I was wondering how long Jovenel Moïse would last.
My old friend Friedrich Braun is always telling me that I need to collect and publish my work in books. Several years ago, I essentially wrote a book here on the history of the Caribbean with a focus on Haiti in particular. We spent like a whole year running down that rabbit hole.
“Haiti’s embattled president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated overnight at his private residence, according to the country’s acting prime minister.
Prime Minister Claude Joseph said a group of people attacked the president’s private residence and killed him, calling it an “odious, barbaric” act.
Joseph said without explanation that some of the unknown attackers were speaking Spanish. The primary languages in Haiti are French and Haitian Creole.
The first lady was wounded by a bullet and is receiving care, he added. …”
Some context here for our new readers:
A Hundred Years of Trial: The First Century of Haitian Independence
1.) Jean-Jacques Dessalines, 1804-1806: Assassinated
2.) King Henri Christophe, 1807-1820: Suicide
3.) Alexandre Pétion, 1807-1818: Died of natural causes
4.) Jean-Pierre Boyer, 1818-1843: Ousted/exiled
5.) Charles Rivière-Hérard, 1843-1844: Ousted/exiled
6.) Philippe Guerrier, 1844-1845: Died of natural causes
7.) Jean-Louis Pierrot, 1845-1846: Overthrown
8.) Jean-Baptiste Riché, 1846-1847: Overdosed on aphrodisiacs
10.) Fabre Geffrard, 1859-1867: Resigned amid revolt
11.) Sylvain Salnave, 1867-1869: Executed by army
12.) Nissage Saget, 1870-1874: Forced to resign by army
13.) Michel Domingue, 1874-1876: Overthrown
14.) Boisrond-Canal, 1876-1879: Forced to resign
15.) Lysius Salomon, 1879-1888: Ousted by armed revolt
16.) François Légitime, 1888-1889: Ousted by revolt
17.) Florvil Hyppolite, 1888-1896: Stroke amid revolt
18.) Tirésias Simon Sam, 1896-1902: Resigned
Two Hundred Years of Trial: The Second Century of Haitian Independence
In 1884, the former British consul Sir Spenser St. John summed up the course of Haiti’s history in the introduction of book, Hayti, or the Black Republic:
“With regard to the history of this country, materials abound for writing a very full one, but I do not think it would prove interesting to the general reader. It is but a series of plots and revolutions, followed by barbarous military executions.”
Sir Spenser St. John, Hayti, or, The Black Republic, p.x
In 1900, Hesketh Prichard would later add this in his book:
“Corruption has spread through every portion and department of the government. Almost all the ills of the country may be traced to their source in the tyranny, the ineptitude, and the improbity of those at the helm of state. …
It is not overstating the case to say that the ambitions of the average Haytian politician on entering office are not towards the advancement of his country or projects of reform; his main idea is to make a fortune for himself and to use his power to avenge his personal resentments. In the former connection, there is a national proverb: “it is no robbery to rob the state.”
Hesketh Prichard, Where Black Rules White: A Journey Across and About Hayti, p.281
The second century of Haitian independence kicked off in 1904 and can be characterized as an acceleration of the late 19th century death rattle:
19.) Pierre Nord Alexis, 1902-1908: Resigned amid revolt
20.) Antoine Simon, 1908-1911: Resigned amid revolt
21.) Cincinnatus Leconte, 1911-1912: Killed, palace explosion
22.) Tancrède Auguste, 1912-1913: Died of poisoning or syphilis.
23.) Michel Oreste, 1913-1914: Resigned amid revolt
24.) Oreste Zamor, 1914-1914: Resigned amid revolt
25.) Joseph Davilmar Théodore, 1914-1915: Overthrown killed by mob
26.) Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, 1915-1915: Killed by mob
First US Occupation, 1915-1934
In between 1911 and 1915, Haiti went through no less than six presidents. A new low was reached when Cincinnatus Leconte died when his own ammunition exploded in the presidential palace and when Vilbrum Guillaume Sam was dragged off the toilet in the residence of the French ambassador and was torn limb from limb in the streets of Port-au-Prince by an irate mob composed of Haiti’s best families.
