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Massive earthquake strikes Haiti

Massive earthquake strikes Haiti

On January 12, 2010, Haiti is devastated by a massive earthquake. It drew an outpouring of support from around the globe but the small nation has yet to fully recover.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, due largely to its history of colonization, occupation and exploitation by Spain, France and the United States. It also has a history of seismic activity—devastating earthquakes were recorded there in 1751, 1770, 1842 and 1946. The island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, lies mostly between two large tectonic plates, the North American and the Caribbean. The Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince practically straddles this fault-line. Despite this knowledge and warnings from seismologists that another earthquake was likely in the near future, the country's poverty meant that infrastructure and emergency services were not prepared to handle the effects of a natural disaster.

The 2010 earthquake struck just before 5 pm. The tremor was felt as far away as Cuba and Venezuela, but the epicenter of the 7.0-magnitude quake was just 16 miles away from Port-au-Prince. Eight aftershocks followed the same day, and at least 52 were recorded over the next two weeks. The effects were catastrophic. All of the capital’s hospitals, as well as three facilities run by Doctors Without Borders, sustained serious damage, as did Port-au-Prince's airport and its seaport, which was rendered inoperable. Telecoms services were greatly affected, major roads were rendered impassible and close to 300,000 buildings, most of which were residences, were damaged beyond repair. The National Assembly building and Port-au-Prince Cathedral were also destroyed.

The human toll was horrific and remains incalculable. Some estimates put the number of deaths around 40-50,000, while the Haitian government estimated that over 316,000 died, but all authorities acknowledge that the death toll is impossible to truly count. Something approaching 1 million people were displaced.

News and images of the quake, including photos of the heavily-damaged National Palace, quickly activated a massive humanitarian response. The Dominican Republic and Dominican Red Cross responded immediately with emergency supplies and airlifts to Dominican hospitals. Nations from every continent contributed money, supplies, and manpower. Port-au-Prince's airport operated around the clock but could not accommodate all the arrivals. Foreign air forces, including those of the United States and Great Britain, airlifted survivors to hospital ships off the coast, and some supplies were dropped to the island by parachute. The "Hope for Haiti" telethon on January 22nd broke records by raising $58 million in one day.

Though the humanitarian response was immediate and overwhelming, Haiti's crippled infrastructure made the delivery of aid difficult. The situation was still classified as an emergency six months after the earthquake. A million people on the island lived in tents, and a cholera epidemic that began in October claimed over 3,300 more lives. Whether or not Haiti has yet fully recovered is a matter of debate, but the effects of the earthquake were palpable for the next decade.


2010 Massive earthquake strikes Haiti

On this day in 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastates the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. The quake, which was the strongest to strike the region in more than 200 years, left over 200,000 people dead and some 895,000 Haitians homeless.

The earthquake hit southern Haiti at 4:53 p.m. local time. The nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, a densely populated city located about 15 miles from the quake’s epicenter, suffered widespread devastation. Countless dwellings were reduced to rubble, while hospitals, churches and schools collapsed and roads were blocked with debris. Numerous government structures were heavily damaged or destroyed, including the presidential palace, parliament building and main prison. (At the time of the quake, Haiti lacked a national building code, and many structures were shoddily constructed.) In the aftermath of the quake, amidst fears that victims’ decomposing corpses could spread disease, trucks picked up thousands of bodies and dumped them into mass graves.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti, which occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic occupies the other two-thirds), was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80 percent of its 9 million residents existing in poverty. Political corruption and violence, disease, malnutrition and limited access to education were a way of life for many in Haiti, which gained its independence from France in an 1804 slave revolt.

A large-scale, international relief operation was launched soon after the quake hit, with the United States taking charge and sending thousands of military troops to Haiti to deliver supplies, assist with search-and-rescue efforts and help maintain order. Relief efforts initially were hampered by earthquake damage to roads, communication systems and the Port-au-Prince airport and main port.

Governments and individuals around the world made donations and pledges of aid to Haiti totaling billions of dollars. However, on the first-year anniversary of the disaster, reconstruction efforts were still in their infancy. Thousands of people left homeless by the quake were living in tents, and only a small portion of the heavy debris resulting from the disaster had been cleared.


Keeping Hope Alive in Haiti

A massive earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. Since then, organizations such as Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos have worked to help the country and its citizens recover.

Earth Science, Geology, Social Studies, Economics, World History

Located 1,142 kilometers (710 miles) from the United States, Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. In 1804, following a slave revolt and prolonged struggle against the French, it became the world’s first independent black republic. However, decades of coups, violence, and instability have made it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, its location makes it extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

On Jan. 12, 2010, at about 5 p.m. local time, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit near the town of Léogâne, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) southwest of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Geologists said it was the region’s strongest earthquake in more than 200 years. In the weeks that followed, there were more than 50 aftershocks, many over magnitude 5.0, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The earthquake’s strength, location, and shallowness—it was centered just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) below the Earth's surface—devastated the area. Buildings in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas were poorly constructed most collapsed during the quake.

The earthquake and the unstable buildings contributed to massive casualties and damage. More than 200,000 people died, 300,000 were injured, and 1.5 million people were left homeless. In all, the Red Cross estimates that up to 3 million of Haiti’s 9 million people were affected by the earthquake.

The city of Léogâne, near the epicenter of the quake, was reported to be the worst-affected area, with 80 to 90 percent of its buildings damaged. After the quake, Léogâne had no remaining government infrastructure—no hospitals, no police, no schools.

NGOs in Haiti

Prior to the earthquake, there were an estimated 3,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Haiti. NGOs provide services that the government cannot or will not provide. These services include distribution of food and water, health care, and educational programs.

