While many in this struggling nation are too young to remember the years, 1915 to 1934, that marked the first U.S. invasion of Haiti, the occupation remains a complex, and for some, a vexing period in Haitian history.
“Haitians like the U.S. visa to travel, but they don’t like American interference in their politics,” said Jean-Junior Joseph, a political blogger who once served as spokesman for the U.S. backed interim government that led Haiti between 2004 and 2006.
On Monday, Junior was among a handful of Haitians who attended a conference at the national pantheon museum as part of a monthlong series of activities aimed at commemorating the day the U.S. marines landed in Port-au-Prince, July 28, 1915.
Inside the museum, 56 books about the occupation are on display, the titles underscoring the resistance marines found in an unstable Haiti after a mob mutilated the body of then-Haitian President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam. Sam had ordered the deaths of 167 political prisoners, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson reasoned that U.S. financial interests and citizens needed protection.
But instead of protecting Americans, soldiers were soon calling the shots, accused of abuse and racism, and leaving their footprint on almost all aspects of Haitian life and politics.
“It’s during the occupation that Haitian women learned about going to the beauty salon,” said Pierre Buteau, a historian and former education minister.
Despite such influences, including modern roads and infrastructure, Buteau said the “modernization left by the Americans was fake. It was a modernization that was archaic, that didn’t have an output to development.” via | Miami Herald