Foreigners agreed that it had gotten so bad it was time for an “intervention.” The first US occupation of Haiti was a rare moment of stability and progress, but its long term economic impact was limited by the Haitian judiciary’s disrespect of property rights:
27.) Sudré Dartiguenave, 1915-1922: Fulfilled his term
28.) Louis Borno, 1922-1930: Fulfilled his term
29.) Eugène Roy, 1930-1930: Fulfilled his term
30.) Sténio Vincent, 1930-1934: Fulfilled his term
Second Independence, 1934-1994
The first US occupation had effectively given Haiti a second chance at national independence.
Among other things, the US imposed a customs receivership on Haiti, sorted out its chaotic finances and supervised the repayment of its debt in 1947. The US also built roads, bridges, a telephone system and modernized Haiti’s ports.
In 1957, Haiti had the most democratic election in its history up to that point: Haitians chose none other than François “Papa Doc” Duvalier as their standard bearer, an anti-American black nationalist. The rest of the this period is characterized by Haiti’s descent into Duvalierism, the rise of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Lavalas, the coup d’état that ousted Aristide, and his lobbying campaign in Washington that brought about the second US occupation which lasted from 1994 to 2000:
30.) Sténio Vincent, 1934-1941: Fulfilled his term
31.) Élie Lescot, 1941-1946: Resigned amid revolt
32.) Dumarsais Estimé, 1946-1950: Deposed by army
33.) Paul Magloire, 1950-1956: Forced to resign by army
34.) Joseph Nemours Pierre-Louis, 1956-1957: Resigned amid labor strike
35.) Franck Sylvain, 1957-1957: Resigned
36.) Daniel Fignolé, 1957-1957: Forced out by army
39.) Leslie Manigat, 1988-1988, Ousted by army
40.) Henri Namphy, 1988-1988: Ousted by army
41.) Prosper Avril, 1988-1990: Resigned
42.) Hérard Abraham, 1990-1990: Fulfilled his term
43.) Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, 1990-1991: Fulfilled her term
44.) Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 1991-1992: Toppled by military
45.) Joseph Nérette, 1992-1992: Fulfilled his term
46.) Marc Bazin, 1992-1993: Resigned
Second US Occupation, 1994-2000
In 1994, Bill Clinton intervened in Haiti to return Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power and to stop the migration of Haitian boat people to Florida.
The year 1994 proved to be the international community’s highwater mark of optimism about Haiti. Excited by the prospect of a genuinely popular and “democratic” leader taking over control of Haiti, foreigners sunk billions of dollars into Haiti’s stabilization and reconstruction.
GDP per capita actually sunk in the 1990s and Haiti devolved once again into political assassinations and instability. Disgusted with “Haiti fatigue,” the US pulled out its last remaining troops in 2000.
47.) Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 1993-1995: Fulfilled his term
48.) René Préval, 1994-2001: Fulfilled his term
Three Hundred Years of Trial: The Third Century of Haitian Independence
In 2004, Haiti celebrated the bicentennial of its independence ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt country in the world.
No other point in Haitian history provides a better illustration of the total incapacity of Haitians to rule themselves. In spite of billions of dollars in foreign aid, an expensive US intervention that forced “democracy” on the country, and a seemingly incorruptible popular leader … once again, Haiti was right back where it was in 1904.
The venal Aristide administration degenerated into a farce and was toppled when Washington refused to ride to the rescue when a rebellion broke out in the provinces and advanced on Port-au-Prince.
49.) Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 2001-2004: Forced out office
UN Occupation of Haiti (MINUSTAH), 2004-Present
Since 2004, Haiti has effectively been a ward of the international community. UN troops have occupied the country and the “Republic of NGOs” have provided the services which are normally provided by a sovereign state.
50.) Boniface Alexandre, 2004-2006: Fulfilled his term
51.) René Préval, 1996-2011: Fulfilled his term
52.) Michel Martelly, 2011 – 2016: Ousted amid a revolt
53.) Jovenal Moïse, 2017 – Present
We can now confirm that Moïse has been assassinated