Tuesday, September 19, 2006

History of Haiti

History of Haiti. This is a brief history of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The slave revolt of the late 18th century and early 19th century that lead to freedom is inspiring. The lose of that freedom to dictatorial regimes is not.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Country of the Caribbean Sea that includes the western third of the island of Hispaniola and such smaller islands as Gonâve, Tortue (Tortuga), Grande Caye, and Vache. Its land area is 10,714 square miles (27,750 square km)—roughly threefold larger than Puerto Rico. The capital is Port-au-Prince."

From the site:

The Spaniards used the island of Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and the Dominican Republic the eastern) as a launching point from which to explore the rest of the Western Hemisphere. French buccaneers later used the western third of the island as a point from which to harass English and Spanish ships. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France. As piracy was gradually suppressed, some French adventurers became planters, making Saint Domingue, as the French portion of the island was known, the "pearl of the Antilles"--one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire.

During this period, African slaves were brought to work on sugarcane and coffee plantations. In 1791, the slave population revolted--led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christophe--and gained control of the northern part of the French colony, waging a war of attrition against the French.

By January 1804, local forces defeated an army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte, established independence from France, and renamed the area Haiti. The impending defeat of the French in Haiti is widely credited with contributing to Napoleon's decision to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States in 1803. Haiti is the world's oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States. Although Haiti actively assisted the independence movements of many Latin American countries, the independent nation of former slaves was excluded from the hemisphere's first regional meeting of independent nations, in Panama in 1826, and did not receive U.S. diplomatic recognition until 1862.

1 comment:

Mark said...

HISTORY OF HAITI Mark’s version updated 8/27/06

A billion years ago, the valleys in the southern half of the Rocky
Mountains were flooded by the ocean. The mountain peaks that were not covered by water became the Caribbean Islands.

In the year 1491, the island of Hispanola was inhabited by a native
Tribe called the Aaraks [?spelling].

In 1492 Christopher Columbus landed on Hispanola... his followers
Brought disease and violence that killed ALL the natives. The Aaraks are

The island was then divided in half between the Spanish and the French.
The Spanish part is now known as the Dominican Republic, the French
part as Haiti.

The French imported slaves from Africa and cut down the mahogany
forests to export the wood for all the finest furniture in Europe. The economy
prospered, but the subsequent erosion swept all the soil into the sea, ruining the land and the sea.

In 1804 the slaves revolted, killed all the French, and set up the
first black government which was followed by many leaders who ruled like slave masters. There was never a democracy. The people voted by supporting or not preventing the overthrow of any current government.

In 1915 the government of Haiti was overthrown so many times that the US
intervened and took over the government of Haiti until 1934.
There were "insurgents" who fought against the US occupation. Those "insurgents" are now considered national Heroes. Their most famous leader was captured, killed, and crucified on a door for all Haitians to see. There are photos in the national museum.

In 1948, Haiti as a member of the UN cast the pivotal ballot that divided
Palestine and created the current state of Israel.

In 1948 a bad, very contagious disease, called Yaws, infected 1/3rd of the population of Haiti. Warts the size of a cauliflower grew out of the skin and
down into the bones, destroying everything in it's path.

By 1948, the US was mass producing Penicillin. One injection of penicillin
cured Yaws. The US donated a truck load of Penicillin. They hired a Haitian
doctor who was studying at Cornell University in New York to drive all over Haiti and inject the population and wipe out this terrible disease. The doctor's name was Francois Duvalier.

In 1948 Haiti was becoming prosperous under the Presidency of Estime
[?spelling] when his term limit was up, the people wanted him to
continue, so he threw out the constitution and made himself President for life.
From there on it was down hill. Within a couple years, the Military decided that if he could throw out the constitution, then they could throw him out. Once again there were Coup d'etats instead of democracy. In 1954?, Francois Duvalier was a good minister of health. Unfortunately his government and all of the ministers were overthrown and condemned to death. Francois Duvalier managed to go into hiding and survive.

In 1958 some semblance of democracy was attempted...Francois Duvalier
came out of hiding to run for president but he had turned ruthless. All the
population remembered that he was the one who cured them of Yaws. He was elected and became known as Papa Doc. When His term limit was up, he declared
himself president for life. He had secret police named Ton Ton Macoutes who killed anyone who opposed him.

Papa Doc died in ? late 1970's? and his son...Jean Claude Duvalier, "Baby Doc"
succeeded him. He was a play boy. The government was only interested in
convincing the world that the poor in Haiti were worth helping. Then he stole
all the donated money. He sold the young men of his country into slavery first
into the sugar cane fields of the Dominican, then to Uganda in Africa to build
? a dam. Those young men caught a bad virus in Africa and eventually brought it
back to Haiti. In 1983, when I started working in Haiti, this virus and
disease had not yet been named... Now we know it as AIDS.

