Haiti: From Ayti to Democratic Republic in 500 Years
by Carla and Ted Warnock November 20, 1998
|1||Go to Introduction|
|2||Go to Names of Haiti|
|3||Go to Geography|
|4||Go to Climate|
|5||Go to First Inhabitants|
|6||Go to Spaniards|
|7||Go to French|
|8||Go to Language|
|9||Go to Religion|
|10||Go to Culture|
|11||Go to History Time-Line (1492 to 1996)|
|12||Go to Government|
|13||Go to Economy and Industry|
|14||Go to Health Care|
|15||Go to Education|
|16||Go to Current Events in 1998|
|17||Go to Web Page References to Current Events|
|Go to References|
1. Introduction (Return to Topic Index)
Regardless of the name and place in time you learn about this West Indies island, it is important to understand that every change in the country's name was at the expense of the inhabiting people. Haiti's people have been repeatedly exterminated, its natural resources have been repeatedly decimated, its cultural composition repeatedly altered with each bold and physical struggle for economic domination and control and finally for independence and democracy. It is a struggle that in many respects, continues to this day.
2. Names of Haiti (Return to Topic Index)
Ayti (Ayiti / Hayti)
|Names of the island home of the kingdoms of the Tainos, the Arawak tribes of Indians. Ayti means beyond the mountains or mountainous country.|
|Hispaniola||Name given to the island by colonial Spain.|
|Saint Dominique||Name give to the western side of the island by the colonial French after the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick with Spain.|
|Pearl of the Antilles||Pseudonym given to Haiti as the mark of one of France's richest and most productive (sugar, coffee, indigo and cotton) colonies.|
Republic of Haiti
|The original name was returned to the western side of theisland after the slave rebellion overthrew the French when on January 1, 1804, Haiti gained the distinction of becoming the western's hemisphere's second Republic, and even more importantly, the first black Republic.|
3. Geography (Return to Topic Index)
Haiti is the western third of an island in the West Indies, formally called the Antilles, located about 600 hundred miles off the coast of what we call Florida. The eastern two thirds of the island is the Dominican Republic. The island is located at approximately the 19th parallel. Haiti is in the Eastern Standard Time Zone and does not change times in the spring and fall as the eastern United States does. Haiti consists of two peninsulas separated by the Golfe de la Gonâve. It has a series of offshore islands of which La Gonâve is the largest. The island is sub-divided and protected by the Mountains. The highest peak, Chaine de la Selle rises to 8793 feet (2680 m) above sea level.
Haiti is situated among a group of islands that were divided nautically as the windward and leeward islands. It is surrounded by seas with the Windward Passage to its west, the Caribbean Sea to its south and the Atlantic Ocean to its north. The coasts form many natural harbors. Haiti has numerous rivers, the largest is the Artibonite. Unfortunately, many rivers are now rock filled chasms for mountain drainage and flooding. Its nearest Caribbean neighbors are Cuba to the northwest, Jamaica to the southwest, Puerto Rico to the east and the Bahamas to the North and the Coast of South America - Columbia -to the south.
4. Climate (Return to Topic Index)
The climate is tropical. The medium temperature is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 to 28 degrees Celsius. Haiti uses the metric system for its temperature measurement. Haiti has two rainy seasons: April - May and August - October. August through October is the season for hurricanes. Haiti also faces the natural hazards of flooding, earthquakes and droughts. Hurricanes especially have lead to repeated devastation and destruction in Haiti. December and January are cool and balmy. February through April temperatures begin to climb into the 90's F or 30's C. By May through August, the temperatures climb and stay into the upper 90's F and 100's F or 37 to 45 C.
5. First Inhabitants (Return to Topic Index)
The first inhabitants or natives of this island are thought be a branch of the Appalachian Indians who migrated from the southern continent of America, the Florida shores. The Indians in the Caribbean that were relevant to this island were the Charaibees and the Arawaks. There were five distinct kingdoms or monarchies. The natives were tall and slim with a light brown complexion. They were nimble and active especially in their dancing. They were noted to have by external pressure flattened their forehead giving them an elevated crown and a wider face. Their industries were fishing, agriculture, cotton and the workmanship or manufacture of such things as utensils.
6. Spaniards (Return to Topic Index)
Christopher Columbus landed on the north-west tip of the island in what is now called Mole St. Nicholas and claimed to have discovered an earthly paradise of fertile forests and running water. He was quickly greeted by the Taino Arawak Indians. He found them to be friendly and hospitable with some measure of civilization and culture. He told them that his intentions were friendly and was reported to have offered them valuable gifts. The date was 6 December 1492. He also found lofty trees of cedar and mahogany and he "found" gold. The Spanish colonizers named their new territory Hispaniola and proceeded to find, mine and export the gold the Arawaks had innocently shown them. Over the next fifty years, forced manual labor, European diseases, loss of their culture and exportation of Indian slave labor to Mexico to work in the Spanish Gold Mines resulted in the genocide of some half a million native Arawak Indians. The Indians and their and the pre-Columbian culture were the first of the casualties of the colonial domination of this island.
By early 1520's, Spain had began to loose interest in the island and moved their interests towards Mexico and Peru. The Spanish had imported some Africans to this Haiti to replace the rapidly dying Arawak labor force. With the gold nearly exhausted and a now sparsely populated island, pirates, buccaneers, the British, and the French began to move into the costal regions of the island. This grappling of territory continued until the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick in which Spain recognized the French in control of the colony of Saint Dominique.
