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Haití declarado independiente - Historia


Después de derrotar a un ejército de 5.000 hombres enviado por Napoleón, Haití es declarado gobierno republicano negro. Todos los esclavos fueron liberados y todos los blancos que no huyeron fueron asesinados.

Haití declarado independiente - Historia

Haití fue descubierto por Colón en 1492. Después de que los españoles mataran a todos los nativos americanos (hacia 1512), importaron esclavos africanos para trabajar en la economía de las plantaciones. En 1697, España cedió lo que ahora es Haití a Francia: un área de 10,748 millas cuadradas. En la década de 1770, Haití había eclipsado en riqueza a otras colonias francesas del Caribe. Las exportaciones de azúcar eran mayores que las de cualquier otro territorio del mundo, tan grandes que Haití abastecía a Francia con todas sus necesidades. Esto le dio a Francia un enorme excedente, que vendió con enormes ganancias. Los suelos de Haití eran fértiles, extensos y bien irrigados, y sus plantaciones estaban bien administradas.

En 1789 Haití era la gloria de las colonias francesas, "la joya del Caribe, la colonia más rica del mundo", como escribió Bernard Diederich. La prosperidad de la colonia fue tal que en dólares sus importaciones y exportaciones superaron a las de todo Estados Unidos donde, en el mismo año, George Washington asumió su primer mandato como presidente. En su extremo occidental, Cap Francois (ahora Cap Haitien), una ciudad de 25.000 habitantes con magníficos edificios públicos y teatros de piedra y ladrillo, era conocida como "El París de las Antillas".

En 1789, la colonia se había cultivado durante 92 años. Seldon Rodman escribe: "La rica Plaine du Nord aluvial contaba con mil casas de plantaciones detrás de monumentales portales con pilares. Brillaba por la noche con la alegre iluminación de bailes elaborados, carruajes iluminados y hornos deslumbrantes y pilas de hervidores que refinaban caña de azúcar alrededor. el reloj." Pronto todo eso iba a cambiar.

En 1789, la Revolución Francesa derrocó al Rey y proclamó la doctrina de "Libertad, Igualdad y Fraternidad". Inspirado por los acontecimientos en Francia, una revuelta de esclavos era inminente. En vísperas de ese alboroto, había unos 40.000 blancos en Saint-Domingue, 30.000 negros y mulatos libres y casi 500.000 esclavos. En el mejor de los casos, los recursos militares franceses en la colonia eran insuficientes. Estos estaban lejos de ser los mejores tiempos.

El 15 de mayo de 1791, la Asamblea Nacional Revolucionaria de Francia votó en total igualdad con los blancos para todos los varones mulatos nacidos de dos padres libres. Aunque esto afectó a solo 400 hombres, fue para inspirar la primera insurrección violenta y feroz de los negros. La palabra "ardiente" no es solo figurativa. Se había encendido un fuego entre medio millón de esclavos negros que no se extinguiría hasta que el último de los 40.000 blancos de la colonia y la mayoría de negros y mulatos libres fueran asesinados o expulsados ​​de la isla.

En agosto de 1791, la tapa de la colonia voló. Los esclavos en disturbios se convirtieron en una gran multitud que se desbocó, desarraigó, incendió y destruyó. En poco tiempo, Haití estuvo dominado por bandas de esclavos itinerantes. En todas partes hubo devastación. En París, la Asamblea Revolucionaria se había colocado directamente del lado de los negros. Se insinuó que la emancipación de los esclavos estaba cerca.

Los blancos se dieron cuenta de que se enfrentaban al exterminio total si los negros tomaban el control. Los colonos hablaron ahora de la secesión de Francia. Todos los negocios normales en Haití cesaron. Los blancos comenzaron a armarse contra la revolución negra que temían que los envolviera. Llegaron órdenes de París de que los esclavos aplastaran cualquier brote de resistencia blanca.

Eso fue demasiado para la mayoría de los blancos, que se rindieron y se fueron, a menudo sin nada más que la ropa con la que se pusieron de pie. Fueron los afortunados. Pronto se pudieron ver grandes incendios en el campo. Los negros quemaban los cañaverales y masacraban a todos aquellos blancos y negros libres que no pudieron huir a tiempo.

Milicias con escasa tripulación y equipamiento ingresaron al interior en patrullas de reconocimiento. Pocos regresaron. Las historias que trajeron los supervivientes fueron escalofriantes. Los hombres fueron asesinados a machetazos de inmediato, pero las mujeres fueron violadas en grupo por sus esclavos antes de ser torturadas hasta la muerte, junto con sus hijos. En algunos casos, las mujeres fueron arrojadas sobre los cuerpos de sus maridos, padres o hermanos y luego violadas.

El 3 de febrero de 1794, el gobierno revolucionario francés abolió oficialmente la esclavitud y declaró a todos los negros de Haití como ciudadanos iguales del estado. En 1798, la revolución había logrado tanto establecer la libertad de los esclavos como, de manera decisiva para el desarrollo del Haití moderno, destruir la rentable base agrícola del país. A fines de 1803, la colonia más rica de Francia quedó desamparada, un páramo humeante.

Los efectos de estos hechos históricos han perdurado hasta el día de hoy. Haití es una nación endeble, miserablemente pobre y, aunque nominalmente católica, los ritos bárbaros del vudú, una supervivencia de la herencia africana de la población, aún prosperan. Durante 195 años, la República Negra no ha engendrado más que horror, pobreza, enfermedades, masacres esporádicas y dictaduras brutales. Hoy en día, bajo el gobierno de todos los negros, todas sus ciudades son barrios marginales sucios y en ruinas, y no quedan granjas comerciales exitosas para alimentar a los pobres urbanos devastados por el SIDA de la nación. Los bosques han sido despojados y ninguno reemplazado. De hecho, solo el 2% de la tierra todavía está cubierta de bosques. Los millones empobrecidos se ganan la vida con los suelos de bajo rendimiento de los valles desnudos, cultivando sorgo, arroz, ñame y legumbres. Los más ricos crían algunos cerdos en pequeñas explotaciones. En la cima de su gloria, Haití transportaba 250.000 cabezas de ganado.

Haití obtuvo su nuevo nombre el 1 de enero de 1804, mediante la proclamación del ex esclavo Jean Jacques Dessalines. Su primer acto después de coronarse emperador, a imitación de Napoleón, fue apoderarse de la bandera tricolor de Francia y arrancar la sección blanca. Tan pronto como Dessalines estuvo firmemente establecido en su trono imperial, se emitió la orden para la masacre total de la población Blanca. El 25 de abril de 1805, publicó la proclama que establecía oficialmente a Haití como un estado negro y prohibía la entrada a los blancos en sus costas.

En 1806, toda la población blanca había sido masacrada y la isla ensangrentada regresó a la jungla.

Boletín de Aida Parker

La lección de Haití

En el siglo XVIII, Haití, entonces llamado Saint-Domingue y gobernado por los franceses, era la colonia más próspera del Nuevo Mundo. Su suelo enormemente fértil produjo una gran abundancia de cultivos y atrajo a miles de colonos franceses blancos. Desafortunadamente, se importaron esclavos negros de África para ayudar con el trabajo.

A fines de la década de 1700, la locura de la Revolución Francesa, con su doctrina verdaderamente loca de la igualdad racial, infectó a muchos franceses, y los trabajadores negros de las plantaciones fueron alentados a rebelarse. Cuando lo hicieron, asesinaron brutalmente a todos los hombres, mujeres y niños blancos de la colonia y declararon a Haití una república. Lo que había sido la parte más rica y productiva del Nuevo Mundo se hundió rápidamente a un nivel africano de miseria, miseria y pobreza. Las carreteras y ciudades construidas por los franceses se arruinaron. Una mezcla peculiarmente africana de anarquía y despotismo ocupó el lugar de la ley y el orden franceses.

Un poco más de un siglo después, en 1915, tras un período especialmente caótico y sangriento, se envió a marines estadounidenses a Haití para imponer una apariencia de orden en el país. La razón para enviarlos fue para salvaguardar los intereses comerciales estadounidenses en Haití, aunque el presidente Wilson les dijo a los estadounidenses que los marines estaban siendo enviados para "traer la democracia a Haití". Los marines permanecieron en Haití durante 19 años. No solo reforzaron la estabilidad gubernamental allí, sino que también construyeron escuelas y hospitales, un moderno sistema telefónico y más de 1,000 millas de caminos pavimentados con 210 puentes. El gobierno de Estados Unidos capacitó a maestros y médicos haitianos. Realmente les dimos a los haitianos la base para un nuevo comienzo. Sin embargo, tan pronto como los marines estadounidenses se retiraron en 1934, los haitianos volvieron a su propia forma de hacer las cosas, es decir, a la indolencia, la corrupción y el vudú. Todo lo que los estadounidenses habían construido para ellos regresó gradualmente a la jungla.

