Haiti: U.S. Intervention and the Struggle for Democracy
The Caribbean nation of Haiti was once one of the richest countries in the world. Today, it ranks among the poorest. It was first colonized by the Spanish whose main contribution was to wipe out the indigenous population. In 1697, the French took over. They brought in half a million African slaves to work the sugar, coffee and cotton plantations. A century later, black leaders Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines led a popular uprising ousting the French. It wasn’t too long after that the U.S. began to play a decisive role. Its September 1994 invasion was just the latest in a long series of military interventions and economic involvement in Haitian affairs. There’s an irony in U.S.-Haiti history. The colossus of the North was founded by slaveowners while Haiti was founded by former slaves.
Recorded at Georgetown University.
Paul Farmer is assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School and a fellow at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Farmer, who speaks Creole, has spent many years in Haiti. He conducts his research and medical practice in rural areas, where he specializes in community-based efforts to improve the health of the poor. He is the author of the widely-praised book The Uses of Haiti.