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Haiti Declarado Independente - História

Haiti Declarado Independente - História



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Depois de derrotar um exército de 5.000 homens enviado por Napoleão, o Haiti é declarado um governo republicano negro. Todos os escravos foram libertados e todos os brancos que não fugiram foram mortos.

Haiti Declarado Independente - História

O Haiti foi descoberto por Colombo em 1492. Depois que os espanhóis mataram todos os nativos americanos (em 1512), eles importaram escravos africanos para trabalhar na economia de plantation. Em 1697, a Espanha cedeu o que hoje é o Haiti para a França: uma área de 10.748 milhas quadradas. Na década de 1770, o Haiti havia eclipsado outras colônias francesas do Caribe em riqueza. As exportações de açúcar eram maiores do que as de qualquer outro território do mundo, tão grandes que o Haiti supria a França com todas as suas necessidades. Isso deu à França um enorme excedente, que vendeu com um lucro enorme. Os solos do Haiti eram férteis, extensos e bem irrigados, suas plantações bem administradas.

Em 1789, o Haiti era a glória das colônias francesas, "a joia do Caribe, a única colônia mais rica do mundo", como escreveu Bernard Diederich. A prosperidade da colônia foi tamanha que, em dólares, suas importações e exportações superaram as de todo os Estados Unidos, onde, no mesmo ano, George Washington foi empossado para seu primeiro mandato como presidente. Em seu extremo oeste, Cap François (agora Cap Haitien), uma cidade de 25.000 habitantes com belos edifícios públicos e teatros de pedra e tijolo, era conhecida como "A Paris das Antilhas".

Em 1789, a colônia já estava sendo cultivada há 92 anos. Seldon Rodman escreve: "A rica Plaine du Nord aluvial ostentava mil casas de plantação atrás de portões de pilares monumentais. Cintilava à noite com a iluminação alegre de bolas elaboradas, carruagens iluminadas e os fornos brilhantes e pilhas de casas de fervura refinando cana-de-açúcar ao redor o relógio." Logo tudo isso mudaria.

Em 1789, a Revolução Francesa derrubou o rei e proclamou a doutrina da "Liberdade, Igualdade e Fraternidade". Inspirado pelos acontecimentos na França, uma revolta de escravos era iminente. Na véspera desse tumulto, havia cerca de 40.000 brancos em Saint-Domingue, 30.000 negros e mulatos livres e quase 500.000 escravos. Na melhor das hipóteses, os recursos militares franceses na colônia eram inadequados. Esses tempos estavam longe de ser os melhores.

Em 15 de maio de 1791, a Assembleia Nacional Revolucionária da França votou igualdade total com os brancos para todos os mulatos do sexo masculino nascidos de dois pais livres. Embora isso tenha afetado apenas 400 homens, foi para inspirar a primeira insurreição violenta e feroz dos negros. A palavra "ardente" não é apenas figurativa. Um fogo foi aceso entre meio milhão de escravos negros que não seria extinto até o último dos 40.000 brancos da colônia e a maioria dos negros e mulatos livres tivessem sido mortos ou expulsos da ilha.

Em agosto de 1791, a tampa explodiu da colônia. Escravos rebeldes tornaram-se uma grande turba que se descontrolou, desenraizando, incendiando e destruindo. Em pouco tempo, o Haiti estava dominado por bandos de escravos itinerantes. Em todos os lugares houve devastação. Em Paris, a Assembleia Revolucionária havia se colocado diretamente ao lado dos negros. Foi insinuado que a emancipação dos escravos estava próxima.

Os brancos perceberam que enfrentariam o extermínio total caso os negros assumissem o controle. Os colonos agora falavam da separação da França. Todos os negócios normais no Haiti cessaram. Os brancos começaram a se armar contra a revolução negra que temiam que estivesse prestes a engoli-los. Ordens vieram de Paris para que os escravos esmagassem qualquer erupção de resistência branca.

Isso era demais para a maioria dos brancos, que desistiam e iam embora, muitas vezes sem nada além das roupas que vestiam. Eles eram os sortudos. Logo grandes incêndios puderam ser vistos no campo. Os negros estavam queimando os canaviais e massacrando todos aqueles brancos e negros livres que não podiam fugir a tempo.

