Haiti was once the first black independent republic in the world and the richest island in the Caribbean. Today Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the world. What could have happened to Haiti in almost two hundred years of history? The country experienced repeated civil war and foreign intervention. Haiti is not isolated from the international world. Thus, it was not out of concern for ordinary Haitians that the United States intervened in Haiti. It was out of concern for profit and stability within the United States' own backyard. The purpose of this paper is to show the negative aspect that the United States had played in the government of Haiti.
The situation in Haiti was and always has been volatile. Ever since the Haitian slaves revolted in 1804, Haiti has become full of crises and revolutions of various sorts. The invasion and following occupation were sparked by the fall of the Haitian President General Vilbrun Guillaume Sam in July of 1915. General Sam was well aware of the discontent with him from the masses, and in response gave a sick display of power, ordering the execution of 173 political prisoners. At the beginning of the 20th century, many Caribbean and Central American countries were heavily in debt to European countries. Since Haiti was in high debt, and violence had erupted from the Haitian population, the United States declared that it was evident that the Haitians were not to fit to rule themselves. The United States occupied Haiti in 1915 until 1934. (Farmer: 93)
The United States granted itself complete political and administrative control over Haiti. Even though the United States' plan was interested in investing in Haiti, it did not mean that they would never do so. The United States is greatly responsible for the build up of the states' structure. Over one thousand miles of roads and two hundred bridges were built. The occupiers reconstructed the French irrigation system that Haiti had, new wharves and acetylene lighthouses were built. Theaters and parks were restored or built from the ground up. The public health systems were enlarged; hospitals and clinics were set up across the country. Even American doctors came to train Haitian doctors, and some Haitian doctors went to the U.S. to study (Thomas Smith: 291, video). These are the only things that Haiti benefited from this intervention.
Another achievement made during this transition was that the Marines from the US established reformation of the Haitian army. They replaced it by a National Police Force (La Garde d'Haiti) that dominated Haitian politics ever since. This army had been conceived as a nonpartisan peacekeeping force that would help ensure the right kind of political stability. During the occupation it did so. Afterward, however the existence of such a force ended by helping political strongmen stay in power.
"The Haitian Garde was especially created to fight against other Haitians. ...