7. French (Return to Topic Index)
The French would remain in power for nearly a century. During this early period, it was one of the richest colonies - producing sugar, coffee, indigo, and cotton. The name - "the pearl of the Antilles" was a mark placed upon this rich and prosperous island colony. The planters of success of the island was built upon the backs of slavery. It was reported that in 1681 that the number of black slaves increased from 2,000 to over 500,000 by 1789. Bought or captured in West Africa, these slaves forced to work for their new masters. This was a time of terror for many. Conditions were horrible, floggings were commonplace, brandings were performed routinely, amputation of ears of returned escaped slaves, and twelve hour working days were considered "normal". These conditions, or the acceptance of these practices, were formally adopted in the so-called "Code Noir" of 1685. This "code" denied slaves any rights without the express consent of their masters. To that end they were permitted to be punished for any infraction as their master saw fit. Adding to the cultural repression of the slaves, the early Catholic Church considered slavery "an efficient means of converting heathen Africans to the true faith. Many thought their only hope was escape. And for the few that did, they were to be called marrons (or neg mawon) and they often setup outlawed communities in the remote sections of the island.
8. Language (Return to Topic Index)
The languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole. Haitian Creole is spoken by about 5.7 million speakers in Haiti with over a 100,000 in the adjacent Dominican Republic and 200,000 in New York, and much smaller numbers in Canada and Puerto Rico. The government operates using French and French is the language taught in schools. French is also the language preferred for literary expression. Even though the two languages share a great deal of linguistic items and phonetical structure, they differ substantially at the grammatical level rendering the two mutually unintelligible in most cases.
Haitian Creole developed out of a pidginized form of French that began to be spoken in Haiti with the colonization of the western half of Hispaniola in the mid-seventeenth century by the French and then the subsequent importation of large numbers of slaves by the French. A pidgin is a form of communication that arises among speakers of different languages who need to communicate with one another; it is often lacking in linguistic resources and is only useful as a means of communication in restricted social contexts. However, in time, as a pidgin gains in native speakers, there is a natural process in which the pidgin gains in structural richness and linguistic nuance where it becomes a vehicle for sophisticated communication in all social contexts. The process is called creolization and the result is a creole language. (Embassy of Haiti - Creole) Creolization is used in several references to name the process of the intermingling of two or more cultures including language, religion, knowledge and traditions in an informal, un-modeled and unequal process.
There are considerable morphological and syntactic influences from West African languages which were spoken by the overwhelming majority of slaves in Haiti, but the basic lexical structure of the language is French in origin. The African languages that have been identified as influencing Haitian Creole include, Wolof, Fon, Mandingo, and Ewe. Thus, it is generally considered a Romance language, but in many ways one that is quite unlike a typical Romance language. It is not considered a dialect of French, but rather a completely independent language, about as closely related to French as modern Italian is to Latin. (Embassy of Haiti - Creole)
Haitian Creole or Kreyòl is one of four principal groups of French Creole languages. The other French Creoles are: 1) those of the Lesser Antilles, 2) of Guyana and Louisiana, and 3) of the Masarene Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Within Haiti exists wide geographical and sociolinguistic variations in pronunciation and vocabulary. There are at least three major geographical areas as well as the urban and rural differences. These regions are: the northern, the southern, and the central which includes Port-au-Prince. Other names associated with dialect differences are Fablas, Plateau Haitian Creole, and Faublas-Pressoir.
The oldest texts in Haitian Creole date from the end of the 18th century and was adapted from the French spelling conventions. Modifications In 1941 by two anglophones McConnell and Laubach, and then by Haitians Pressoir and Faublas, and finally in 1975 using a slightly modified version of the Pressoir-Faublas system, Haitian Creole was developed into its currently accepted form. In 1979, Haitian Creole was officially recognized by the government. Haitian Creole is the sole language of approximately 85% of the some seven million people of Haiti.
9. Religion (Return to Topic Index)
Any discussion of current religious practices in Haiti needs to begin with an understanding of Traditional African Religion. African religion evolved slowly through many centuries as people responded to the situations of their life and reflected upon their experiences. Religious ideas and practices arose and took shape in the process of man's search for answers to such questions as the origins of the world around birth, death, disease, calamity, and ways to make human life safer and better. (Mibit p. 16)
There were no written scripture or holy books. The religion is passed in daily life by oral stories and by trained intermediaries such as the medicine man. African religion was part of the person's and community's heart and mind and totally integrated in the daily life of the culture, morals, family and social relationships, and medicine and health.
There is one supreme being - God who is the creator and sustainer of the universe. There are other lessor deities including spirits. The religion is practiced in a variety of individual and community settings celebrating acts and rituals that are critical to the wholeness or rightness of the person, family, community and universe.
Africans brought to the Caribbean with them basic theological perspectives and principals that linked the different tribal people together in the new strange and hostile place. Throughout the enslavement, African tradition and practices were remembered. And, in the seeking of answers to the questions of survival and how to make life safer and better, a common style of celebration, rhythm. and the importance of ritual, values and customs persisted. (Lawson p11-12)
Voodoo is a word that has been taken from a Dahomeyan language named "Fon and is loosely translated to mean "spirit". As in African religions, the spirit is held to be "present" within material (such as rocks, water, plants) or within the dead - ancestors, etc. With this as an assumption, there is a belief that everything is interrelated into a universal structure that links the living and the ancestral dead to the physical or inanimate. To foster the religion of voodoo, ceremonies are routinely performed by a houngan (or priest). These ceremonies are organized and are performed in a recognized temple called the hounfour. As part of these services, there is a pattern of using symbolism and the sacrificing of animals to give honor to the worshiped spirits. Voodoo is a living religion practiced mostly by the middle and poor classes.
Voodoo, as a religion, was also a form of cultural resistance to slavery. Voodoo allowed for a cohesion among the slaves that increased their ability to resist. This was used especially by the marrons in the 1970's. The syncretization of Voodoo with Catholicism and the use of Catholicism as a mask further consolidated their practices and beliefs.
Throughout this period of time, religious practices were dominated by the Catholic Church. The slaves clung to their African past. As such, most ignored the formal religious education of the Catholic Church and practiced their own religion - voodoo. This practice, with varying degrees popularity, continues today. In Haiti - a country that professes to have more churches per head of population, voodoo sustains a strong link with their African heritage and through a spiritual connection to their ancestors.
