The Long Haitian Revolution


Pierre Labossiere, Margaret Prescod and Camila Valle


“When history is written as it ought to be written, it is the moderation and long patience of the masses at which men will wonder, not their ferocity.”

—C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins

“The Haitian movement, though the most pivotal to the abolition of slavery in the Americas, is the most neglected—we all owe a great debt to Haitians and must pay it.”

—Margaret Prescod, introduction to Selma James’s Our Time Is Now

On July 7, 2021, the illegitimate president of Haiti Jovenel Moïse, who had led Haiti since 2017, was assassinated in an attack on his home in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Before his death, despite his term officially ending on February 7, 2021, Moïse was holding onto power, with support from death squads on the ground as well as theJoe Biden administration (a continuation of the DonaldTrump administration policy) and United Nations. For months, Haitians came out in large protests demanding Moïse step down. At the same time, the Biden administration continued and continues to deport Haitians at alarming rates.

Ariel Henry was sworn in as the acting president of Haiti on July 20, 2021, having been chosen as the next prime minister by Moïse shortly before his assassination. The Core Group—made up of ambassadors from the United States, France, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Spain, the European Union, and representatives from the United Nations and Organization of American States—have put out a statement throwing their support behind Henry.

Haitian authorities arrested the head of Moïse’s security team as part of its probe into the assassination and issued an arrest warrant for Supreme Court Justice Windelle Coq Thélot. Colombian mercenaries have also been linked to the assassination, with the Pentagon confirming that four of the accused mercenaries had received U.S. military training at Fort Benning in Georgia. Formerly known as the School of the Americas (dubbed by critics the “School of the Assassins”), the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning has been used for decades to train Latin American soldiers in combat, counterinsurgency, and counternarcotics. Since then, the judge presiding over the investigation of the assassination quit because one of the court clerks was also found dead.

On August 14, 2021, a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. At the time of writing, the death toll has risen to around 2,200, more than 12,000 people have been injured, and over 7,000 homes have been destroyed. Many hospitals have also been damaged, with ones still operating reporting overcapacity of patients and shortages of medical supplies. Two days after the quake, Tropical Storm Grace swept into Haiti, bringing heavy rain and winds.

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