Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Haiti - A Quick Look

I think most people wonder just how Haiti became Haiti. I know I always did. I just finished reading “The Great Divide” by Thomas Fleming. It will be next week’s review.  But since I can’t cover every aspect of that book in a review, I thought I’d share a bit of the history of just how Haiti became; well, Haiti. As a nation, the United States had more than a little to do with it, which is why it was included in a book about American history.

In 1789 as the French were having their revolution in the wake of our own, the people living in Haiti- at that time a part of the island called Dominique; today’s Dominican Republic; had a revolution of their own.

By 1804, while the French were fighting all over Europe; and even as far away as Egypt; in Napoleon’s bid for world conquest, a black man named Toussaint Louverture took power. He created a multi-ethnic government which was supported by the American President John Adams. Adams saw the wisdom of having the island as a sort of early warning system should a European power entertain the idea of invading our shores. To aid the new government he supplied them with weapons and food, as well as establishing trade between our 2 new countries.

By 1805 the Presidency had changed hands and Thomas Jefferson was President. He immediately stopped the aid to the island nation and instead began to supply the French, who intended to retake the island.

Within a year the last man standing as far as military action goes, was Jacques Dessalines. He immediately ripped the white stripe from the French tri-color and used the remaining blue and red ones as the first flag of a new nation called Haiti. He then marched across the western portion of the island and killed every Frenchman he could find; including women and children.

There have been other governments since then; and the Dominican Republic sits just across an imaginary line in the island’s sandy terrain. But Haiti has remained an enigma ever since, mired in ancient superstitions and poverty that never seems to respond to whatever aid is sent its way.

There is no tangible reason which would justify the existence of Haiti as the poorest country in our hemisphere, if not the world, over 200 years since the events described above.  Haiti’s poverty continues with no end in sight. You have to wonder just who is the benefactor of that continued misery.

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