Voodoo - with its "dark side" has remained somewhat frightening to modern civilizations. From early French accounts of cannibalism and human sacrifice, it has taken centuries to place this "religion" into an understandable context that does not invoke a picture of erotic rituals and sacrifices.
In 1915 -1934 during the occupation by the United States, Haitian literature centered on Voodoo as a religion and as a culture capable of showing dignity of a people. The nativist School movement of Jean-Price -Mars advocated that Haitians call upon their African traditions to save the country. Duvalier used the Nativist School movement in his political moves to gain leadership of Haiti. (Hurbon) In closing the topic of Voodoo, it is often reported that Haitians claim to be eighty percent Catholic and 100 percent voodooist.
Formal religions were introduced into Haiti starting in 1503 with the Catholic church as a means to gain and maintain European domination over the people (Indians and slaves), economy, resources and culture. A collaborative effort between the church and state - one God, one Pope and one King. Slaves could not differentiate between the missionaries and the colonizers. Church policies were controlled by Europe which was either not interested or very naive to the social realities of social-political structures of the Caribbean and of slavery, racism, and institutional sin. Conversion of the masses resulted in groups of "incomplete converts". The gospel and Christianity had little to offer to or be desired by the colonized people. Not only did the gospel have little to offer, it was used to promote the "hell on earth" of the colonized people and especially the slaves. The following quote is from the advice given by the British Missionary Society to missionaries working among the slaves in Guyana.
"Not a word must escape you in public or private which might render the slaves displeased with their station. You are not sent to relieve them of their servile condition, but afford them the consolations of religion and to enforce upon them the necessity of being subjects 'not only for wrath but for conscience sake' (Romans 13:5 and II Peter 2:19). The Holy gospel which you preach will render the slaves who receive it the more diligent, faithful, patient and useful servants, will render severe discipline unnecessary, and make them more valuable slaves on estates, and these you will recommend yourself and your ministry even to those gentlemen who have been adverse to the religious instruction to the Negroes." (Williams p. 44-45)
In Haiti, the people have been conditioned to regard themselves as Christian. The Roman Catholic church indicates that 80% of the population is nominally Catholic. Catholicism was the official religion from 1860 until 1960. Protestant missionaries first came to Haiti in the 1700's and established churches in the early 1800's. The main protestant churches based on 1981 information are: Baptist, Church of God, Episcopal, Seventh-Day Adventists, and the Church of the Nazarene. Protestant churches are growing more rapidly in the rural areas. Church identification does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with church membership, i.e. having a real and active relationship with the church congregation.
Methodism in Haiti began with an pre-stated acceptance or tolerance from President Alexandre Petion. On February 17, 1817, the Reverends john Brown and James Catts arrived in Port-au-Prince. Though the government stated they would accept the missionaries, the Catholic church was very intolerant and the missionaries had to leave. The Methodist witness was carried on by the lay people who had to meet in secret for their safety. Missionary Mark Bird arrived in 1840. In December 1842, the "Wesleyan Church" was opened in Port-au-Prince. Four years later a school was opened. Cap Haitian was the site of the next Methodist "church" building in 1849.
The Methodist Church of Haiti is part of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA). It is currently divided into seven circuits which are: Jérémie, Cayes, Petit Goàve, Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtian and La Gonâve. Each circuit has a superintendent, who may be the only ordained minister for all the churches. As of September 2000, there are 7 active ordained pastors in Haiti. The Methodist Church of Haiti is still significantly reinforced and supported by the 400 lay ministers also called local preachers, deacons and deaconesses in unity with the church leadership. 1999 statistics indicate that there are 7,257 members with a community of 80,000. There are 136 churches or buildings for worship. In 1998, the Church had 81 schools in with 16,248 children attending. It has six regions of Rural Protestant Rehabilitation, 9 medical clinics, a vocational program and a teacher's college. The church provides services to 200,000 people all over Haiti. The Reverend Raphael Dessieu is the current President of the Haiti District of the MCCA.
The missional issues facing the Methodist Church of Haiti as described by Rev. Keith D. Rae, the Executive Secretary Latin America / Caribbean in 1995 are twofold. The first issue he discussed was the historic divisions which are structures along social class and caste, skin color, education or lack of it, rich and poor, the oppressed and the oppressor and the French-speaking verses the creole-speaking Haitians. The second issue was justice without retaliation and revenge. (Occasional Alternatives 1995)
In 1995, since the return of President Aristide, the United Methodist Church returned to Haiti with a new kind of missionary effort through the Volunteers in Mission program. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has also been an active participant in the rebuilding of Haiti. Hundreds of everyday people go to Haiti every year in a partnership of United Methodists and the Methodist Church of Haiti as a way of working toward increasing resources for the Haiti Church and building relationships between diverse people who have Christ in common.
10. Culture (Return to Topic Index)
Haitian culture is the result of the fusing of African, French, West Indian and also American Cultures. Haitian art and music have been used by the people to tell the stories of their struggles, their joys and great sorrows. Haitian artists use all the resources available to them to paint, carve or create "pictures" of local scenes, people in their daily lives and religious symbolism. They use such things as oil paints, woods, pottery, stone, bamboo, leather, shells and metals such as copper, silver and tin. All art is characterized by vivid colors and simple forms. Music is rhythmic, harmonious and moving, both emotionally and physically as in dance. Literature and proverbs tell the stories and wisdom of the people. Proverbs reflect the wisdom and philosophy of the Haitian way of life. They are memorized and recited. The many interpretations make them ageless.
Here are several Haitian Proverbs:
When your garden is far away, you're not wasteful with your food.
What the eye doesn't see doesn't move the heart.
He speaks French.
It's the last drop that caused the glass to overflow.
Rocks in the water don't know the misery of rocks in the sun.