Milícias mal tripuladas e mal equipadas foram para o interior em patrulhas de reconhecimento. Poucos voltaram. As histórias que os sobreviventes trouxeram eram assustadoras. Os homens foram mortos imediatamente, mas as mulheres foram estupradas por seus escravos antes de serem torturadas até a morte, junto com seus filhos. Em alguns casos, as mulheres foram jogadas em cima dos corpos de seus maridos, pais ou irmãos, e então estupradas.

Em 3 de fevereiro de 1794, o governo revolucionário francês aboliu oficialmente a escravidão e declarou todos os negros do Haiti como cidadãos iguais do estado. Em 1798, a revolução havia conseguido estabelecer a liberdade dos escravos e - decisivamente para o desenvolvimento do Haiti moderno - destruir a lucrativa base agrícola do país. No final de 1803, a colônia mais rica da França ficou destituída, um deserto fumegante.

Os efeitos desses eventos históricos perduram até hoje. O Haiti é uma nação frágil, miseravelmente pobre e, embora nominalmente católica, os rituais bárbaros do vodu, uma sobrevivência da herança africana da população, ainda florescem. Por 195 anos, a República Negra gerou nada além de terror, pobreza, doença, massacre esporádico e ditaduras brutais. Hoje, sob o governo de todos os negros, todas as suas cidades são favelas sujas e dilapidadas, e não há mais fazendas comerciais bem-sucedidas para alimentar os pobres urbanos devastados pela AIDS no país. As florestas foram desnudadas e nenhuma substituída. Na verdade, apenas 2% das terras ainda são florestadas. Os milhões de pobres tiram a subsistência dos solos de baixa produção dos vales desnudos, cultivando sorgo, arroz, inhame e leguminosas. Os mais ricos criam alguns porcos em pequenas propriedades. No auge de sua glória, o Haiti carregava 250.000 cabeças de gado.

O Haiti ganhou seu novo nome em 1º de janeiro de 1804, por proclamação do ex-escravo Jean Jacques Dessalines. Seu primeiro ato depois de se coroar imperador, em imitação de Napoleão, foi apoderar-se da bandeira tricolor da França e arrancar a seção branca. Assim que Dessalines se estabeleceu firmemente em seu trono imperial, foi dada a ordem para o massacre total da população branca. Em 25 de abril de 1805, ele publicou a proclamação que oficialmente estabeleceu o Haiti como um estado negro e baniu os brancos de suas costas.

Em 1806, toda a população branca foi massacrada e a ilha manchada de sangue voltou para a selva.

Boletim informativo de Aida Parker

A lição do Haiti

No século 18, o Haiti, então chamado de Saint-Domingue e governado pelos franceses, era a colônia mais próspera do Novo Mundo. Seu solo enormemente fértil produziu uma grande abundância de colheitas e atraiu milhares de colonos franceses brancos. Infelizmente, escravos negros da África foram importados para ajudar no trabalho.

No final dos anos 1700, a loucura da Revolução Francesa, com sua doutrina verdadeiramente maluca de igualdade racial, infectou muitos franceses, e os trabalhadores negros das plantações foram encorajados a se revoltar. Quando o fizeram, assassinaram brutalmente todos os homens, mulheres e crianças brancos da colônia e declararam o Haiti uma república. O que havia sido a parte mais rica e produtiva do Novo Mundo imediatamente caiu de volta ao nível africano de miséria, miséria e pobreza. As estradas e cidades construídas pelos franceses caíram em ruínas. Uma mistura peculiarmente africana de anarquia e despotismo tomou o lugar da lei e da ordem francesas.

