Haiti: Background

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pre-1492
  Fertile homeland of about one million Taino Arawak people. The socio-economic system provides food for all.
 
1492
  Christopher Columbus lands and claims the island for Spain. Spanish build settlement of La Navidad
 
1492-1550
  Arawaks enslaved by Spaniards; forced labor and disease destroy Arawak peoples
 
1520s
  Spanish first import Africans in slavery
 
1629
  French Buccaneers establish base, leading to French settlement of western Hispanola
 
1697
  Treaty of Ryswick divides Hispanola into St. Domingue (French) and Santo Domingo (Spanish)
 
1750-90
  St. Domingue produces more sugar than any other Caribbean colony, with the labor of at least half a million enslaved Africans
 
1791
  Slave uprising by Boukman
 
1793
  Slavery abolished in St. Domingue
 
1798
  Slave army led by Touissant L'Ouverture defeats British invasion force
 
1802-1803
  Napoleon Bonaparte sends French troops top St. Domingue to restore slavery. Touissant is captured. Army of former slaves, led by Dessalines, defeats French forces
 
1804
  Dessalines declares Haiti's independence. Viewing the Haitian revolution as a dangerous example to its own slaves, the United States imposes economic blockade
 
1838
  France recognizes Haitian independence in exchange for large financial indemnity
 
1822-44
  Haiti occupies Spanish Santo Domingo
 
1863
  United States recognizes Haiti
 
1843-1915
  Sequence of bloody civil conflicts for political control of the nation. Only two of twenty-two presidents complete their full terms in office as the coup d'etat becomes the established method of power transfer
 
1915
  United States occupies Haiti to "reestablish order and defend American interests"
 
1915-1919
  Charlemagne Peralte leads peasant resistance to occupation; captured and assassinated in 1919.
 
1943
  U.S. occupation withdrawn.
 
1957
  Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier elected president.
 
1958
  Following a failed coup attempt, Duvalier creates a personal armed security force, known as the Tonton Macoutes. The militia functioned to repress political opposition and terrorize the countryside.
 
1964
  Duvalier proclaims himself President-for-Life
 
1970s-1980s
  Economic shift from agriculture to assembly industry such as tennis shoes and baseballs. 85% of profit from industry goes to the United States. Efforts to protest low pay and dangerous working conditions are severely repressed.
 
1971
  Francois Duvalier dies after naming his son Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") as President-for-Life
 
1972
  First Haitian refugee "boat people" arrive in Florida.
 
1980
  Government crackdown on opposition groups. 200 journalists, lawyers and human rights workers arrested.
 
1981
  U.S. and international agencies slaughter pigs in Haiti following outbreak of African swine fever.
 
1984
  Anti-government riots in major Haitian towns.
 
1985
  Soldiers shoot four schoolchildren during protests.
 
1986
  Duvalier flees Haiti with family for exile in France. National governing Council formed, headed by Lieutenant General Henri Namphy.
 
1987
  National election. Soldiers and Tontons Macoutes massacre voters. Election cancelled.
 
1988
  Army holds fraudulent election; Leslie Maginat becomes figurehead president. Coup d'etats put Gen. Namphy in power, followed by Lt. Gen. Avril.
 
1990
  Haiti successfully holds first Democratic elections. Jean Bertrand Aristide wins with 67% of popular vote against a well-financed, U.S.-backed candidate, former World Bank official Marc Bazin.
 
1991
  February: Aristide is inaugurated. The economy, education and human rights improve. Flow of refugees slows to a trickle.
 
September 30, 1991
  Army seizes power in coup d'etat. Aristide goes into exile. Severe repression is unleashed against democratic and grassroots groups. Thousands of refugees begin fleeing Haiti in boats.
 
October, 1991
  Organization of American States (OAS) condemns the coup and calls for a trade embargo.
 
1992
  May: President Bush orders U.S. Coast Guard to intercept all Haitians leaving the island in boats and return them to Haiti.
 
July, 1992
  Marc Bazin, who won only 13% of votes in 1991 is sworn in as Prime Minister.
 
September, 1992
  50,000 people march in New York to show support for Aristide's return to Haiti.
 
January, 1993
  Naval blockade imposed to prevent Haitians from fleeing to the U.S.
 
July, 1993
  Governors Island Accord signed between President Aristide and military leader Raul Cedras setting Oct. 30 as Aristide's return date.
 
October, 1993
  General Cedras refuses to step down, delaying restoration of democracy.
 
1993-1994
  Many key leaders of the democratic movement are killed.
 
1994
  July: UN Security Council resolution 940 authorizes the use of "any means necessary to facilitate the departure of the military dictatorship."
 
September, 1994
  U.S. military intervenes in Haiti to reinstate Aristide as president.
 
October 15, 1994
  UN lifts embargo and Aristide returns as President.
 