Haitian history can be viewed in collections at several places including the National Archives, the Bibliothèque Nationale and the National Museum in Port-au-Prince. Haitians enjoy parades and celebrations. The Carnival is an especially exciting time of year during which people dress in costumes, attend parades, create music and dances throughout the community.
11. History Time-Line (Return to Topic Index)
Haiti, has a history punctuated by strife, domination, internal conflict and power struggles. Listed are some key dates and their summarized significance as provided by the Haitian Embassy in Washington, D.C. In addition, are dates and information from other documented sources. We understand that there may be other dates that are of significant importance. However, this report or summary will not attempt to replace the volumes that have been written about this country's history.
|Dates||Event and Description|
|1492||Christopher Columbus lands and claims the island of Hispaniola for Spain. The Spanish build the New World's first settlement at La Navidad on Haiti's north coast.|
|1503||Monks from the order of the Dominican were sent by Spain. The monks were to get the chiefs to send Indians to work in the gold mines and on Sundays they should hear mass. By 1511, those who "converted" were treated with peculiar indulgence and only one third were required to work in the mines. With the decrease in the labor of new converts, the invention of capturing Negroes on the coast of Guinea began and assigned or enslaved them to work in the mines. (Coke Vol I)|
|1524||Spain commissioned the first monastery for the Dominicans of Hispaniola. (Coke Vol I)|
|1620||Denmark and the Danish East India Company sent a Protestant mission to convert the Indians and further the commercial interests of the Company. (Coke Vol I)|
|1696||Spanish control over the colony ends with the Treaty of Ryswick, which divided the
island into French-controlled St. Domingue and Spanish Santo Domingo. For over
100 years the colony of St. Domingue (known as the Pearl of the Antilles) was
France's most important overseas territory, which supplied it with sugar, rum, coffee
and cotton. At the height of slavery, near the end of the 18th century, some 500,000
people mainly of western African origin, were enslaved by the French.
During this time, the French also sent Jesuit, Dominican and Franciscan priests. (Cole Vol I)
|1700's||England's Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts sent protestant missionaries to the island. (Cole Vol I)|
|1789||By this time the population consisted of approximately 30,000 mulattoes or mixed race usually the offspring of a white French father and a black slave mother, 40,000 whites, and 500,000 black African slaves. (Weinstein & Segal)|
|A slave rebellion is launched by the Jamaican-born Boukman leading to a protracted 13-year war of liberation against St. Domingue's colonists and later, Napoleon's army which was also assisted by Spanish and British forces. The slave armies were commanded by General Toussaint Louverture who was eventually betrayed by his officers Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe who opposed his policies, which included reconciliation with the French. He was subsequently exiled to France where he died.|
|1801||Louverture took control of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.|
|1800's||The Methodists and Baptists also sent missionaries to the island.|
|1803||The Haitian blue and red flag is devised at Arcahie, by taking the French tricolor, turning it in its side and removing the white band. The Battle of Vertières marks the ultimate victory of the former slaves over the French.|
|1804||The hemisphere's second Republic is declared on January 1, 1804 by General
Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Haiti, or Ayiti in Creole, is the name given to the land by
the former Taino-Arawak peoples, meaning "mountainous country."
Dessalines ordered that all whites be killed. (Weinstein & Segal)
|1806||Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines is assassinated.|
|Henri Christophe ruled the northern kingdom and brought in England to provide
technical assistance. He organized the skilled labor, provided an educational and
court system. He also utilized forced labor to support the economy. Alexandre Pétion
ruled the southern kingdom which was made up mostly of fair colored people who
were born free. He distributed the land to the military. (Weinstein & Segal)
Civil war racks the country, which divides into the northern kingdom of Henri Christophe and the southern republic governed by Alexandre Pétion. Faced with a rebellion by his own army, Christophe commits suicide, paving the way for Jean-Pierre Boyer to reunify the country and become President of the entire republic in 1820.
|1821||President Boyer invades Santo Domingo following its declaration of independence from Spain. The entire island is now controlled by Haiti until 1844.|
|1838||France recognizes Haitian independence in exchange for a financial indemnity of 150 million francs. Most nations including the United States shunned Haiti for almost forty years, fearful that its example could stir unrest there and in other slaveholding countries. Over the next few decades Haiti is forced to take out loans of 70 million francs to repay the indemnity and gain international recognition.|
|1844||The Dominican Republic ousted Haitian rule. (Weinstein & Segal)|
|1859 to 1867||Nicolas Geffiand ruled . In 1860 he signed the Concordant with the Vatican making roman Catholicism the state religion. The education system became primarily catholic schools and teachers. (Weinstein & Segal)|
|1862||The United States finally grants Haiti diplomatic recognition sending Frederick Douglass as its Consular Minister.|
|1867 to 1879||Civil war resulted in de-institutionalization and street rule. The major world powers - Germany, France, England and the United States all had significant interest in Haiti. (Weinstein & Segal)|
|1879 to 1888||Lysius Saloma sought to pay off the major powers and develop an expanded public domestic system. (Weinstein & Segal)|
|1888 to 1915||Chaos and tragedy again with 27 years of revolt, foreign investments and financial pressures and indifference to the rural isolation that was occurring. (Weinstein & Segal)|
|1915||President Woodrow Wilson orders the U.S. Marines to occupy Haiti and establish
control over customs-houses and port authorities. The Haitian National Guard is
created by the occupying Americans. The Marines force peasants into corvée labor
building roads. Peasant resistance to the occupiers grows under the leadership of
Charlemagne Peralt, who is betrayed and assassinated by Marines in 1919.