Many NGOs shifted their focus to search-and-rescue and trauma care in the weeks following the earthquake. Volunteer relief workers from around the world quickly arrived to help.

“This is truly an international relief effort,” said Dr. Peter Tinnemann, a volunteer with Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs (NPFS, French for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”), on Jan. 28 from Léogâne. NPFS had been in Haiti for more than 20 years.

“The general hospital is now supported by Doctors Without Borders and the Canadian Army, who have set up a field hospital with modular containers. The U.S. Marines are providing security to the United Nations and NGOs and working with a Venezuelan team to help provide food and shelter in the tent cities that have sprung up for the homeless. Medical teams from Germany, the United States, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic are working side-by-side,” Tinnemann said.

Despite the presence of numerous international relief teams and their willingness to work together, providing assistance was extremely challenging. The massive damage to ports, streets, and structures, as well as the lack of leadership from the Haitian government, hampered the delivery of supplies.

Our Little Brothers and Sisters

Due to its long experience working in Haiti, the scale of its operations, and its excellent reputation, NPFS was in a unique position to respond quickly to the disaster. The organization also has a sister organization in the Dominican Republic, which occupies the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola.

NPFS was founded in 1987 as a home for orphaned and abandoned children by two American priests, Father William B. Wasson and Father Richard Frechette. It was the third home of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH). NPH, Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters,” is an organization founded by Wasson in Mexico in 1954. NPH currently has orphan homes and outreach programs in nine Latin American and Caribbean countries.

In 1989, Frechette established an NPFS medical center. This would later become St. Damien Hospital, Haiti’s only free-of-charge pediatric facility. St. Damien Hospital is on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

During the earthquake, NPFS suffered severe damage to its facilities, including the collapse of the Father Wasson Center in Petionville. The original hospital site before St. Damien opened in 2006, the Father Wasson Center housed NPFS’s administrative offices, as well as volunteers, a school, and a physical therapy center for children with disabilities.

NPFS also lost staff, volunteers, and family members. “We estimate that we are missing about 20 percent of our Haitian staff,” Frechette said. The priest, who earned a medical degree in 1998, oversees the home, hospital, and numerous outreach programs.

Despite its losses, NPFS immediately began helping victims of the earthquake. In the early weeks, when NGOs and relief workers had difficulty obtaining supplies, NPH Dominican Republic made daily deliveries to NPFS. These supplies included medical equipment, tents, bottled water, and fresh food grown on the NPH farm.

St. Damien Hospital served as a hub for trauma care. Health-care workers there provided treatment of injuries and even maternity care—more than 50 babies were born at the hospital in the first three months after the earthquake. It also became one of the premier orthopedic medical centers in Haiti.

In just the first three weeks after the earthquake, more than 10,000 adults and children were treated, and thousands of surgeries were performed at St. Damien Hospital. NPFS also provided medical assistance in various communities, and distributed water and food.

Post-Quake Relief

NPFS is working to provide long-term relief. St. Helene, the NPFS orphanage in Kenscoff, Haiti, is home to more than 350 children. These children are not placed for adoption, but are supported until they are prepared to live independently or move off-site to continue their education. An additional 280 children attend school at St. Helene.

A temporary home was opened in Tabarre for vulnerable and displaced children. Currently, 118 children are living there, and its capacity will eventually be about 350. NPFS also established a facility for children 6 years and under who needed special medical attention. Its capacity is 40 children. In addition, a new program called Father Wasson’s Angels of Light includes a primary on-site school with room for 750 children and another eight schools offsite for more than 1,100 children. It offers education for those displaced by the earthquake and funds a meal program for 2,500 students.

“By serving vulnerable and displaced children, we have come to know them and their backgrounds and are able to identify those whom we can help in the long-term,” said Reinhart Koehler, Director of Family Services for NPH International.

A small loan program to rebuild or repair homes has also been initiated. Other programs are also being evaluated. “Needs have changed and will change in the future as the situation in Haiti hopefully changes for the better,” Koehler said.

NPFS and NPH receive financial and volunteer support from organizations and individuals around the world. Millions of dollars in cash, supplies, and services have been donated for earthquake relief efforts, which will continue for a long time.

“The problems are overwhelming,” Fr. Frechette said. “In relation to health, education, family, life, employment, and social stability, the earthquake will have severe ramifications well into the future. But we have hope.”

Friends of the Orphans
In the United States, NPFS and NPH are supported by Friends of the Orphans. Volunteers are needed at regional offices and to raise awareness, as well as to work at the homes.


‘Things have gotten worse’: Weary Haitians approach a somber anniversary

The 2010 earthquake claimed 316,000 lives. The country has endured many broken promises in the decade since.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti Standing in front of the earthquake-ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, Ketly Paul looked at the faded ruins where stained-glass windows and pews once stood.

Haiti’s devastating January 12, 2010, earthquake claimed an estimated 316,000 lives, left 1.5 million injured and another 1.5 million homeless when it struck 15 miles southwest of the capital.

But Paul, like many Haitians, thought the flood of humanitarian aid and $13.3 billion pledges from the international community would rebuild the cathedral, secure housing for her after her home collapsed, and make life better in the volatile nation.

Instead, ten years later, Haiti remains a long way from recovery, mired in political conflict that has bankrupt businesses, soured the economy, and dampened the enthusiasm of foreign donors who once rushed to help with its reconstruction.

While the rubble and makeshift tent cities that once blanketed Port-au-Prince are gone, some have turned into permanent settlements with no power, no sanitation, no security, for more than 32,000 quake survivors.

