Stories from a Divided Haiti

Awesome. I'll be following this.

Thanks! Does anyone have any places, time periods or topics that they'd like to see? I'll get to the Black Prince's reign, decline and fall eventually, but will probably skip around a bit more first - I'm torn between a mid-19th century scene and a modern one for the next story.

(Latest update on previous page at post 39.)
 
Good to see that you're continuing this. And, as I said before, I'd like to see how the stories you already started go on.
 
A Recitation in Kreyol

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At the city limit, the baron’s guards climbed down from the coach.

It was evening and the traffic in the streets had slackened, but it wouldn’t have mattered if they had been empty. The three guardsmen marched in front of the horses, stout poles at the ready, taking possession of the roadway like an occupying army. “Make way for the Baron de Vastey!” called Kodjo, the senior man. “Clear the street for the Baron!”

Inside the coach, bemused, the baron watched. He was one of a very few men, other than the king, who could claim an escort from the Dahomey Guard. In the days when he’d served the old king as tutor to the man who ruled now, he’d been awarded a detachment from the royal bodyguard, men-at-arms preceding him like lictors before Caesar. But now, that escort was more a reminder of what he’d been than a sign of what he was; King Jacques-Victor was a willful man, and had little use for his father’s superannuated courtiers.

The baron’s townhouse was on a side street not far from the city’s edge; another gift from the king-that-was, and one he could ill afford to maintain. It had belonged to a French importer once, and Dessalines had used it as a headquarters: slaves had been sold there and battles planned. Vastey himself had sat at Dessalines’ table there, long ago when he was a soldier, never knowing that the table where bills of sale had been signed and orders dictated would one day be his writing-desk.

There was a light burning in the second story as the coach turned the corner; Vastey heard voices inside and then the sound of a servant scurrying downstairs. That didn’t stop Kodjo from banging his pole against the door. He would no more have foregone that ritual than done without breathing, and when the door opened at last, it was in response to the baron’s summons.

He stepped down from the coach and let the servant usher him in; the others would go along to the carriage-house and unload his trunk. He followed the man up to the study, and behind his desk – behind Dessalines’ desk – was the person he knew would be there.

“Good evening, Firmin,” he said.

“Philippe,” answered Alexandre Firmin, rising from behind the table. “Please sit down.”

It was like him, to use the baron’s given name. A stranger might have taken the gesture for contempt: Firmin had grown up on the fields, but these days he was a greater man in Le Cap than Vastey was. He’d come to the capital as a young man to join Jacques-Victor’s coterie of court poets, and the king had introduced him to the count’s daughter who he’d married. Now the count was dead and Firmin held the title in his wife’s right; he was also a frequent guest at the palace, and rumor had him as a royal intimate.

But that wasn’t the reason for his mode of address. He had no intention of putting Vastey in his place – why would he do that to the man he most admired? The baron remembered the day Alexandre had sat behind that table for the first time, the day Vastey had gone to live in the country and rented him the house. “I can only hope,” he’d said, “that sitting at this table will give me a thousandth of your genius.”

No, it was friendship that brought the name “Philippe” to Firmin’s mouth – friendship that he didn’t have, but to which he aspired as any journeyman might aspire to the regard of a master.

And a journeyman he’ll always be, Vastey thought. It wasn’t that Alexandre wrote romantic nonsense. The baron could hardly fault him for that, not when he himself had gone far along that path. But his notions, his notions…

“… I’ve just finished writing this one,” Firmin said, sliding a paper across the table. “I’d be honored if you would be the first to read it.”

There was no polite way to refuse, and Vastey took the paper in one hand. The poem was obviously for the Kingdom Day celebration, all about marching in the path of Toussaint and Dessalines, and planters’ blood fertilizing the soil their slaves inherited. It actually wasn’t bad – its cadence was martial and the words were stirring, and the baron had almost finished reading before he realized the most important thing about it.

“It’s in Kreyol!”

“Of course it is,” Alexandre answered. “Kreyol is our language.”

“It isn’t for…” Vastey left the sentence unfinished. He could hardly say that Kreyol wasn’t for poetry, when he’d just read a poem in that language and been moved by it.

“You can’t speak to the world in Kreyol,” he said instead.

“I don’t want to speak to the world,” said Firmin.

Yes, his notions. Vastey, in his youth, had done little but speak to the world: monographs in defense of Haiti’s nationhood, essays in the magazines of America and Europe, responses to those across the Atlantic who defended slavery and colonialism, battles of letters with the Pétionists in Port-au-Prince. “What account will Haiti be, if no one can read its poetry?”

“What account will our poems be, if they’re written in a language half our people can’t understand? I don’t care how Frenchmen account us. Our speech is our soul, and I want to express it. I want to make sure the court listens to it.”