Some of the US motives to occupy Haiti included: 1) protection of investments, 2) promotion and control of trade at the expense of Europe, 3) control of the import and export tax, and 4) the forcing and control of the banking system by establishing the Bank of Haiti and the Bank of New York in Haiti. (Weinstein & Segal)
|1934||The U.S. withdraws from Haiti leaving the Haitian Armed Forces in place throughout the country.|
|1937||Thousands of Haitians living near the border of the Dominican Republic are massacred by Dominican soldiers under the orders of President General Trujillo.|
|1957||After several attempts to move forward democratically ultimately fail, military-controlled elections lead to victory for Dr. François Duvalier, who in 1964 declares himself President-for-Life and forms the infamous paramilitary Tonton Macoutes. The corrupt Duvalier dictatorship marks one of the saddest chapters in Haitian history with tens of thousands killed or exiled.|
|1971||"Papa-Doc" Duvalier dies in office after naming his 19 year-old son Jean-Claude as his successor.|
|1972||The first Haitian "boat people" fleeing the country land in Florida.|
|1976||Widespread protests against repression of the nation's press take place.|
|1970's to 1980's||"Baby-Doc" Duvalier exploits international assistance and seeks to attract investment leading to the establishment of textile-based assembly industries. Attempts by workers and political parties to organize are quickly and regularly crushed.|
|1980||Hundreds of human rights workers, journalists and lawyers are arrested and exiled from the country.|
|1981||International aid agencies declare Haitian pigs to be carriers of African Swine Fever and institute a program for their slaughter. Attempts to replace indigenous swine with imported breeds largely fail.|
|1983||Pope John Paul II visits Haiti and declares publicly that, "Things must change here."|
|1984||Over 200 peasants are massacred at Jean-Rabeau after demonstrating for access to land. The Haitian Bishops Conference launches a nation-wide (but short-lived) literacy program. Anti-government riots take place in all major towns.|
|1985||Massive anti-Government demonstrations continue to take place around the country. Four schoolchildren are shot dead by soldiers, an event which unifies popular protest against the régime.|
|1986||Widespread protests against "Baby Doc" lead the U.S. to arrange for Duvalier and his family to be exiled to France. Army leader General Henri Namphy heads a new National Governing Council.|
|1987||A new Constitution is overwhelmingly approved by the population in March. General elections in November are aborted hours after they begin with dozens of people shot by soldiers and the Tonton Macoutes in the capital and scores more around the country.|
|1988||Military controlled elections - widely abstained from - result in the installation of Leslie Manigat as President in January. Manigat is ousted by General Namphy four months later and in November General Prosper Avril unseats Namphy.|
|1989||President Avril, on a trade mission to Taiwan, returns empty-handed after grassroots-based democratic sectors inform Taiwanese authorities that the Haitian nation will not be responsible for any contracts agreed to by Avril. Avril orders massive repression against political parties, unions, students and democratic organizations.|
|1990||Avril declares a state of siege in January. Rising protests and urging from the
American Ambassador convince Avril to resign. A Council of State forms out of
negotiations among democratic sectors, charged with running a Provisional
Government led by Supreme Court Justice Ertha Pascal-Trouillot.
U.S. Vice-President Dan Quayle visits Haiti and tells Army leaders, "No more coups." Assistance is sought from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations (UN) to help organize general elections in December.
In a campaign marred by occasional violence and death, democratic elections finally take place on December 16, 1990. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a parish priest, well known throughout the country for his support of the poor, is elected President with 67.5% of the popular vote. The "U.S. favorite" Marc Bazin finishes a distant second with 14.2%
|1991||Duvalierist holdover and Tonton Macoutes Dr. Roger Lafontant attempts a coup
d'état to prevent Father Aristide's ascension to power. The Armed Forces quickly
remove him from the National Palace following massive popular protest.
President Aristide is inaugurated on February 7th, five years after Duvalier's fall from power. A Government is formed by Prime Minister René Préval promising to uproot the corruption of the past. Over $500 million is promised in aid by the international community.
In September President Aristide addresses the UN General Assembly. Three days after his return military personnel with financial backing from neo-Duvalierist sectors and their international allies unleash a coup d'état, ousting President Aristide. Over 1,000 people are killed in the first days of the coup.
The OAS calls for a hemisphere-wide embargo against the coup régime in support of the deposed constitutional authorities.
|1992||Negotiations between the Washington, D.C. based exiled Government, Haiti's
Parliament and representatives of the coup régime headed by General Raoul Cédras
lead to the Washington Protocol, which is ultimately scuttled by the coup régime.
U.S. President George Bush exempts U.S. factories from the embargo and orders U.S. Coast Guard to interdict all Haitians leaving the island in boats and to return them to Haiti.
The OAS embargo fails as goods continue to be smuggled through neighboring Dominican Republic. Haiti's legitimate authorities ask the United Nations to support a larger embargo in order to press the coup leaders to step down. The UN pledges to support efforts by the OAS to find a solution to the political crisis.
|1993||President Aristide asks the Secretaries-General of the OAS and the UN for the
deployment by the United Nations and OAS of an international civilian mission to
monitor respect for human rights and the elimination of all forms of violence.
In June Haiti requests an oil and arms embargo from the UN Security Council in order to pressure the coup régime to give up power.
In July, President Aristide and General Raoul Cédras sign the Governors Island Accord, which inter alia called for the early retirement of Gen. Cédras, the formation and training of a new civilian police force, and the return of the President on October 30, 1993. Representatives of political parties and Parliament sign the New York Pact pledging support for President Aristide's return and the rebuilding of the nation.
A contingent of U.S. and Canadian trainers aboard the U.S.S. Harlan County arrives in Haitian waters in October and is recalled because of right-wing demonstrations, setting back the Governors Island agreement. General Cédras refuses to step down as promised.
President Aristide's Justice Minister Guy Malary, responsible for the formation of a civilian police force is shot dead in Port-au-Prince weeks after local businessman and Aristide supporter Antoine Izmery is executed outside of a local church.
The UN calls for "strict implementation" of the embargo against the de facto authorities. The Civilian Mission's human rights observers are allowed to return in small numbers.
|1994||In May additional sanctions were levied against the régime through a naval blockade
supported by Argentine, Canadian, French, Dutch and U.S. warships.