Two of the country’s most iconic structures—the cathedral and the presidential palace—still have not been rebuilt. And six years after construction began on a new $100 million public hospital, promised by the United States and France, the complex emains an empty shell, the work temporarily halted due to a dispute over money.

Paul, a 47-year-old mother of five, still finds herself living under a tarp just steps away from Notre-Dame. Few permanent houses have been built and the debate over how much of the aid came—and where it went—persists. Instead of the bright future that many envisioned after the 7.0 magnitude quake, Haiti is now undergoing one of its worst economic downturns as widespread popular discontent engulfs the impoverished nation, and Haitians increasingly lose faith in political leaders.

Before the earthquake, things were looking up in Haiti. The economy was improving, foreign investors were considering investment opportunities and Haitians themselves were feeling hopeful about their future. (See pictures of Haiti on its own terms.)

But political dysfunction worsened after the disaster and the two presidential and legislative elections that would follow. That disfunction eventually impacted the pace of the recovery. Public outcry over corruption resulted in a radical display of discontent that three times in 2019 led to a complete shutdown of the country.

Known as ‘Peyi Lòk' in Creole, the countrywide lockdown consisted of anti-government protesters barricading streets with burning tires, boulders, and anything they could put their hands on to prevent movement in and around the capital, and between cities. In the process, students lost more than 50 days of schooling, hotels shut down and laid off workers, and a humanitarian crisis ensued.

Fueling the growing discontent: an anti-corruption movement spurred by $2 billion in aid Haiti received from a Venezuela oil program that was supposed to be invested in post-quake projects that government auditors said was embezzled.

On the tenth anniversary of the quake, Haiti appears to be approaching a deeper crisis. It will be without a functional Parliament or government and its president will be governing by decree.

Meanwhile Haitians like Paul are struggling to survive.

An economic crisis—prompted by the devaluation of the domestic currency, scarcity of U.S. dollars in the face of declining foreign aid, and the departure of UN peacekeepers after 15 years, as well as mismanagement by the government—has led to fuel shortages, skyrocketing inflation, and deepening poverty. Anti- corruption protesters shuttered schools and businesses in 2019 and blocked major roads for months.

With more than 100,000 buildings including all but one government ministry collapsing in 35 seconds during the quake, Haiti faced a difficult road. But the multiple crises, coupled with what some call Haiti fatigue by donors, have made progress even more difficult.

“As a nation, as a state we have failed,” said Leslie Voltaire, an urban planner and architect who was among those involved in the early days of the recovery.

The failures are apparent all around Port-au-Prince, where even in the successes there are setbacks.

After the quake a number of new hotels were built and made quake-resistant even as the country’s Parliament parliament failed to approve a national building code. But as last year’s political crisis paralyzed the country for a third time in months, at least one of those hotels, the Best Western, announced its closure while others quietly laid off staff.

“There is no president, there is no country, there is no state,” Ketly Paul said.

The earthquake killed leading intellectuals, artists, feminists, and other well-known change makers of Haitian society, whose departure is being felt even today as the country struggles with its present and future.

An already unpopular leader, President Jovenel Moïse faces the specter of increased protests as his one-man rule begins on Monday, Jan. 13.

The government’s failure to hold elections in October to re-elect part of the Senate, all of the lower chamber of Parliament, and all locally elected official means that President Moïse will be ruling by decree. New tensions have arisen as Haitians wonder if he will use his one-man rule to usurp the law to his benefit. The lack of a government since March 2019 has already sparked concerns, with some of the country's leading business organizations accusing the president of showing dictatorial tendencies.

The lack of a government has also prevented the flow of aid from the international community to help fend off a humanitarian crisis that the UN warns could affect 4 million Haitians this year.

Caught in the middle of the political fury are millions of poor Haitians, like Paul, who live below the poverty line on less than $2.41 a day, according to the World Bank.

Mad about the crisis, she is angrier at the president, who is accused of corruption, human rights violations, and mismanaging the economy.

“The president doesn’t see the population, he doesn’t see anything,” she said. “I’m going to have 10 years here in the streets.”

Her temporary home is a makeshift tent with a cutout piece of unattached wood for a door, a slab of concrete for the floor, and the letters USAID—the abbreviation of the U.S. Agency for International Development—scribbled across the gray tarpaulin.

Rampant crime along with the violent protests in the area, Paul said, means she never sleeps at night, always lying awake to keep an eye on her children. “Now what they do is set fire, so I stay awake in case I need to run with the children,” she said.

Since the country-wide lockdown, Paul has seen her sidewalk market go downhill. The proceeds from the sale of Haitian moonshine, cigarettes, and whatever else she could afford weren’t enough to put a decent roof over her head. But it was a living, she said, allowing her to put food in her children’s bellies and pay annual school fees of $51.46 for her youngest child, Ritchielson.

“Peyi Lòk destroyed my business,” Paul said. “I no longer have a business to speak of.”

The day of the earthquake, Paul was sitting on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral, tending to her commerce in the outdoor market, she said. As the ground began to violently shake, she grabbed three of her children and ran out into the streets. Ritchielson, 7, wasn’t born yet.

Today as the quake’s tenth anniversary approaches Paul sees little to commemorate.

“After Jan. 12, you could find a little something to eat, now there is nothing,” she said. “Things have gotten worse.”

Haitians are no strangers to crises. Following the end of the nearly 30-year Duvalier family dictatorship in 1986, the country saw several military coups, including one that sent its first democratically elected president into exile suffered through U.S. economic blockades and was devastated by hurricanes, including four storms in 30 days in 2008. The country was thrown on its knees by the 2010 earthquake.

