Bertrand Aristide fled Haiti Feb. 29 amid a three-week rebellion. His U.S.-backed government, increasingly linked to widespread corruption, could not stem gangster violence once ex--soldiers linked up with anti-Aristide factions to take over key cities. Thousands of Haitians evacuated north as pro-Aristide factions vowed revenge. In the chaos, Mr. Aristide sought exile in South Africa.
In March an international committee replaced the ousted leader with Alexander Boniface and interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, a Paris--educated lawyer and economist, until recently himself enjoying a comfortable exile in Boca Raton. He vowed to restore basic security and improve infrastructure, but Hurricane Jeanne had different plans. The Category 3 storm ripped through Haiti in September, killing 1,500 people and leaving much of the island under water.
By year's end much of second-largest city Cap Haitien was without power. The UN continued to feed over 600,000 Haitians. Troops sent to the island proved largely ineffective at bringing order, as gunmen tore through the gritty Port-au-Prince slum Cite Soleil, shooting into the air, burning roadside stands, and looting. At least 19 people were killed in the rampage.