sábado, 23 de enero de 2010


By: Felipe Argote

The Arawaks, the Tahini and some other Indian groups moved free at the island called La Española when Christopher Columbus arrived from Puerto Palos in 1942. He thought he had reach some island close to India where he intended to buy spices in such demand in Europe that were worth the journey of discovery forn the Spanish crown. Very soon these aboriginal groups had disappeared product of the exploitation of the Spanish who enslaved them for gold and then in the sugar plantations by the large number of diseases that Europeans led to what the natives did not have antibodies.

Then it began the forced immigration into slavery of thousands of black people from Africa. A hundred years after Columbus arrived; France takes over the western part of the island and filled it with slaves. There where a ratio of 20 slaves to one white. Forced them to work to produce sugar in large plantations where the slaves had an average life of five years from the time of entering into plantations by the brutal working conditions.

In 1801 Mackandall, a slave who was maimed by a sugar mill in a plantation started the uprising of black slaves. After many victories he was arrested and taken to the square to be burned alive in the presence of thousands of slaves taken there on purpose to serve as a warning. But shortly before burning Mackandall, as claimed in mind the thousands of slaves, he become a butterfly. Even today many butterflies are Mackandall in Haiti and that he, despite his death, was in all the successive uprisings of slaves. Then Boukman, a Jamaican, met a group of runaway slaves who escaped from the thousands of plantations is declared leader of the revolt against slavery after the voodoo ceremony of Bois Caiman, and finally beheaded by the frenchs. It was then followed in leadership by one of the generals, Francois Toussaint Louverture, the grandson of a slave brought from what is now the little known Republic of Benin in West Africa, born on a plantation and he learned to read and write and knew a lot of medicinal plants. In 1793 he proclaimed the fight against slavery that had been abolished by the French revolution but not in its colonies. His proclamation read:

Brothers and friends: I Toussaint Louverture, perhaps the knowledge of my name have come to you. I started the revenge of my race. I want the freedom and equality prevails in Santo Domingo. Work there. Unite, brothers, and fight with me for the same cause. I uproot the tree of slavery.
Your humble and obedient servant, Toussaint Louverture, General of the armies of the king, for the public good.

This occurs in a time of confrontation of different social groups: The grand blanc, the petit blanc, the mulattos, the blacks slaves and the maroons. The day of the proclamation of Toussaint, Commissioner of the French Republic to Haiti Sonthonax declared free the slaves and called them to face the white landowners who wanted to proclaim the independence of the island with the support of England. Six months later the French Constituent Assembly ratified the abolition of slavery. But with the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte years after he tried to reinsert the slave system on the island so he sent in 1801 25,000 soldiers who were repelled by an army of 51,000 of Louverture for two years. With the ruse of wanting to negotiate an agreement the French held captive to Louverture and is sent to a cell in northern France where he died of starvation. But Napoleon could not recover the island. One of the closest general of Louverture, Jean Jack Desalines not only defeats militarily the French at the Battle of Vertieres in 1804 but also declared the independence of the island of Santo Domingo and resumes its original name, Haiti. It is the first and only case in history where a slave revolt triumphed after Spartacus in Rome 100 years before Christ; although the latter was finally defeated in contrast to Haiti that became the second nation to achieve independence in America and the first in the world that slaves built a country.

However, as a country governed and populated by blacks at 95% the country was not recognized as fast as it was the United States. Moreover, France recognizes Haitian independence in 1826, 22 years later, in exchange for recognition of compensation of 150 million gold francs. According to the great Uruguayan writer Eduardo Hughes Galeano, it is equivalent today of $ 21.700 million. They complete payment in 1938. According to the World Bank the GDP income per capita in Haiti is $500 per year or less than $42 per month.

The new rulers could not be worse than those who enslaved them but were not much better than the rulers of the other American countries. Most of the post-independence rulers proclaimed themselves emperors and kings. Desalines proclaimed himself emperor after independence. One of his successors after his death declared himself King Henri Christophe and invented a court of 4 princes, 8 dukes, 22 counts, 37 barons and 14 gentlemen. At the end of his mandate he killed himself and his son was was murdered by the mob that lynched him to eliminate the throne. Then the self-declared king Faustino I ruled for twelve years. In 1915 Haiti was occupied by the United States only as part of their military strategy. They left the country just as impoverished as they found it almost 20 years later. In 1957 the power is given to Francois Duvalier, known as Papa Doc, the son of immigrants from Martinique, supported by the weapons given by the U.S. Army under the complacent gaze of the outside world. Four years after Duvalier develops an election where the electoral court declared Duvalier took a total of 1,320,000 votes in favor and not a single dissenting vote. Then he was declared president for life and appointed his son Jean Claude as his successor at the approach of death. Jean Claude Duvalier called Baby Doc took the government. He governs at the age of 19 years, from 1971 to 1986, until it is overthrown and accomplished exile under French protection it receives in its territory with all the guarantees of a ruler.

Then military coups happen until a Catholic priest named Jean-Bertrand Aristide is Haiti's democratically elected president in 1990 only to be ousted a year later and then reinstated in the presidential chair by a U.S. invasion shortly before the expiry of his term. Again in a very low voting turnout (less than 10% of the population eligible to vote) is re-elected Aristide. It felt different than his first rule. At this moment he wanted to become the populist leader who expected much of the population that elected him the first time and that at least they were confused to see that Aristide was placed on the presidential chair for a U.S. invasion, those who had sustained the hated Duvalier and their paramilitary gangs called Tonton Macoutes, the Haitian term bogeyman with which to frighten children. Aristide left turn and got very close to Chavez and Cuba so it is deposed by a military coup backed by France and the United States and sent to South Africa. Haiti is currently governed by Rene Preval who was elected president in 2006. Preval was mate Bernard Aristide but turned away from him after the last campaign.

New elections should be in February this year but by conditions on which the country is after the largest earthquake in the Caribbean in the last 200 years is possible to be postponed. You can see that to move from third world to fifth hell took many centuries.

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