Hispaniola in colonial times
Hispaniola was settled by the Ciboney from the Amazon around 400 AD. Aruak (Taino) followed 400 years later and the Caribs around 1500. In 1492 Columbus landed on the north coast and brought with him the first Spanish settlers and black slaves who worked in sugar plantations and in raising cattle.
The indigenous people were exterminated. After the interest of the Spanish colonial rulers had largely shifted to the new and lucrative possessions on the South American continent, Hispaniola became a popular refuge for English, French and Dutch smugglers and pirates.
In the course of the 17th century, the island became a scene of violent disputes between the leading European colonial powers for supremacy in the region. In the Peace of Rijswijk (1697), Spain finally ceded the western third of the island of Hispaniola to France ( Dominican Republic, history). The area (“Saint-Domingue”) developed into the richest French colony in the 18th century through the production of sugar, coffee, cocoa and cotton.
Under Aristide and Préval
The following military governments, first under Namphy, later under Prosper Avril (* 1938) were ended in 1990 by presidential elections, which the Salesian priest J.-B. Aristide won as the leader of a leftist alliance (Lavalas). On September 30, 1991, a coup under General Raoul Cédras (* 1949) forced him into exile. The coup and subsequent repression, which killed at least 5,000 people, caused a flow of refugees, particularly to the United States; the trade embargo imposed by the OAS exacerbated the economic difficulties. After lengthy negotiations and massive international pressure, Aristide return under the protection of a multinational reaction force (mostly US soldiers) in October 1994 after Cédras left the country. This did not solve the country’s pressing economic and social problems.
Even Aristide’s elected successor R. Preval , who took over the presidency on 07/02/1996, the country could not result from the ongoing crisis. The parliament, which was freely elected for the first time in 1995, was also unable to introduce fundamental reforms in order to guarantee the effective use of development aid. Government crises, frequent changes of prime minister and party divisions contributed to Haiti remaining the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
After the parliamentary elections in 2000, which were overshadowed by manipulation, and the re-election of Aristides as president in the same year, tensions increased. At the turn of 2003/04 the resistance against Aristide widened, the v. a. Abuses of power and a style of government based on violence were accused of leading to rebellion. The political opposition initially distanced itself from the insurgents who were calling for the president to resign and campaigned for new elections. Starting from the north and west of the country, various armed groups (including former members of the Haitian army, which was disbanded in 1995) initially occupied individual cities, then controlled almost half of the country and advanced on the capital in February 2004. Diplomatic attempts, v. a. through the Caribbean community to resolve the conflict peacefully, failed.
After looting, bloody riots and increasing escalation of violence, the USA and France increased the pressure on the regime. On February 29, 2004, Aristide finally left the country. According to the constitution, the President of the Supreme Court, Boniface Alexandre (* 1936), took over the office of President. Immediately after Aristide’s resignation, following a resolution by the UN Security Council, a US-led multinational peacekeeping force arrived in Haiti to restore stability and order.
On March 13, 2004, according to usaers, the former UN diplomat and economic expert Gérard Latortue (* 1934) was sworn in as interim president. In June 2004, an international UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSTAH) was established in the country under Brazilian command. Nonetheless, the general security situation remained tense.
The presidential election of February 7, 2006 was won by R. Préval from the Fwon Lespwa party (German for “Front Hope”), who had held this post from 1996–2001.
After a first round on 7.2.2006, the second round of parliamentary elections took place on April 21, 2006, in which Préval’s party Fwon Lespwa received the most votes in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In April 2007, the soldiers of the MINUSTAH mission helped to secure the running of the local and municipal elections. Rising food prices sparked unrest among the population in 2008 and led to the removal of Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis (* 1947). Michèle Pierre-Louis (* 1947) was his successor. After a vote of no confidence by the Senate, she lost her position on October 30, 2009 to Jean-Max Bellerive (* 1958).
After the severe earthquake in January 2010, the United Nations decided to increase the workforce of the MINUSTAH peace mission. The international community supported the country with numerous aid measures. A cholera epidemic triggered riots in October 2010, which spread v. a. against the UN soldiers, who were blamed by parts of the population for the outbreak of the epidemic.