History of Haiti
The island of Hispaniola (Spanish for “Little Spain”),
where Haiti is located, was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The indigenous people of the island were wiped out by the Spanish and French before colonization was complete; to replace them, African slaves were brought to the island. The land that constitues Haiti today, remained the richest French colony, “Saint Domigue,” until the beginning of the eighteen hundreds.
In the wake of the French Revolution,
after many slave-led uprisings and twelve years of fighting for their freedom, the independence of the new Republic of Haiti was proclaimed on January 1, 1804. However, due to immensely high reparations placed on Haiti by former plantation owners and to ongoing fighting between blacks, whites, and biracials, Haiti started down the path to desolation and over time became the poorest country in the western world. To make matters worse, the Haitian people have suffered under dictators and corrupt regimes up into the mid-1990s.
To help stabilize the political situation,
which was still experiencing a state of unrest after the Duvalier era, the United Nations enacted the peacekeeping mission UNSTAMIH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) in April 2004. This mandate has continued to be extended. Still today, there are international UN troops in Haiti helping to keep the peace and order and providing people in need with relief supplies.
Haiti has not found peace or rest.
Corruption continues to prevail. Crime has risen sharply and has reached a new “quality.” The excessively rising cost of living has also affected the people. In recent years, Haiti has been spared from more major natural disasters; however, the aftermath of the earthquake, the flooding, etc., further complicate the Haitians’ daily struggle for survival.