Chapter 2 - L'avancement d'une republique
Tous les morts-nés forment une armée,
soon we will reclaim the earth.
All the tears and all the bodies
bring about our second birth.
(Arcade Fire - Haiti)
28 Janvier 2001
Ma chère Florence,
Is it still snowing in Montréal? I heard that a Blizzard passed Québec. Merci pour ta response. I can only support your interest in your family's history. I will tell you today how my father helped to create Haiti new and how he stopped Jean-Jaques Dessalines. As I told you, Haiti was rich and the richest man was the Haitian king Dessalines. He was popular and very influential, an intelligent men who had helped to free Haiti. Now after the great trading port of Port-au-Prince was built, it enabled that in the whole Carribean people could flee to Port-au-Prince, which was very central and could still live in peace and in wealth there. Especially from the Spanish colonies in the Carribean, people came to Port-Au-Prince - former slaves, who fled the colonies, and Mulattos, but also protestants and politically persecuted people. Dessallines had the plan to send them to Liberia. But unfortunately, the Natives in Liberia were upset about the influx of Haitians and had destroyed Monrovia again.
Dessalines then ordered the people to leave to the Spanish Santo Domingo on the other side of Hispaniola. But the immigrants were too many and they were upset. My grandgrandfather, who had helped in the war for liberty was also upset about the despotic way Dessalines used his powers. It also hurt his business that all the plantation workers were sent away and were persecuted. So he organized rebell republican forces which attacked Dessaline's loyalist on the day of independance, 1st of January, in the year 1909. The coup was brillant. They caught and captured Dessallines and not much blood was shed. Postmen and troops who tied to alarm the garrissons on the other parts of the country were caught in the woods by guerilla troops. Dessaline was isolated and had to lie down the crown. A new constitution was presented and he had to sign it, making Haiti a Constitutional Republic, like their brothers, the United States of America.
After that, a new government was elected. Dessalines, the fox, managed to secure the major part of the votes, so he could become president, however he lost the control, which now lay in the hands of the parliament. The high house immedeatly made a decision on the matter of the immigrants. They would support the liberation of the colonies in the Carribean. Finally, the puppet state of Venezuela declared it's independance freeing the islands Curacao and Trinidad (&Tobago). Many of the immigrants returned or immigrated to the new country to build it up and much of the social pressure, that had lasted on Haiti was gone. The Republic had made it through it's fire probe.
However, problems with the new state occured very soon. The puppet state wanted more independance. They tried their luck with alliances with German countries. But then, Venezuela commited a fatal fault. Curacao and Trinidad were strongholds of the Carribean sugar production. Venezuela desperately needed moeny to build up an army and a fleet. So they broke arrangements with their mother Haiti about the sugar trade and lowered the sugar price in order to sell more and be profitable. The Haitian government immedeatly consulted Washington D.C. over this and the measure it should take. While Washington supported a trade embargo, Haiti's pride was badly hurt and also its finances. So my father, a high minister, and his colleagues convinced Jean-Jaques Dessallines to declare war on Haiti. The USA joined Haiti, while Prussia let Venezuela fall like a hot potatoe. The forces invaded Curacao and did not meet any resistance. Venezuela couldn't even afford fortification. The Haitian and US fleet roamed in the Carribean and captured every Venezuelan trade ship, they could find. Soon, Venezuela was ready to accept any conditions. It had to give up any relationships with German states, to prevent that the Germans would take influence in the Carribean. Furthermore, Curacao was ceded to Haiti and it was written down, that the sugar price of Venezuela had to be named by the Haitian ministry of agriculture, which clearly meant that the Venezuelan sugar industry was ruined.
Despite the failure in installing a puppet state in Venezuela, Haiti kept its line in supporting colonial upriing, just for the sake of weakening the big European powers. In 1813, the next revolution sparked up and quickly, Nouveau Espagne was in flames, when the nation of México was proclaimed. It was really a badly prepared revolution. But still Dessallines decided to fund them with war subsidies. Sadly, México lost to Spain, but could still maintain their coreland in Guatemala. From there, they could prepare their takeover.
Venezuela was severely hit by the peace treaty. In 1816, they decided not to care about it anymore, which was another fatal fault of the young state. Haitian forces had been suspiciously patrolling the lesser Antilles for some time and as soon as Venezuela showed rebellious tendencies against Haiti, Dessalines sent those forces to occupy Trinidad. This time, some German nations helped Venezuela, but they did not even own ships, nor did they come in time to save the government. Only one month after the declaration of war by Haiti, Venezuela was occupied and annexed. Trinidad was now officially an autonomous province of Haiti.
In the year of 1817, a new election came up. This was a very special presidential election. My grandgrandfather was also a candidate and tried to campaign against Dessallines who had been in office since he put down the crown. Haiti never had another ruler then Dessalines. However, Haiti was extremely wealthy and had expanded and annexed Curacao and Trinidad. Haitian merchants were trading in India, China and Persia and Port-au-Prince was surely, one of the wealthiest cities in the world. So the only topic in the election campaign was religious unity. Dessalines had to manage to introduce the Church of Haiti in both provinces in Hispaniola. He promised to return religious autonomy to Haiti and would step down being the leader of the church, which was widely unpopular among the Haitiennes. Haitiennes therefore supported Dessalines and my father who's main focus was colonizing more provinces in Africa was of no real matter, lost to Dessalines.
Dessalines couldn't concentrate for long on religious matters, as in the year of 1818, Cuba revolted from the Spaniards. They procliamed the United Provinces of Central America. Seeing what Haiti had done to their brothers in Venezuela, the relationship between both countries was rather bad at start. To be more precise, the president of the radical revolutionary republic had announced to erradicate Haiti from the map should the UPCA ever be able to construct a boat. Also Cuba was too close to the USA for a radical revolutionary republic to exist. So in 1819, Haiti and the USA declared a preemptive war on the UPCA. But the adventure was badly planned. After occupying Guantanamo and Moron, the forces led by Dessalines were lured into a trap and were totally anhillated. Dessalines was captured. The USA landed in the Bay of Pigs. there they ran into the roaring guns of the UPCA. Soon all of the US attacking forces were dead. It was a desasterous war. So my father, vice-president decided to blocade the ports of Cuba and to let them starve until they would hiss the white flag. Also Spain, reclaiming the island joined the blockading forces. When the effort didn' show any signs of success, my father made the decision to lead a last exploration force to free Dessallines, who was kept in Guantanamo Bay. They landed there, took Guantanamo and the UPCA saw that they didn't have any chances anymore. They were running out of ammunition and weapons and could only hide in their forts. Haiti also didn't want to continue the war as the people at home refused to support the intervention. So both nations signed a peace deal, which basically made the UPCA to cede Guantanamo. The province was renamed to Cuba Haitienne.
Now that's it for today. I will add a map of Haiti, when they had the provinces Liberia, Trinidad, Curacao, Port-au-Prince, St. Dominique and Le Cuba Haitienne.
My best wishes,