Gerard R. Latortue (born June 19, 1934 at Gonaives) was the Prime Minister of Haiti from March 9, 2004 to June 9, 2006. He assumed this position at a time of uncertainty and political chaos in Haiti. He is credited for the success in restoring the democratic process in Haiti through honest and free elections in 2006. Prior to his appointment as Haiti’s Prime Minister, Latortue has worked for more than three decades as Managing Director at the United Nations Development Organization (UNIDO). He has participated and led numerous high-level missions, advising leaders in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world on industrial development. A noted academic, Latortue taught economics for more than a decade in Haiti State University, and at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico ( IAU). He and his colleague Franz Alcindor are credited as pioneers of Haiti’s first private business school in Haiti- the “Institut de Hautes Etudes Economoiques & Commerciales” (IHECE). He is also credited, with other colleagues, as playing a pivotal role in introducing the first MBA program in Puerto Rico. From 1995 to 2000, he serviced as the Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes ( UNICA). Latortue is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions from various institutions and governments including Sengal, Haiti, Taiwan, Chile, and Togo. Currently, Latortue is an international advisor on democracy and development. His latest assignments include electoral missions in Mali, Togo, Chile, and Gabon on behalf of the International Organziation of French-speaking Communities (OIF). He also recently led development missions in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Biography:

Latortue was born in the city of Gonaives, Haiti to Francoise Dupuy and Rene A. Latortue. Devoted husband, father, and grand father, he is married for over forty years to Marlene Zephirin Latortue and has three children and three grand children. His father, Rene, was a career lawyer who was also an educator and an established district attorney who later became chief judge in the district court of Gonaives. He was also an influential member of the State Council which played the role of the Parliament under the administration of President Louis Bomo. His mother was a well known humanitarian, who juggled between her family duties and managing her small enterprise. “She was the rock and the moral guide of her family who inculcated to her three children a sense of social justice and hard work”,often repeats Latortue. Raised catholic, Latortue first attended ]’Ecole des Freres de IInstruction Chretienne in Gonaives during his elementary years, and later entered Lycee Fabre Geffrard. He subsequently transferred to Lycee Toussaint Louverture in Port-au-Prince where he received his high school diploma. He then went on to graduate valedictorian from Haiti State University Law School in 1956. After earning his law degree, he traveled to France to pursue his post graduate studies in economics at the Faculte de Droit et des Sciences Economiques in Paris. In the same year, he enrolled at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris where he majored in Public Economy. In 1958, Latortue attended the Institut d’Etudes de Development Economique et Social in Paris and obtained a diploma in Economic Development Planning. He then spent the following year taking postgraduate courses ineconomics at the Faculte d’Economie Comparee in Luxembourg. In 1962, Latortue traveled to the United States and attended the International Marketing Institute at the Harvard Business School for intensive post graduate courses in marketing management, and policy research. In 1968, he entered Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, for intensive postgraduate courses in industrial economics and operations research.

Career / Academic:

Latortue’s academic career began in 1960 at the State University of Haiti where he taught economics for two years. In 1961 he co-founded the “Institut de Hautes Etudes Economiques & Commerciales” (IHECE), and served both as Co-director and Professor of economics for two years, before he fled to exile in Puerto Rico at the height of the 1963 repression of the Duvalier regime. To this day, the IHECE remains one of the most prestigious business schools in Haiti. As a Fullbright scholar, Latortue went on to pursue a long and remarkable academic career in Puerto Rico for nine years. There, he taught Economics at different academic institutions including the Inter-American university of Puerto Rico at San German in Puerto Rico, and the Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce. Additionally, he served as a Research Associate at the Institute of Caribbean Studies at the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, and at the Caribbean Institute and Study Center for Latin America (CISCLA), at IAU San German campus. He was also the Chairman of the Economic and Business department and Director of CISCLA.

