In the face of tragedy, it is crucial to recollect the series of events that took place ahead of a provided difficulty. And in the case of Haitian populaces, generational challenges are innumerable. Earlier this week, on Wednesday (July 7), The Republic of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his home in Pétion-Ville. His spouse, Martine Marie Etienne Joseph Moïse, sustained multiple gunshot wounds during the residential attack.
The first lady has since been airlifted to Florida to undergo treatment while in critical condition at Jackson Health System’s Ryder Trauma Center. And as REVOLT has previously reported, on the evening of the attack, Haiti’s Chief of Police Leon Charles revealed during a televised briefing that police fatally shot four suspected killers. Since then, several new suspects have been taken into custody, including 15 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent. This continuation of disorder to the impoverished nation might be interpreted as one of many consequences this year alone.
In February, The Washington Post wrote, “Haiti plunged deeper into a constitutional crisis... with rival claims to the presidency, allegations of a coup attempt and police deployed to the Supreme Court. The political chaos in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country threatened to further undermine its teetering democracy... including the street gangs who control large swaths of Port-au-Prince, the capital.” Carrying this notation overhead — as a self-liberated Caribbean territory grieves its loss of leadership — those in tune may question how past histories interconnect with the current state of affairs.
The western third of native Hispaniola, Haiti, shares the island with the Dominican Republic, which accounts for the territories’ eastern two-thirds. According to archival information by the Institute of Haitian Studies, the North American islet’s original peoples were “ruled by a cacique, or Taino Indian chief.” Columbus’ landing disrupted the former indigenous communities of Hispaniola on December 6, 1492. In time, colonization tore through many ecosystems. Consequently, populations became afflicted with plagues and other genocidal outcomes with the arrival of Spanish Europeans. This introduction had long-lasting effects on Haiti as we know it today.
The structures surrounding the health of a population correlate as much with its history and culture as they do with modern technology and science. As documented by the Environmental and health effects of European contact summary from Khan Academy, “European ideas about owning land as private property clashed with indigenous people’s understanding of land use.” Reckonings for power in the identified “pearl of the Antilles” tend to replicate themselves. Similar to this week’s units caught in a violent gun battle following President Jovenel Moïse’s killing, one provincial means of control was weaponry.
By the seventeenth century, the French succeeded to “...continue European exploration and exploitation in the Western Hemisphere, the indigenous population was largely exterminated,” the statement “HAITI: A BRIEF HISTORY OF A COMPLEX NATION” details. In place of one slaughtered citizenry, the new privileged settlers overworked another multitude. Africans, mainly from West Africa, were abducted from their homes and subjugated into slavery. As a result, these taken human beings were coerced into brutal forms of labor to manufacture raw goods for the purpose of international commerce.
Much of these incidents are withheld amid traditional curriculums. A form of self-defense among Africans from diverse districts was the collective formation of the Haitian Creole language, which according to Britannica, is “...the first language of about 95 percent of Haitians.” The aforementioned linguistic resistance is, in part, an offshoot of French vocabulary. Pioneers of the modern expression are observed as follows:
“The creators of [the preceding] Extended Pidgin, as we know, all spoke vastly different languages and were members of distinct social groups... the children of Extended Pidgin speakers created a completely coherent language that their parents did not speak... [Hence,] the vast majority of Haitian Creole words are from French... [Even so,] the grammar of Haitian Creole is closer to the African substrates than the French superstrate, causing aspects of the language such as sentence structure seem jumbled and confusing to French speakers,” The Layman’s Linguist marks.
Numbers promoted strength and stirred a rebellion. Accordingly, language was one factor that notably aided exceptional uprisings and independence movements between 1791 and 1804. Haitian people could better communicate among kin. The Haitian Revolution consisted of a sequence of battles among previously enslaved Haitian, different divisions, and the troops of French and British colonizers.
The Encyclopedia Colonial rule and slavery section attested, “By 1789, on the eve of the French Revolution, the estimated population of Saint-Domingue, as the French called their colony, was 556,000 and included roughly 500,000 African slaves, 32,000 European colonists, and 24,000 affranchis [people of mixed African and European descent]...” Ultimately, the constitutional outcome was the first principality to be established from former slaves revolting.
Still, the cost of this progression was high. Although deemed a free domain by 1804, Haiti’s administration was divided by the Northern pronouncements of Henry Christophe and the Southern regulations of Alexandre Pétion. Both leaders were ex-soldiers of the Haitian Revolution, and were considered weighted by the looming threat of France’s reentry.
Following his guidance to the 1814 toppling of Napoléon, King Louis XVIII endeavored via magistrates to get Haiti’s sovereignty to yield to his authority. As told by The Africa Report, “Christophe, having made himself a king in 1811, remained obstinate in the face of France’s exposed plan... Threatening war, the most prominent member of Christophe’s cabinet, Baron de Vastey, insisted, ‘Our independence will be guaranteed by the tips of our bayonets!’”
By 1820, both these guides passed on, and their successor, Jean-Pierre Boyer, oversaw Haiti’s customs and was left to renegotiate. However, France’s chief opponents concerning these events repeatedly denied attempted negotiations including Louis XVIII’s heir; the once-exiled Charles-Philippe, comte d’Artois. The principal value presented by Haiti to France was 15 million francs, as Napoléon expedited the Louisiana Purchase beside America for the same amount.
In contrast, Haiti is slightly smaller in size than Maryland. Louisiana is significantly larger the state with estimated surface areas of 135,659 km2 and 32,131 km2. There is a large disparity between the regions.
Even so, the item cited above states, in 1825, Boyer signed a decree which authorized, “The present inhabitants of the French part of St. Domingue shall pay … in five equal installments … the sum of 150,000,000 francs, destined to indemnify the former colonists.” This mass that challenged colonial control had to compensate with more than the Haitian lives lost during the revolution.
Academically, this transactional command is theoretically positioned near modern extortion methods — as the monarch was aware his ideas of lost property would leave Haitians indebted for generations to come. Haiti continued paying off this price until 1947, following a French settlement reduction to roughly 90 million. It was not until the 2010 Haiti earthquake that France pardoned an additional debt of 77 million — all of which affects the island’s present-day economy. Disasters, whether natural or financial, have become common. Dismally, conflicts, including Haitian President Moïse’s killing earlier this week, indicate a long history of trials.