Haiti is a Caribbean nation with a long record of bloodshed independent of outsiders, coupled with violence involving other countries. In the past decade it experienced a coup ousting elected President Aristide, faciliated in part by the administration of George W. Bush, which resulted in the international community again sending troops into Haiti, this time under the auspices of the United Nations.
U.S. Military Interventions/Occupations
- December 1888: a display of U.S. naval force persuades Haitian government to release an American ship.
- From 1911 to 1915 there were six different Presidents of Haiti, each of whom was killed or forced into exile. The various revolutionary armies that carried out this series of coups were formed by cacos, or peasant brigands from the mountains of the north, along the Eastern border, who were enlisted by rival political factions with promises of money to be paid after a successful revolution and an opportunity to plunder.
- The United States was particularly apprehensive about the role of the small German community in Haiti (approximately 200 in 1910), who wielded a disproportionate amount of economic power. German nationals controlled about 80 percent of the country's international commerce. They also owned and operated utilities in Cap Haïtien and Port-au-Prince, the main wharf and a tramway in the capital, and a railroad serving the Plaine de Cul-du-Sac. They served as the principal financiers of the nation's revolutions, floating loans-at high interest rates-to competing political factions.
- In an effort to limit German influence, in 1910-11 the State Department backed a consortium of American investors, assembled by the National City Bank of New York, in acquiring control of the Banque National d'Haïti, the nation's only commercial bank and the government treasury.
- In February 1915 Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam established a dictatorship, but in July, facing a new revolt, he massacred 167 political prisoners, all of whom were from elite families. Sam was then lynched by a mob in Port-au-Prince.
- On July 28, 1915, 330 Marines landed in Haiti, beginning an occupation that would finally end when American troops left the country on August 15, 1934.
On January 12, 2010, an earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Haiti. The epicenter of the quake was fifteen miles west-southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.
The loss of life and destruction has been immense, especially in Port-au-Prince. The latest estimates from the Haitian government are that over 150,000 people are dead in the capital alone, and over 600,000 have been left homeless. Most of the Haitian infrastructure collapsed in the quake, including hospitals, government buildings, markets, etc. The port facilities in Port-au-Prince were badly damaged.
International response to the disaster has been swift. A large number of organizations are on the ground in Haiti, setting up medical facilities, shelters, bringing in safe drinking water, and more. The ill-equipped one-runway airport at Port-au-Prince has been overwhelmed by the volume of supplies that need to be brought in for the relief efforts, and the port is only functioning at 30%, so it is only accepting humanitarian traffic.
Daily Kos Response
Members of Daily Kos have written dozens of diaries to aid earthquake relief efforts. Dallasdoc started a series of diaries, continued by him and other members of the community, for people who wanted to know which were the best organizations to donate to. That information has been collected on the Haiti Earthquake Relief page.
TexMex started a drive to "purchase" ShelterBoxes; a ShelterBox contains a tent and living essentials for ten people, and each one "costs" $1,000. The total donations made by Daily Kos members and their friends and associates have accounted for over 100 ShelterBoxes as of January 22.
- Americas.org News and Commentary: Haiti
- Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
- Haiti JusticeBlog