Two Centuries of US-French interventions

The history textbooks and official propaganda of Haitian governments since 1915 have perpetuated the notion that it was the “collapse of order” occasioned by the events of July 27th and 28th of that year (including the attack by pro-Caco masses against the National Palace, the massacre of political prisoners by order of police chief Charles Oscar, the flight of Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, his seizure from the French Consulate and eventual lynching) that brought about the United States intervention and occupation of Haiti.

In fact, one year prior (in July 1914), Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then undersecretary of the US Navy “ . . . revealed,” writes historian Claude Moïse, “that instructions were given to assemble at the Guantanamo base contingents of Marines ready to intervene in Haiti with order to protect American lives and properties...”

There is a school of thought that suggests the US-Americans — true to the Monroe Doctrine — may have been motivated by a desire, right in the middle of World War I, to keep the other world powers like France, England, even Germany, from taking advantage of Haiti’s political crisis. While this may be an attractive thesis, the reality is that France and the United States have collaborated in the dual domination of Haiti throughout the island nation’s existence as a State. Furthermore, the United States sided with France during the first major crisis between Haiti and its former colonizer: the French demand in 1825 of payment, under military threat, for so-called losses by defeated French colonists.

The US established its own embargo against Haiti, which lasted until 1865 under Abraham Lincoln.

As the United States, after 28 July 1915, took charge of Haiti, France passed the balance of payment of Haiti’s obligations to her. US-French complicity in Haiti’s domination did not stop at the indemnity payment or the repression of the Cacos ; it continues through the present day…

-Tontongi is a poet, essayist, and editor in chief of the online magazine Tanbou. Full text is available on