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Haiti Still Living in Shadow- Part II

Haiti Still Living in ShadowBy the 1920s Haiti was practically a re-enslaved country. This time, not by the old colonial power France, but by the growing American imperialist machinery.

Earlier in 1917, at the demand of United States officials, the Haitian National Assembly was dissolved and a new Haitian constitution was written.

This constitution was dictated verbatim by officials of the US State Department and the US Navy. A key provision of the constitution, written personally by Franklin D Roosevelt, was to abolish the prohibition on foreign ownership of land. This was the most essential component of the original Haitian constitution.

We saw earlier how the US had taken over Haiti's lone commercial bank and had re-introduced forced labour. Hence the domination was complete - we have taken your gold, we have taken your land and we have taken your dignity (to quote King Smarty Jr).


While Haiti was the most prosperous country in the Caribbean from the 1870s to the end of the first decade of the 20th century, by the 1930s over two decades of forced American occupation had left Haiti a shadow of its former self.

In 1934, the US completed the withdrawal of its troops from Haiti, but by then Haiti was left with a decimated economy. Even so, the US stranglehold on Haiti's external finances continued until 1947. This saw US companies profiteering from Haiti, once again getting rich on the backs of the hard working Haitian people as the French did centuries before.

Meanwhile, the exploitation left Haiti, especially its majority black population, poor, destitute, miserable and utterly disillusioned. This desperate economic and social situation led to a decade of military coup and quasi military leadership and even more instability. Eventually it paved the way for one of the most ruthless dictatorship in modern history - the Duvalier era.

Dr Francois Duvalier was elected as president in 1957 and for 14 years ruled the Haitian people through murder, intimidation, beatings and even through sorcery. After his death in 1971, his son Jean Claude Duvalier continued the mission of self enrichment for 15 years.

In 1961 the Kennedy administration "officially" suspended aid to Haiti after Duvalier intended to use a US Marine Corps mission to strengthen his force of intimidators known as the Tonton Macoutes. However, his regime was in part propped up by big US businesses who profited through fraud and corruption.

In 1971, he entered into a 99-year contract with the Dupont Company of Texas for a free port project on Tortuga island located 10 miles off the north coast of mainland Hispaniola. No serious attempts were ever made by US or European powers to depose Duvalier. Other than the occasional lip service, no major power put any serious pressure on him.


It is quite ironic that Haiti's history has been one of foreign domination, and in that era Duvalier practically got a free ride from the major foreign powers. "Our companies are making money, so what if he killed 30 000 Haitians? Didn't we kill more?"

Was Duvalier, and his son after him, tolerated by the US as an "anti-communism cap" on the Caribbean? I would want to think that history supports that view.

From the late 1950s to 1980s, we saw the rise of socialism and the black movement in the Caribbean. From Castro in Cuba, Burnham in Guyana, Manley in Jamaica, Bosch in the Dominican Republic, to Bishop in Grenada, and continuing to trans Caribbean nationals such as Walter Rodney, the US had to keep a lid on the perceived "threat to democracy". Hence, Haiti had to pay the price.

The Duvalier era eventually ended in 1986 when Jean Claude was forced into exile by the Haitian army. He was actually flown on a US Air Force jet to France, but not before he had amassed hundreds of millions of dollars.


Sadly, calls for him to face trial in Haiti have fallen on the deaf ears of French officials. Even contrary to French and European Union law, he enjoys asylum in France. Just a month after the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a Swiss court ordered the release of four million dollars to Duvalier and has rejected releasing any of Duvalier's ill gotten millions to Haiti.

Meanwhile, hundred of thousands of Haitians continue to sleep in tents (the lucky ones) and live in squalor from day to day.

After the discord following the exile of Duvalier, Jean Bertrand Aristide was swept into power in a 1990 election deemed by international observers to be largely free and fair. He immediately introduced
radical policies to favour the poor, down trodden classes; but in less than nine months he was ousted in a coup backed by the country's elite.

Although he enjoyed popular support in Haiti, he was not allowed to return until three years later. The European Union and the US dragged their collective foot on the matter despite repeated pleas from Aristide and his supporters. Was it because big business found it more difficult to run rackets in Haiti under Aristide's leadership?

According to the Centre for Research on Globalization, Aristide finally manage to persuade President Clinton to help his return to Haiti. But this "help" came at an enormous price. Clinton forced Aristide to open up Haiti's economy to free trade with the US and a brutal IMF programme, reducing minimum wage from $1.50 a day to $0.63.


