Haiti’s history of violence and turmoil


Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise and First Lady Martine attend a ceremony at a memorial marking the tenth anniversary of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Titanyen, Haiti, Jan. 12, 2020. REUTERS / Andres Martinez Casares / File Photo

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jul 7 (Reuters) – Haiti became the first independent colonial state in Latin America and the Caribbean and the first black-led republic when it overturned French rule in the 19th century.

But it has suffered cycles of violence, invasion, and repression for most of its subsequent history, including the dynastic Duvalier dictatorship.

President Jovenel Moise was shot dead by unknown assailants overnight, raising fears of further rioting.

Here are some key events in Haiti’s political history.

1492 – Spain colonizes the island of Hispaniola after the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Two hundred years later, Spain ceded the western half to France. Plantations managed by slaves of African origin produce sugar, rum and coffee that enrich France.

1801 – Former slave Toussaint Louverture leads a successful revolt and abolishes slavery.

1804 – Haiti becomes independent under the former slave Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who is murdered in 1806.

1915 – The United States invades Haiti and withdraws in 1943, but retains financial control and political influence.

1937 – In the worst incident of longstanding rivalry with the neighboring Dominican Republic, thousands of Haitians are massacred in the border area by Dominican troops on the orders of the dictator Trujillo.

1957 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier takes power with military support and ushers in a time when human rights violations are widespread.

1964 – Duvalier declares himself president for life. His dictatorship is marked by repression enforced by the feared secret police Tonton Macoutes.

1971 – Duvalier dies and is replaced by his son Jean-Claude or “Baby Doc”. Repression is increasing. In the decades that followed, thousands of Haitian boat people flee to Florida by sea, and many die on the way.

1986 – A popular revolt forces Baby Doc to flee Haiti into French exile. Lieutenant General Henri Namphy takes over.

1988 – General Prosper Avril takes over Namphy in a coup.

1990 – Avril declares the state of siege amid protests, but resigns before the elections under international pressure.

1990 – Former pastor Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a leftist defender of the poor, wins the first free elections in Haiti. In 1991 he was overthrown in a coup.

1994 – US forces intervene to overthrow the military regime and Aristide returns. In 1995 UN peacekeeping troops were stationed and Aristide protege Rene Preval was elected president.

1999 – Aristide is elected President for a second term despite controversial results.

2004 – Political unrest forces Aristide to flee, but the country falls into violence.

2006 – Preval wins the election.

2008 – 2010. Series of protests triggered by food shortages, cholera outbreaks and then elections.

2010 – A catastrophic earthquake kills between 100,000 and 300,000 people, according to various estimates, and causes great damage in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. Despite international aid measures, the country is as good as overwhelmed, which exacerbates the political, social and economic problems.

2011 – Michel Martelly wins the second round of the presidential election.

2012-14 Frequent anti-government protests fueled by corruption and poverty. Protesters demand Martelly’s resignation.

2017 – Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter and politician, is declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election.

2019 – Moise is constantly gaining power and ruling by decree after Haiti fails to hold elections due to political deadlock and unrest

Thousands take to the streets, shout “No to the dictatorship” and demand Moise’s resignation.

Compiled by Angus MacSwan; Adaptation by Nick Macfie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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