January 1st marked the 217th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution

Note from BBT: My interest in Haiti should be an interest that we all share as descendants of African peoples. The Africans of Haiti were the only population of former slaves who were able successfully overthrow its colonizers and establish a new republic. But this independence came at a cost as the West has consistently used its economic and military might to maintain Haiti as the poorest nation in the Americas.

Along with the passing of January 1st and the 217th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution, there are several other reasons that I discuss Haiti, the nation, culture and people on a blog about blacks people and the question of race in Brazil.

1) The Haitian Revolution has similarities with the black struggle for freedom in Brazil’s quilombos, particularly Palmares.

2) The spirits and religion of the Vodun played an important role in Haitian identity and organizing of the revolt. The spirit of Vodun is present in Brazilian orixás and the religion of Candomblé.

3) The occupation of Haiti for several years courtesy of UN sanctioned Brazilian military.

4) The immigration and experiences of Haitians living in Brazil.

The experiences and history of the Haitian people are things that we should all learn from if we are understand our condition on a global scale.

Haiti celebrates 217 years of its independence on January 1

By Nataly Simões

In 1804, after more than a decade of intense struggle during the Haitian Revolution, the country abolished slavery and ceased being a colony of France.

216 years ago, on January 1, 1804, Haiti gained its independence as a result of the intense struggle of Africans who never accepted their condition as slaves imposed by the French colonizers and which culminated in the Haitian Revolution, the largest successful revolt of slaves in colonial nations.

The colonization of the country, at the time called Ilha de São Domingos, in 1492, began with a massacre that resulted in the extinction of the original communities and boosted the Atlantic slave trade of the African continent. These peoples of Africa were subjected to a scenario of extreme violence. Similar to the black slaves in Brazil, they resisted and formed communities known as Maroons – a term equivalent to Quilombos.

Vicent Ogé

On August 14, 1791, the combatant Vicent Ogé called for a revolt in a religious ceremony. The uprising became known as the fuse of a revolt against the French. In a few days more than 100,000 slaves joined the revolt and took over the Northern Province.

With the capture and death of Ogé, Toussaint L’Ouverture took the lead in the struggle of Africans for freedom. The Haitians defeated the slave owners, more than 60,000 soldiers sent by England, and also 43,000 soldiers of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army, considered at the time as “the invincible”.

Toussaint L’Ouverture

In 1803, L’Ouverture was arrested and murdered by the French and his guerrilla Jean Jacques Dessalines took over the leadership of the revolution and led the country to independence on January 1st of the following year. The country officially declared the end of slavery and was renamed Haiti, in honor of the original peoples exterminated by the Europeans.

Jean Jacques Dessalines

The Haitian women of the revolution

Although the Haitian revolution was composed of men and women, history “erased” female participation, which played a key role in the struggle together with figures like L’Ouverture and Dessalines.

Suzanne Sanité Bélair

This is the case of Suzanne Sanité Bélair, who actively participated in the fight against slavery. Suzanne served the L’Ouverture army as a sergeant and because of her persuasive skills she became a lieutenant at the head of most of the battles in her home town L’artbonite and responsible for the revolt of almost the entire enslaved population against their owners. She gained even more prominence by participating in the confrontation with Napoleon’s army.

Described as “Tiger of the Revolution”, she was captured by the French in October 1802 and sentenced to death by decapitation. Even in the face of death, she kept her bravery and in her last act shouted “Freedom. Not for slavery!”.

Marie Claire Heureuse Felicité Bonheur

Another important female figure in the Haitian revolt, among many, is Marie Claire Heureuse Felicité Bonheur. She acted as a nurse and led a procession of women and children with food, clothing and medicine to serve cities located by the Haitian army. Marie Claire has also worked in the field of education, where she counseled and taught the African people and the diaspora to read and write. From 1804 to 1806, she was the empress of Haiti with her husband Dessalines.

Crisis to the present day

With its independence, Haiti had great development potential, but was subjected to bank sanctions by France. The European country demanded a series of reparations that reverted to large debts conditional upon Haiti’s recognition of its independence. This condition destroyed the local economy and infrastructure and made the country the poorest in Latin America.

Since July 2018, the Haitian country has faced a state of popular insurgency with peaks of massive mobilization and periods of stagnation. One of the reasons that took about 1.5 million people to the streets was the government’s attempt to increase fuel prices by 51%, with an impact on the price of public transportation, food and the cost of living in general.

Another crisis experienced by the country is politics, marked by corruption scandals such as the detour of at least $2 billion from Petrocaribe’s energy cooperation agreements by several members of the political class, including President Jovenel Moïse and the Haitian Party Tèt Kale.

More recently, in September of 2019, the country left Petrocaribe because of the US blockade under Venezuela. The blockade prevents the arrival of oil tankers on the Haitian coast. This year Haiti also withdrew its recognition of the government of Nicolás Maduro, supported the movement against the Bolivarian Revolution and aligned itself with U.S. war geopolitics, establishing a unprecedented position in its history.

Source: Alma Preta

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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