The Miami Herald confirmed today that former Haitian President René Préval has died at age 74.
Préval, who was president during Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, died at home in Laboule, a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. His wife, who wasn’t with him, said she had spoken to him “three times” Friday morning. The cause of death has not been confirmed but friends close to him say it was likely the result of a heart attack.
“He was in excellent humor,” said [Elisabeth] Delatour Préval, who is traveling. “He asked, ‘When are you coming home?’ I refused to believe it. I cannot believe it.”
Préval served as president from 1996 to 2001, and again from 2006 to 2011. He is the only president in Haitian history to have served two full presidential terms and not be jailed, exiled or killed.
Jerry Tardieu, a member of the Lower House of Deputies, was also taken aback by the news. He had spent the morning with the former president, leaving Préval’s home at around 11 a.m. Préval wanted to discuss a law to protect national production.
“He was fine,” said Tardieu. “He looked no different than any other day. I am in shock.”
An agronomist by training, Préval devoted his years out of the presidency to turning bamboo into furniture to create jobs, and to boost national production of agricultural products. A savvy politician, he continued to be sought out by foreign diplomats in recent years as Haiti reeled from one political crisis to another. [. . .]