The IMF also forced Haiti to cut its rice tariff from 35 percent to three percent, resulting in the destruction of local rice farming. This policy was favourable to US agri-business, as US rice was feeding one out of every three Haitians by 1995.

Loans to upgrade the water and sewage systems in a particular community in Haiti were blocked in the 1990s. Guess in which community the initial outbreak of the recent cholera epidemic occurred? The answer to one is the answer to the other.

Do our leaders who are signing IMF agreements have the deluded idea that the IMF is a changed institution and that they now have holy intentions? Ask Haiti; but I do not think that the proverbial leopard has changed its spots.

The history has been presented, from the initial Spanish conquest, to French colonization to American domination. I ask you now to draw your own conclusion, but by my estimation Haiti is still living in the shadow of systematic destruction by Western powers.

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. ).

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10 Comments In This Article   

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@who me 2

#10 Wham » 2011-01-08 21:45

Pressed the add comment **on to soon. But whatever colour you are once again it would seem that elephants are more important than people.
Since Oprah's words are now American gospel, let her know that getting gasoline cars off the roads is an important part of the ecological balance.
No American should be teaching any one from anywhere else about morals, because the only morals they know is money.
At least after living for thousands of years with "heartless" black humans some African elephants still exist.
How many millions of Buffaloes have been killed for FUN by "heartless " white humans on the American great plains, or how many whales have been killed by the Boston, Hartford or other East Coast US whalers.
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@who me

#9 Wham » 2011-01-08 21:17

Was not this the same Oprah who brought 50 brand new motor cars for people to watch her show. At 50 dollars a pop she has enough money to save all the elephants in the world.
The excess Antiguans are sending the little money they have to feed poor people in Haiti.
Since you mentioned Oprah I heard she is Obama's friend.
Maybe she can talk to him so Haiti can get back some of that money stolen by baby Doc or for the US to stop decimating Haitian agriculture.
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Wham

#8 Who Me, Name Names??? » 2011-01-06 19:32

Right now, African Elephants are being exterminated by heartless black humans.

Oprah (An important Antiguan Home Owner) just did a television special about it. She said they are an important part of our ecological balance.

For only $50 US, you can save an African Elephant.

(of course, Antiguans consider the destruction producing an excess Antiguan worth less than the 50 cents it costs to buy a condom. Too bad for the elephants).
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Who Me, Name Names???

@ Human

#7 Dr J.Simon » 2011-01-06 12:36

Thanks for your addition. It was Jose Marti the Cuban philosopher who said "He who studies more knows more."
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Dr J.Simon

Another book on Haiti

#6 human » 2011-01-04 19:41

Another great book on Haiti is "An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President" by Randall Robinson.

For one, it is most up to date in that it extends right up to the latest ousting (kidnapping?) of President Aristide in 2004, the circumstances surrounding which seem eerily family to the 1990 ousting/kidnapping.

For Haiti, the more time changes, the things remain the same. The immoral external forces continue to impoverish and rape her.
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human

doctor simon

#5 tenman » 2011-01-03 11:07

Thanks as usual for a thought provoking history lesson. You have reminded us that the IMF is not our friends but only loyal the countries that control it particularly the US.

..
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tenman

@ Dr. Simon

#4 my way of helping » 2011-01-03 10:26

Thank you and I will look through some of these. Keep doing the positives.
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my way of helping

My Way of Helping

#3 Dr. J Simon » 2011-01-03 07:39

Among the books that I found very good on the History of Haiti are: Black Jacobins by the one of the greatest Caribbean Historians, CLR James, The Seizure of Haiti by the US, by Bausman, Written in Blood by Robert Heinl, US occuation of Haiti by Hans **, and there is an old Book by Emily Balch called Occupied Haiti.
Of course there are many others including Caribbean Soverenty, Struggle and Survival by Catherine Sunshine ( this is a book on 20 th century Caribbean History in general esp. post 1950. )
Rasta and Resistance and Garvey's Children are also good generalized books on Caribbean and black history.
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Dr. J Simon

@ Dr. Simon

#2 my way of helping » 2011-01-03 05:28

informative but because, this piece is being read by us and we are ignorant to the situation and the major accusations, it would be nice if you had given MORE references just so we can accept what you are saying and not feel guilty about doing so without verifying.

For some reason i believe what you are saying are the facts but want to be more sure.

Thank you again and very informative and mind/heart opening
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my way of helping

#1 Morris » 2011-01-03 02:34

Thanks Dr. Simon for another "home run" article.
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Morris

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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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