Pouco mais de um século depois, em 1915, após um período especialmente caótico e sangrento, os fuzileiros navais dos EUA foram enviados ao Haiti para impor uma aparência de ordem ao país. O motivo para enviá-los foi para salvaguardar os interesses comerciais americanos no Haiti, embora o presidente Wilson tenha dito aos americanos que os fuzileiros navais estavam sendo enviados para "trazer democracia ao Haiti". Os fuzileiros navais permaneceram no Haiti por 19 anos. Eles não apenas reforçaram a estabilidade governamental lá, mas também construíram escolas e hospitais, um sistema telefônico moderno e mais de 1.600 quilômetros de estradas pavimentadas com 210 pontes. O governo dos EUA treinou professores e médicos haitianos. Realmente demos aos haitianos a base para um novo começo. Assim que os fuzileiros navais dos EUA se retiraram em 1934, no entanto, os haitianos voltaram à sua própria maneira de fazer as coisas, ou seja, à indolência, à corrupção e ao vodu. Tudo o que os americanos construíram para eles gradualmente voltou para a selva.

Em 1958, os Estados Unidos enviaram novamente os fuzileiros navais ao Haiti, desta vez com o objetivo de reconstruir a economia e a infraestrutura do país para que não sucumbisse às influências comunistas. Apoiamos o regime de "Papa Doc" Duvalier, que havia se formado em medicina durante nossa primeira incursão ao Haiti, mas também era praticante de vodu. Ele era um ditador brutal e sangrento. Mais uma vez, gastamos centenas de milhões de dólares reconstruindo o que os haitianos haviam destruído e treinando milhares deles nas habilidades necessárias para manter o país funcionando. Mas quando saímos de novo, o país imediatamente voltou aos seus velhos hábitos: seus costumes africanos.

E em 1994 [sob o presidente Clinton] tentamos a mesma tolice novamente, alegando que estávamos "restaurando a democracia" no Haiti.

Por que não podemos aceitar a verdade pura e simples de que é tão impossível transformar os haitianos em democratas quanto ensiná-los a manter suas próprias estradas? Por que não podemos entender que os haitianos são fundamentalmente diferentes de nós, que são africanos, não europeus como nós: que são negros e que, por sua própria conta, devem fazer as coisas como os negros sempre fizeram, com indolência , corrupção e vodu?

Tenho diante de mim um livro sobre o Haiti escrito por um acadêmico britânico, membro da Royal Geographic Society, após suas longas viagens pelo Haiti no início deste século. O livro foi publicado pela Thomas Nelson and Sons, com escritórios em Londres, Edimburgo, Dublin e Nova York. O autor é Hesketh Prichard, e o título de seu livro é Onde o preto domina o branco: uma jornada através e sobre Hayti. Prichard escolheu seu título porque estava especialmente interessado no fato de que o Haiti era um país governado inteiramente por sua população negra, sem a dominação colonial branca que estava presente em quase todos os outros lugares do mundo não-branco naquela época. Os únicos brancos no país eram algumas centenas de empresários e seus agentes nas cidades costeiras. Esses brancos não foram bem tratados pelo governo ou pelo povo do Haiti.

Prichard era basicamente simpático aos negros e queria ver como eles viviam quando foram apresentados à civilização pelos brancos, mas foram deixados completamente livres para fazer o que quisessem, sem o controle dos brancos. Ele escreve sobre o Haiti no primeiro capítulo de seu livro: "Lá a lei do mundo se inverte, e o homem negro governa. É um dos poucos lugares na terra onde sua cor coloca o negro em um pedestal e lhe dá privilégios . O puro-sangue africano é primordial, mesmo os mulatos e mestiços são detestados e foram barbaramente eliminados com o passar do tempo. "

Uma das primeiras coisas que Prichard nota sobre o Haiti é a sujeira generalizada. Ele não esperava que o saneamento estivesse de acordo com os padrões europeus, é claro, mas ficou surpreso com o grau de sujeira que realmente encontrou, não apenas nas aldeias, mas também na capital, Porto Príncipe. E ele ficou impressionado com as caricaturas de requinte e elegância que floresciam no meio daquela imundície. Por exemplo, ele notou que todo haitiano de alguma importância carregava o título de "general" e estava equipado com um uniforme espalhafatoso de general, repleto de tranças douradas e todos os outros enfeites. Quando inquiriu sobre o estabelecimento militar no Haiti, onde a população total na época era inferior a dois milhões, ele descobriu que o Exército haitiano contava com 6.500 generais, 7.000 oficiais regimentais e 6.500 soldados rasos.