En 1958, Estados Unidos envió de nuevo a la Infantería de Marina a Haití, esta vez con el objetivo de reconstruir la economía y la infraestructura del país para que no sucumbiera a las influencias comunistas. Apoyamos el régimen de "Papa Doc" Duvalier, que se había formado en medicina durante nuestra primera incursión en Haití, pero que también era practicante de vudú. Fue un dictador brutal y sanguinario. Nuevamente gastamos cientos de millones de dólares reconstruyendo lo que los haitianos habían arruinado y capacitando a miles de ellos en las habilidades necesarias para mantener el país en funcionamiento. Pero cuando nos retiramos de nuevo, el país volvió inmediatamente a sus viejas costumbres: sus costumbres africanas.

Y en 1994 [bajo el presidente Clinton] intentamos la misma locura una vez más, afirmando que estábamos "restaurando la democracia" en Haití.

¿Por qué no podemos aceptar la pura y simple verdad de que es tan imposible convertir a los haitianos en demócratas como enseñarles a mantener sus propios caminos? ¿Por qué no podemos entender que los haitianos son fundamentalmente diferentes a nosotros, que son africanos, no europeos como nosotros: que son negros, y que, abandonados a sí mismos, deben hacer las cosas como siempre las han hecho los negros, con indolencia? , corrupción y vudú?

Tengo frente a mí un libro sobre Haití escrito por un académico británico, miembro de la Royal Geographic Society, después de sus largos viajes por Haití a principios de este siglo. El libro fue publicado por Thomas Nelson and Sons, con oficinas en Londres, Edimburgo, Dublín y Nueva York. El autor es Hesketh Prichard, y el título de su libro es Donde el negro gobierna al blanco: un viaje a través y sobre Haití. Prichard eligió su título porque estaba especialmente interesado en el hecho de que Haití era un país gobernado completamente por su población negra, sin la dominación colonial blanca que estaba presente en casi todas partes del mundo no blanco en ese momento. Los únicos blancos en el país eran unos cientos de empresarios y sus agentes en las ciudades costeras. Estos blancos no fueron tratados bien por el gobierno o el pueblo de Haití.

Prichard simpatizaba básicamente con los negros y quería ver cómo vivían cuando los blancos los habían introducido en la civilización, pero luego se les dejó completamente libres para hacer lo que quisieran, sin el control de los blancos. Escribe sobre Haití en el primer capítulo de su libro: "Allí la ley del mundo se invierte y el hombre negro gobierna. Es uno de los pocos lugares en la tierra donde su color coloca al negro sobre un pedestal y le da privilegios. . El africano de pura sangre es primordial, incluso los mulatos y los mestizos son desagradables y han sido eliminados bárbaramente con el paso del tiempo ".

Una de las primeras cosas que señala Prichard sobre Haití es la suciedad generalizada. No esperaba que el saneamiento estuviera a la altura de los estándares europeos, por supuesto, pero le sorprendió el grado de suciedad que encontró, no solo en las aldeas sino también en la ciudad capital, Puerto Príncipe. Y quedó impresionado por las caricaturas de gala y elegancia que prosperaban en medio de esta inmundicia. Por ejemplo, notó que todos los haitianos de alguna importancia llevaban el título de "general" y estaban equipados con un llamativo uniforme de general, repleto de trenzas de oro y todos los demás adornos. Cuando preguntó sobre el establecimiento militar en Haití, donde la población total en ese momento era inferior a dos millones, descubrió que el ejército haitiano contaba con 6.500 generales, 7.000 oficiales de regimiento y 6.500 soldados.

Prichard relata una conversación que tuvo una noche con tres generales haitianos. Es una conversación con un tono surrealista, como muchas otras cosas en Haití. En un nivel, los generales negros pueden conversar con una apariencia de conocimiento de asuntos militares, pero en otro nivel, está claro que están completamente fuera de contacto con la realidad. Uno recuerda el estereotipo clásico del caníbal africano con sombrero de ópera y taparrabos.

El libro de Prichard está lleno de anécdotas fascinantes y descripciones detalladas de sus experiencias personales con diversas facetas de la vida haitiana. Destaca el carácter bondadoso y de corazón abierto del pueblo, que, sin embargo, podría cometer las atrocidades más espeluznantes a la menor provocación. El grado extremo de corrupción de la burocracia haitiana suscita especial atención por parte de Prichard, al igual que la forma totalmente caprichosa en que opera. La administración de justicia, en particular, es una caricatura de los sistemas europeos, en los que se observan muchas de las mismas formas externas.

Prichard también comenta sobre las creencias y prácticas religiosas de los haitianos. La religión oficial, que heredaron de sus antiguos maestros franceses, es el catolicismo romano, pero la verdadera religión del pueblo es el vudú, una religión peculiarmente africana con toques católicos. En la religión, como en otros aspectos de la vida haitiana, hay una extraña mezcla de formas blancas con sustancia negra.

Más adelante en su libro, Prichard generaliza a partir de muchas de sus observaciones para llegar a una conclusión fundamental sobre la vida en Haití: a saber, que en todos los asuntos relacionados con sus conexiones con el mundo blanco, con la civilización blanca, los haitianos están más preocupados por el espectáculo que por la sustancia. y su habilidad para imitar las características de la gente blanca, tanto individual como colectivamente, persuade a muchas personas que los observan sólo superficialmente y que quieren creer que son iguales de que realmente son iguales.

Lo que más asombra al viajero en Haití es que allí lo tienen todo. Pida lo que le plazca, la respuesta invariablemente es: "Sí, sí, lo tenemos". Poseen todo lo que una nación civilizada y progresista puede desear. ¿Luz eléctrica? Señalan con orgullo una planta [de energía] en la cima de una colina en las afueras de la ciudad. ¿Gobierno constitucional? Una Cámara de Diputados elegidos por votación pública, un Senado y toda la parafernalia elaborada de la ley: se encuentran aquí, aparentemente todos. Instituciones, iglesias, escuelas, carreteras, ferrocarriles. Sobre el papel, su sistema es impecable. Si uno pone su confianza en el espejismo de los rumores, los haitianos pueden jactarse de poseer todas las cosas deseables, pero si se acercan más, estas perspectivas agradables pueden tomar otro tono.

Por ejemplo, estás de pie en lo que alguna vez fue un edificio, pero ahora es un fantasma con espiga de huso de lo que era antes. Un hombre soltero, amamantando una pierna rota, se extiende sobre el piso negro de tierra, una pila de camas de madera se amontona en la esquina norte, la lluvia ha formado un charco en el medio de la habitación, arrastrándose y extendiéndose en un círculo cada vez más amplio como el último la ducha gotea del techo. Algunas sábanas sucias yacen enrolladas en una bola pegajosa en dos camas, una de las cuales está volcada. Una gran tina de hierro para lavar se encuentra en la entrada abierta.

¿Ahora donde estas? Sería imposible de adivinar. De hecho, estás en el Hospital Militar de la segunda ciudad más importante de Haití, una empresa apoyada por el estado en la que se supone que los soldados de la República se curarán de todos los males de la carne.

Lo mismo ocurrió con la luz eléctrica. La planta [de energía] estaba aquí, pero no funcionó. Lo mismo ocurrió con el cañón [del Ejército]. Hay cañones, pero no se disparan. Lo mismo sucedió con sus ferrocarriles. Se les estaba "apurando hacia adelante", pero nunca progresaron. Pasaba lo mismo con todo.