But the current crisis with its high human and economic toll is far worse, many say, than any they have undergone—a perfect storm of armed gangs, economic collapse, unbridled corruption, and popular discontent.

“Everything is falling apart,” said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert who teaches political science at the University of Virginia. “There is a complete vacuum of authority. There is massive popular discontent against Jovenel and his government, but the opposition doesn’t seem to have the strength to force him out, and the international community, they may dislike Jovenel but they don’t see any alternative.”

Projecting himself as an economic reformer ready to take on Haiti’s economic and political system that has breathed centuries of inequities and instability, Moïse has rejected calls for his resignation and blames opponents and members of the country’s economic elite for his political woes.

He has also denied corruption allegations after he and members of his political family were among those cited in a government auditor’s report that accused present and former public officials of embezzling funds from an oil program meant to support social programs for the poor after the quake.

“I am extremely pessimistic about the country’s future,” Fatton, who is of Haitian descent, said. ”The only good thing I can say is that history is full of surprises and unexpected developments."

“No one at the time could have predicted the Haitian Revolution no one predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall,” he added. “In addition, several devastated countries, which were considered corrupt basket cases, managed phenomenal economic and political developments in the midterm and long term see the examples of South Korea, or more recently Rwanda.”

But Haiti is neither South Korea nor Rwanda. And while many Haitians continue to await a present-day Moses to come lead them through their sea of despair, there doesn’t appear to be anyone on the horizon. The opposition remains divided, unorganized, and unable to topple the embattled president.


On this day Massive earthquake strikes Haiti

On this day, January 12th, in 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastates the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. The quake, which was the strongest to strike the region in more than 200 years, left over 200,000 people dead and some 895,000 Haitians homeless.

The earthquake hit southern Haiti at 4:53 p.m. local time. The nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, a densely populated city located about 15 miles from the quake’s epicenter, suffered widespread devastation. Countless dwellings were reduced to rubble, while hospitals, churches and schools collapsed and roads were blocked with debris. Numerous government structures were heavily damaged or destroyed, including the presidential palace, parliament building and main prison. (At the time of the quake, Haiti lacked a national building code, and many structures were shoddily constructed.) In the aftermath of the quake, amidst fears that victims’ decomposing corpses could spread disease, trucks picked up thousands of bodies and dumped them into mass graves.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti, which occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic occupies the other two-thirds), was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80 percent of its 9 million residents existing in poverty. Political corruption and violence, disease, malnutrition and limited access to education were a way of life for many in Haiti, which gained its independence from France in an 1804 slave revolt.

A large-scale, international relief operation was launched soon after the quake hit, with the United States taking charge and sending thousands of military troops to Haiti to deliver supplies, assist with search-and-rescue efforts and help maintain order. Relief efforts initially were hampered by earthquake damage to roads, communication systems and the Port-au-Prince airport and main port.

Governments and individuals around the world made donations and pledges of aid to Haiti totaling billions of dollars. However, on the first-year anniversary of the disaster, reconstruction efforts were still in their infancy. Thousands of people left homeless by the quake were living in tents, and only a small portion of the heavy debris resulting from the disaster had been cleared.


Haiti Earthquake Relief

On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck the nation of Haiti, causing catastrophic damage inside and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince. President Obama promised the people of Haiti that "you will not be forsaken you will not be forgotten" and ordered an immediate response to the catastrophe that was swift, coordinated, and aggressive.

Since then, the United States has taken a whole-of-government approach to facilitate and enhance the work of our partners in Haiti and across the international community. Thanks in part to this global effort, as well as the leadership of the Haitian government, Haitians have better access to clean water, food, and medical care than they had before the quake.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Haiti in the months following the distaster to see the devastation first hand.

A great deal of work remains to be done, work that will take years to complete. Going forward, the United States will continue to be focused on a comprehensive strategy drafted in partnership with the Government of Haiti and our international partners to achieve economic growth and stability. This strategy will focus investment on the four areas of infrastructure and energy, food and economic security, health and services and governance and rule of law.

Here are some ways that you can get involved and learn more about the ongoing relief effots in Haiti.


The Haitian Timeline: A History of Military Dictatorship and Civil Rule (Revised and Expanded)

On the 1st of January 1804, following thirteen years of brutal warfare, Haiti became the first ‘black’ independent republic in modern history. Since then Haiti’s history has been dominated by fractious internal politics, military dictatorships and periods of external interference, mainly by the United States. Massive population growth, along with a lack of resources, has not been helped by a U.S. policy that wavers between the extremes of indifference and repeated forms of interventionism. As a result of these factors Haiti is not only the least developed nation in our hemisphere, but also one of the least understood. The following chronology of the political and military volatility that has troubled the small Caribbean francophone nation since its inception provides some sense of how Haiti’s history still bears relevance today.

1503 – First Africans brought to the island of Hispaniola as slave labor.

1625 – France establishes a colony in the north west of Hispaniola, known as Saint-Domingue.

1670 – France authorizes the use of African slave labor, a practice already widespread in the colony. Many Africans escape to the mountainous regions of the colony to establish free Maroon communities.

September 20th 1697 – Under the Treaty of Ryswick, Spain officially cedes the western third of Hispaniola to France.

1758 – Saint-Domingue, at the time richest colony in the world, executes Maroon leader François Mackandal, after a seven-year rebellion. The colony is home to some 500,000 slaves, 25,000 free blacks and coloreds known collectively as gens de couleur libres (free men of color) and 50,000 whites and produces 45% of the world’s sugar and 60% of the coffee being consumed in Europe. A high mortality rate attributable to disease and cruelty meant that most of the colony’s slaves are African born.