Prichard relata uma conversa que teve uma noite com três generais haitianos. É uma conversa com uma qualidade surrealista, como muitas outras coisas no Haiti. Em um nível, os generais negros são capazes de conversar com uma aparência de conhecimento de assuntos militares, mas em outro nível é claro que eles estão completamente fora de contato com a realidade. Lembramo-nos do estereótipo clássico do canibal africano usando um chapéu de ópera e uma tanga.

O livro de Prichard está repleto de anedotas fascinantes e descrições detalhadas de suas experiências pessoais com várias facetas da vida haitiana. Ele comenta sobre o caráter bem-humorado e generoso do povo, que poderia, no entanto, cometer as atrocidades mais apavorantes com a mínima provocação. O extremo grau de corrupção da burocracia haitiana atrai atenção especial de Prichard, assim como a maneira totalmente caprichosa como opera. A aplicação da justiça, em particular, é uma caricatura dos sistemas europeus, nos quais muitas das mesmas formas externas são observadas.

Prichard também comenta sobre as crenças e práticas religiosas dos haitianos. A religião oficial, que herdaram de seus antigos mestres franceses, é o catolicismo romano, mas a verdadeira religião do povo é o vodu, uma religião peculiarmente africana com toques católicos. Na religião, como em outros aspectos da vida haitiana, há uma mistura bizarra de formas brancas com substância negra.

Mais tarde, em seu livro, Prichard generaliza a partir de muitas de suas observações para chegar a uma conclusão fundamental sobre a vida no Haiti: a saber, que em todos os assuntos relativos às suas conexões com o mundo branco, com a civilização branca, os haitianos estão mais preocupados com a exibição do que com a substância, e sua habilidade de imitar as características dos brancos, tanto individual quanto coletivamente, persuade muitas pessoas que os observam apenas superficialmente e querem acreditar que são iguais de que realmente são iguais.

O que mais surpreende o viajante de Hayti é que eles têm de tudo lá. Peça o que quiser, a resposta invariavelmente é: "Sim, sim, nós temos." Eles possuem tudo o que uma nação civilizada e progressista pode desejar. Luz elétrica? Eles orgulhosamente apontam para uma usina [de energia] no topo de uma colina fora da cidade. Governo constitucional? Uma Câmara de Deputados eleita por voto público, um Senado e toda a parafernália elaborada da lei: eles podem ser encontrados aqui, aparentemente todos eles. Instituições, igrejas, escolas, estradas, ferrovias. No papel, seu sistema é perfeito. Se alguém depositar sua confiança na miragem do boato, os haitianos podem se orgulhar de possuir todas as coisas desejáveis, mas, mais de perto, essas perspectivas agradáveis ​​tendem a assumir uma outra aparência.

Por exemplo, você está no que antes era um edifício, mas agora é um fantasma com a ponta de um fuso de seu antigo eu. Um único homem, cuidando de uma perna quebrada, esparramado no chão de terra preta, uma pilha de camas de madeira amontoada na chuva do canto norte formou uma piscina no meio da sala, rastejando e se espalhando em um círculo cada vez mais amplo como o último o chuveiro pinga do telhado. Alguns lençóis imundos estão enrolados em uma bola pegajosa em duas camas, uma das quais está virada. Uma grande tina de ferro para lavar está parada na porta aberta.

Onde está você agora? Seria impossível adivinhar. Na verdade, você está no Hospital Militar da segunda cidade mais importante de Hayti, uma instituição apoiada pelo estado em que os soldados da República devem ser curados de todos os males da carne.

Aconteceu o mesmo com a luz elétrica. A usina [de energia] estava aqui, mas não funcionou. Foi o mesmo com o canhão [do Exército]. Existem canhões, mas eles não disparam. Foi o mesmo com suas ferrovias. Eles estavam sendo "apressados", mas nunca progrediram. Era a mesma coisa com tudo.

