Time For US Intervention In Haiti…AGAIN

Before/After Haiti Presidential Palace Click Image for Slide Show

Boston.com always is a good source for slideshow

In 1888, the US showed up with a show of force in Haiti.  That was sufficient for the Haitian government of Louis Lysius Félicité Salomon who lasted longer than most leaders of Haiti.  The Americans were flexing their muscles in order to persuade Salomon to give up a captured US Steamer and its crew that was taken amidst charges of blockade running.    In relation to other Haitian, leaders, Salomon really wasn’t too bad as he managed to connect the nation with the rest of the world via telegraph, improved the education system, attracted foreign capital and created a national bank.  But, he eventually was forced to capitulate as another strongman gained power.

Navassa Island Map

Not Much to Navassa Island...except for Guano

Navassa Island is a pretty worthless island off the southeastern tip of Haiti. Christopher Columbus first charted the island on his 3rd and 4th voyages but he wasn’t too interested because the tiny island had no water.  But, the US claimed the island in 1857 and later in the 19th century a company out of Baltimore started mining for guano.  Yup…guano.  Seems guano phosphate was seen as a good organic fertilizer and American agriculture interests couldn’t wait to get their hands on…guano.  Well, the American supervisors weren’t too kind to the workers and there was a revolt.  That resulted in white supervisors getting arms, legs and heads chopped off. If you managed to keep your head, you may have had it bashed in.  The US Navy showed up and took suspects back to Baltimore and then eventually back to Haiti for trial.  They were found guilty but escaped execution after US President Benjamin Harrison communted their sentences to life terms following pressure from US African American clergy as well as some of the white jury members.  It’s kinda  weird thing in that it’s considered an unincorporated territory of the US but Haiti claims in.  Its  really of no use today.  Even the US didn’t think it was worth a lighthouse anymore.  But, the island has found a new job as a wildlife refuge.

Americans Depicted At Ft. Riviere, Haiti 1915

In the 19th Century there was great interest in the Caribbean Islands by the US.  But, before the Civil War, the US. did not recognize the independence of Haiti because it was a land of free men.  The Southern States “slavocracy” had some power in Congress those politicians viewed that land as opposition to slavery.  President Ulysses S. Grant had longed to annex Dominica.  I had always thought that it meant the entire island though some texts say he just meant the Dominican Republic.  He made a formal proposal in 1870 but any enthusiasm faded.  Partly because of talk of a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific and also due to lingering racism.  Concerns about political unrest and also activities of the Germans in World War I led to intervention in 1914 and then a US takeover in 1915.  From that time until 1934, the US basically ran the country with a military government. 

Brave, Desperate Haitian Boat People in 1990's

In the 1950’s, President Francios Duvalier took over in Haiti and at first there was some hop. e but charges of corruption circulatied causing much problems for the administrations of the United States (Duvalier bio) In particular, President Kennedy was forced to take action.  The 1990’s brought more intervention on the part of the United States for a variety of reasons.  In 1994, the Clinton Administration got involved with “Operation Uphold Democracy” in an effort to prevent the ouster of supposedly democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who got 67% of the vote in 1990 and was a Catholic Priest.  Aristide though was driven from power and the US put him back in.  Then, he was ousted again only to return and in 2004, the US again got involved with “Operation Secure Tomorrow.”  Part of the reason the Bush Administration and the Clinton Adminstration got involved was to try to prevent more refugees from coming to the US from Haiti in boats, as they had done during the early part of the Clinton Adminstration which proved to be a diplomatic, humanitarian and public relations problem for the United States. 

