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Haiti Old History

 

In the 16th century, the island of Hispaniola was colonized by Spaniards. At the end of the 17th century, they surrendered the western half of the island to France, which, with the help of African slaves, built up a profitable plantation economy. Inspired by the French Revolution, however, the slaves revolted, drove the French off, and founded independent Haiti in 1804. After a troubled century, the country was occupied by the United States in the early 1900s.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Haiti, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

The Caribbean island world was populated for centuries by the time Europeans arrived, by people believed to have immigrated from both North and South America. Sailor Christofer Columbus arrived in 1492 to the island that holds today's Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Columbus, sent by the Spanish crown, called the island of Hispaniola. He had a temporary settlement built on the north coast, thus laying the foundation for the Spanish colonization of the island.

The indigenous people, the Arab-speaking Taino people, had several names on their island. The most common was Ayti or Hayti which means "mountainous". The meeting with the Europeans became fatal for Taino. During the 16th century almost the entire population was wiped out in fighting with the Spaniards, through forced labor and the diseases brought by the colonizers. In order to obtain labor for the island's plantations, the Spaniards began to buy slaves from Africa.

The Spanish colonizers devoted themselves primarily to the eastern part of the island, which today constitutes the Dominican Republic. The western part was left virtually uninhabited. The years around 1630, French and English pirates began to take possession of the west coast and the island of La Tortue in the northwest. A French colony grew and in 1697 Spain officially surrendered the western part of Hispaniola to France.

Old History of Haiti

Rich colony

The plantations flourished and Saint-Domingue, which the French called their part of the island, soon became one of France's richest colonies. Sugar, coffee and cotton were shipped to Europe, while imports consisted of constant transport of new slaves.

Despite high death rates, the black population increased rapidly and a middle class of released blacks, or people of mixed origin, emerged. They had the right to own real estate and slaves but were denied political rights and were subordinate to the whites. In the latter part of the 18th century, the ideas of freedom, equality and fraternity brought hope in the colonies of the French Revolution. When the French refused to give the slaves in Saint-Domingue freedom and two leaders of mixed origin were executed in 1791, a twelve-year uprising broke out with Toussaint L'Ouverture as one of the leaders. Most of the colony's approximately half a million slaves participated in the uprising, which forced France to abolish slavery in all its colonies in 1794. French Emperor Napoleon failed to regain control of Saint-Domingue, partly because his soldiers suffered from malaria and yellow fever, but Toussaint was arrested and deported to France. The revolution went on and the world's first free black state - Haiti - was proclaimed in 1804. Many of the 30,000 white colonists were killed during the liberation struggle and thousands fled to Cuba.

Power struggle

Free Haiti's first leader was Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of the leaders of the slave rebellion. Dessalines exclaimed to the emperor. Henri Christophe and Alexandre Pétion, two of the other leading freedom fighters, fought Dessalines, which was assassinated in 1806. Haiti was divided into two republics. In the north Christophe ruled and in the south Pétion ruled. In 1820, the two republics were united under President Jean-Pierre Boyer. Under his rule, the Spanish part of Hispaniola was invaded in 1822, which remained under Haitian domination until 1843, when Boyer was hunted in exile by dissatisfied rebels.

Haiti was now characterized by political and economic chaos for a long period. In 1825, under military threat, France had demanded enormous damages for lost property and for the killed and ousted colonists. The compensation, equivalent to SEK billion in today's monetary value, hampered the country's economic development for a long time and was not finalized until 1947.

During the remainder of the 19th century, foreign economic influence increased and a long line of presidents succeeded by armed coups. Concerns about a growing European, especially German, influence in the region prompted the United States to invade Haiti in 1915. The United States passed a constitution that gave foreigners the right to buy land. A couple of thousand opponents were killed during a two-year uprising. Political power left the United States on the small elite of mixed European and African origin, giving rise to a nationalist and socialist movement among blacks. The occupation ended in 1934, but the elite retained control until 1946, when a black Haitian won the presidential election and power was gradually taken over by the so-called "guard". It was a semi-military force dominated by blacks, founded during the US occupation to maintain order, but which has become more and more involved in politics. In the 1950s, the guard was transformed into the country's army.

2010

December

Protests against election results

December 10

Election authority announces results: party RDNP's candidate Mirlande Manigat received 31.4 percent, Inite's candidate Jude Célestin 22.5 percent and musician Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly 21.8 percent. The conclusion is that a second round will be held in January between Manigat and Celestin. But violent protests erupt among Martelly's supporters, and independent foreign observers believe Martelly won over Celestin. More than half of the presidential candidates request that the result be annulled. Eventually, the electoral council decides that the votes should be recalculated.

November

Presidential and parliamentary elections despite unrest

November 28

19 candidates participate in the presidential election; Twelve of them are already demanding re-election on Election Day and claim that the ruling party Inite is cheating. The turnout is only 23 percent. Many voters lost their voting cards in the earthquake and have been unable to arrange any new ones.

October

Violent protests against cholera outbreaks

Great anger is directed at UN soldiers especially from Nepal. Much points to the fact that the infection reached Haiti via the Nepalese soldiers. Haiti has otherwise not had any cases of diarrheal disease in modern times.

April

Reconstruction Commission is set up

The Commission will be led by Prime Minister Bellerive and UN envoy Bill Clinton.

March

Assistance is promised for reconstruction

At a donor conference at the UN headquarters in New York, tens of billions of dollars are promised for reconstruction, of which just over half will be paid out in 2010–2011.

February

The parliamentary elections are postponed

The election that would have been held at the end of the month is postponed indefinitely due to the chaotic situation following the earthquake. President Préval's mandate is extended for the same reason, from February to May 2011.

January

Severe earthquake shakes Haiti

January 12

The worst earthquake in 200 years has hit Haiti and has devastated large parts of the capital. The presidential palace collapses, as do the UN forces headquarters where many UN employees perish. The United States takes control of the airport. Tens of thousands of people perish.

 
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