Prichard termina seu livro com um capítulo intitulado "Pode o Negro governar a si mesmo?" E ele responde à sua pergunta: "A condição atual de Hayti dá a melhor resposta possível à pergunta e, considerando que o experimento durou um século, talvez também conclusivo. Durante um século, a resposta tem trabalhado por si mesma em carne e sangue. O negro teve sua chance, um campo justo, e nenhum favor. Ele teve o mais belo e fértil dos caribes para si mesmo teve a vantagem de excelentes leis francesas que herdou de um país feito, com Cap Haitien por sua Paris. Aqui estava uma vasta terra semeada com prosperidade, uma terra de madeira, água, cidades e plantações, e no meio dela o homem negro foi solto para trabalhar em sua própria salvação. O que ele fez do chances que foram dadas a ele? "

Prichard então resume o século da existência independente do Haiti, percorrendo uma lista de governantes negros e homens fortes, de revoluções, massacres e desordens. Ele termina sua pesquisa com estas palavras:

Por que tudo isso é importante para nós? Um século atrás, Prichard não era de forma alguma um homem incomum de sua classe. Ele foi para o Haiti, observou cuidadosamente a vida lá em grande detalhe por um longo período e tirou conclusões lógicas e razoáveis ​​de suas observações. Outros estudiosos de sua época poderiam ter feito a mesma coisa. Mas isso é inimaginável que um estudioso hoje, seja da Grã-Bretanha ou da América, poderia fazer observações como Prichard fez, tirar conclusões semelhantes e, em seguida, publicar suas conclusões em um livro de uma editora convencional. Simplesmente, não é possível.

Em primeiro lugar, seria difícil encontrar um acadêmico de qualquer universidade na América ou na Grã-Bretanha hoje que tivesse a coragem de escrever honestamente sobre o Haiti, porque ele sabe que se o fizesse seria condenado como "racista" por uma facção numerosa e barulhenta de seus colegas e seria expulso da academia. E mesmo que alguém escrevesse um livro com observações e conclusões semelhantes às de Prichard, nenhuma editora convencional o tocaria. Foi assim que nossa civilização caiu em um século.

Os haitianos têm seu vodu, com todas as suas crenças e práticas nojentas e bizarras. E temos nosso culto ao politicamente correto, nosso culto ao igualitarismo. É um culto baseado tanto na superstição e tão desprovido de razão e lógica quanto o vodu dos haitianos. E exerce um controle tão forte sobre seus adeptos. Um haitiano ofenderia um feiticeiro vodu e arriscaria que uma maldição fosse lançada sobre si mesmo como um de nossos estudiosos modernos arriscaria ser rotulado de "racista!"


República Dominicana declara independência como estado soberano

Em 27 de fevereiro de 1844, o fervor revolucionário transbordou no lado oriental da ilha caribenha de Hispaniola. Finalmente vindo à tona após anos de planejamento secreto, um grupo conhecido como La Trinitaria tomou a fortaleza de Puerta del Conde na cidade de Santo Domingo, dando início à Guerra da Independência Dominicana.

Muito do que agora é a República Dominicana foi de fato autônomo no início de 1800, com os espanhóis ocupados pela invasão de Napoleão e os haitianos a oeste lutando contra seus colonizadores franceses. Fortemente influenciados e encorajados pelo Haiti, que alcançou a independência em 1804, os dominicanos declararam independência como República do Haiti espanhol em 1821. Apesar de ser nominalmente livre, no entanto, a metade menos rica e menos povoada da ilha ficou sob o controle do Haiti e entrou em união formal com seu vizinho em 1822.

Embora o Haiti tenha sido apenas a segunda colônia europeia nas Américas a alcançar a independência, e sua revolução constituiu uma das maiores e mais importantes revoltas de escravos de toda a história, Dominica sofreu sob o domínio haitiano. Embora os dois estivessem nominalmente unidos, a metade ocidental da ilha era claramente onde residia a influência política, e as dívidas incapacitantes impostas ao Haiti pelos franceses e outras potências tiveram um efeito profundamente negativo na economia da ilha como um todo. Em 1838, três dominicanos educados e "iluminados" chamados Juan Pablo Duarte, Ram & # xF3n Mat & # xEDas Mella e Francisco del Rosario S & # xE1nchez fundaram uma organização de resistência. Eles chamaram a organização de La Trinitaria devido à decisão de dividi-la em três células menores, cada uma das quais operaria quase sem nenhum conhecimento do que as outras células estavam fazendo. Desta forma altamente secreta, La Trinitaria começou a reunir o apoio da população em geral, conseguindo até converter secretamente dois regimentos do exército haitiano.

