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Haiti Still Living in Shadow- Part I

Haiti Still Living in ShadowAlmost every time there is a story in the news about Haiti, some smart broadcaster has to add that it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There are some who go on about how the country has made a pact with the devil, how corrupt the government is, and the size of its foreign debt.

Yet others would want us to believe that every time a natural disaster hits Haiti that it is pay back for all the voodoo expressions of the country.

However, if we take a critical look at Haiti's history, we would recognize that there has been a systematic plan to destroy this country even before it officially declared its independence in 1804.

By the time the French buccaneers established a settlement on the island of Tortuga in 1625, the exploitation of Haiti had already started. By then, most of the native Tainos had been killed in one of the most complete examples of genocide in human history, the wild game had been over exploited, and the silver and gold had been depleted by the Spanish.

In 1670, the French established their first permanent settlement on mainland Hispaniola, Cap Francois (now Cap-Haitien) and in 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to the French. This area of Hispaniola was already being called Saint-Domingue by the French and only after independence was the country remained Haiti (a variation of the original Taino name).


The economy of the colony grew gradually prior to the Seven Years' War ( 1756-1763) but after the war, which disrupted maritime commerce, the colony underwent rapid expansion. In 1767, it exported 123 million pounds of sugar, two million pounds of cotton and one million pounds of indigo. Haiti became known as the Pearl of the Antilles and was the French empire's richest colony.

By the 1780s, it produced about 40 percent of all the sugar and 60 percent of all the coffee consumed in Europe, producing more sugar and coffee than all of Britain's West Indian colonies combined.

The labour for Haiti's plantations was provided by African slaves, and between 1783 and 1791 accounted for a third of the entire Atlantic slave trade. This created, for the French, a population imbalance where by 1789, there was 500,000 black Africans to 32,000 white Europeans.

To regularize slavery, the Code Noir was enacted in 1685, but although it had many noteworthy pronouncements, in reality, it was used to instill docility in the slave population. According to Henri Christophe, slaves were hung upside down, drowned in sacks, crushed between planks, buried alive, crushed in mortars, forced to eat human waste, casted alive to be eaten by worms, ants, and mosquitoes, thrown into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup, rolled down mountains in spike studded barrels, and devoured by man-eating dogs.

In spite of all that, Haiti became the first independent black republic in the world, and the second independent republic in the Western Hemisphere after the United States. Piggy-backing, in part, on the momentum of the Revolution in mainland France, the Haitians successfully fought for their independence, declaring their country a republic in 1804.

However, the French refused to recognize Haiti's independence until 1825, when Haiti agreed to pay the outrageous and unjust sum of 150 million gold francs. This figure was later reduced to 90 million, which Haiti agreed to pay to lift an embargo imposed by France, Britain, Spain, and the United States.

This embargo, the most complete in modern history, devastated the Haitian economy and the government had to take out high interest loans to pay the price. The debt was not fully repaid until 1947. Therefore, for 150 years, Haiti had to fight an economic war against four of the greatest Western powers of the day. Guess who was losing.

Although Haiti was in the forefront of the independence movements of many Latin American countries, it was excluded from the first regional conference of independent nations, held in Panama in 1826. Even the US gave no diplomatic recognition to Haiti until 1862.


Recovering from war and with a decimated economy brought on by a cruel embargo and the criminal debt repayment to France, Haiti went through a period of misery and political instability. But in this period, there was a growing group of Haitian intellectuals - led by Janvier and Firmin - who led the war against racism and social Darwinism, and in 1874 Michel Domingue introduced a constitution that led to almost four decades of peace and prosperity for Haiti. The faith of the people was restored in legal institutions, and the old Pearl was once again the model for economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Again, it must be noted that the works of the great Haitian intellectuals, though recognized for their excellence, were deliberately kept out of the mainstream by Western authorities. This was all part of the effort to demoralize, down press and subjugate the Haitian people.

This period of stability was ended in 1911 when war once again broke out and the United states seized the opportunity to profiteer from Haiti. In fact, there are still informed sources that think the US was behind the instability in the first place.


By 1910, the US was apprehensive of the role of the German community in Haiti that controlled a large portion of the economy. To undermine the German influence, the US State Department backed a consortium of investors, assembled by the National City Bank of New York, in the takeover of the Banque National d'Haiti. This was the country's only commercial bank, and the government treasury. As a result, the US assumed control of Haitian economy.

Economic control soon led to political control and then a total domination of the Haitian community by the US. Haiti was made a US protectorate, with the Americans in charge of Finance, Customs, the Police, Public Works, and Public Health. In effect, in just over 100 years after they fought for and achieved their independence, the Haitians were practically slaves in their own country.

