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History of Haiti

Pre-Columbian period

              Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Haiti on December 5, 1492, met a peaceful population that he called "Indians", thinking he had discovered the route to India, passing through western Europe. He named this island Hispaniola.

              The first inhabitants of the island were the Ciboneys, who arrived from the north from Florida. They were gradually replaced by the Arawaks, who came from the south, from Guyana or Venezuela, of peaceful customs and the Caribbean of more ferocious customs.

            Pre-Columbian culture and art underwent a significant influence (from -800 to -1300 BC) from peoples of Africa, Africans, Egyptians, Phoenicians and even Assyrians. Many plants that are very popular today, such as coconut palms, cotton, gourds, sweet potatoes, bananas and yams, come from successive migrations from Asia.

             On the arrival of Christopher Columbus, the island was politically composed of five caciquats controlling a population composed mainly of tainos, of the Arawak tribe, and of the Caribbean, with mellow manners, inhabitants of large villages, estimated at more than 1 million and living from agriculture, hunting and fishing.

Colonial period

             After having defeated the five caciques who ruled the country, the Spaniards , greedy for wealth, subjected the natives to forced labor in order to extract the gold from the mines. In less than twenty-five years, the Indian populations were decimated because of slavery and diseases imported by the conquerors. From 1502, black slaves, coming from Africa, gradually replaced the Indians, but from 1530, the Spaniards turned to Central America and Peru, much richer in gold.

             French buccaneers and buccaneers occupy Tortoise Island and coastal towns and drive the English out of some towns in the south. The Treaty of Ryswik (1697) attributes the western part of the island to the French. Large plantations are established with the cultivation of tobacco, first indigo and cotton, then sugar and coffee. In 1789, the population was almost 95% black and mulatto.

                In 1779, nearly a thousand Haitian freedmen took part in the United States War of Independence, including future generals of Haitian Independence.

Revolutionary period

              With the French revolution, the whites are divided. After movements of struggle of the freedmen and the marronnage of slaves escaping from the plantations, Toussaint Louverture took the lead in the slave revolt, which began in August 1791, after the “Bois Caïman” ceremony. The slave was abolished in 1793 but reinstated in 1802 by Napoleon.

            The slaves, surrounded by valiant generals, fought hard against the Napoleonic army, Toussaint Louverture was arrested and imprisoned at Fort de Joux (Jura, France) where he died on April 7, 1803.

           Dessalines resumed combat and defeated the French at the Battle of Vertières (November 18, 1803) and declared the country's independence on January 1, 1804, in Gonaïves. He gives back the name of Haiti (Ayiti) to the country, the world's first free black republic.

Period Republic of Haiti

                The assassination of Dessalines in 1806 caused the island to be divided in two parts with Henry Christophe in the North and Alexandre Pétion in the South.

           Haitians actively participate in the war against Spanish colonization by materially and financially supporting Miranda and Simon Bolivar.


             After a difficult construction of national unity, the military and Mulattoes dominated the political life of the country until 1915. Political instability provoked the American occupation from 1915 to 1934. The popular reaction was violent with the insurrection of “ Cacos ”with Charlemagme Péralte and Benoît Batraville.

                In 1937, tension with the Dominican Republic where approximately 20,000 Haitians were massacred near the Haitian-Dominican border.

                     New political instabilities provoke the coming to power of François Duvalier in 1957 who established the Presidency for Life in 1964, characterized by a ferocious dictatorship, perpetrated by his son, "Baby Doc" with the help of the militia of the "tontons macoutes" », From 1971 to 1986. On February 7 of this year, Jean Claude Duvalier fled following popular and student mobilizations.

                A new Constitution was ratified in May 1987 by the population. The military however kept control of power until the election of Jean Bertrand Aristide, Catholic priest of the Theology of the Liberation in February 1991. He himself was overthrown in September 1991 by a military coup (Raoul Cédras) , causing many victims. An economic embargo is imposed by the UN, President Aristide finally returns after three years of exile and prepares the elections won by René Préval, his prime minister. Aristide returned to power in 2001 but, after permanent political instability in a catastrophic economic context, he was again overthrown by a coalition of powerful businessmen, former soldiers, supported by students and part of the international community. . The militia returned with the Fraph, instigating terror among the population, in particular in disadvantaged neighborhoods, such as the Cité Soleil.

                 René Préval returned to power in 2006 and handed it over to Michel Martelly in 2011, with the support of the international community. The earthquake of January 10, 2010 sinks the Haitian economy, already dying. The powerful Haitian businessmen, supported by the international community, have control over the economy and politics, placing in power the PHTK regime, of Michel Martelly then of Jouvenel Moïse in 2017.

             Popular mobilisations, from July 2018 to the present day, have led to a virtual closure of the country, a “country lock”, but have not prevented Jouvenel from remaining in power thanks, once again, to the support of the community. international. Corruption is in full swing since the post-earthquake donations, the money from "Pétro Caribe" and many other files, great insecurity is setting in with the rise of numerous armed gangs throughout the country. The depreciation of the gourd is accelerating. The population is sinking into subhuman living conditions and untenable poverty.

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