Haiti

On this day in Caribbean history, September 16, 1915, the United States Senate ratified the Haitian-American Convention, a treaty granting the US security and economic oversight of Haiti for a 10-year period.

The US administration overhauled, the already Haitian constitutional system, reinstituted civil conscription for building roads, and established the National Guards. Opposition to the occupation began immediately after the Marines entered Haiti in 1915. The rebels strongly resisted American control of Haiti. During the first period of the occupation, they received considerable support from the German government and entrenched German-Haitian elite. While German capabilities were seriously limited by World War One and the United States was neutral for a time, they were hostile parties, determined to wrest hegemony over Hispaniola. Germany’s position benefited the indigenous resistance movements.

Racist attitudes towards the Haitian people by the American occupation forces were blatant and widespread. Initially, there was intermingling of officers and the elites at social gatherings and clubs but when families of American forces began arriving, such gatherings were minimized.

The Treaty read:

Art. I. The Government of the United States will, by its good offices, aid the Haitian Government in the proper and efficient development of its …resources and in the establishment of the finances of Haiti on a firm…basis.

Art II. The President of Haiti shall appoint, upon nomination by the President of the United States, a general receiver … who shall collect, receive and apply all customs duties …

The President of Haiti shall appoint, upon nomination by the President of the United States, a financial advisor…

Art. III. The Government of …Haiti will provide by law…for the payment of all customs duties to the general receiver…

Art. V. All sums collected …by the general receiver shall be applied first [to pay his expenses] second, to the interest and sinking fund of the public debt of …Haiti…

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