Haiti’s Revolutionary Artists
“[Their] ambitions were personal but selfless, an important factor in judging humanism. In what other way can one have heroes as distinct from dictators?”
— Island Possessed by Katherin Dunham
This quote by Dunham was used to recognize characteristics she found in Haiti’s Toussaint L’Overture and President Dumarsais Estimé. Island Possessed tells the story of Dunham’s global research and encounters with President Estimé. This includes President Estimé’s rise from deputy to president and then to persona non grata in the Caribbean. He rose to power and gained the love of the people but was removed as president after attempting to extend his term to dissolve political bodies and requesting support from the U.S. After he was unseated, Haiti’s army and mulatto elite still feared that the people’s love for him would result in a coup. So, Estimé was hunted until he died in New York.
On February 7, 2021, Jovenel Moïse’s five-year presidential term in Haiti expired but he refused to step down. However, the U.S. and its allies have proclaimed their support for Moïse. This is the same Moïse accused of money laundering, embezzling Petro Caribe funds, and attempting to steal $80 million from Haiti’s central bank. He continued the previous president’s economic practices of opening up Haiti to economic fleecing by foreigners in sectors such as tourism, agribusiness, sweatshops, and mining. To make matters worse, “The Core Group”, an international council presiding over Haiti’s internal and external affairs, includes the U.S. and the OAS. The OAS has worked as an extension of the U.S.’s power in Haiti.
In response, opposing political parties have appointed Judge Joseph Mécène Jean Louis as President-designate and the association of judges have demanded a complete shutdown of the justice system. Also, protesters are leading anti-government protests with demands such as an end to manipulation by actors, including the Core Group, the UN and the OAS and the immediate end to the Möise administration.