US Sec'y of State Colin Powell visits Haitian Interim President Alexander Boniface in 2004

There are about 9 million people in Haiti.  If 100,000 died in the earthquake, that would be about 1.1% of the population.  In the US if that type of event took place, it would be about 3.5 million.  If the reports of 500,000 dead prove true, then the proportional equivalent would be over 17 million.  As it has for 150 years, the US will be involved in Haiti.  Perhaps something good may come from this.  Maybe, the Haitian people will end up with a stable, honest government that can harness the hard work and enterprise of most of their people.  When Haitian immigrants come to the US, they generally become prosperous and contributing members of society.  While the Dominican Republic is not a wealthy nation, it shares the same landmass and enjoys a much higher standard of living than Haiti, which is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  UNICEF reports the per capita income in Haiti is $560.  Nation Building?  In this case, it’s the right thing to do.  If the US is going to take responsibility for security by following the Monroe Doctrine, its the responsibility of the US to make sure that the Haitians have a chance to prosper in the hemisphere dominated by the worlds greatest Democracy.  It would be in our national interest to have a stable and prosperous Haiti and it would be our moral responsibility to make it happen.

By Friday Evening, Critical Thickness (freezing lines) at all levels are way North

Weather Bottom Line:  On Tuesday, Louisville officially made it to 33 degrees.  It did that for less than an hour but it goes in the record book as being above freezing, making our freezing weather streak at something less than 12 days.  Forget the fact that no one lives at the airport and that no other reporting station in the region was above freezing, it still will be recorded in history that we were above freezing.  Wednesday the official high was 39….at the airport.  I washed  my car.  See, we have these trees and bushes with berries.  So, when it snows, the birds eat all of those berries.  Then they like to decorate my car to let me know how much they appreciated the berries. 

Our average high this time of year is 41…I think it dips to 40 for the last week in January and the first week of February.  Well, the jetstream is going to take a break.  The pattern is such that we will have the opposite of the last 2 weeks and the next two weeks will feature warmer than average temperatures. But, don’t break out the tanning butter and shorts just yet.  One or two days may hit 50 but for the most part we’ll be seeing highs in the 40’s.  A big low coming around the bend out of the desert Southwest and into the Gulf will get wound up and move to the northeast into the SE US.  But, without sufficient cold air, there won’t be any wintery precipitation except in the extreme highest elevations of the Appalachians…and that might be a stretch.   We’ll get some rain out of the action for the end of the weekend but I suspect as winter storms go, it may be something worthwhile for the New England seaboard, but that’s about it.  Given that…I thought it was a good day to wash my car.


6 Responses

  1. Nice article on Haiti. One comment though wouldn’t 100k of 9m be 1.1%, still an astounding figure but 11% would be something like 1m dead

  2. You are absolutely correct. It was a type-o. The numbers are correct, its just that when you come up with .011 that is be 1.1%. 11% of the US would be nearly 35 million. (corrected now)

  3. Normally i don’t respond to a post like this, but since i really liked it I just had to give you a thumbs up 🙂

  4. I pray for the survivers of this tradgety

  5. Nice article… but… There is some confusion with some facts, though. To begin with, there is an island named Dominica. It is one of the Lesser Antilles. It is not the island where the republic of Haiti is located, nor the Domincan Republic. Haiti and Dominican Republic share an island, one of the Greater Antilles called Hispaniola, which is also called Santo Domingo (hence Dominican republic) and Saint Domingue in French.
    The U.S. did try to annex the Dominican Republic, and almost did. The vote in the Senate to annex failed by 1 vote. They were interested in setting up a naval base in Samana, in the Northeastern part of the island. The importance and benefits of such a base decreased when the U.S. secured the “independence” of Cuba and with it, a base in Guantanamo.

  6. I should have been more clear, though I think everyone knows where I am talking about. I’m so used to 19th century references which refer to the Grant administrations’s desire to annex the entire island. Most texts of the time call it Dominica. However, Grant himself in his autobiography, calls the entire island Santo Domingo, which most people today would call a city, not an island. Grant did not mention a naval base, but instead said that it offered by almost “all of the people” at nearly no cost. He said that it was “very fertile, and is capable of supporting 15 millions of people.” My reference to annexation proposals were probably about 50 years before yours because I suspect you are talking about US involvement in the region following the Spanish American War. Thanx for your contribution.

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