.[citation needed] She also drew up communication announcing the reopening of schools, which had closed more than a week earlier because of protests against Lieut. Gen. Prosper Avril, Haiti's most recent military ruler.[citation needed] After taking a salute and a pledge of loyalty from the chief of the army on Tuesday[when?], Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot declared that she had accepted this heavy task in the name of Haitian women.[citation needed]

During this time period, there were a lot of military men in the streets responsible for a lot of wrongdoing and a lot of violence in the streets.[citation needed] This caused for a lot of people to fear the military, each other and the government. Trouillot steered Haiti through its first major test from a dictatorship to a new democracy with free democratic elections. Ertha Pascal Trouillot became a great role model for Haitian girls and women.[citation needed] According to the article “L’union Suite,” ‘‘More than twenty years after Pascal-Trouillot brave leadership, Haiti’s nascent and fragile democracy still stands. The Haitian people have lived through two more coups d’etats, economic turmoil, and natural disasters. But Haiti has one president who’s served out both his mandates and participated in two successful transitions of power.[clarification needed] That’s the legacy of Ertha Pascal-Trouillot. She helped them[who?] to be the best that they are and encouraged them to become powerful and apply for jobs in the government and also becoming leaders. After her reign, a lot of women began running for a lot of important roles in the place,[where?] including senators, deputy, ministers and even president.’’[citation needed]

Personal life

Ertha Pascal-Trouillot was the first Haitian woman president. She became the first provisional woman president. She was a very tall and elegant 46-year-old lawyer, writer, teacher and Supreme Court justice who drew a lot of attention from a lot of people due to her strong will and determination to change Haiti. The public knows her as a very educated woman with a very strong personality. “ This is a very intelligent woman, a very strong personality, a person that cannot be manipulated, said Karl Auguste, who worked with her on a commission to revise Haiti's civil and penal codes after the collapse of the previous dictator Dr. Duvalier four years ago. She was very different from the other elected presidents because she was strong and had the determination to not bow down to anyone. She is not going to be a puppet, a Western diplomat[who?] said.[citation needed]

Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot's brother Alix was paralyzed from the waist down by a bullet from one of the Duvalier soldiers.[citation needed] Another brother, Andre, was arrested and threatened with execution.[citation needed] In 1986, Minister of Justice Francois Latortue appointed Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot to the Supreme Court. She was the first woman to serve on the court.[citation needed] Mr. La Tordue said that “I knew she was one of the most outstanding women lawyers in Haiti’’[citation needed] Mrs. Pascal trouillot was a very intelligent woman. She exceeded the expectations the people had of her and used her confidence to rule in the palace.[citation needed] She had the determination to rebuild Haiti after the reign of the Duvaliers were over. She reopened schools because she believed that education was the most important tool for every student.[citation needed]

One of the major forces in shaping her life was a man more than 20 years her senior, Ernst Trouillot, a journalist, lawyer, and teacher. She met Mr. Trouillot when she was a teenage girl in one of his social classes and due to her intelligence, he encouraged her to go to law school.[citation needed] As president of the Bar Association, he watched her being sworn in at the Palace of Justice in 1971 and swooned.[citation needed] Less than four months later they were married.[citation needed] He later died of a stroke 3 years ago.[when?] Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot now lives with their 15-year-old daughter, Yantha.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b Times, Joseph B. Treaster and Special To the New York. "Woman in the News; Firm Leader For Haitians Ertha Pascal-Trouillot". Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  2. ^ Skard, Torild (2014) "Ertha Pascal-Trouillot", Women of power - Half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press, ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0.
  3. ^ Johnson, Anne Janette, "Ertha Pascal-Trouillot.", March 1992. 30 April 2008.
  4. ^ E. L. Bute and H. J. P. Harmer, The Black Handbook: The People, History and Politics of Africa and the African Diaspora, London & Washington: Cassell, 1997, p. 51.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Hérard Abraham
President of Haiti

Succeeded by
Jean-Bertrand Aristide