Professional:

In 1972, Latortue left Puerto Rico and joined the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). He began his career as a Project Manager in Togo and the Ivory Coast where he spent ten years promoting ownership of small and medium enterprises by the nationals.He then worked his way to be a valuable official of the organization, handli;11g matters ranging from complex negotiations to development assistance in numerous countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Among the most notable positions he held during his career at the UNIDO’s headquarter in Vienna, Austria, Latortue was the Head of Industrial Planning Section, division of Industrial Operations, Director of the

Political:

While in Vienna, Austria as head of the Negotiation branch of UNIDO, the newly elected President, Leslie F. Manigat asked Latortue to become the Haitian foreign minister in1988. His tenure lasted only three months when the military overthrew the civilian government in a bloodless coup d’etat. Latortue returned to the UNIDO and spent the next six years working at different levels until his retirement in 1994. Among his achievements at the Haitian foreign ministry, Latortue initiated the negotiations for the entry of Haiti to the Lome Convention. In 2004, following the departure to exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Latortue was once again called to serve his country. On March 9, 2004, Latortue assumed the leadership of the transitional Government as Prime Minister. He took the position amid escalating gang violence and political uncertainty in Haiti. For several months the country was gripped with the fear of a total collapse of the central government. From lootings to random killings, the capital, Port-au­ prince, as well as the rest of the country, was consumed with widespread violence orchestrated by armed gangs. It was against this difficult backdrop that Latortue began the daunting task of restoring the democratic process in Haiti. Despite these challenges, the transitional Government held free and fair elections in 2006 and Rene Preval was elected in office as President. These elections were greeted by Haitians and the international community as free and transparent. In its 2004 daily press release the U.S. State Department wrote: “The first round of elections for President and Parliament took place peacefully on February 7, 2006, with a turnout estimated at over 60% of registered voters. The elections were considered generally free, fair, transparent, and democratic by national and international observers.” Latortue’s administration took several measures among which the re-establishment of the international assistance to Haiti, the creation of the Centre de Facilitation des Investissements (CFI) which aims at reducing the bureaucratic red tapes that often impede investments in Haiti. He also institutionalized the fight against corruption through the creation and reinforcement of institutions such as Unite Centrale de Renseignements Financiers (UCREF), Unite de Lutte Cantre la Corruption (ULCC) and the Commission Nationale de Passation de Marches Publics (CNMP). Most importantly, Latortue initiated broad judicial reforms in matters related to women rights, public administration, infrastructural rehabilitation, and decentralization of government activities.

Awards:

Latortue received several awards decorations including l’Ordre du Travail, Haiti, 1956; L’Ordre Honneur et Merite, Croix d’argent, Haiti, 1988 and 2006; Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite, Senegal, 1994; Officier, Ordre du Mono, Togo, 1994; The Shining Star Decoration, Taiwan,1988; Special Honor Award of the World Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (WASME) 1997, Honor Awards of the International Conference of Small and Medium Enterprises(ICSME),1997

Legacy:

Upon the election of Rene Preval as President, and the appointment of Jacques-Edouard Alexis as the new Prime Minister, Latortue resigned from power in May 2006. His legacy however can be felt in many areas of Haitian political life such as the declaration of personal assets by high ranking government officials upon taking duty and when leaving office and the policy of political inclusion. His decision to publish “Le Livre Blanc du Gouvemement de Transition” which constitutes a detailed accountability report of his administration’s two year tenure is a testimony of his efforts to conduct government affairs in a transparent manner. Latortue’s legacy also includes numerous works in Africa, Asia and Latin America where he promoted ownership of small and medium size enterprises by the nationals, industrial planning, and policy development. He also paved the way for the entry of developing countries in selected industrial subsectors such as pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, building materials, and fertilizers. As a high ranking official of the United Nations for more than 30 years, Latortue fought for the respect of the principle of sovereign equality among nations. Similarly, he pleaded for a more substantial role of the Economic and Social Council in the coordination of development aid. Latortue envisioned this role as comparable to the role played by the Security Council in maintaining peace and order around the world. He also fought for a more. equitable repartition of permanent seats of the Security Council among African, Latin American and Asian countries.