Prichard termina su libro con un capítulo titulado "¿Puede el negro gobernarse a sí mismo?" Y responde a su pregunta: "La condición actual de Haití da la mejor respuesta posible a la pregunta y, considerando que el experimento ha durado un siglo, tal vez también sea concluyente. Durante un siglo la respuesta se ha estado resolviendo por sí sola en carne y sangre. El negro ha tenido su oportunidad, un campo justo, y ningún favor. Ha tenido el más hermoso y fértil de los caribeños para sí mismo, ha tenido la ventaja de las excelentes leyes francesas, heredó un país hecho, con Cap Haitien por su París. Aquí había una amplia tierra sembrada de prosperidad, una tierra de bosques, agua, pueblos y plantaciones, y en medio de ella el hombre negro fue soltado para trabajar en su propia salvación. ¿Qué ha hecho con el oportunidades que le fueron dadas? "

Prichard luego resume el siglo de la existencia independiente de Haití, repasando una lista de gobernantes negros y hombres fuertes, de revoluciones, masacres y desórdenes. Termina su encuesta con estas palabras:

¿Por qué es todo esto importante para nosotros? Hace un siglo, Prichard no era de ninguna manera un hombre inusual de su clase. Fue a Haití, observó cuidadosamente la vida allí con gran detalle durante un período prolongado y extrajo conclusiones lógicas y razonables de sus observaciones. Otros eruditos de su época podrían haber hecho lo mismo. Pero es no imaginable que un académico de hoy, ya sea de Gran Bretaña o de Estados Unidos, podría hacer observaciones como lo hizo Prichard, sacar conclusiones similares y luego publicar sus conclusiones en un libro de una editorial convencional. Es simplemente imposible.

En primer lugar, sería difícil encontrar un académico de cualquier universidad de Estados Unidos o Gran Bretaña que tuviera el valor de escribir honestamente sobre Haití, porque sabe que si lo hiciera sería condenado como "racista" por una facción numerosa y ruidosa de sus colegas y sería expulsado de la academia. E incluso si alguien escribiera un libro con observaciones y conclusiones similares a las de Prichard, ningún editor convencional lo tocaría. Así de cuesta abajo se ha deslizado nuestra civilización en un siglo.

Los haitianos tienen su vudú, con todas sus creencias y prácticas repugnantes y extrañas. Y tenemos nuestro culto a la corrección política, nuestro culto al igualitarismo. Es un culto tan basado en la superstición y tan desprovisto de razón y lógica como el vudú de los haitianos. Y ejerce un control tan fuerte sobre sus seguidores. ¡Un haitiano tan pronto ofendería a un médico brujo vudú y se arriesgaría a que le pusieran una maldición, como uno de nuestros eruditos modernos se arriesgaría a ser etiquetado como "racista"!


República Dominicana declara la independencia como estado soberano

El 27 de febrero de 1844, el fervor revolucionario se desbordó en el lado oriental de la isla caribeña de Hispaniola. Finalmente, saliendo a la luz después de años de planificación encubierta, un grupo conocido como La Trinitaria se apoderó de la fortaleza de Puerta del Conde en la ciudad de Santo Domingo, y comenzó la Guerra de Independencia Dominicana.

Gran parte de lo que ahora es República Dominicana había sido de facto autónomo a principios de 1800, con los españoles ocupados por la invasión de Napoleón y apóstoles y los haitianos del oeste luchando contra sus colonizadores franceses. Fuertemente influenciados y alentados por Haití, que había logrado la independencia en 1804, los dominicanos declararon su independencia como República del Haití español en 1821. Sin embargo, a pesar de ser nominalmente libres, la mitad menos rica y menos densamente poblada de la isla quedó bajo el control de Haití y entró en unión formal con su vecino en 1822.

Aunque Haití había sido solo la segunda colonia europea en las Américas en lograr la independencia, y su revolución constituyó una de las revueltas de esclavos más grandes e importantes de toda la historia, Dominica sufrió bajo el dominio haitiano. Aunque los dos estaban nominalmente unidos, la mitad occidental de la isla era claramente donde residía la influencia política, y las deudas abrumadoras impuestas a Haití por los franceses y otras potencias tuvieron un efecto profundamente negativo en la isla y en la economía de los fraudes en su conjunto. En 1838, tres dominicanos educados e "ilustrados" llamados Juan Pablo Duarte, Ram & # xF3n Mat & # xEDas Mella y Francisco del Rosario S & # xE1nchez fundaron una organización de resistencia. Llamaron a la organización La Trinitaria debido a su decisión de dividirla en tres células más pequeñas, cada una de las cuales operaría casi sin saber lo que estaban haciendo las otras células. De esta manera tan reservada, La Trinitaria se propuso reunir el apoyo de la población en general, llegando incluso a convertir de forma encubierta a dos regimientos del ejército haitiano.

Finalmente, el 27 de febrero de 1844, se vieron obligados a realizar un movimiento. Aunque Duarte se encontraba en el continente buscando el apoyo de los pueblos recientemente liberados de Colombia y Venezuela, La Trinitaria recibió un aviso de que el gobierno haitiano estaba al tanto de sus actividades. Aprovechando el momento, reunieron a unos 100 hombres y asaltaron la Puerta del Conde, obligando al ejército haitiano a salir de Santo Domingo. S & # xE1nchez disparó un cañonazo desde el fuerte y izó la bandera azul, roja y blanca de la República Dominicana, que aún hoy sobrevuela el país.

Los haitianos saquearon el campo mientras se retiraban hacia el oeste y los combates continuaron durante la primavera. Durante los siguientes años e incluso en la próxima década, las naciones de Haití y la República Dominicana estuvieron periódicamente en guerra, cada una invadiendo a la otra en respuesta a invasiones anteriores. El asalto a la Puerta del Conde, sin embargo, representó un punto de inflexión en la historia de una nación que había estado sometida durante mucho tiempo, primero a los españoles y luego a sus vecinos haitianos. & # XA0


La Revolución Francesa conduce a una rebelión en Haití

La rebelión de Haití no fue un simple asunto de blancos contra negros. En cambio, la matriz política era la siguiente:

Afiliación política
Racial-Étnico
Grupo
Monárquico Republicano
Negros XXX XXX
Mulatos XXX
Ropa blanca XXX XXX

Los cambios políticos que tuvieron lugar en Francia en el momento de la Revolución Francesa trajeron cambios para las colonias. La Asamblea Nacional decretó que los mulatos de las colonias que poseyeran tierras y pagaran impuestos tendrían los derechos de los ciudadanos, incluido el derecho al voto. Los administradores coloniales de Haití se negaron a conceder esos derechos a los mulatos y los mulatos se rebelaron en 1790. Los franceses sofocaron la rebelión de los mulatos con voluntarios negros.

En 1791, una camarilla de líderes negros, incluidos algunos cimarrones, inició una rebelión de esclavos. A lo largo de la costa norte, los esclavos masacraron a todos los blancos que encontraron. Pero los blancos de la ciudad de Cap Francais pudieron derrotar a los esclavos rebeldes. El número de muertos fue de diez mil negros y dos mil blancos. Mil plantaciones habían sido destruidas en el levantamiento.

Después de la derrota de la rebelión de esclavos en el norte, hubo una rebelión separada de mulatos en el oeste y el sur. En el sur, los administradores blancos volvieron a utilizar tropas negras para sofocar la rebelión mulata. La Asamblea Nacional de Francia exigió que la colonia otorgara igualdad de derechos a los mulatos. Ahora se desarrolló una división dentro de los blancos de Haití entre quienes aceptaron las órdenes de los revolucionarios en París y quienes las rechazaron. Caos político en las diversas regiones de Haití, donde en algunos lugares los esclavos negros lucharon contra los amos blancos, en otros, los mulatos lucharon contra los administradores blancos y en otros los monárquicos negros lucharon contra los republicanos blancos y los republicanos mulatos.

Algunos líderes emergieron del caos. Los antecedentes de uno de los líderes son de interés. Francois-Dominique Toussaint Louverture era un esclavo negro de una familia que lo entrenó como sirviente doméstico y le proporcionó una educación. Era uno de los pocos líderes haitianos negros que sabía leer y escribir. Cuando Toussaint se enteró de la rebelión de los esclavos, organizó la evacuación de la familia de su amo de Haití. Luego se unió a la rebelión.

Francois-Dominique Toussaint Louverture

En abril de 1793, las fuerzas republicanas francesas con la ayuda de miles de negros derrotaron a las fuerzas realistas blancas en Cap Francais. A los reclutas negros de la causa republicana se les prometió la libertad. En agosto de 1793, el administrador republicano francés de Haití abolió la esclavitud.

Tres líderes negros de la rebelión optaron por no aliarse con los administradores republicanos franceses de Haití y, en cambio, se comprometieron con los representantes del rey español en Santo Domingo. Las autoridades españolas proporcionaron suministros para dos ejércitos separados liderados por haitianos negros, uno de los cuales era Toussaint.

