Friday, January 2, 2015

Haitian Politics

In the 18th century, Haiti was controlled by the French and Spain with the latter having a larger share. They specialised in agriculture with the African slaves providing labor. The society was in a rigid hierarchical structure based on skin color, class and wealth.  In ascending order, African born plantation salves, creole slaves( the ones born in the new world), mixed race; the mullato slaves and finally the whites. Later in the eighteenth century changes begun with the slaves abandoning their plantations and Mullato's seeking full citizenship.

In 1971, Tousssaint Louverture emerged as a commander within the rebel army of the black slaves. His top commanders were Jean-jacque Dessalines and Henry Christophe. A struggle which included switching of allies between France and Spain. Dessalines, Christophe and the Mullato general joined forces in order to expel the French in 1802.

( There is a movie that shows his story directed by Philippe Niang  released in 2012. Jimmy- Jean Louis a Haitian actor plays Toussaint's character.) A cover of the movie to the far right.)
In 1803, Haiti was declared an independent republic as France withdrew to the war in Europe. As much as the french refused to acknowledge that fact. 
Dessalines became the first president in 1804 and declared himself emperor Jacquel. He was assassinated and Boyer then took over  and negotiated payment to the french to recognise Haiti's independence and reunite  trade relations with the country.
(A statue of Dessalines in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. )
Then came Francois Duvalier a dictator popularly referred to as 'Papa Doc'. The name was because of his paternalistic concern for poor and sick nations. Francois was succeeded by his son  Sean Claude who went by the nickname ' Baby Doc'. 

Jean Bertrand Astride known to be the first democratically elected president, an outspoken anti -Duvalier at the time won the presidency with a landslide victory vote of sixty seven percent. He pledged to rid Haiti of its ethnic, racial, and economic hierarchy that defined the country. Aristide was ousted by a military coup in September 29 1991. The military government engaged in oppression of Dissidents and Aristide supporters. There were numerous extrajudicial killings. On September 9, 1994; the US led military restored Aristide to office who then abolished the Haitian army and replaced it with the united states trained Haitian National police. 

 An interesting fact about Haiti is its witchcraft history to be specific Voodoo. Here is a link that explains more on it. I found more sites that could help explain what occurs during the voodoo ceremonies. On Voodoo drumming. One can watch one of the ceremonies

Haitian women join in a vodoo bathing ritual. 

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