Module 5 Essay: The Development of Ideology in Haiti
Political Science 105
Professor Chad Smith
“An ideology begins with the belief that things can be better; it is a plan to improve society.” (Roskin et al., 2014, pg. 35). The ideology of Haiti, a small country located on an island in the Caribbean Sea, led off with similar intentions. Initially a slave state, Haiti first gained independence through a rebellion. Although it has grown in some aspects, the politics of Haiti have often been inconclusive, and even deadly. Its ideology has not done much to help the country, and will need to be refashioned entirely if it hopes to move from a third world status.
Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, Haiti was turned into a Spanish settlement, and its people enslaved. By the seventeenth century, ownership of Haiti had changed hands from the Spanish to the French. The country gained its official name, and the French made much profit from sugar and other resources farmed by slaves brought from Africa. Overtime, Haiti developed into a successful French colony, and the rich settlers intermixed with the locals creating a new biracial group called the mulattoes. The mulattoes were not as superior as that white populace, but they were considered to be better than the pure African slaves. As the economy flourished, so did the population. By 1791, there were “approximately 500,000 slaves and about 50,000 free people.” (Corbett, 1999).
The brutality of the slave system and extreme population ratio led to an uprising in 1791. The war lasted until 1804, when the French were defeated and the nation of Haiti was officially proclaimed. The following year, a man by the name of Dessalines declared himself to be the Emperor. He did not gain the respect of the mulatto population nor appoint any other leadership, and attempted to keep peace by intermarrying the black and mulatto people. His ill-fated rule was cut short by an assassination. The Haitian constitution was soon to follow, and the positions of president and legislature were created and then filled by Henri Christophe and Alexandre Petion. Christophe eventually renamed himself King Henry I, and had a strict but prosperous rule in the north. Haiti slowly dissolved into two separate Haitis, and things continued on in a similar fashion for a number of years. The people never gained much education, and “both the Industrial Revolution and the Democratic Revolutions passed Haiti by.” (Corbett, 1999).
Europe and America were not quick to recognize Haiti’s independence, and following riots and a general breakdown of order, American troops were sent in to occupy Haiti in 1915. (Sepinwall). They remained there until 1934, running the government and creating their own structure. After America stepped out, although there are still strong ties between the two countries today, Haiti made some progress such as having its first free and open election. But the various political factions were constantly battling one another, and many people were killed by providing opposition. As if the political strains were not enough, Haiti was hit with a devastating Earthquake in 2010 that killed nearly a hundred thousand people. A political system of sorts was put into operation with a president and parliament method.
Today, political corruption is an ongoing problem at the heart of Haiti’s ideology. The people in the political offices are abusive in regards to human rights, and misuse the nation’s finances. Much of the population lives in poverty, and violence is rampant in the streets. Future stability will be greatly dependent on economic change, a feat that is unlikely to be achieved without changing the distribution of power in the Haitian government. If the country does achieve a sound financial place, the money needs to be poured back into the people. Historically, when economics were at a good standpoint, the money was used selfishly by those in power, resulting in the poor and uneducated populace today. Change will only happen with a redistribution of power, which will result in a more economically and politically sound Haiti.
Corbett, B. (1999, August 1). Short and Oversimplified History of Haiti. Retrieved May 1, 2015, from http://www2.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/course/unitone/short.htm
Roskin, M., Cord, R., Medeiros, J., & Jones, W. (2014). Political science: An Introduction (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Sepinwall, A. (n.d.). Teaching about Haiti in World History: An Introduction. Retrieved May 3, 2015, from http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/10.2/sepinwall.html