Se cree que España y Gran Bretaña habían acordado dividir Haití entre ellos. Gran Bretaña desembarcó tropas en Mole Saint-Nicolas cerca de la punta de la península norte y en J & eacuter & eacutemie cerca de la punta de la península sur. Luego se trasladaron al este para atacar la ciudad que ahora se llama Puerto Príncipe y la capturaron en junio de 1794. La enfermedad incapacitó a las tropas británicas y las fuerzas mulatas detuvieron a las tropas extranjeras que salvaron Haití para la Francia republicana por el momento. Toussaint, el líder negro que se había aliado con la España realista, decidió cambiar de bando. El factor decisivo fue que las autoridades republicanas francesas habían abolido la esclavitud pero España, aunque había prometido abolir la esclavitud, no lo había hecho en el territorio que había capturado.

En julio de 1794, Francia y España firmaron el Tratado de Ryswick que requería que España cambiara la parte occidental de su propiedad en la isla de Hispaniola a Francia. Esto significó que España ya no podía proporcionar suministros o refugio a las tropas realistas negras que luchaban en Haití. Luego, esas tropas se disolvieron y se unieron a Toussaint. En 1795, en virtud del Tratado de Basilea, España cedió el resto de sus posesiones en Hispaniola a Francia.

En 1796 las fuerzas mulatas intentaban deponer al comandante francés de las tropas republicanas y Toussaint acudió en su ayuda. En agradecimiento, ese comandante nombró a Toussaint vicegobernador de Haití. Más tarde, los comisionados franceses nombraron a Toussaint el comandante de todas las fuerzas francesas en Haití. Toussaint luego consolidó su poder al traer a un comandante de las fuerzas mulatas, Rigaud, a una alianza y negoció una tregua con las fuerzas invasoras británicas. Posteriormente expulsó al comisario francés. Cuando las fuerzas de Rigaud se enfrentaron con las fuerzas de Toussaint, fueron derrotadas, en parte, con suministros proporcionados por Estados Unidos. En 1800, Rigaud abandonó Haití, dejando a Toussaint en control indiscutible de Haití y el resto de La Española. En 1801, una nueva constitución nombró a Toussaint gobernador general vitalicio.

En 1802 Napoleón Bonaparte envió de 16 a 20 mil soldados bajo el mando de su cuñado para quitarle el control a Toussaint. Estas fuerzas con la ayuda de las fuerzas blancas y mulatas desgastaron al ejército de Toussaint y dos de sus lugartenientes, junto con sus tropas, cambiaron de bando. Toussaint se rindió y luego fue llevado a Francia donde fue encarcelado y finalmente murió.

Cuando Napoleón restauró la esclavitud en la isla caribeña de Martinica, los líderes haitianos se rebelaron nuevamente contra los franceses. La guerra entre Gran Bretaña y Francia estalló nuevamente. Para recaudar fondos, Napoleón vendió Louisiana a los Estados Unidos. Esto significó que Haití ya no tenía la importancia estratégica para Francia que una vez tuvo y Napoleón ya no quería usar recursos militares para reprimir la rebelión. El comandante de las fuerzas francesas en Haití huyó a Jamaica dejando Haití bajo el control del general negro Jean-Jacques Dessalines, un ex esclavo de campo.

Entre las tropas que Napoleón envió a Haití se encontraba un regimiento de tropas polacas. Cuando las fuerzas de Napoleón no lograron hacerse con el control de Haití, las tropas polacas, en lugar de regresar a Europa, se establecieron en Haití, tomaron esposas haitianas y criaron familias. Sus descendientes aún viven en Haití y mantienen su identificación polaca. Algunos tienen ojos azules.


Una traducción de la Declaración de Independencia de Haití por Laurent Dubois y John Garrigus publicada en: Revolución de esclavos en el Caribe 1789 - 1804: Una breve historia con documentos.

La Declaración de Independencia de Haití, 1804

No basta con haber expulsado a los bárbaros que han ensangrentado nuestra tierra durante dos siglos, no basta con haber refrenado a esas facciones en constante evolución que una tras otra se burlaban del espectro de la libertad que Francia osciló ante vosotros. Debemos, con un último acto de autoridad nacional, asegurar para siempre el imperio de la libertad en el país de nuestro nacimiento, debemos tener cualquier esperanza de volver a esclavizarnos lejos del gobierno inhumano que durante tanto tiempo nos mantuvo en el letargo más humillante. Al final, debemos vivir de forma independiente o morir.

Comandante en Jefe Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Independencia o muerte ... que estas palabras sagradas nos unan y sean la señal para la batalla y nuestro reencuentro.

Ciudadanos, compatriotas míos, en este día solemne he reunido a esos valientes soldados que, mientras agonizaba la libertad, derramaron su sangre para salvarla, estos generales que han guiado sus esfuerzos contra la tiranía aún no han hecho lo suficiente por su felicidad el nombre francés todavía acecha nuestra tierra.

Todo revive el recuerdo de las crueldades de este pueblo bárbaro: nuestras leyes, nuestros hábitos, nuestros pueblos, todo lleva todavía el sello de los franceses. ¡En efecto! Todavía hay franceses en nuestra isla, y te crees libre e independiente de esa República que, es cierto, ha luchado contra todas las naciones, pero que nunca ha derrotado a los que querían ser libres.

¡Qué! Víctimas de nuestra propia credulidad e indulgencia durante 14 años, derrotadas no por los ejércitos franceses, sino por la patética elocuencia de las proclamas de sus agentes, ¿cuándo nos cansaremos de respirar el aire que respiran? ¿Qué tenemos en común con esta nación de verdugos? La diferencia entre su crueldad y nuestra paciente moderación, su color y el nuestro los grandes mares que nos separan, nuestro clima vengador, todo nos dice claramente que no son nuestros hermanos, que nunca lo serán, y que si encuentran refugio entre nosotros. , volverán a conspirar para perturbarnos y dividirnos.

Ciudadanos nativos, hombres, mujeres, niñas y niños, que tu mirada se extienda por todos los rincones de esta isla: busca allí a tus cónyuges, a tus maridos, a tus hermanos, a tus hermanas. ¡En efecto! Mira ahí a tus hijos, a tus lactantes, ¿en qué se han convertido? ... Me estremezco al decirlo ... la presa de estos buitres.

En lugar de estas queridas víctimas, tu mirada alarmada sólo verá a sus asesinos, estos tigres aún chorreando su sangre, cuya terrible presencia denuncia tu falta de sentimiento y tu culpable lentitud para vengarlos. ¿A qué esperas antes de apaciguar sus espíritus? Recuerda que querías que tus restos descansaran junto a los de tus padres, después de derrotar a la tiranía, ¿descenderás a sus tumbas sin haberlos vengado? ¡No! Sus huesos rechazarían los tuyos.

Y ustedes, hombres preciosos, generales intrépidos, que, sin preocuparse por su propio dolor, han revivido la libertad derramando toda su sangre, saben que no han hecho nada si no dan a las naciones un ejemplo terrible, pero justo, de la venganza que debe ser obra de un pueblo orgulloso de haber recuperado su libertad y celoso de mantenerla asustemos a todos los que se atrevan a intentar quitárnosla de nuevo, empecemos por los franceses. Que tiemblen cuando se acerquen a nuestra costa, si no por el recuerdo de esas crueldades que perpetraron aquí, entonces por la terrible resolución que habremos tomado de dar muerte a cualquiera nacido francés cuyo pie profano ensucie la tierra de la libertad.

Nos hemos atrevido a ser libres, seamos así solos y para nosotros. Imitemos al niño mayor: su propio peso rompe la frontera que se ha convertido en un obstáculo para él. ¿Qué gente luchó por nosotros? What people wanted to gather the fruits of our labor? And what dishonorable absurdity to conquer in order to be enslaved. Enslaved?… Let us leave this description for the French they have conquered but are no longer free.

Let us walk down another path let us imitate those people who, extending their concern into the future, and dreading to leave an example of cowardice for posterity, preferred to be exterminated rather than lose their place as one of the world’s free peoples.

Let us ensure, however, that a missionary spirit does not destroy our work let us allow our neighbors to breathe in peace may they live quietly under the laws that they have made for themselves, and let us not, as revolutionary firebrands, declare ourselves the lawgivers of the Caribbean, nor let our glory consist in troubling the peace of the neighboring islands. Unlike that which we inhabit, theirs has not been drenched in the innocent blood of its inhabitants they have no vengeance to claim from the authority that protects them.

Fortunate to have never known the ideals that have destroyed us, they can only have good wishes for our prosperity.

Peace to our neighbors but let this be our cry:

“Anathema to the French name! Eternal hatred of France!”

