January 21, 1996 in Nation/World

Aristide Marries His Lawyer Aware Of Public Criticism, Couple Has Simple Ceremony

Associated Press

Rounding another turn on the extraordinary road that has carried him from an orphanage through the priesthood to Haiti’s presidency, Jean-Bertrand Aristide married his legal adviser on Saturday.

The 42-year-old Aristide exchanged vows with Mildred Trouillot, 33, a New York-born Haitian attorney, before at least 500 guests, including U.S. generals, Haitian Cabinet ministers and Roman Catholic priests and bishops.

The couple exchanged vows before a simple table set up in the garden of Aristide’s four-bedroom mansion. The bride wore a light coral-colored tailored suit; the groom wore a dark blue suit.

Aristide’s marriage drew disapproval from a public that lionized him.

Many Haitians are upset that their hero, a dark-skinned descendant of African slaves like most peasants here, has picked a bride they classify as a patrician, lighter-skinned foreigner.

“She’s from the upper class. She doesn’t know how we suffer,” said carpenter Gesner Michel, 34.

“His wife will turn his head,” said Junior Louis, a 13-year-old who lives on the streets. “He’ll forget us.”

Much of Aristide’s popularity was rooted in the fact that he gave up the priesthood to fight for Haiti’s freedom. His decision to marry has led some to question his dedication.

As journalist Liliane Pierre-Paul, co-owner of Radio Quisqueya, said: “Aristide has lost his halo.”

As if to assuage the people’s disappointment, the couple opted for a simple ceremony - no bridal gown, no bouquet, no wedding cake - at his private mansion at Tabarre, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email