History of Haiti

History of Haiti

Colonization Haiti
Colonization Haiti

History of Haiti Colonization
In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the Caribbean island we now know as Haiti, claiming it for the Spanish and naming it Hispaniola. Soon after this, the New World’s first settlement was built at La Navidad on Haiti’s north coast. The island remained under Spanish control until 1698, when, subsequent to the treaty of Ryswick, it was split into two separate colonies; Spain’s stronghold of Santo Domingo and France’s colony, St. Domingue or ‘The Pearl of the Antilles’, which would prove to be its most lucrative overseas territory.

These two colonial powers ruled the island for the next 100 years, with sugar, rum, coffee, and cotton trade. Meanwhile, Spanish and French authorities increasingly joined the slave trade. Born in Jamaica, Bokman was the first to plant the badge of hatred against the latter by leading a slave rebellion against the occupying powers in 1791. This led to the 13-year war of independence, which was invaded by the slave army on colonialism and later, Napoleon’s army.

Revolution History of Haiti

toussaint louverture
toussaint louverture

The leader of the revolution, toussaint louverture, was deported by Napoleon Bonaparte to France in 1802, where he died a year later. His deputy, General Jean-Jacques Desalins, took over the gates and, in 1803, the slave army claimed victory over the French at the Battle of Vertices: On January 1 of the following year, Desalins declared a second republic, The island has been restored – the name ‘Haiti’ – or ‘Atty’ in Creole – meaning “hill country”.

Just two years after the French claimed their independence, Haiti returned to turmoil, General Desalins was assassinated in 1806, and civil war broke out in this country between 1807 and 1820. The island was divided into the northern kingdom of Henry Christophe and administered by Alexander Potion, the Southern Republic. The conflict ended when Christophe, who suffered a coup by his own people, was forced to commit suicide.

Independence History of Haiti

Jean-Paul Boyer
Jean-Paul Boyer

After Christopher’s death in 1820, Jean-Paul Boyer played the role of president of the entire Republic, which liberated Haiti from Spain in 1821. In 1838, France recognized Haiti’s independence, but it cost more. Haiti had to borrow a disability to pay the 150 million francs demanded by the French for this ‘privilege’. In the meantime, other nations continued to be kept away from the island because of its poor reputation.۔


US Marines occupied
US Marines occupied

In 1915, US Marines occupied Haiti, seizing control of its ports and custom houses.  Despite organised resistance, they did not withdraw until 1934.  Later, in 1937, tragedy struck Haiti, when the Dominican President, Rafael Trujillo, gave the order for his soldiers to massacre thousands of Haitians residing near the border of the Dominican Republic.

Dr Francois Duvalier being
Dr Francois Duvalier being

After a series of failed attempts at democracy, military-controlled elections lead to Dr Francois Duvalier being named President in 1957.  The regime, as reinforced by the President’s henchmen, the ‘Tonton Macoute’, became infamous for its brutality.  In 1964, the corrupt Duvalier, better known as ‘Papa Doc’, changed the constitution to make himself ‘President for Life’.  Tens of thousands of Haitians were killed or exiled during his ruthless dictatorship.

Jean Claude.
Jean Claude.

Following Duvalier’s death in 1971, the reigns of power were handed to his 19-year-old son, Jean Claude. “Baby-Doc”, who equaled, if not surpassed, his father in cruelty, killing and torturing thousands.  By the year of his ascendance to presidency, Haiti had become the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and remains so to this day.

General Henri Namphy
General Henri Namphy

By 1986, massive demonstrations against Jean Claude Duvalier’s tyranny led the US to intervene by arranging his exile to France.  General Henri Namphy took his place as the head of a National Governing Council, and, the following year, a new constitution was ratified.  However, in November 1987, the general elections were soon abandoned, after dozens of people were shot at by militants and the Tonton Macoute

Political Turmoil

In 1988, military-controlled elections were held, and Leslie Manigat became Haiti’s President. His ousting by General Namphy four months later would be the first in a chain of political upheavals. In November 1988, General Prosper Avril seized power from Namphy, heading up a repressive regime with widespread censorship in place. However, by 1990, popular protests and pressure from the American Ambassador convinced Avril to resign, with democratic elections taking place in December. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide was named President, with 67.5% of the vote.

On returning from addressing the UN General Assembly in 1991, President Aristide faced a violent coup d’état staged by the military and was ousted. In the aftermath of the coup, the Organisation of American States (OAS) called for an embargo on the de facto regime in Haiti, but this ultimately failed as goods continued to be smuggled through the Dominican Republic.

In July 1993, President Aristide and General Raoul Cédras signed the Governors Island Accord, calling for the retirement of Cédras, the return of the President, and the formation and training of a new civilian police force. General Cédras refused to step down as promised, and there was further unrest. The embargo on Haiti was reinforced by the UN, and human rights observers were brought in. The following year, a naval blockade was backed by Argentine, Canadian, French, Dutch and US warships.

In September 1994, US President Clinton formed a multinational force with 20 other nations, which proceeded to land on the island after the coup leaders agree to leave the country. On 15 October, the exiled President Aristide and his Government returned to Haiti. Former Prime Minister, René Préval, won the elections to become President in December 1995.


History of Haiti Charges of corruption and fraud sullied the municipal and legislative elections of 2000, leading to a boycott of the presidential elections later that year, which were won by Aristide.  By 2004, Haiti’s economy was struggling, while human rights abuses and political violence were rife.  This backdrop paved the way for yet another upheaval, with a rebel movement seizing power and forcing Aristide into exile.

History of Haiti During this tumultuous time, Boniface Alexandre assumed the interim authority, before René Préval was re-elected as President in February 2006.  The elections were once again marred by corruption and uncertainty, and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti remained in the country, having arrived there during the 2004 Haiti Rebellion.

Natural Disasters History of Haiti

Haiti earthquake
Haiti earthquake

The catastrophic Haiti earthquake which struck Haiti on 12 January 2010 had devastating effects, leaving over 217,000 people dead and 2.1 million homeless. Hurricane Sandy, which hit in 2012, caused further damage, with over another 200,000 people left without a home.In October 2016, the most powerful storm to hit Haiti in over fifty years, Hurricane Matthew, left more than 1.4 million people in the country in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Causing unprecedented flooding,

Haiti Today

In April 2011, Michel Martelly won a landslide victory in the presidential elections, remaining in the position until February 2016, following a difficult election period and subsequent riots in late 2015 and into the New Year.  Jocelerme Privert was named as interim President, before Jovenel Moïse won the November 2016 elections, taking office the following February.

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