Natives of Haiti! My happy fate was to be one day the sentinel who would watch over the idol to which you sacrifice I have watched, sometimes fighting alone, and if I have been so fortunate as to return to your hands the sacred trust you confided to me, know that it is now your task to preserve it. In fighting for your liberty, I was working for my own happiness. Before consolidating it with laws that will guarantee your free individuality, your leaders, whom I have assembled here, and I, owe you the final proof of our devotion.

Generals and you, leaders, collected here close to me for the good of our land, the day has come, the day which must make our glory, our independence, eternal.

If there could exist among us a lukewarm heart, let him distance himself and shudder to take the oath which must unite us. Let us vow to ourselves, to posterity, to the entire universe, to forever renounce France, and to die rather than live under its domination to fight until our last breath for the independence of our country.

And you, a people so long without good fortune, witness to the oath we take, remember that I counted on your constancy and courage when I threw myself into the career of liberty to fight the despotism and tyranny you had struggled against for 14 years. Remember that I sacrificed everything to rally to your defense family, children, fortune, and now I am rich only with your liberty my name has become a horror to all those who want slavery. Despots and tyrants curse the day that I was born. If ever you refused or grumbled while receiving those laws that the spirit guarding your fate dictates to me for your own good, you would deserve the fate of an ungrateful people. But I reject that awful idea you will sustain the liberty that you cherish and support the leader who commands you. Therefore vow before me to live free and independent, and to prefer death to anything that will try to place you back in chains. Swear, finally, to pursue forever the traitors and enemies of your independence.

Done at the headquarters in Gonaives, the first day of January 1804, the first year of independence.

The Deed of independence

Today, January 1st 1804, the general in chief of the native army, accompanied by the generals of the army, assembled in order to take measures that will ensure the good of the country

After having told the assembled generals his true intentions, to assure forever a stable government for the natives of Haiti, the object of his greatest concern, which he has accomplished in a speech which declares to foreign powers the decision to make the country independent, and to enjoy a liberty consecrated by the blood of the people of this island and after having gathered their responses has asked that each of the assembled generals take a vow to forever renounce France, to die rather than live under its domination, and to fight for independence until their last breath.

The generals, deeply moved by these sacred principles, after voting their unanimous attachment to the declared project of independence, have all sworn to posterity, to the universe, to forever renounce France, and to die rather than to live under its domination.

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Dr. Dady Chery is a Haitian-born poet, playwright, journalist and scientist. She is the author of the book "We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti's Struggle Against Occupation." Her broad interests encompass science, culture, and human rights. She writes extensively about Haiti and world issues such as climate change and social justice. Her many contributions to Haitian news include the first proposal that Haiti’s cholera had been imported by the UN, and the first story that described Haiti’s mineral wealth for a popular audience.


Haitian Revolution (1791-1804)

The Haitian Revolution has often been described as the largest and most successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere. Slaves initiated the rebellion in 1791 and by 1803 they had succeeded in ending not just slavery but French control over the colony. The Haitian Revolution, however, was much more complex, consisting of several revolutions going on simultaneously. These revolutions were influenced by the French Revolution of 1789, which would come to represent a new concept of human rights, universal citizenship, and participation in government.

In the 18th century, Saint Dominigue, as Haiti was then known, became France’s wealthiest overseas colony, largely because of its production of sugar, coffee, indigo, and cotton generated by an enslaved labor force. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789 there were five distinct sets of interest groups in the colony. There were white planters—who owned the plantations and the slaves—and petit blancs, who were artisans, shop keepers and teachers. Some of them also owned a few slaves. Together they numbered 40,000 of the colony’s residents. Many of the whites on Saint Dominigue began to support an independence movement that began when France imposed steep tariffs on the items imported into the colony. The planters were extremely disenchanted with France because they were forbidden to trade with any other nation. Furthermore, the white population of Saint-Dominique did not have any representation in France. Despite their calls for independence, both the planters and petit blancs remained committed to the institution of slavery.

The three remaining groups were of African descent: those who were free, those who were slaves, and those who had run away. There were about 30,000 free black people in 1789. Half of them were mulatto and often they were wealthier than the petit blancs. The slave population was close to 500,000. The runaway slaves were called maroons they had retreated deep into the mountains of Saint Dominigue and lived off subsistence farming. Haiti had a history of slave rebellions the slaves were never willing to submit to their status and with their strength in numbers (10 to 1) colonial officials and planters did all that was possible to control them. Despite the harshness and cruelty of Saint Dominigue slavery, there were slave rebellions before 1791. One plot involved the poisoning of masters.

Inspired by events in France, a number of Haitian-born revolutionary movements emerged simultaneously. They used as their inspiration the French Revolution’s “Declaration of the Rights of Man.” The General Assembly in Paris responded by enacting legislation which gave the various colonies some autonomy at the local level. The legislation, which called for “all local proprietors…to be active citizens,” was both ambiguous and radical. It was interpreted in Saint Dominigue as applying only to the planter class and thus excluded petit blancs from government. Yet it allowed free citizens of color who were substantial property owners to participate. This legislation, promulgated in Paris to keep Saint Dominigue in the colonial empire, instead generated a three-sided civil war between the planters, free blacks and the petit blancs. However, all three groups would be challenged by the enslaved black majority which was also influenced and inspired by events in France.

Led by former slave Toussaint l’Overture, the enslaved would act first, rebelling against the planters on August 21, 1791. By 1792 they controlled a third of the island. Despite reinforcements from France, the area of the colony held by the rebels grew as did the violence on both sides. Before the fighting ended 100,000 of the 500,000 blacks and 24,000 of the 40,000 whites were killed. Nonetheless the former slaves managed to stave off both the French forces and the British who arrived in 1793 to conquer the colony, and who withdrew in 1798 after a series of defeats by l’Overture’s forces. By 1801 l’Overture expanded the revolution beyond Haiti, conquering the neighboring Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic). He abolished slavery in the Spanish-speaking colony and declared himself Governor-General for life over the entire island of Hispaniola.

At that moment the Haitian Revolution had outlasted the French Revolution which had been its inspiration. Napoleon Bonaparte, now the ruler of France, dispatched General Charles Leclerc, his brother-in-law, and 43,000 French troops to capture L’Overture and restore both French rule and slavery. L’Overture was taken and sent to France where he died in prison in 1803. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of l’Overture’s generals and himself a former slave, led the revolutionaries at the Battle of Vertieres on November 18, 1803 where the French forces were defeated. On January 1, 1804, Dessalines declared the nation independent and renamed it Haiti. France became the first nation to recognize its independence. Haiti thus emerged as the first black republic in the world, and the second nation in the western hemisphere (after the United States) to win its independence from a European power.


The Post-Revolutionary period: 1804-1820

The immediate post-revolutionary period of Haitian history was a terribly difficult one. The country was in shambles. Most of the plantations were destroyed, many skilled overseers were gone (either dead, in hiding, or having fled for their lives because of the treatment of slaves), skilled managers were often also gone, the former slaves did not want to work someone else's plantation, there was a grave fear that France would re-invade, and the rest of the international community was either openly hostile or totally uninterested in Haiti.

The opening sentence is the Heinls' treatment of this period is: "With the dawn of 1804, Haiti's highest hour has passed." (Heinl and Heinl, 1978) This sad judgment seems to me to reflect the views of most Haitians I've ever talked with, and most histories, both Haitian and foreign.

If ever an historical moment stood out, Haiti's Revolution is one such event and is Haiti's glory forever, and a major source of national pride. Perhaps with the determination of today's progressive groups, Haiti could be at the beginnings of a new "great moment," though it is much slower to success than most would wish -- but, then, so were the earliest years of the Revolution.

At any rate, January 1, 1804 left Haiti facing a desperate task. She was:

  • virtually broke.
  • her base of wealth, the agriculture of sugar, coffee, spices and indigo, was in physical ruins, most plantations having been burned and ravaged.
  • the management structure of agriculture was in total disarray. Formerly worked by unwilling slaves and overseen by foreigners, Haiti was now populated by free peasants unwilling to work for another and wanting their own land.
  • the international community was overtly hostile to this former slave nation. Remember that the U.S., France, Britain and Spain were all still slave nations. Haiti's servile revolution was a frightful model to these powerful nations. (This hostility was not overridden by the fact that some nations, Britain first and foremost and the U.S. to a significant degree, continued to carry on a quiet trade with this nation that they regarded as an international pariah.)
  • a huge source of revenue: slave trade, was now closed to Haiti. (Though some Haitians suggested renewing it to increase the number of field workers.)
  • despite a constitution of free persons, already in 1804 the directions toward despotic rule by a small rich, powerful elite clique was forming.
  • finally, the external world was changing. The coming Industrial Revolution was already coming to claim its place in world history. This would have three notable impacts on Haiti:
    1. Her agriculture products and slave trade, so central to European economy in the previous century, would begin to make her potential economic potential less important, even in some ideal world's free trade.
    2. Her lack of natural resources appropriate to industrialization, the lack of capital and skilled industrialists would condemn her to an increasingly less important potential.
    3. The international community's hostility toward Haiti and deliberate marginalization of her, would mean that the Industrial Revolution wold virtually pass Haiti by. If one looks at Haiti in mid-1995, one sees a small modicum of electric service and telecommunications, and a handful of assembly plants. But, in the main, nearly 200 years after the Haitian Revolution, and 150 years after the vigor of the industrial revolution, Haiti is a nation to which the Industrial Revolution never came.