Finalmente, em 27 de fevereiro de 1844, eles foram forçados a fazer uma mudança. Embora Duarte estivesse no continente em busca do apoio dos povos recém-libertados da Colômbia e da Venezuela, o La Trinitaria recebeu uma denúncia de que o governo haitiano havia sido informado de suas atividades. Aproveitando o momento, eles reuniram cerca de 100 homens e invadiram a Puerta del Conde, forçando o exército haitiano a sair de Santo Domingo. S & # xE1nchez disparou um tiro de canhão do forte e ergueu a bandeira azul, vermelha e branca da República Dominicana, que ainda hoje sobrevoa o país.

Os haitianos saquearam o campo enquanto se retiravam para o oeste, e os combates continuaram durante a primavera. Nos anos seguintes e mesmo na década seguinte, as nações do Haiti e da República Dominicana estavam periodicamente em guerra, cada uma invadindo a outra em resposta a invasões anteriores. A tomada de Puerta del Conde, no entanto, representou um ponto de viragem na história de uma nação que há muito estava subjugada, primeiro aos espanhóis e depois aos vizinhos haitianos. & # XA0


A Revolução Francesa leva a uma rebelião no Haiti

A rebelião do Haiti não foi um caso simples de negros contra brancos. Em vez disso, a matriz política era a seguinte:

Afiliação Política
Racial-étnico
Grupo
Monarquista Republicano
Negros Xxx Xxx
Mulatos Xxx
Brancos Xxx Xxx

As mudanças políticas ocorridas na França na época da Revolução Francesa trouxeram mudanças para as colônias. A Assembleia Nacional decretou que os mulatos das colônias que possuíam terras e pagassem impostos teriam os direitos dos cidadãos, incluindo o direito de voto. Os administradores coloniais no Haiti recusaram-se a conceder esses direitos aos mulatos e os mulatos se rebelaram em 1790. Os franceses reprimiram a rebelião dos mulatos usando voluntários negros.

Em 1791, uma camarilha de líderes negros, incluindo alguns quilombolas, iniciou uma rebelião de escravos. Ao longo da costa norte, os escravos massacraram todos os brancos que encontraram. Mas os brancos da cidade de Cap Francais conseguiram derrotar os rebeldes escravos. O número de mortos foi de dez mil negros e dois mil brancos. Mil plantações foram destruídas no levante.

Após a derrota da rebelião de escravos no norte, houve uma rebelião separada de mulatos no oeste e no sul. No sul, os administradores brancos voltaram a usar tropas negras para conter a rebelião mulata. A Assembleia Nacional da França exigia que a colônia concedesse direitos iguais aos mulatos. Agora, uma divisão se desenvolveu dentro dos brancos do Haiti entre aqueles que aceitaram os comandos dos revolucionários em Paris e aqueles que os rejeitaram. Caos político nas várias regiões do Haiti, onde em alguns lugares escravos negros lutaram contra senhores brancos, em outros, mulatos lutaram contra administradores brancos e em outros ainda monarquistas negros lutaram contra republicanos brancos e republicanos mulatos.

Alguns líderes emergiram do caos. O histórico de um dos líderes é interessante. François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture era um escravo negro de uma família que o treinou como empregado doméstico e lhe deu educação. Ele era um dos poucos líderes haitianos negros que sabia ler e escrever. Quando Toussaint soube da rebelião de escravos, providenciou a evacuação da família de seu senhor do Haiti. Ele então se juntou à rebelião.