1778 – The first encounter between the nations that would later become Haiti and the United States of America takes place when just under 1000 Haitian gens de couleur libres volunteer to fight alongside American revolutionaries and French troops during the siege of Savannah. Among them is Henri Christophe who would go on to become a noted strategist during the Haitian revolution and a later ruler of Haiti.

February 25th 1791 – Vincent Oge and Jean-Baptiste Chavannes are publicly executed in Cap-Français. The pair had been proponents of equal rights for gens de couleur libres inspired by the French Revolution they began an ill fated revolt.

May 1791 – Revolutionary France grants citizenship to all gens de couleur libres.

August 22nd 1791 – Maroons and enslaved Africans in the north of the colony stage a revolt against the French under the leadership of Jamaican born, Dutty Boukman.

1803 – After the death of Boukman, the revolt is lead by a number of competent strategists including Toussaint L’Ouverture, Andre Riguad, Bauvais, Henri Christophe Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Alexandre Petion and Laplume. With defeat in Haiti imminent, Napoleon abandons his plans for a revived French empire in the New World and instead authorizes the sale of Louisiana. The Louisiana Purchase adds some 828,800 square miles to the United States.

January 1st 1804 – Saint-Domingue is declared independent, under the original Arawak name Haiti, by General Jean-Jaques Dessalines. Following the formal declaration of independence, Dessalines (naming himself Jaques I) repudiates republicanism, preferring Napoleon’s autocratic style of rule.

May 20th 1805 – Dessalines formulates the first constitution of Haiti as an independent country, the Imperial Constitution of 1805. This constitution forbade whites from owning land and restricted the power of the rich gens de couleur, which created friction between Dessalines and notable gens de couleur Petion and Riguad.

Under Dessalines the new Haitian government tries to restart the sugar and coffee industries without slave labor. He enforces a harsh regimen of plantation labour, described by some as caporalisme agraire (agrarian militarism). Dessalines demands that all Haitians work either as soldiers to protect the nation or as laborers on the plantations to generate crops and income. Dessalines pursues tight fiscal regulation, encourages foreign trade, and invites merchants from Britain and the United States to invest in Haiti.

October 17th 1806 – Haiti is on brink of economic collapse as United States and European powers boycott the nation, refusing to grant it recognition and trading rights, least it serves as an example to their own black populations. Dessalines’ economic policies and autocratic style of rule prove unpopular and he is assassinated. After a brief civil war Haiti is divided into a black-controlled autocratic northern kingdom, ruled by Henri Christophe and a mulatto-ruled democratic southern republic, under president Alexandre Petion.

March 31st 1816 – With aid provided by Petion and others, South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar is able to equip an expedition consisting of 6 schooners a sloop, 250 men, mostly officers, and arms for 6,000 troops. Bolivar, after securing the independence of most of South America, reneges on promises to try reconcile U.S. and European policy towards Haiti and instead refuses to recognize Haiti or trade with the nation.

1807-1820– Faced with a rebellion by his own army, Christophe commits suicide, paving the way for gen du couleur Jean-Pierre Boyer to reunify the country and become President of the entire republic in 1820.

1820-1825 – After Boyer unifies Haiti and even occupies the Dominican Republic until 1844. He governs through excluding blacks from power but is finally deposed in a revolt led by Charles Riviere-Herard in 1843, who establishes a parliamentary state based on a new constitution.

3rd July 1825 – A squadron of French ships carrying 500 cannons lays anchor off the Haitian coast and demands a FR150 million indemnity from Haiti for property, i.e. slaves, lost through the revolution, and in return for diplomatic recognition. The indemnity was later reduced to FR90 million (comparable to US$12.7 billion in 2010). Haiti, under threat of reinvasion by France, was left with little choice but to borrow money from American, French and German bankers to pay the sum these financial sources become increasingly influential in the Haitian economy. France only establishes diplomatic recognition to Haiti in 1834, and refuses to officially trade with the nation. The indemnity was not fully paid until 1947.

1825-1847 – With the treasury bankrupt and army and civil servant wages unpaid revolts soon break out and Haiti falls into anarchy with a series of short-lived presidents until March 1847 when General Faustin Soulouque, a commander during the revolution, becomes the nations head.

1862 – After the Emancipation Proclamation and the abolition of slavery, the United States sees Haiti as less of a threat and formally establishes diplomatic relations with Port-au-Prince and allows some trade.

1867 – A constitutional government is established, but successive presidents Sylvain Salnave and Nissage Saget are deposed in 1869 and 1874 respectively. A new constitution is introduced in 1874 under Michel Domingue, resulting in a period of democratic peace and development until 1910.

1910-1911 – The German community, by now well integrated into Haitian society through commerce and marriage, become embroiled in the nation’s politics, as they bankroll many of the country’s coups. In an effort to restrict German influence in what they see as their back yard, the U.S. State Department helps City Bank of New York to acquire the Banque National d’Haïti, the nation’s only commercial bank, the government treasury and guarantor of most of the debt related to indemnity to France.

July 28th 1915 – American President Wilson orders 3000 Marines to Port-au-Prince, after a uprising threatens U.S. business interests on the island. The commander of the U.S. mission is ordered to ‘protect American and foreign’ interests, but the international community is told that the invasion is designed to ‘re-establish peace and order’. The main concern of U.S. policy makers is that Haiti repays its debt to the United States.

1915-1934 – Representatives from the United States wielded veto power over all governmental decisions in Haiti, and Marine Corps commanders served as administrators in Haitian provinces. United States officials supervise all Haitian administrative and financial institutions such as banks and the national treasury. Haiti is forced to spend 40% of the national income on debt repayment to American and French banks, stunting economic growth and exacerbating the effects of the Great Depression in Haiti.

