By: Yves Pierre-Louis & Kim Ives - Haiti Liberté
On June 23, President Rene Preval nominated Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis,
executive director of the Knowledge and Freedom Foundation (FOKAL), to be
Haiti's next Prime Minister. Haiti's Chamber of Deputies rejected Preval's
two previous nominees, Inter-American Development Bank economist Ericq
Pierre and close political advisor Robert Manuel, on May 12 and June 12
respectively (see Haiti Liberte, Vol. 1, No. 48, 6/18/2008).
The nominees are to replace Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis, whom the
Haitian Senate voted out of office on April 12 following nationwide food
Preval chose Pierre-Louis after consultation with Senate president Kelly
Bastien and Chamber of Deputies president Pierre Eric Jean-Jacques. "It is a
good choice," said Bastien. "In the upper house, the Senators support the
ratification of Madame Pierre-Louis. The papers of the Prime
Minister-designate are in order, and she has a good knowledge of the
socio-economic realities of the country."
Port-de-Paix deputy Lucas St-Vil, the president of the largest parliamentary
block, the Coalition of Progressive Parliamentarians (CPP), welcomed
Pierre-Louis' appointment. He said the CPP will review her papers as quickly
as possible and that, barring any irregularities, she would be ratified. St.
Vil's benediction augurs well for Pierre-Louis, since the CPP's opposition
defeated the two previous nominations.
Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis, 60, was born in the southwestern city of
Jeremie on October 5, 1947. She received her primary education in Haiti and
then earned a Masters in economics from Queens College (NY) in 1976 and a
Doctorate in Humanities in 2004 from St. Michael's College in Burlington,
From 1979 to1982, she was Assistant Director-General of the National Airport
Authority (AAN), responsible for AAN administration and relations with the
government, national agencies and international users. From 1986 to 1988,
she was a national trainer in Mission Alpha, a national literacy program
sponsored by the Catholic Church in Haiti. In 1991, she was a member of
President Jean Bertrand Aristide's Cabinet in charge of redefining state
missions and coordinating between the president and ministers addressing the
demands of peasant organizations for an agrarian reform.
Pierre-Louis was also director of the Karl Leveque Institute, a human rights
center. There she organized seminars and workshops with popular
organizations working to rebuild civil society after the Duvalier
dictatorship fell in 1986. She was a management consultant at the Haitian
Development Foundation, and co-director and co-owner (with Rene Preval) of
the Bakery of the Center in the capital. She has also served as executive
director of the Haitian Financial Company of Development (SOFIHDES),
overseeing the administration, staff and relations with the board of
directors, and head of the Credit Bank of Nova Scotia in Delmas.
Since 1995, Pierre-Louis has been executive director of FOKAL; a
non-governmental organization supported by financier George Soros' Open
Society Institute. FOKAL sponsors diverse educational programs, library
developments, cultural events, books and CDs, community development
projects, environmental campaigns and women's rights programs. She is
currently a professor at Quisqueya University, in the Educational Sciences
Pierre-Louis was previously considered for the post of Prime Minister by
President Aristide in 1993, although he chose instead publisher Robert
Politically, Pierre-Louis became alienated from Aristide and his Lavalas
Family party in recent years. In league with the bourgeoisie's "civil"
opposition front Group of 184, FOKAL played a small but visible role in late
2003 and early 2004 in characterizing the Constitutional government as
repressive and intimidating. In a Dec. 11, 2003 press release, Pierre-Louis
denounced what she viewed as the Aristide "government's hostility to higher
education and to basic human rights, including the right to demonstrate
peacefully" following a Dec. 5, 2003 skirmish between college students and
pro-government popular organizations at the State University. "FOKAL is
appalled by the government's apparent emphasis on teaching young people
violence and hatred instead of trying to instill a love of learning and
tolerance," Pierre-Louis wrote in her release at the time.
However, Pierre-Louis has remained close to President Preval, her former
business partner. She oversaw the organizing of the funeral for assassinated
radio journalist Jean Dominique in April 2000.
Born Michele Duvivier, she was married to, but then divorced, businessman
Edouard Pierre-Louis with whom she had a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1972.