In 1986, Baby Doc's government was over thrown. There were a series of
governments that were each overthrown by a worse successor.

In 1990, a priest from Citie Soleil was elected. His name is Aristide. He championed the poor and tried to tax the rich. He chose as his Prime Minister Rene Preval who ran the bakery that supplied the bread to Aristide’s orphanage.

In September 1991, he was overthrown and a worse military government took over. We, the US, imposed an economic embargo that was supposed to hurt the rich who over threw Aristide. It only hurt the poor.

In 1993? the US invaded Haiti and restored Aristide to the presidency but he
had also turned ruthless in his years of exile. He now was interested only in
staying in power. He paid street gangs to be his secret police and funded them
by allowing the South American Drug Cartel to use Haiti as base to supply the
US with cocaine etc.

When Aristide’s term limit was up. His prime minister Rene PREVAL, was elected as the succeeding president. He was honest but could accomplish little because of a dead locked parliament and the power of the ex-president, Aristide.

When Preval’s term was over, he was the first president in Haiti’s history to step down peacefully and let the next president take over…
Aristide was legally re-elected. Unfortunately, the street gangs ruled and
the elected Parliament could never agree on anything. The Parliament elections
were flawed, the economy worsened and the old military took the opportunity to
take over the country. Aristide left on 2/29/04. We, the US, invaded
again. We set up the current government "a council of wise men". The US
Marines were replaced by a multinational UN force led by Brazil...The Haitians have always liked the Brazilian Soccer team.

March 2005: the UN is not strong enough to control the country. Many of
the Haitian policemen are corrupt. Most of the street gangs and the old Haitian
Military are still armed and control sections of the country. Haiti has the
same population NY city, where they have 30-50,000 police to keep some semblance of peace. In Haiti there are only 2,000 police and 7,200 UN soldiers to control the entire country.

Status 12/05
1 Average life expectancy is the lowest in the world at 49 years of age
2 Haiti is the most water-deprived in the world
3 Haiti is third to Somalia and Afghanistan in hunger
4 Unemployment exceeds 70%
5 The average annual wage is only $532

Haiti has no natural resources to export; the infrastructure and civil war does not allow entrepaneurs to invest and organize the import of raw materials,
factories for people to work and make things, then export things that the world
would like to buy, to get world currency to buy things to raise their standard
of living and repair the infrastructure= roads, electricity, water, sewer, garbage, Hospitals, well paid police who don't have to steal to have an income.
If Haitians would not steal from each other, all the steel, for bars and gates
for security, that has to be imported and paid for with world currency could go
to building infrastructure.

In 2005 a wave of kidnappings of middle and upper class Haitians and All white people—up to 10 kidnappings per day—has further damaged Haiti’s economy and Non-governmental organization charitable works.

2/14/06 Rene Preval was declared winner of a UN supervised election.

[He had 49% of the vote but needed 50% to win. The constitution required a second ballot against the next runner up Former President Manigot with 11% of the vote. Fraud or gross error has been charged because of the number of blank, missing, unreadable ballots. The international community settled the constitutional crisis by using the “Belgium option” to distribute all irregular ballots to the candidates in the proportion that they received regular ballots. This gave Preval 49% of the questioned ballots and put him over the required 50% and avoided a run off election.]

This was followed by 4 months of calm… like someone had thrown a switch and turned off all the gang wars and kidnappings.

Then in July 2006 the switch was turned on again. Haiti now has the worst Kidnapping rate in the world. They are targeting foreign business and missionaries because their organizations have the money to ransom the victims.
Since 2/05 50 Americans have been kidnapped, 46 ransomed, 3 killed when they resisted being kidnapped, one killed AFTER the ransom was paid.

Who has the finger on the switch? Some say it is Aristide in exile in South Africa. Some say it is the South American Drug cartels. Whoever it is, they probably tried for 4 months to get Preval to play their game and when Preval refused, the kidnappings and gang wars restarted.

Selfishness is the root of poverty. In Haiti it is every man and women for him/her self. It is hard to be otherwise when you are sick and your kids are starving. The cycle can only be broken by practicing self sacrifice for the benefit of others.

I wrote this entirely from memory. Don't rely on my facts, spelling or
dates. about the author: Mark Kelley, I am a Christian physician volunteer, teaching self sacrifice by example not by words. I worked these same clinics and walked these same streets for 3 weeks every year since 1983. I have also spent time working in Jacmel, Jeremie, Les Cayes, Gonaive, Hinche, and Dechappelle.