This was the situation that depopulated Haiti faced on January 1, 1804. (Probably fewer than 350,000 Haitians survived the revolution.)

The earliest days of the Haitian nation, from 1804 until 1820, are the story of the response to these difficult conditions by three main leaders: Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Henry Christophe and Alexander Petion. My treatment will emphasize that the short rule of Dessalines, and the longer rule of Christophe in northern Haiti, failed to solved these problems and to return Haiti to her position of wealth and importance she held before independence. Further, I will argue that Petion's rule in the south set the tone and social structures in place that determined the economic and social life of Haiti for the next century.

DESSALINES, CHRISTOPHE AND PETION

The first leader of free and independent Haiti was Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a former slave and victim of a cruel and brutal master, furious warrior, hero and leader of the last days of the revolution, and sworn enemy of whites, especially the French.

Two apocryphal tales, those wonderful pieces of folk tradition which every nation has, define Dessalines. At the Conference of Archaie in 1803, Dessalines was the person who reputedly tore the white strip from the French tricolor and determined Haiti's flag to be two stripes, a blue and red one, to symbolize that the "white" had been ripped out of Haiti, perhaps as a prophecy of what was to come in 1806.

Another famous tale of December 31, 1803, the eve of Haitian Independence, is that when the declaration of independence was read out the people protested it wasn't what they wanted to hear. Boisrond-Tonnerrer, an underling of Dessalines, reported called out "This doesn't say what we really feel. For our declaration of independence we should have the skin of a blanc for parchment, his skull for inkwell, his blood for ink, and a bayonet for pen!" (Cited in Heinl and Heinl, 1978). Dessalines reportedly took up this cry.

Certainly this hatred of whites, especially the French, dominated Dessalines' very short regime (2 1ǘ years).

However, it was not mere hatred that moved him. To some extent the professed hatred of the French was a tactic . Dessalines, Christophe and Petion, the earliest Haitian leaders, were quite worried, even completely preoccupied, with the expectation that the French would come back and try to re-subjugate Haiti. One recent work even suggested that some of Dessalines' declamation that the French were coming, and his harsh treatment of Haitian free workers, were, in part, tactics to remind them of the dangers of a French return, thus keeping the militarist spirit alive in order to insure a willing military readiness to defend the nation.

Thus I would argue that two main factors dominate the short rule of Dessalines:

  • hatred of the French and readiness to defend against their suspected return.
  • the difficult task of rebuilding Haiti's agricultural system.

Dessalines first decided to get rid of the French who were in Haiti. Early in 1804, his first year of rule, he had the French killed, sparing only a few doctors, priests and essential exporters. It is generally thought that around 20,000 French were slaughtered, and it was a brutal and harsh extermination. This had important consequences for Haiti, giving her critics something concrete to latch onto and helping to build the picture of a savage nation incapable of being part of the world community.

At the same time, Dessalines, realizing the horrible economic position of Haiti decided to get the economy moving again and decided to reinstate the French plantation system and rebuild the sugar industry. This presented a difficult problem. How was one to get free people to do the work formerly done by slaves?

This was not a new problem, thought the environment of the problem was new. The slaves had been free since 1794. Toussaint had introduced a system call fermage and managed to significantly rebuild the sugar trade. After Dessalines, Henry Christophe would have even greater success with this system, but eventually the plantation system died out within the first decade of independence.

Under fermage the land belonged to the government. It would be leased out to managers and worked by workers who were obligated to remain on the land in much the same way that serfs were in Europe. The workers, while bound to the land, did receive 25% of the value of the crops to divide amoung themselves, and housing, food, clothing and basic care. However, their lives were vigorously regulated and discipline was strict. While the old slave whip was gone, discipline did use the cocomacaque stick.

When Dessalines heard that Napoleon was to be made an emperor, he decided to do so too, and actually beat Napoleon to the coronation. On October 8, 1804 Jean-Jacques Dessalines became JACQUES I, EMPEROR. Unlike Henry Christophe a few years later, he did not create any other nobles, claiming that he alone was noble.

Perhaps that spirit characterizes much that went wrong with Dessalines. He was stern, even cruel, demanded unflinching obedience and ruled with an iron hand. This was not what most of the Haitian people thought that had fought a war of independence for, and discontent was widespread.

Aside from the massacre of the French, another of Dessalines' actions which had long-term affects was his invasion of Santo Domingo (today's Dominican Republic). He was able to rush across Santo Domingo toward the capital city, but was not able to take it, partially because of an accidental arrival of French ships. Eventually he had to withdraw. But the entire war had been so brutally effected by Dessalines and his troops that this laid the ground for the hatred between these two nations.

There was growing discontent with the rule of Jacques I. This was especially pronounced in the south and Dessalines march on the south to put things in order. On Oct. 17, 1806, just short of three years after independence, Emperor Jacques I was assassinated as he marched.

Haiti was now plunged into a chaotic period of political maneuvering and civil war that divided Haiti into two nations under two different leaders for the next 12 years. Actually, at one time there were actually 4 Haitis, but for this story I'm just concentrate on the two main Haitis.

The civil war came about because of political maneuvering. Henry Christophe assumed that he would become the ruler to succeed Jacques I. Alexander Petion, leading political figure in the south and a mulatto, had other ideas. However, Petion's folks played up to Henry, then outmaneuvered him politically. They agreed to elect him president, but then saddled him with a constitution that left him with virtually no power, all the genuine power being reserved for senate, of which Petion was the head.

(It is interesting to note that a very similar constitutional tactic is being played out now. On March 29, 1987 Haiti received a new constitution. This constitution downplayed the position of president and elevated the role of Prime Minister. The first president to actually have to live under this new constitution has been Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who, from a constitutional standpoint, holds nothing like the powers of Haitian presidents from 1806 until today.)

At any rate, Christophe marched on the south, but the military move didn't settle anything, and a sort of stand off occurred. Finally, Christophe simply retreated into his strongly held north and declared the State of Haiti on Feb. 17, 1807. Shortly after, on March 9, 1807, Petion was elected president of the Republic of Haiti, and there were two Haitis.

And two very different Haitis there were. My position on them is this. The north (soon to become the Kingdom of Haiti) is well known, flashy and quite interesting. But, it is the Republic of Haiti and the rule of Alexander Petion which is definitive of the future of Haiti. Given this view, I will briefly treat of Christophe's colorful rule, and focus on what seems to me the more important and formative of the two Haitis, Petion's Republic.

On March 26, 1811 Henry Christophe had himself crowned King Henry I and changed the name of his "country" to the Kingdom of Haiti. Unlike Dessalines, he created a large batch of nobles and organized his kingdom more along the lines of European monarchies. Henry was a dictatorial king, but a man who saw the importance of development and set out to bring his kingdom into the modern world. He began an ambitious project of education, at least for the children of the elite, and spent incredible wealth and energy on monuments and buildings.

Two of his most famous monuments were his own palace of Sans Souci in the village of Milot and the Caribbean's most famous monument, the huge citadelle on the mountain top of La Ferriere. The Citadelle had an ostensible military purpose. Like Dessalines, King Henry I expected France to attempt to re-invade and retain Haiti as a colony. Since no one formally recognized Haiti as an independent nation, she was, to the world at large, a colony in rebellion. Henry's fears were not without solid foundation. His plan for the Citadelle was to have an impregnable fortress to which he could retire with a large army and from this fortress carry on a guerilla war. The strategy was a very good one, thought the Citadelle never had to be tested for that purpose.

Perhaps the most startling achievement of Henry I's rule was that he was able to make the fermage system work quite well, at least to re-establish production of the sugar plantations. Henry I insisted upon and got vigorous discipline and enforcement of fermage and was able to return production of sugar to about 75% of what it was under the French prior to the revolution. That's an astonishing achievement given that the French were working with slaves and the Haitian were employing serf-like free people.