In 1917, President Dartiguenave dissolved the legislature after its members refused to approve a new constitution penned by Franklin D. Roosevelt, then the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The constitution is eventually approved which allows foreigners, in particular Americans, to purchase land. The Marines initiate an extensive road-building program to enhance their military reach and open the country to U.S. investment. To accomplish this they revive a defunct Haitian law, which required peasants to perform labor on local roads in lieu of paying a road tax.

August 1st 1934 – American troops withdraw from Haiti after a 19-year occupation, but the United States maintains fiscal control until 1947 to ensure debt repayment.

1937- Upward of 35,000 Haitians living in the Dominican are massacred by the Dominican armed forces on the orders of President Trujillo U.S. Secretary of State Hull later declared “President Trujillo is one of the greatest men in Central America and in most of South America.”

January 11th 1946 – President Elie Lescot is overthrown in a military coup d’etat led by Major Paul Eugene Magloire in the wake of economic difficulties on the island. Franck Lavaud, Chairman of the Haiti Military Executive Committee becomes president.

August 16th 1946 – The newly-created Executive Military Committee appoints Léon Dumarsais Estimé president of Haiti for five years.

September 25th 1956 – Physician Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier seizes power in a military coup d’état and is elected president a year later.

December 31st 1956 – Daniel Fignolé is elected President of Haiti but is superseded by a Military Council of Government.

1958 – 1964 – Duvalier begins to violently attack his opponents, driving many of them into exile.

December 31st 1964 – The National Assembly votes to accept the Duvalieriste Constitution, establishing Duvalier as President for Life of Haiti. He then launches a dictatorship with the help of the brutal Tontons Macoute militia.

December 31st 1970 – Thousands of Haitians begin to flee by sea amidst poverty and repression throughout the country. Many arrive in southern Florida.

February 28th 1971 – The National Assembly approves an amendment to the constitution, allowing Duvalier to name his son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, as his successor

April 21st 1971 – President for Life François Duvalier dies in Port-au-Prince.

April 22nd 1971 – Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier succeeds his father as “President for Life” of Haiti.

August 27th 1983 – The constitution is amended, creating the position of State Minister, permanently allowing the president to name his preferred successor.

February 7th 1986 – President Jean-Claude Duvalier flees Haiti for Talloires, France following a coup d’etat led by General Henri Namphy.

July 17th 1987 – During a ceremony at the Military Academy, the Haitian Armed Forces swear allegiance to the new constitution of 1987.

February 7th 1988 – Leslie Manigat is “elected” president in a tightly military controlled election, but he is ousted in a coup led by Brigadier-General Prosper Avril, who establishes a civilian front under military control.

January 31st 1990 – President General Prosper Avril declares a state of siege in January.

March 31st 1990 – Prosper Avril is ousted 18 months after seizing power in a coup d’état. A popular uprising forces him to flee the country.

December 16th 1990 – Democratic elections take place. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a priest well known throughout the country for his support of the poor, is elected president with nearly seventy percent of the popular vote.

1991-94 – Thousands of Haitian boat people begin to flee violence and repression on the island. Although most are repatriated to Haiti by U.S. government authorities, many manage to enter the United States as refugees.

January 7th 1991 – Haitian General Herard Abraham crushes Roger Lafontant’s attempted coup d’état.

February 7th 1991 – Aristide is sworn in as president of the Republic of Haiti.

September 30th 1991 – President Aristide is overthrown in a coup d’état headed by soon-to-be promoted Lieutenant-General Raoul Cedras, who installs a harsh military junta.

1992 – Negotiations between the Washington, D.C. based exiled Government, Haiti’s Parliament and representatives of the coup régime headed by General Raoul Cédras lead to the Washington Protocol, which is ultimately scuttled by the coup régime. U.S. President George Bush exempts U.S. factories from the U.S. embargo against the military junta and orders U.S. Coast Guard to interdict all Haitians leaving the island in boats and to return them to Haiti. The OAS embargo fails as goods continue to be smuggled to through neighboring Dominican Republic.

July 3rd 1993 – After a week of talks, Aristide and General Raoul Cedras sign the Governor’s Island Agreement, stipulating the turn over of power from the ruling military to the civilian government.

October 30th 1993 – Haitian Military continues to maintain power over the island. President Aristide is unable to return to Haiti as president, as was stipulated under the Governors Island Agreement. The controversial leadership of the Haitian police and military continues.

September 19th 1994 – The de facto military government is called upon to resign by the U.S. upon which U.S. and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) troops are sent in to occupy Haiti. The United Nations sanctions Operation Uphold Democracy, ordered by President Clinton, which officially begins.

October 15th 1994 – In spite of reluctance by the Clinton administration, a severely limited Jean Bertrand Aristide is reinstated as president of Haiti. In 1994 the Haitian government enters into a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that contains a “medium-term structural adjustment strategy” which “included sweeping trade liberalization measures’. In 1995 when this agreement goes into affect, Haiti’s tariffs on rice imports are cut dramatically from 35% to the current level of 3%. The reduction in tariffs dooms Haiti, which was previously self sufficient in terms of rice, to become the ‘dumping ground’ for rice from the United States. Haiti farmers cannot compete with cheap imports of subsidized rice from the southern United States and many go out of business, leading to massive unemployment.

March 31st 1995 – The U.S. nominally hands over military authority to the United Nations but maintains effective control over the government of the island. Aristide dissolves the Haitian army.

February 7th 1996 – René Garcia Préval assumes the presidency.