Francois-Dominique Toussaint Louverture

Em abril de 1793, as forças republicanas francesas, com a ajuda de milhares de negros, derrotaram as forças monarquistas brancas em Cap Francais. Os recrutas negros da causa republicana receberam a promessa de liberdade. Em agosto de 1793, o administrador republicano francês do Haiti aboliu a escravidão.

Três líderes da rebelião negra optaram por não se aliar aos administradores republicanos franceses do Haiti e, em vez disso, comprometeram-se com os representantes do rei espanhol em Santo Domingo. As autoridades espanholas forneceram suprimentos para dois exércitos separados liderados por haitianos negros, um dos quais era Toussaint.

Acredita-se que a Espanha e a Grã-Bretanha concordaram em dividir o Haiti entre eles. A Grã-Bretanha desembarcou tropas em Mole Saint-Nicolas perto da ponta da península norte e em J & eacuter & eacutemie perto da ponta da península meridional. Eles então se moveram para o leste para atacar a cidade que agora é chamada de Porto Príncipe e a capturaram em junho de 1794. A doença incapacitou as tropas britânicas e as forças mulatas pararam as tropas estrangeiras de salvar o Haiti para a França republicana por enquanto. Toussaint, o líder negro que se aliou à Espanha monarquista, decidiu mudar de lado. O fator decisivo foi que as autoridades republicanas francesas aboliram a escravidão, mas a Espanha, embora tivesse prometido abolir a escravidão, não o fizera no território que havia capturado.

Em julho de 1794, a França e a Espanha assinaram o Tratado de Ryswick, que exigia que a Espanha transferisse a parte ocidental de sua propriedade na ilha de Hispaniola para a França. Isso significava que a Espanha não poderia mais fornecer suprimentos ou refúgio às tropas monarquistas negras que lutavam no Haiti. Essas tropas então se dispersaram e se juntaram a Toussaint. Em 1795, pelo Tratado da Basileia, a Espanha cedeu o resto de suas propriedades na Hispaniola à França.

Em 1796, as forças mulatas tentavam depor o comandante francês das tropas republicanas e Toussaint veio em seu socorro. Em agradecimento, esse comandante nomeou Toussaint como vice-governador do Haiti. Posteriormente, comissários franceses fizeram de Toussaint o comandante de todas as forças francesas no Haiti. Toussaint então consolidou seu poder trazendo um comandante das forças mulatas, Rigaud, em uma aliança e negociou uma trégua com as forças invasoras britânicas. Posteriormente, ele expulsou o comissário francês. Quando as forças de Rigaud entraram em confronto com as forças de Toussaint, foram derrotadas, em parte, com suprimentos fornecidos pelos EUA. Em 1800, Rigaud deixou o Haiti deixando Toussaint no controle indiscutível do Haiti e do resto de Hispaniola. Em 1801, uma nova constituição tornou Toussaint governador-geral vitalício.

Em 1802, Napoleão Bonaparte enviou de 16 a 20 mil soldados sob o comando de seu cunhado para tomar o controle de Toussaint. Essas forças, com a ajuda de forças brancas e mulatas, exauriram o exército de Toussaint e dois de seus tenentes, junto com suas tropas, trocaram de lado. Toussaint se rendeu e mais tarde foi levado para a França, onde foi preso e finalmente morreu.

Quando Napoleão restaurou a escravidão na ilha caribenha de Martinica, os líderes haitianos se rebelaram novamente contra os franceses. A guerra entre a Grã-Bretanha e a França estourou novamente. Para levantar fundos, Napoleão vendeu a Louisiana para os Estados Unidos. Isso significava que o Haiti não tinha mais a importância estratégica para a França que tinha antes e Napoleão não queria mais usar recursos militares para reprimir a rebelião. O comandante das forças francesas no Haiti fugiu para a Jamaica, deixando o país sob o controle do general negro Jean-Jacques Dessalines, um ex-escravo de campo.

Entre as tropas que Napoleão enviou ao Haiti estava um regimento de tropas polonesas. Quando as forças de Napoleão não conseguiram obter o controle do Haiti, as tropas polonesas, em vez de retornar à Europa, instalaram-se no Haiti, tomaram esposas haitianas e criaram famílias. Seus descendentes ainda vivem no Haiti e mantêm sua identificação polonesa. Alguns têm olhos azuis.