But this success in the production system was the beginning of the end of Henry I's power at the same time. The Haitian masses did not fight a war of independence to be introduced to a social system that looked to them very much like slavery. Many fled to the south where no such system existed, and others, while not feeling the ability or desire to flee, built up and increasing hatred of the system of Henry I, despite it's seeming "success."

Henry's world came crashing down once Petion died in the south and Jean-Pierre Boyer, his successor, launched an attack on the north. This was a signal to those within Henry's realm that an uprising was possible. Many in the masses rose up in personal indignation of the fermage and other dictatorial aspects of Henry's rule. Many in the army and elite rose up in an internal power struggle. Henry's own failing health due to a stoke, weakened his position and finally on October 13, 1818, rather than be taken by his enemies, Henry I, Henry Christophe, committed suicide, thus ending the divided Haitis.

Alexander Petion's Republic of Haiti, and the establishing of a social system.

In is my own view that the rule of Alexander Petion, and his successor Jean-Pierre Boyer, is the most important rule in the history of Haiti. Obviously the this period from 1807 to 1818 under Petion and then 1820-1843 under Boyer is not possible without the revolution and the particular designs of Dessalines and Christophe, nonetheless, the far reaching impact of Petion's mode of government has shaped Haiti in a unique manner.

Alexander Petion was, in the main, a do-nothing leader. He lived a comfortable life in Port-au-Prince, was fair and quite honest, but didn't intend to exercise much force on his people. He had an army and did utilize them to keep things peaceful in his country, especially holding down the rebellion of Goman in the Far Western part of the southern peninsula.

Unlike Dessalines and Christophe, he did nothing to reinvigorate the economy. Consequently there was little economy. But the decisive decision of Petion was to redistribute land as a means of paying soldiers, since the treasury had no funds. Petion divided the land into small portions, giving somewhat larger grants to officers and smaller ones to the common soldier.

However, the effect was that Petion created a country of peasants living on their own land doing subsistence agriculture and having little or no involvement with government, or the life of the cities, much less with the external world. Sugar virtually ceased to exist as a notable crop and coffee, which could be harvested by the individual farmer on his small plot, because the dominant crop.

Even this crop was not hugely significant economically. Given that the elite of the cities, primarily mulatto associates of Petion, were the coffee brokers, and that they paid the peasant only a tiny pittance for the coffee, there was a growing social instantiation of a radically divided two-class system.

On the one hand was the city based elite, small in number and quite wealthy, mainly through the international trade of coffee. On the other side were the masses of poor black peasant farmers, eking out a living doing subsistence farming, supplemented by a tiny bit of trade with city markets, especially in coffee.

This form of life, which emerged in Petion's Haiti, is little different from the Haiti we know today. Things are not exactly the same. Haiti changed with the American occupation of 1915-1934 which brought about a much more direct international presence. Haiti changed with the noirist impact of the Duvalier regime which brought more blacks into the power elite. Haiti changed with the slow acquisition of small land plots by the elite, converting Haiti's peasantry more and more into share-cropping peasants than land owning peasants. Haiti changed with the introduction of drugs as a major economic and political fact of life in the 1980s, and Haiti has changed with the rise of the popular movement which both overthrew Jean-Claude Duvalier and eventually put Jean-Bertrand Aristide into power.

Despite all of this change, Haiti looks much like the world of 1818! The huge mass of Haitian people still struggle along doing subsistence farming and supplementing this with a bit of trade at the markets. The rich of the cities still make their money by ownership of rural land, and exporting crops which they've gotten from the peasant for sharecropping, or purchasing for a pittance at market. The elite are more color-mixed than in the past, but it is still a very tiny portion of the people, in the vicinity of 3% who live lives a great wealth, extracting that wealth from the peasants, who live lives of extreme poverty and powerlessness.

There is a great deal of debate in scholarly circles of what to make of Petion's rule. Was he this liberal leader who simply gave the people of Haiti what they wanted, or was he a clever politician who was able to control the country and people better by serving the interests of a tiny elite and tolerating the emisseration of the masses? I really don't know what the motives of Petion were, but anyone really wanting to explore this will find a good start in analyzing that literature in David Nicholls' book FROM DESSALINES TO DUVALIER . I'm less interested in figuring out Petion's motives than I am in seeing that this was indeed a critical historical period in determining the shape of the future of Haiti.


Haiti: a long descent to hell

G eography and bad luck are only partly to blame for Haiti's tragedy. There are, plainly, more propitious places for a country and its capital city to find themselves than straddling the major fault line between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. It's more than unfortunate to be positioned plumb on the region's principal hurricane track, meaning you would be hit, in the 2008 season alone, by a quartet of storms as deadly and destructive as Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike (between them, they killed 800 people, and ­devastated more than 70% of Haiti's agricultural land). Wretched, also, to have fallen victim to calamitous flooding in 2002, 2003 (twice), 2006 and 2007.

But what has really left Haiti in such a state today, what makes the country a constant and heart-rending site of ­recurring catastrophe, is its history. In Haiti, the last five centuries have combined to produce a people so poor, an infrastructure so nonexistent and a state so hopelessly ineffectual that whatever natural disaster chooses to strike next, its impact on the population will be magnified many, many times over. Every single factor that international experts look for when trying to measure a nation's vulnerability to natural disasters is, in Haiti, at the very top of the scale. Countries, when it comes to dealing with disaster, do not get worse.

"Haiti has had slavery, revolution, debt, deforestation, corruption, exploitation and violence," says Alex von Tunzelmann, a historian and writer currently working on a book about the country and its near neighbours, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. "Now it has poverty, illiteracy, overcrowding, no infrastructure, environmental disaster and large areas without the rule of law. And that was before the earthquake. It sounds a terrible cliche, but it really is a perfect storm. This is a catastrophe beyond our worst imagination."

It needn't, though, have been like this. In the 18th century, under French rule, Haiti – then called Saint-Domingue – was the Pearl of the Antilles, one of the richest islands in France's empire (though 800,000-odd African slaves who produced that wealth saw precious little of it). In the 1780s, Haiti exported 60% of all the coffee and 40% of all the sugar consumed in Europe: more than all of Britain's West Indian colonies combined. It subsequently became the first independent nation in Latin America, and remains the world's oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the western hemisphere after the United States. So what went wrong?

Haiti, or rather the large island in the western Atlantic of which the present-day Republic of Haiti occupies the western part, was discovered by Christopher Columbus in December 1492. The native Taino people knew it as Ayiti, but ­Columbus claimed it for the ­Spanish crown and named it La Isla Española. As Spanish interest in the island faltered with the discovery of gold and silver elsewhere in Latin America, the early occupiers moved east, leaving the western part of Hispaniola free for English, Dutch and particularly French buccaneers. The French West India Company gradually assumed control of the colony, and by 1665 France had formally claimed it as Saint-Domingue. A treaty with Spain 30 years later saw Madrid cede the western third of the island to Paris.

Economically, French occupation was a runaway success. But Haiti's riches could only be exploited by importing up to 40,000 slaves a year. For nearly a decade in the late 18th century, Haiti accounted for more than one-third of the entire Atlantic slave trade. Conditions for these men and women were atrocious the average life expectancy for a slave on Haiti was 21 years. Abuse was dreadful, and routine: "Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars?" wrote one former slave some time later. "Have they not forced them to eat excrement? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss?"

Not surprisingly, the French ­Revolution in 1789 raised the tricky question of how exactly the Declaration of the Rights of Man might be said to apply both to ­Haiti's then sizeable population of free gens de couleur (generally the offspring of a white plantation owner and a black concubine) – and ultimately to the slaves themselves. The rebellion of Saint-Domingue's slaves began on the northern plains in August 1791, but the uprising, ensuing bloody civil war and finally bitter and spectacularly brutal battle against Napoleon Bonaparte's forces was not over for ­another 12 years. As France became ­increasingly distracted by war with ­Britain, the French commander, the ­Vicomte de Rochambeau, was finally defeated in November 1803 (though not before he had hanged, drowned or burned and ­buried alive thousands of rebels). Haiti declared independence on 1 January 1804.

As Stephen Keppel of the Economist Intelligence Unit puts it, Haiti's revolution may have brought it independence but it also "ended up destroying the country's infrastructure and most of its plantations. It wasn't the best of starts for a fledgling republic." Moreover, in exchange for diplomatic recognition from France, the new republic was forced to pay enormous reparations: some 150m francs, in gold. It was an immense sum, and even reduced by more than half in 1830, far more than Haiti could afford.