February 7th 2001 – Jean Bertrand Aristide is once again elected president of Haiti, but his popularity wanes due to rampant corruption and his inabilities to maintain his authority due to lack of an enforcement mechanism.

December 18th 2001 – Thirty armed men try to seize the National Palace in an apparent coup attempt 12 people are killed in the raid.

January 2004 – Anti-Aristide protests lead to violent clashes in Port-au-Prince, causing several deaths. In February, a revolt breaks out in the city of Gonaives and spread throughout the country. A mediation team of diplomats presents a plan to reduce Aristide’s power while allowing him to remain in office until the end of his constitutional term. Although Aristide accepts the plan it is rejected by the opposition.

February 5th 2004 – Aristide is deposed as president of Haiti following a de facto coup d’etat in which the United States demonstrably was involved. An interim government, led by President Boniface Alexandre, with Gérard Latortue as prime minister is installed.

February 7th 2006 – René Garcia Préval is controversially elected as president of Haiti for a second term.

May 18th 2009 – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton to be appointed UN’s special envoy to Haiti.

January 12th, 2010 – Massive earthquake shatters Haiti, causing over 220,000 fatalities.

The Haitian Timeline was compiled with the help of the BBC, COHA Guest Collaborator Dr Kwesi Sansculotte- Greenidge, and COHA Research Associate Matayo Moshi.

Dr. Sanculotte-Greendige is currently a Research Fellow in the Peace Studies Department of the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom.


7 Years After Haiti's Earthquake, Millions Still Need Aid

On Jan. 12, 2010, a massive earthquake ravaged Haiti, claiming up to 316,000 lives and displacing more than 1.5 million people . Today ― seven years later ― 2.5 million Haitians are still in need of humanitarian aid, according to a new report from the United Nations.

The quake tore a catastrophic path of destruction through the ailing island nation, leaving Haitians with a herculean recovery mission. In the years that followed, a string of devastating natural disasters have fueled ongoing famine and poverty crises, given rise to a deadly cholera epidemic, and quashed Haiti’s continued efforts to rebuild.

“Haitians continue to suffer years after the earthquake,” U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Mourad Wahba, who has worked in the country for two years, told The WorldPost. “People lost their friends and family. I see the pain in their faces when they talk about it now. It’s a very long healing process.”

The earthquake injured about 300,000 people and left 3.3 million facing food shortages. With more than 80 percent of rural housing severely affected, hundreds of thousands of newly homeless people were forced to live in scattered tent cities. Vital public institutions including schools, medical facilities and government buildings crumbled to the ground in hard-hit parts of the country, including the capital of Port-au-Prince. The quake also decimated crops and irrigation canals in many areas ― a massive blow to a nation that has historically relied heavily on farming and agriculture.

“There are still about 55,000 people in camps and makeshift camps,” noted Wahba. “Many are still living in unsanitary conditions due to displacement caused by the earthquake. We have a very long way to go.”

Just months after the 2010 earthquake hit, the worst cholera epidemic in recent history rapidly engulfed Haiti, killing thousands and infecting more than 6 percent of the population in just over two years. The ongoing crisis placed enormous strain on Haiti’s severely weakened health care system, and has also killed hundreds of people in nearby nations, including in Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

U.N. peacekeepers are accused of spreading the disease in Haiti before the outbreak. Former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon apologized for his organization’s role in the epidemic during an address in December, saying “ we are profoundly sorry .”

There is also a distrust of humanitarian organizations in the country due to slow reconstruction following the earthquake, despite billions of dollars raised in international aid. The Red Cross, for example, is accused of building only six homes in Haiti with nearly half a billion dollars in donated funds, and spending millions on internal expenses .

Haiti’s slow and painstaking recovery has also been hindered by alarmingly high levels of poverty. Michele Wucker, the author of Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians and the Struggle for Hispaniola , talked to Newsweek in 2010 about the economic struggles in Haiti, where at least 58.6 percent of the population lives in poverty . She attributed many of the nation’s financial problems to former Haitian dictators Francois Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, who was overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986.

“The Duvaliers left Haiti economically decimated,” she said. “A large number of educated professionals left the country during the Duvalier regimes, and the period that followed was so unstable, it was hard to lay down roots and build infrastructure.”

Wucker also shed light on how foreign intervention has affected the country from its earliest days:

Haiti won its independence after a long revolution that destroyed a lot of the country. They were then required to pay a large indemnity to France or else many countries—including the United States—refused to acknowledge Haiti for fear that it would encourage an American slave revolt. More recently, both Haiti and the Dominican Republic were occupied by the United States, but Haiti was occupied for much longer. By the time the U.S. pulled out in 1934, Haiti’s own institutions had atrophied.

Haiti’s political woes have largely continued through the 21st century. In early 2016, political chaos erupted into violent protests that pushed controversial President Michel Martelly out of office. The power vacuum left the country in a state of uncertainty without proper leadership at a time of national crisis.

Haiti is especially vulnerable to natural crises. Its location puts it at risk for hurricanes and earthquakes, and a lack of adequate infrastructure amplifies the effects of these disasters.

Hurricane Sandy crashed through the country in 2012, causing drastic flooding and scores of new deaths and cases of disease infections. Then, a three-year drought plunged Haiti deeper into famine and poverty.

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew killed at least 1,000 people and leveled entire communities. Downed trees and collapsed buildings blocked roadways in some of the worst-hit areas, making it extremely difficult to deliver desperately needed supplies and support. Experts correctly predicted the storm would lead to a resurgence of sicknesses like diarrhea and cholera.

After each tragedy, Haitians begin the rebuilding process once again.

