Haiti: The Failure of Politics

By Brian Weinstein; Aaron Segal | Go to book overview

2
From U. S. Occupation to Duvalier Family Rule

By 1915 Haiti had been an independent state for 111 years. After having exercised sovereignty for longer than any other South Americans or Caribbeans, the Haitian elites as well as the masses were sooner or later bound to experience a revulsion against the white, English-speaking foreigners who were to claim control of their country that year. The argument, correctly made then and now, that Haitians have not been well governed in an independent state could never justify in their own view almost two decades of U.S. rule. Moreover, today's anger about those years seems sharp despite the gradual disappearance of persons who actually experienced the occupation. Insecurity, mistrust of the military, a sense of helplessness, and a deep frustration over the lack of significant change since 1986 have convinced many Haitians that either another U.S. invasion is imminent or that it has already occurred through interposed Haitian agents.

The years from 1915 to 1934 were less significant than claimed, however. They were too brief to effect longlasting economic changes or to alter the basic relationship between the two worlds we have described. The British and the French had a long-term commitment to their Caribbean possessions and expected a long- term financial and political return, whereas the Americans said they would leave no later than 1936. The infrastructure put in place during the twentieth century in Jamaica and Guadeloupe, under the Union Jack and the Tricolor, is far superior to Haiti's. Haitians were proud of their elitist educational system and particularly their medical school, but these institutions were not the creation of Americans.

It is true that occupation authorities rewrote the Haitian constitution to favor U.S. private commercial and business interests and encouraged corporations to invest in order to strengthen the U.S. presence while diminishing the German presence, but private sector response was tepid. Washington was equally reluctant to spend U.S. tax money in Haiti. Nonetheless, the U.S. presence, like the British

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Haiti: The Failure of Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Politics in Haiti 1
  • Notes 21
  • 2 - From U. S. Occupation to Duvalier Family Rule 25
  • Conclusion 49
  • Notes 50
  • 3 - Government by Franchise 53
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - Economic Hopes and Realities 79
  • Notes 101
  • 5 - Haiti: The First Third World" State?" 103
  • Notes 126
  • 6 - Can Haiti Survive? 129
  • Notes 145
  • 7 - Prospects for Democracy 147
  • Notes 168
  • 8 - Conclusion: Shaking Off the Past 171
  • Notes 185
  • Suggested Readings 187
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 195
  • About the Authors 204
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