"The long and the short of it is that Haiti was paying reparations to France from 1825 until 1947," says Von Tunzelmann. "To come up with the money, it took out huge loans from American, German and French banks, at exorbitant rates of interest. By 1900, Haiti was spending about 80% of its national budget on loan repayments. It ­completely wrecked their economy. By the time the original reparations and interest were paid off, the place was basically destitute and trapped in a ­spiral of debt. Plus, a succession of leaders had more or less given up on trying to resolve Haiti's problems, and started looting it instead."

The closing decades, though, of the 19th century did at least mark a period of relative stability. Haitian culture flourished, an intelligentsia emerged, and the sugar and rum industries started to grow once more. But then in 1911 came another revolution, followed almost immediately by nearly 20 years of occu­pation by a US terrified that Haiti was about to default on its massive debts. The Great Depression devastated the country's exports. There were revolts and coups and dictatorships, and then, in 1957, came François ­"Papa Doc" Duvalier. Papa Doc's regime is widely seen as one of the most corrupt and ­repressive in modern history. He ­exploited Haiti's traditional belief in voodoo to establish a personal militia, the feared and hated Tonton Macoutes, said to be zombies that he had raised from the dead.

During the 28 years in power of Papa Doc and his playboy son and heir, Jean-Claude Duvalier, or Baby Doc, the Tonton Macoutes and their henchmen killed between 30,00 and 60,000 ­Haitians, and raped, beat and tortured countless more. Until Baby Doc's ­eventual flight into exile in 1986, Duvalier père y fils also made themselves very rich indeed. Aid agencies and ­international creditors donated and lent millions for projects that were often abandoned before completion, or never even started. Generous multi­national corporations earned lucrative contracts. According to Von Tunzelmann, the Duvaliers were at times embezzling up to 80% of Haiti's international aid, while the debts they signed up to ­accounted for 45% of what the country owed last year. And when Baby Doc ­finally fled, estimates of what he took with him run as high as $900m.

It is hardly surprising then that Haiti isn't Switzerland. The Duvaliers' departure, as Keppel puts it, "left a void, and a broken and corrupt government. Democracy got off to a ­really bad start there. The Duvaliers may have bankrupted the government, they may been brutal, but they could keep control of the place. Since they went, Haiti has seen more coups, ousters and social unrest." The country is short on investment, and desperately short on most of the infrastructure and apparatus of a functioning modern state. For ­Keppel, while Haiti's problems ­undoubtedly began "a long way back, there have been periods when it could have set itself on a different track". It's the recent transition from dictatorship to democracy that is at the root of ­today's problems, he believes. "It's led to a situation where the population is continuing to grow, where poverty drives many of them to Port-au-Prince, and where Port-au-Prince, even at the best of times, doesn't have the ­infrastructure to cope with them. And then comes an earthquake of an ­unprecedented magnitude . . ."

Von Tunzelmann isn't so sure. Haiti's descent began earlier than that, she ­believes. One reason why Haiti suffers more than its neighbours from natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding is its massive deforestation, under way in the country since the time of the French occupation, she says. "The French didn't manage the land at all well," she says. "The process of soil erosion really began then. And then in the chaos after the revolution, the land was simply parcelled out into little plots, occupied mainly by individual families. And since the 1950s, people have been cutting it down and cooking on charcoal. As the population has soared, the forests have come down. Haiti is now about 98% deforested. It's extraordinary. You can see it from space. The problem is, it was those ­forests, those tree roots, that held the soil together. So with every new storm, more topsoil and clay disappears." ­Arable land is ­reduced, simply, to rubble. Even before the devastating storms of 2008, Haiti's population was starving. There were shocking reports of desperate people mixing vegetable oil with mud to make something that at least looked approximately like a biscuit.

"I wouldn't lay it all at the door of history," says Keppel. "But it's true to say that while this earthquake was ­unprecedented and unpredictable and would have caused huge problems ­anywhere, Haiti is impacted by natural disasters much more than some of its neighbours. The infrastructure is so poor the government can't control all its territory. There's been a whole combination of factors, many of which have repeated themselves over and over, that have left Haiti in the state it's in today."

Among aid workers whom Von Tunzelmann has spoken to, Haiti today is "down there with Somalia, as just about the worst [most damaged] society on earth. Even in Afghanistan, there's a middle class. People aren't living in the sewers." As far back as the 1950s, she says, Haiti was considered unsustainably overcrowded with a population of 3 million that ­figure now stands at 9 million. Some 80% of that population live below the poverty line. The country is in an advanced state of industrial collapse, with a GDP per capita in 2009 of just $2 a day. Some 66% of Haitians work in ­agriculture, but this is mainly small-scale subsistence farming and accounts for less than a third of GDP. The unemployment rate is 75%. Foreign aid ­accounts for 30%-40% of the government's budget. There are 80 deaths for every 1,000 live births, and the survival rate of newborns is the lowest in the western hemisphere. For many adults, the most promising sources of income are likely to be drug dealing, weapons trading, gang membership, kidnapping and extortion.

Compare Haiti with its neighbours, equally prone to natural disasters but far better equipped to cope because they are far better functioning societies, and the only conclusion possible, says Von Tunzelmann, is that it is Haiti's turbulent history that has brought it to this point. For the better part of 200 years, she argues, rich countries and their banks have been sucking the wealth out of the country, and its own despotic and corrupt leaders have been doing their best to facilitate the process, lining their own pockets handsomely on the way.

Approach Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic and the lush green of the forest begins again: this is a wealthier place. An earthquake here has less impact because constructions are stronger, building regulations are enforced, the government is more ­stable. In nearby Cuba, hardly a country rolling in money, emergency management is infinitely more effective simply because of a carefully coordinated, block-by-block organisation. Haiti has two fire stations in the entire country – and ­people on $2 a day cannot afford ­quake-proof housing.

This article was amended on 18 January 2010, to clarify that a reference to Duvalier-era debts constituting 45% of what Haiti owes referred to the situation in 2009, and to clarify that a quote from interviewee Alex von Tunzelmann about the level of social damage in Haiti was her paraphrasing of what aid workers had told her.


War Of Independence

On February 27, 1844, the Dominican Republic declared independence and the rebels waged war against the Haitians. They attacked Haitian garrisons, pillaged and burned fortresses. The group's new leader, Matías Mella, declared himself the new president of the Dominican Republic. Duarte returned to the country shortly after and was received by hundreds. Haitian commanders sent thousands of troops to crush the rebellion, but the Dominicans stood their ground although they were outmanned and outgunned. In 1945, the Dominican's confidence against the Haitians was so overwhelming that they began launching attacks across the border. The rebels captured towns and villages on the Haitian side of the border forcing the Haitians to withdraw their forces from the Dominican Republic to counter the attacks. In 1849 British and French blockades forced a truce between the two countries. In 1854, the two countries ignited the war again, several Haitian forces were captured or sank while the Dominicans defeated a contingent of 30,000 Haitian troops.


Elimination of rivals

Though he worked well with Laveaux, Toussaint eased him out in 1796. Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, a terrorist French commissioner, allowed Toussaint to rule and made him governor-general. But the ascetic Black general was repelled by the proposals of the European radical to exterminate the Europeans, and he was offended by Sonthonax’s atheism, coarseness, and immorality. After some devious maneuvers, Toussaint forced Sonthonax out in 1797.

Next to go were the British, whose losses caused them to negotiate secretly with Toussaint, notwithstanding the war with France. Treaties in 1798 and 1799 secured their complete withdrawal. Lucrative trade was begun with Britain and with the United States. In return for arms and goods, Toussaint sold sugar and promised not to invade Jamaica or the American South. The British offered to recognize him as king of an independent Haiti, but, scornful of pompous titles and distrustful of the British because they maintained slavery, he refused.

Toussaint soon rid himself of another nominal French superior, Gabriel Hédouville, who arrived in 1798 as representative of the Directory (the French Revolutionary government). Knowing that France had no chance of restoring colonialism as long as the war with England continued, Hédouville attempted to pit against Toussaint the mulatto leader André Rigaud, who ruled a semi-independent state in the south. Toussaint divined his purpose and forced Hédouville to flee. Succeeding Hédouville was Philippe Roume, who deferred to the Black governor. Then a bloody campaign in 1799 eliminated another potential rival to Toussaint by driving Rigaud out and destroying his mulatto state. A purge that was carried out by Jean-Jacques Dessalines in the south was so brutal that reconciliation with the mulattoes was impossible.

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