“There has been a lot of solidarity. People were working to restore their homes and livelihoods right away,” said Wahba, who was in Haiti during Hurricane Matthew. “A lot of markets that were badly damaged have already started functioning again. I think it shows a lot of resilience.”

This year, hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic are expected to return to Haiti as the neighboring country continues to execute waves of arbitrary expulsions . This will place strenuous demands on Haiti’s crippled agriculture sector and leave many returnees in limbo, without homes or jobs awaiting them.

President-elect Jovenel Moïse, who was elected in November, will face an array of humanitarian and socioeconomic challenges when he takes office.

The photos below show Haitians rebuilding their country, time after time.

To support Haiti’s continued rebuilding efforts, learn How To Help Haiti Recover From Hurricane Matthew . You can also make a donation via the CrowdRise widget below.


The earthquake

The earthquake hit at 4:53 pm some 15 miles (25 km) southwest of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The initial shock registered a magnitude of 7.0 and was soon followed by two aftershocks of magnitudes 5.9 and 5.5. More aftershocks occurred in the following days, including another one of magnitude 5.9 that struck on January 20 at Petit Goâve, a town some 35 miles (55 km) west of Port-au-Prince. Haiti had not been hit by an earthquake of such enormity since the 18th century, the closest in force being a 1984 shock of magnitude 6.9. A magnitude-8.0 earthquake had struck the Dominican Republic in 1946.

Geologists initially blamed the earthquake on the movement of the Caribbean tectonic plate eastward along the Enriquillo–Plantain Garden (EPG) strike-slip fault system. However, when no surface deformation was observed, the rupturing of the main strand of the fault system was ruled out as a cause. The EPG fault system makes up a transform boundary that separates the Gonâve microplate—the fragment of the North American Plate upon which Haiti is situated—from the Caribbean Plate.

The earthquake was generated by contractional deformation along the Léogâne fault, a small hidden thrust fault discovered underneath the city of Léogâne. The Léogâne fault, which cannot be observed at the surface, descends northward at an oblique angle away from the EPG fault system, and many geologists contend that the earthquake resulted from the slippage of rock upward across its plane of fracture.

Occurring at a depth of 8.1 miles (13 km), the temblor was fairly shallow, which increased the degree of shaking at the Earth’s surface. The shocks were felt throughout Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well as in parts of nearby Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. The densely populated region around Port-au-Prince, located on the Gulf of Gonâve, was among those most heavily affected. Farther south the city of Jacmel also sustained significant damage, and to the west the city of Léogâne, even closer to the epicentre than Port-au-Prince, was essentially leveled.


A Prayer for Haiti

One of hundreds of tent cities that was created to house people after the earthquake. This was in the Delmas 75 region, and it was taken down in 2014. As of today, there still are 65,000 people living in tent cities in Haiti. Photo by Cindy Corell, taken in July 2013.

Loving God, we pray in this moment for all who suffered through the earthquake that struck Haiti at 4:53 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. Those seconds that counted less than a minute destroyed lives. More than 200,000 people died as a result, hundreds of thousands others injured and millions of Haitians were left without a home.

In the next hours, Haitians dug into still trembling rubble, willing themselves to find those whose frail voices they heard.

Veronica Jean, front, was born about 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, three hours after the massive earthquake struck Haiti. Her mother, Cassandra and her family moved into a home in one of the eco-villages at MPP. Photo by Cindy Corell, taken in January 2014.

In the next days, stunned relatives desperately searched for family, praying they would find parents, children, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and grandparents. They pressed buttons on cell phones that didn’t work.

In the next weeks, those without homes sought out refuge in the countryside, hauling young children and what little they owned onto buses and vans and private vehicles, hoping against hope they would find food, water and shelter.

In the next months, survivors lined up to receive rice or beans, clean water or a spot in a newly sprouted tent city. They faced the violence that fear and catastrophe bring. Women and girls faced sexual assault. There were little recourse but to continue struggling to live.

In the next years, the people of Haiti saw thousands of aid groups settle in for long-term, and many fought to be on the list for home, for a job, for any semblance of an improved life.

Three years after the earthquake, a row of benches in a school building near Cherident, Haiti, remain in rubble. The cement rafters fell, slicing the benches. School was not in session when the earthquake struck.
Photo by Cindy Corell, June, 2013.

In the years after that, they watched most aid groups shutting down projects, cutting those temporary jobs and leaving a country perhaps with more roads and a few more homes, but in a political situation even more dire than they had prior to 2010.

Dear God, we know you hear those prayers, and we add ours to theirs. Please let all who love the people of Haiti join with them, on the ground, at round tables, making space – Haitian people of all walks. Please help us to walk with them, listen to their ideas and step in when invited to be partners with the people of Haiti as they take steps toward a better life for all.

Dear Lord, we know your heart, too, has broken time and time again by the centuries of abuse the Haitians have suffered: by nature, by other nations, by their own government.

Ten years ago, we all yearned to believe that this massive earthquake would signal the change to an island nation already deep in poverty, already a land of broken promises.

We hoped that so many of us who love this nation and her courageous people would accompany them toward real, lasting change for the better.

But it hasn’t happened, Lord.

Please, we pray, let us hear their voices, let us amplify their voices, strengthen our hearing so we will listen to our friends in Haiti, your most beloved children, and walk with them toward the bright, lively and whole life they deserve.

We pray this in the name of your precious Son, Jesus Christ.

Gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing support the work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program in its mission to alleviate hunger and eliminate its root causes.


Watch the video: Ισχυρός σεισμός στην Κρήτη: Ένας νεκρός και 9 τραυματίες από τα 5,8 ρίχτερ (January 2022).