Socialist Worker

Haiti timeline

Issue No. 2185

  • 1492 – The islands are “discovered” by explorer Christopher Columbus and claimed for Spain as a colony
  • 1697 – What is now Haiti is occupied by France and named Saint-Domingue. The French begin bringing in 20,000 slaves a year to grow sugar cane for export
  • 1804 – Haiti win its independence following a slave revolt. It becomes the first black republic in the world. A new constitution is adopted, giving people more rights and freedoms
  • 1825 – The new country is forced into paying reparations to France for loss of property during the revolt, keeping it locked in a cycle of debt
  • 1867-1915 – Intermittent civil war and coups
  • 1915-1934 – US occupies Haiti, saying the country is in massive debt to American banks
  • 1957 – Francois Duvalier – a doctor known as “Papa Doc” – takes power
  • 1964 – Papa Doc declares himself dictator for life
  • 1971 – On his death his son, “Baby Doc”, takes over. He rules using his “Tonton Macoutes” secret police
  • 1985 – Regime murders 40,000 amid protests and strikes
  • 1986 – Uprising overthrows Baby Doc, who goes into exile
  • 1990 – Priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide elected on pro-poor platform
  • 1991 – Military coup removes Aristide
  • 1994 – US troops restore Aristide after he agrees to implement a neoliberal programme
  • 1996 – The troops leave
  • 2004 – US-backed coup against Aristide. US marines sent in, followed by UN troops, who take over the occupation of Haiti and remain there to this day
  • 2006 – Aristide ally Rene Preval elected president
  • 2008 – Food riots force out prime minister Jacques Edouard Alexis
  • 2010 – The earthquake hits. US troops return to Haiti

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