Tensions increase as human rights violations continue. The Civilian Mission is told by the de facto authorities to leave the country.
The UN Security Council passes Resolution 940 authorizing the Member States to form a 6,000 multinational force and "to use all necessary means" to facilitate the departure of the military régime.
On September 15th, U.S. President Clinton declares that all diplomatic initiatives were exhausted and that the US with 20 other countries would form a multinational force. On September 19th these troops land in Haiti after the coup leaders agree to step down and leave the country.
On October 15th, President Aristide and his Government-in-exile return to Haiti.
|1995||In June Haiti hosts the annual OAS General Assembly at Montrouis.
Legislative elections take place that month and in December the presidential contest is won by former Prime Minister René Préval. (President Aristide is precluded by the Constitution from succeeding himself).
In November Prime Minister Smarck Michel steps down and Foreign Minister Claudette Werleigh becomes President Aristide's fourth Prime Minister.
|1996||President Préval is inaugurated in February. A Government is formed under Prime Minister Rosny Smarth. Agricultural production, administrative reform, and economic modernization are announced as the Government's priorities.|
|1999||January - Parliament disbanded by President Preval as their terms run out.|
|2000||May - Primary Elections held and contested by OAS and minority parties|
|2000||May - Lavalas Party Candidates elected to Parliament and secure majority status.|
|2000||November - Aristide Elected President|
|2001||February 7th - President Aristide sworn in as President|
12. Government (Return to Topic Index)
The Republic of Haiti operates as a "republic" and is governed by a Constitution. The most recent Constitution was approved in 1987. It was suspended in January 1988 and most of its articles were reinstated in March 1989. With the reinstatement of the country's elected President in October 1994, it once again became the ruling document.
With its capital located in Port-au-Prince, the country is divided into Administrative divisions. These nine divisions or departments are: Artibonite, Centre, Grand'Anse, Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Quest, Sud, and Sud-Est.
Haiti's Government consists of an Executive Branch, a Legislative Branch and a Judicial Branch. The Executive branch consists of "chief of state", "head of government" and "cabinet". The cabinet is chosen by the Prime Minister in consultation with the President. The president is elected by popular vote for a five year term.
The Legislative branch - a bicameral National Assembly. The body consists of the Senate and Deputies. The Senate has 27 seats and members serve for six year terms. The terms are staggered to have one-third of the Senate elected every two years. The Deputies consist of 83 seats and are elected by popular vote to serve four year terms.
The Judicial branch 's highest court is the Court of Appeal and administers its laws under a legal system that is based on Roman civil law and accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
13. Economy and Industry (Return to Topic Index)
The economic makeup of Haiti and its gross national product has been described as "among the lowest in the world" (Encarta -1997). Not surprisingly, the following 1996 statistics may reflect the economic state of Haiti: 60% unemployment rate in a workforce of nearly 2.3 million people; an annual budget of approximately 250 million dollars and 240 million in revenue; Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - real growth rate 2% estimated; GDP - per capita purchasing power - ($1,000); and an 18% inflation rate. The inflation rate in Haiti can be seen by examining the exchange rate of its primary currency - the gourde. Five years ago the exchange rate was 10.953 gourdes per one U.S. dollar. Today this exchange rate is up to 16.26 gourdes per U.S. dollar. (U.S. Government Report) The responsibility to monitor and control its currency, (and work with foreign governments) is the Banque de la Republic d'Haiti (established 1911). This bank remains as the sole bank of issue and the government's depository. (Encarta -1997).
To support the economy of Haiti, communications, energy, transportation, and labor issues must be continuously monitored. Haiti has governmental offices in place to accomplish this responsibility. While these key issues are often beyond the means of a government with limited resources, it does not mean that this country is without hope. As of the mid 1990's, Haiti had over 82,000 telephones, four television stations, two radio stations and local newspapers. The primary source of energy is provided by hydroelectric power and its estimated production capacity is estimated at 450 million kwh. These hydroelectric plants represent approximately 70% of the produced electricity in Haiti. Transportation consists of nearly 2,500 miles of roads. While road building and development programs have been implemented, most roads are in poor condition and many unpassable during rainy weather. Domestic air service is provided through agreements with the Haitian government, and a few other local organizations. The Port-au-Prince International airport is a modern facility that serves several airlines and provides for connecting flights to local runways in several communities in Haiti. Labor, where organized is influenced by the Haitian government through its support or lack thereof. As such, most trade unions that demonstrate usually do so against the government - not local businesses. (Encarta - 1997)
The economy of Haiti is predominantly Agricultural. This agricultural related employment, combined with limited manufacturing, forestry, fishing, mining, home based production of carvings, sculpturing and art comprise the limited economic base for Haiti. The level of dependence on Agriculture was reported in a recent U.S. Government document. It stated: "Nearly 70% of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming and employs about two-thirds of the economically active work force."
Rural mountainous terrain, combined with years of soil erosion continues to plague the efforts of nearly half of Haiti's workforce. From the land that is cultivated, efforts have been made to improve upon the trends of recent decades. Reforestation, crop rotation, land terracing, and the planting of cash crops has helped. Still, most farms in Haiti are small-family owned parcels that barely meet the needs of those cultivating them. Added to this seemingly blight situation are droughts, hurricanes and tropical storms. Looking again to Encarta, "...the major export crops (in metric tons per year) were sugarcane (3 million), coffee (31,000), sisal (5,000), and cacao (5,000). Other cash crops include coconuts, tobacco and cotton. The principal subsistence crops are corn, manioc, sweet potatoes, mangoes, beans, rice and plantains." Haiti has a limited manufacturing base and has concentrated most of its efforts towards the processing or refinement of its agricultural base. The country has developed efforts in its textile and sisal mills, coffee processing, and sugar refining. In addition, local factories produce cement, plastics, paints, metal products, footwear, pharmaceuticals and soap (Encarta).
