Since Jean-Claude Duvalier’s flight from Haiti in 1986, struggle played out openly and with brutal repression of the Haitian masses. Five different regimes attempted to govern the country. Political chaos ensued. Finally, in 1990, Haiti had its first democratic election after 29 years of dictatorship. One of the most popular candidates was Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a priest who campaigned as a champion for the poor. During the campaign, Aristide asked Haitians to form a “lavalas” to block his opponent, Roger Lafontant, a powerful “tonton makout” who represented Duvalierism.
Lavalas is translated as avalanche. It is a description of violent torrents and sometimes very destructive flood coming from strong and long showers. Lafontant was eventually excluded from the elections on legal grounds and Aristide was overwhelmingly elected President in Haiti’s first democratic election. Since then, Lavalas has been used for any organization or political party associated with Aristide.
More about lavalas from our online dictionary.
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