Authorities on Hatian history stated that Hatian peasants forced to work in labour gangs, frequently dragged from their homes and harassed by armed guards, received few immediate benefits and saw this system of forced labour as a return to slavery at the hands of white men.

By the 1920s, as a result of recolonization, re-enslavement, unjust embargo, foreign intervention and domination, a once proud people who had satisfied many of Europe's indulges was reduced to a nation of peasants dependent on a foreign power to direct their every affair. The people were left raped, humiliated, and poor.

To sooth their broken hearts, they held on to voodoo and their traditional African religious ceremonies, but for that they were tagged as Satan's disciples. Western media continues to deliberately misrepresent the significance of Haitian religious beliefs and practice.

Dr Jerry Simon (NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre, 268-462 0631, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). Look out for Part 2 coming soon.

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10 Comments In This Article   

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@ Human

#10 Dr J.Simon » 2011-01-06 12:32

You show great awareness. I always tell people that African knowledge of God and even Christianity was immense long before the Europeans went there with their swords, guns and Bibles.
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Dr J.Simon

Ignorance of Vodoun

#9 human » 2011-01-04 19:28

Excellent article Dr. Simon.

As for the first commenter, Vodoun and similar religions brought over from West Africa believe in a single supreme being; yes, in a God.

It is only lack of knowledge, fed by religious vanity, that makes 'helping' and many similar people believe that OUR West African traditions and God are somehow mutually-exclusive. I say 'our', firmly, because that is OUR cultural heritage that we have been brainwashed to be ignorant of.
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human

CREDIT TO DR SIMON

#8 RAWLSTON POMPEY » 2010-12-30 08:12

Another of DR. SIMON'S creditable contributions. Enlightening historical contents of researched facts. Particularly liked the opening paragraphs , presumably, aimed at correcting the recurring drab-like news content interspersed with myths and inaccuracies, while ignoring causation of the people's plight and/or predicament.
Best wishes to him and continued support of his articulation.
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RAWLSTON POMPEY

RE: Haiti Still Living in Shadow- Part I

#7 Antiguan Abroad » 2010-12-29 21:31

Well stated, Dr. Simon. I remember writing a research paper on these same issues back in law school 20 years ago. That initial numbing debt on the back of the newly independent Haiti has no doubt been the single most important factor the island's ongoing struggle for development....aside from political corruption.
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Antiguan Abroad

RE: Haiti Still Living in Shadow- Part I

#6 Just sayin' » 2010-12-29 19:54

When people visited me in Antigua, and heard my analysis of the situation here they usually asked: So why isn't the situation as desperate as Haiti?

I could only tell them: Haiti has been independent for 200 years, Antigua has only been independent for less than thirty.

Give them time.
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Just sayin'

RE: Haiti Still Living in Shadow- Part I

#5 Get Real » 2010-12-29 18:01

Dr. Simon should be commended for providing Antiguans a graphic illustration of what their future holds if they continue to follow the folly of the so-called "country" of Haiti.

During the few years I let my body follow my investment in Antigua, many people asked what separated Antigua from Haiti?

I told them: 200 years. Antigua's catching up, give them time !!!
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Get Real

Thanks All

#4 Dr.Simon » 2010-12-29 13:44

Thanks Morris et al for your comments. I do believe also that Haiti one day will recover. This is why I write this article hoping that the external powers that have raped Haiti for so long can now truly contribute to its reconstruction. However I am afraid it is not going to happen any time soon.
Please look out for part 2.
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Dr.Simon

very insightful doc.

#3 Francois duPont » 2010-12-29 12:10

Very insightful article. The rape of Haiti was started by Spain, taken to height by France and capped off by the USA.
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Francois duPont

Thanks Dr. Simon

#2 Morris » 2010-12-29 01:35

Thanks for this powerful and riveting account of the travails of Haiti. This country is so resilient and rich with history, there is no doubt in my mind that it will find a way to recover. I will say, however, that those countries that have wronged Haiti will receive their just reward. You know what they say about karma, don't you?
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Morris

GOD Blessings be with Haitians

#1 my way of helping » 2010-12-29 00:15

I understand and empathize. even the path about the voodoo, it is human nature and i will not condemn the people, i will not send the Haitian people to hell for that, I will however, now put hope in their life and tell them about God and let them know where the real power comes from.

All they had, that could not be taken from them is their culture and as humans we would hold on too that. The other thing is all the abuse, even the out of the normal abuse, if true, I see why Haiti is is such a state. I do not know how to really reply to this but say I LOVE the people of Haiti and I pray things will change for them, In Jesus name.

This one is more of a must be there in person for me. Thanks again for the article.
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my way of helping

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Dr. Jerry Simon

Dr.Jerry Simon,a general physician, is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and Villa Clara (Cuba) Medical School. He has previously worked in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. Presently he is Medical Director of the NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre and is a certified member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

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