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torstai 10. syyskuuta 2015

Haiti, Cool Facts #65

<= 64. Canada                                                                                                         66. Madagascar =>

1. First Independent Black Country 

Haiti is the second oldest country in the western hemisphere after USA and the first country which was led by black people. Haiti became independent in 1804 and USA in 1776. First former slaves from USA arrived to Haiti but the miserable country didn't lure many people there and Liberia in Africa seemed like a better option for the freed slaves.

The Haitian Revolution started in 1791 and ended in 1804 in the declaration of independence. It's the only slave revolt which led to the founding of a state. In 1804 when Jean-Jacques Dessalines was chosen as the leader of independent Haiti, he ordered the Haiti massacre of the white minority in Haiti. As a result, between 3000 to 5000 white people died.

Haitian Revolution

2. Cite Soleil

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Cite Soleil is the slum area in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, which has over half a million inhabitants. The United Nations defines Cite Soleil as the "most dangerous and horrible place in the world". Over half of the population lives with under a dollar a day. 

Cité Soleil

3. Duvalier Family 

1956 Francois Duvalier aka "Papa Doc" rose in power. He was a black doctor educated in the US. Duvalier's secret police "Tontons Macoutes" was bigger than the army and they terrorized the population. 

1964 Duvalier elected himself as the lifelong president of Haiti. 

1971 Francois Duvalier died and so his 19-year old son Jean-Claude "Bebe Doc" Duvalier rises in power. His use of power was even more violent and corrupted than his father's. The Duvalier family dynasty took possession of the Haitian companies and the central bank was their own private bank. Over half a billion dollars was transferred into foreign accounts. People were tortured and over 50,000 died. Half a million people fleed, especially to USA.

1986 Jean-Claude Duvalier's rule ends in violent unrests and in 1990 under international surveillance first democratic elections were organized in Haiti. The catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected as president but overthrown the next year in a military coup. 

Francois Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier

4. Disastrous year of 2010

In 2010 the earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince killing about 300,000 people and 1,6 million people became homeless as a result of the earthquake. 

Only 3 weeks after the earthquake a fierce hurricane hit Haiti. The water supply went bad from all the rotting bodies and that caused a severe cholera epidemic, the first one in Haitian history. 

The already poor country has suffered from natural disasters and political chaos throughout its history. Besides the poverty, Haiti is the most corrupted country in the world and there have been 32 coups during the independence. 

5. Haitian Society 

The mulatto elite has controlled the country, which was born from the slave rebellion and was isolated for decades from the outside world. The black majority, 95% of the population live mainly in poverty in slums without a job. 

Haiti has seen coups after coups throughout the history and the military regimes and private armies have suppressed the population. The trees have been felled and erosion destroys the soil.

1% of the population owns 66% of the wealth and enjoys from benefits like no taxes, duty-free import and cheap labour.


1492 Columbus arrives at the island of Hispaniola
1697 The French invade Hispaniola and take one third of the island under their control
1791 The slaves start a rebellion against France winning it
1801 Slavery is abolished
1804 Saint-Domingue is declared independent and it adopts the name of Haiti
1820 Jean-Pierre Boyer unites North and South Haiti
1822 Boyer conquers Santo Domingo, which had declared itself as the Spanish Haiti (current Dominican Republic)
1844 Dominican Republic separates from Haiti
1867 USA recognizes the independence of Haiti
1915-1934 American troops occupy the country and keep order after the peasant revolt
1956 US educated doctor Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier rises in power
1964 Duvalier elects himself as the lifelong president
1971 Duvalier dies and his 19-year old son Jean-Claude "Bebe Doc" Duvalier rises in power
1986 Duvalier's reign ends in violent unrests
1990 Jean-Bertrand Aristide is elected as president in the first democratic elections of Haiti
1991 Aristide is displaced in a military coup
1993 UN announces a trade embargo after which Aristide is returned in power
1996 Power shift peacefully the first time in Haitian history when Rene Preval becomes the successor of Aristide
2001 Aristide is elected as president for the second time
2004 Aristide is displaced in a coup and forced to exile
2010 Musician Michel Martelley becomes the president of Haiti
2010 A devastating earthquake destroys Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti 

"Maailman maat liput ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen

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