14. Health Care (Return to Topic Index)
Haiti struggles to cope with multiple health care and health delivery issues. Physicians and medical facilities are limited in number, accessability and services capacity. Haiti relies on multiple internal and international public, private and religious organizations to help meet the needs of the people. Programs like Doctors without Borders, Volunteer in Mission Medical Teams, UMCOR Medical Boxes Program, and many other groups work with Haitian government and private health care clinics and hospitals to help provide primary care and speciality doctors, nurses, equipment, pharmaceuticals and supplies. Even with these multiple sources of assistance, clinics and hospitals still struggle to meet the people's needs. And, to adding to the problems of the health care delivery system, the people have very little financial ability to pay for services.
Outreach medical services into the mountains and the islands and the Community Health Worker Program help to meet needs especially in these rural areas. In addition to the normal medical problems of any people, the people of Haiti face additional and serious medical illnesses and infections such as malaria, dengue, intestinal parasites, yaws, Tuberculosis, malnutrition and anemia, asthma, hypertension, and AIDS. Government and private sector health care providers are trying to provide preventative health care by stressing prenatal care, family planning, immunizations, and education on such topics as nutrition, food preparation and water purification.
The following is a list of hospitals in Haiti
de l' Universite d'Etat d'Haiti
Rue Monseigneur Guilloux
Phone: 509-222-1221 or 223-5089
|Hopital du Canape-Vert|
Rte du Canape-Vert
Phone: 509-245-0984 or 245-0985 or 245-6105
Rue du Centre
Phone: 509-222-2323 or 223-9988
|Hopital Saint Francois de Sales
Phone: 509-222-7132 or 222-7179
|Hopital de la Communaute
Haitienne Rue Audant, Rte
de Freres Freres, HAITI|
Phone: 509-257-7509 or 257-6808
27 Rue Darguin
|Hopital de Fermathe Route de Kenscoff Mission Baptiste|
Adventiste de Diquini
Phone: 509-234-0521 or 234-2000
|Hopital Saint Charles
|Cap Haitien, HAITI|
|Hopital Albert Schweitzer Deschapelles 10 Rue Clercine, Cazeau, PaP Haiti Phone: 509-238-1141 Fax: 509-238-1142||Hopital Immaculee
Conception (Les Cayes)
|Hopital La Providence(Gonaives)|
Rue C. Imbert
|Hopital Saint Antoine
|Hopital Sainte Croix de Leogane, Leogane, Haiti Ph: 509- 287-0746 or 287-0749||Hopital Saint Michel de Jacmel|
|Hopital Weseleyen Anse-a-Galets, LaGoanve Phone: 509-298-3659||Phone numbers udated from Teleco Phone Book October 2000||Last updated August 3rd , 1998 (Information provided by Haitian Embassy as linked to Medical Page)|
15. Education (Return to Topic Index)
By law, education is free and compulsory in Haiti for children between the ages of 7 and 13. The reality is that access to that free education is very limited to many of the people. There are not nearly enough government school buildings and teachers to meet the needs of the children throughout the country. In addition, children in Haiti are required to wear uniforms and provide their own school supplies. Some of the education needs are met by many different religious based schools that charge tuition. Communities work to establish their own "publique" or "community schools and provide their own teachers or work with churches to provide educational assistance. All children are expected to meet one standard and pass the State exams.
Haiti does offer higher education at the University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince with colleges of medicine, law, business, agronomy, social sciences, architecture and engineering. There are branch programs throughout Haiti. There are also technical trade schools operated by a variety of organizations. One such program is a Methodist Church Trade School at the Freres School which offers such programs as welding, graphic arts architecture, and electrical engineering.
16. Current Events in 1998 (Return to Topic Index)
"Barricade after barricade blocked traffic along National Road 1, a ribbon of poverty cutting northwest Haiti to the capital, Port-au-Prince." "... It was a Haitian-Style protest, one of many in recent weeks, staged by a disillusioned population..."(The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - November 1st, 1998)
"Residents of Arcahaine and surrounding areas blocked National Highway #1 Wednesday morning to draw attention to the problems in their area, such as water, electricity and telephone service." "...We have had enough promises. We won't stop until something is done." (Agence Haitienne de Presse (AHA) - October 29th, 1998)
At first glance both of the articles above seem to be reporting the same story. In fact they are! However, from our Atlanta Journal reporters, our first point of reference is to the militant stance of barricades and to a poverty stricken people who are disillusioned in their efforts to bring about change in their country.
When this same incident or "current event" is reported by people living in Haiti, it takes on a different perspective. Now we see a blocked road (not a militant stance) and we see a call or plea that Haitian problems or needs must be recognized by their government and perhaps the world. And finally, we are presented by a people who are willing to stand up for their rights - not a disillusioned people with no direction.
Communicating the "current events" in Haiti (and one's perception of reality) is often greatly distorted by the reporter of those events. We state this only in the hope that you will become accustomed to seeking partial and impartial sources of information for issues impacting or affecting Haiti. Such is the case in same event reported above. Knowing that we will not be able to compare and contrast every "current event", we have chosen to give you several examples of today's current events as reported in the English version of Agence Haitienne de Presse.
Port-au-Prince, October 23rd, 1998 - (AHP) - A workshop will be held October 27 through October 30 with local officials in the northeast area of Mont-Organize on "Local Governing for the Protection of the Environment in the Northeast." It is part of a project of the United Nations Equipment Fund.
Port-au-Prince, October 19th, 1998 - (AHP) - Haiti's Finance Minister Fred Joseph said that the 1998-99 Budget is not adapted to the current situation in the country as it has been rolled over twice since ratified by parliament in 1996. "The National Confederation of Haitian Teachers said Saturday that they may be forced to hold a national strike to obtain the annulment of "unconstitutional firings" which have occurred in the public schools." Cayes-Jacmel, October 19th, 1998 - (AHP)- The mayor of Cayes-Jacmel (Southeast), Frere Jean Wilder, said Monday that police in the area have launched a campaign to dismantle gangs following a series of robberies generated by armed individuals.