Uma tradução da Declaração de Independência do Haiti, de Laurent Dubois e John Garrigus, publicada em: Revolução de escravos no Caribe 1789-1804: Uma breve história com documentos.

A Declaração de Independência do Haiti, 1804

Não basta ter expulsado os bárbaros que ensanguentaram nossa terra durante dois séculos, não basta conter essas facções em constante evolução que zombavam uma após a outra do espectro da liberdade que a França pendurava diante de vocês. Devemos, com um último ato da autoridade nacional, assegurar para sempre ao império da liberdade no país de nosso nascimento, devemos tirar qualquer esperança de nos reescravizar do governo desumano que por tanto tempo nos manteve no torpor mais humilhante. No final, devemos viver independentes ou morrer.

Comandante-chefe Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Independência ou morte ... que essas palavras sagradas nos unam e sejam o sinal para a batalha e nosso reencontro.

Cidadãos, meus conterrâneos, neste dia solene reuni aqueles corajosos soldados que, como a liberdade estava morrendo, derramaram seu sangue para salvá-la. Esses generais que orientaram seus esforços contra a tirania ainda não fizeram o suficiente para sua felicidade o nome francês ainda assombra nossa terra.

Tudo revive as memórias das crueldades deste povo bárbaro: as nossas leis, os nossos hábitos, as nossas cidades, tudo ainda tem a marca dos franceses. De fato! Ainda há franceses em nossa ilha, e você se considera livre e independente daquela República que, é verdade, lutou todas as nações, mas que nunca derrotou aqueles que queriam ser livres.

O que! Vítimas de nossa própria credulidade e indulgência por 14 anos derrotadas não pelos exércitos franceses, mas pela eloqüência patética das proclamações de seus agentes, quando nos cansaremos de respirar o ar que respiram? O que temos em comum com esta nação de algozes? A diferença entre a sua crueldade e a nossa moderação paciente, a sua cor e a nossa, os grandes mares que nos separam, o nosso clima de vingança, tudo nos diz claramente que não são nossos irmãos, que nunca o serão, e que se encontrarem refúgio entre nós , eles tramarão novamente para nos perturbar e dividir.

Cidadãos nativos, homens, mulheres, meninas e crianças, deixe seu olhar estender-se por todas as partes desta ilha: procure seus cônjuges, seus maridos, seus irmãos, suas irmãs. De fato! Procurem aí os vossos filhos, os vossos bebés de peito, o que é que se tornaram?… Estremeço ao dizer… presa destes abutres.

Em vez dessas queridas vítimas, teu olhar alarmado verá apenas seus assassinos, esses tigres ainda gotejando seu sangue, cuja terrível presença denuncia sua falta de sentimento e sua culpada lentidão em vingá-los. O que você está esperando antes de apaziguar seus espíritos? Lembre-se de que você queria que seus restos mortais descansassem ao lado dos de seus pais, depois de derrotar a tirania, você descerá aos túmulos deles sem tê-los vingado? Não! Os ossos deles rejeitariam os seus.

E vocês, homens preciosos, generais intrépidos, que, sem se preocupar com sua própria dor, reviveram a liberdade derramando todo o seu sangue, sabem que nada fizeram se não derem às nações um terrível, mas apenas exemplo da vingança que deve ser feito por um povo orgulhoso de ter recuperado sua liberdade e zeloso de mantê-la assustemos todos aqueles que ousarem tentar tirá-la de nós de novo, comecemos pelos franceses. Que estremecem ao se aproximarem de nossa costa, senão pela lembrança das crueldades que aqui perpetraram, pelo menos pela terrível resolução que teremos feito de condenar à morte qualquer francês de nascimento cujo pé profano suja a terra da liberdade.

Ousamos ser livres, sejamos assim por nós próprios e para nós próprios. Vamos imitar o filho crescido: seu próprio peso rompe a barreira que se tornou um obstáculo para ele. Que pessoas lutaram por nós? 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 e 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.