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It was formed in 1996 as a split by Aristide from the Lavalas Political Organization, the rump of which is now known as the Struggling People's Party. Two main reasons for the creation of Fanmi Lavalas are known: a) to allow the Lavalas movement to remain inclusive; b) to prevent OPL's opportunistic figures from taking over the movement's leadership from Aristide.
"Fanmi Lavalas" is awkwardly translated as "Avalanche Family" (referring to floods) but the name is almost never completely translated from Haitian Creole, although it is sometimes given as "Lavalas Family".