Port-au-Prince, October 16th, 1998 - (AHA)- The United Nations Development Program said Friday that 80% of Haiti' population is unable to meet its daily needs. "One hundred and forty-nine officers in training will join the Haitian National Police in December, according to police spokesman Felder Jean-Baptiste."
Port-au-Prince, October 15th, 1998 - (AHA)- Popular organizations took to the streets Thursday to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the return to constitutional order.
Port-au-Prince, October 13th, 1998 - (AHP)- The general director of the General Tax Administration (DGI), Jocelerme Privert, said Tuesday that all citizens and commercial enterprises should pay their fiscal debts to allow the State to respond to their obligations. "The union of Hospital Employees sounded a new alarm Tuesday to the head of the Public Health Ministry to head their warning that health care is threatened by disorganization."
Port-au-Prince, October 6th, 1998 - (AHP)- Oxfram-Quebec and the Group of Canadian-Haitians for Development (ROCAHD) launched October 2 in Canada a campaign to collect funds for victims of Hurricane Georges
Port-au-Prince, October 5th, 1998 - (AHP)- The National Confederation of Haitian Teachers called Monday on Haiti's civil society to show their solidarity with their teachers in their struggle to have an effective Haitian education system.
Current events of this nature could run for page after page. However, the intend of this section of our report is to suggest that Haiti and other world leaders are reporting on what each perceive to be important. Further, we might suggest that given the topics reported by this Haitian publication - "current events" are being voiced.
17. Web Page References to Current Events (Return to Topic Index)
Note: To return to this report, click on the Back Key of your web browser.
The OneWorld database contains thousands of documents on Haiti from the partners websites. Once you enter this site, you will need to enter the country name and begin your search.
The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights issues on Haiti.
REFERENCES (Return to Topic Index)
|TYPE OF BOOK||TOPIC / FOCUS||AUTHOR||TITLE||PUBLISHER||DATE|
|Art||Historical and Cultural||Drot, Jean-Marie||An Encounter Between Two Worlds as Seen by Haiti's Artists||Foundation of Aftrique en Creations||1990|
|Biographical||Child Slavery||Cadet, Jean-Robert||Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle Class American||University of Texas Press, Austin||1998|
|Encyclopedia||General||Haiti||Netscape Encarta 98||1997|
|Internet||General||US Government||Haiti Facts||1998|
|Newspaper||Current Events||Newspaper||Agence Haitienne de Presse (English Version)||http://www.alphaitie.org/eng.html||1998|
|Non-Fiction||Historical and Political||Burton, Richard D.||Power, Opposition and Play in the Carribean||Cornell University Press, NY||1977|
|Non-Fiction||Historical||Cole, Thomas||A History of the West Indies Vol I||Frank Cars & Co, London||1811|
|Non-Fiction||Historical||Ferguson, James||Papa Doc, Baby Doc: Haiti and the Duvaliers||Basil Blackwell, Inc.||1987|
|Non-Fiction||Historical||Prince, Rod||Haiti Family Business||Latin American Bureau||1985|
|Non-Fiction||Historical||Richardson, Bonham||The Caribbean in the Wider World 1492-1992||Cambridge University Press NY||1992|
|Non-Fiction||Historical, Political & Cultural||Weinstein, Brian & Segal, Aara||Haiti: Political Failures, Cultural Successes||Praeger Special Studies, NY||1984|
|Non-Fiction||Language / Creole||Haitian Government||Creole||http://www.haiti.org/embassy/||1998|
|Non-Fiction||Language / Creole||Valdman, Albert||A Learner's Dictionary of Haitian Creole||Indiana University Creole Institute||1996|
|Non-Fiction||Religion||Hurbon, Laënnec||Dieu dans le Vaudou Haïtien God in Haitian Voodoo - Excerpts translated from French by Dorothy Gilbert in 1997||Editions Deschamps, PaP, Haiti||1987|
|Non-Fiction||Religion||Lawson, Winston A.||Religion and Race: African and European Roots in conflict - a Jamaican Testament||Peter Lang, NY||1996|
|Non-Fiction||Religion||Williams, Lewin L.||Caribbean Theology||Peter Lang, NY||1994|
|Non-Fiction||Religion / Voodoo||Metraux, Alfred||Haiti: Black Peasants and Voodoo||Universal Books Publishers, NY||1960|
|Non-Fiction||Women/ Feminism||Chancy, Miriam JA||Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women||Rutgers University Press, NJ||1994|
|Novel/Fiction||Historical||Danticat, Edwidge||The Farming of Bones||Soho Press, Inc. NY||1998|
|Novel/Fiction||Haitian Girl's Life||Danticat, Edwidge||Breath, Eyes, Memory||Vintage Books, NY||1994|
|Photography||People / Life||Gildon, Bruce||Haiti||Dewi Lewis Publishers||1996|
|Pictorial||Geography||US Government||Maps of Haiti and the Caribbean||US Government / On-Line||1998|
|Report||Human Rights and Political||Fugitives From Injustices: The Crisis of Internal Displacement in Haiti Vol VI #10||Human Rights Watch / Americas||1994|
|Report||Historical Dates||Embassy of Haiti||Key Dates in Haiti's History||http://www.haiti.org/embassy/||1998|
|Report||Holidays||Embassy of Haiti||National & Religious holidays in Haiti||http://www.haiti.org/embassy/||1998|
|Report||Religion||GBGM||Occasional Alternatives||GBGM & Methodist Church of Haiti||1995|
|Report||Religion||Holland. Clifton Ed.||World Christianity: Central America and the Caribbean||Missions Advanced Research and Communication Center World Vision International||1981|
|Report||Religion||Gumbs, Wycherly||Methodism Roots and Fruits||Nevis Circuit||1986|
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