1995
  Early: Aristide orders forced retirement of Army officers involved in Military Coup government. US intervention forces leave, replaced by UN Peacekeepers (still mainly US troops).
 
December, 1995
  Barred by the Haitian Constitution from serving consecutive terms, Aristide steps down from the Presidency after serving less than two years of his five-year term. He is replaced by Fanmi Lavalas candidate Rene Preval in an electoral landslide.
 
1997
  June: Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigns following several months of strikes and protests against government austerity measures. Smarth had been criticized by Aristide and others for following economic policies aimed at reducing government spending and increasing privatization. In the absence of he Prime Minister, Haiti's government slowed to a halt.
 
November, 1997
  Withdrawal of 1,200 UN peacekeepers. 300 police instructors and 400 U.S. troops remain.
 
1997-1999
  Government remains in a state of disarray as the legislature, plagued by political factionalism, is unable to approve budgets or authorize the distribution of foreign aid. Political divisiveness prevents Preval from appointing a new Prime Minister
 
January, 1999
  Preval appoints a new government by decree, with former education minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis as Prime Minister. Due to its expired term, President Preval refuses to recognize Parliament.
 
March, 1999
  A new government and provisional electoral board are sworn in.
 
May 21, 2000
  Parliamentary elections are held. It is estimated that 60-70% of the electorate turned out to vote.
 
June, 2000
  Election results are released. Fanmi Lavalas (Aristide's Party) wins 16 of 17 Senate seats in the first round, and 28 of the 83 seats up for grabs in the House of Deputies.
Orlando Marville, chief of the OAS electoral mission in Haiti, contests the method by which votes were counted and the need for run-off elections were determined. FL, the OAS determined should have won only 7 Senate seats outright in the first round.
 
In a response letter to the OAS, president of the CEP, Leon Manus, blasts the international objections, pointing out that the vote-counting method were based on precedent and that the methods to be used were made known to OAS months in advance.
 
June 5, 2000
  The U.S. issues a statement supporting the OAS position.
 
June 16, 2000
  Controversy over the election results escalates. CEP president Leon Manus flees to the Dominican Republic and then the U.S. He issues a statement repudiating the original election results and claims that he had faced death threats because of his refusal to sign them.
 
June-November, 2000
  Electoral controversy continues. The U.S. withholds financial aid for elections. A convergence group of opposition parties call for the annulment of the May elections and a boycott of the November 26 presidential elections. The OAS attempts to mediate a negotiated resolution. Fanmi Lavalas declares itself ready to meet with its detractors, but the opposition stonewalls, calling only for their "option zero."
 
November 26, 2000
  Following two weeks of sporadic violence, the Presidential elections are held. Despite a boycott by the opposition convergence, the CEP reports 60% overall voter turnout, with turnout some rural precincts reaching over 80%. Jean-Bertrand Aristide is declared the winner, defeating seven other unknown candidates.
 
December 17, 2001
  Coup attempt - 30 armed men attempt to storm the National Palace. 12 people are killed.
 
July, 2002
  Haiti becomes a full member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) trade bloc.
 
April, 2003
  The Haitian government officially recognizes Voodoo as a religion. Voodoo has never been illegal in Haiti, but now Voodoo ceremonies such as marriage have equal standing as Christian ones. Voodoo has been practiced in Haiti since the 18th century and is followed by over 90 % of Haitians today.
 
January, 2004
  Haiti celebrates 200 years of independence. Oppositional forces stage anti -government protests. Rebels begin a violent campaign to force Aristide out of office.
 
February, 2004
  Armed rebels organized by a former police chief, Guy Philippe, take control of several cities including Gonaives and Hinche. In an attempt to stop the bloodshed, Aristide agrees to an international peace initiative, which would reduce his political power and allow the government, opposition and international community to replace the prime minister. The opposition will accept nothing less than Aristide's resignation. Aristide appeals to France and the US for intervention and is refused. As rebels close in on Port - au - Prince, Aristide is removed from the country by US military and flown to the Central African Republic. Aristide tells the world that American military, US diplomats, and military officials kidnapped him. He describes his removal as a coup d'etat. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Boniface Alexander becomes interim president.
 
March, 2004
  Former foreign minister and UN official, Gerard Latortue becomes interim Prime Minister. CARICOM refuses to recognize the new Haitian government.
 
May, 2004
  Severe floods devastate southern Haiti and parts of the Dominican Republic.2000 people are dead or missing.
 
May, 2004
  South Africa agrees to allow Aristide residency until his situation normalizes.
 
June, 2004
  UN peacekeeping troops take over security duties from the US.
 
January, 2010
   Haiti is hit by a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the strongest in over 200 years.
 
January, 2011
Jean-Claude Duvalier returns from exile.
 
March, 2011
Jean-Bertrand Aristide returns from exile in South Africa.
 
May, 2011
Michel Martelly becomes President