That was a better answer than the baron had looked for, and he found himself groping for a response. He’d taken it for granted that the opinions of Europe and America mattered, that a new nation couldn’t survive without the acceptance of the old, but a nation that was no longer new – a kingdom on its second king, one in which a generation had been born and died – might feel more secure in itself. Still…

“We’re a small country nevertheless,” he said. “We need an audience outside our borders. It’s dangerous, if Jacques-Victor thinks he can ignore the world.”

“Is that what you think this is? Ignoring the world? There’s such a thing as translation, you know.” Firmin paused for a moment. “And the king is hardly ignoring the world. You’ll find that out tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Vastey asked. He’d been summoned to Cap-Haïtien for a council of state, but no one had told him what the agenda would be. “Is that what we’re voting on? Kreyol?”

The other man looked at him sharply. “You mean you don’t know?”

“I don’t. The herald told me nothing. I’m not sure he knew himself.”

“It isn’t Kreyol, that’s for certain. Jacques-Victor wants to unbind the peasants from the plantations. He’s calling for a decree against serfdom.”

*******​

“It can’t be,” Vastey said the next morning at breakfast. “Our wealth depends on it.”

“Ours meaning the kingdom’s, or ours meaning ours?” asked the Countess Firmin. She sat across the dining-room table, already dressed in her court clothes and spreading marmalade very carefully across a biscuit.

“The kingdom’s, Marie-Claire. I have little enough left of my own, you know that. But if we let the peasants go where they please, we’ll all be as poor as the southerners. Toussaint knew that. Dessalines knew, Henri-Christophe knew – without the plantations, what does this country have to sell?”

“Nobody’s talking about breaking the plantations up,” Alexandre answered. “We won’t give everyone a plot like Pétion did. The sugar fields will still be there – the peasants will just have a choice about where they work.”

“And none of them will choose to stay where they are.”

“Then should they be made to stay?” Marie-Claire asked. She was much more direct about confronting Vastey than her husband was. “In all those essays you wrote defending our country’s freedom, did you forget why we won it? You’d keep people in serfdom where their grandfathers were slaves?”

“It isn’t serfdom and it isn’t slavery. They’re entitled to wages, and a share of the plantation’s profits. But it’s their work that builds our roads and schools. It’s their work that buys guns for the army…”

“We don’t only need peasants. We need doctors and engineers.”

“I know that,” said Vastey angrily. Hadn’t he done his part in educating the next generation? Hadn’t he sponsored the promising children of palace servants, and paid for their schooling in Europe? But the plantation workers were needed where they were, or else there might be no schools at all.

“I can hardly argue with you in principle,” he continued, “but we have to think of the country. No revenue, no government – we’d be like the south, with a revolution every twenty years and a coup every ten.”

“What makes you think plantations are the only source of revenue?” Antoine broke in. “My friend Lüders, the German consul – he knows some men who want to build a refinery and a textile factory. I could mortgage some of my land for shares, and there are others who’d do the same, but if the peasants are all tied to the fields, then where would we get the workers?”

“So that’s what it’s all about, is it?” Vastey knew his anger was unnatural, but he’d passed the point where he could control it. “You want to empty the plantations so you could make all the peasants into factory slaves? And when the Germans and Frenchmen own the country and make you their serfs, what will you do then?”

Firmin shrank back from his idol’s contempt, but his wife did not. “And you were the one who warned about ignoring the world.”

*******​

The speaker’s gavel rang against the podium. “His Majesty Jacques-Victor, King of Haiti, has called the chambre des pairs into session as a Great Council of State, to consult with him on matters affecting the estates of the nobles. Give your attention and render your counsel.”

Vastey looked up from his bench as the Count of Mont-Rouis began speaking. The count was an old enemy of his from the days when he’d advised the old king. In those times Mont-Rouis had been the foreign minister and had designs on the throne, but the Dahomey Guards had removed him from power during the three days the king’s death had been kept secret, and Vastey had made sure he didn’t return. But now, it seemed, the count had become a royal partisan, and was calling for the king’s proposal to be adopted by acclamation.

That would not be. Another peer shouted him down from the back benches, and a third – the Marquis de l’Avalasse – forced his way to the front to defend the noble estates’ privileges. Mont-Rouis and Firmin rallied the king’s supporters, but the noise from the opposition was louder, and there seemed little doubt of what would happen when the speaker called for a vote.

The speaker finally called for a show of hands, and while the count was ceremonial and slow, Vastey could see from the beginning that the measure had failed.

Henri-Christophe would never have allowed this, he thought as the count concluded. He’d have beaten the nobles into submission, constitution or no constitution. Jacques-Victor has become weak – if his nobles can defy him like this, he’ll be king in name only. The thought filled Vastey with an unaccountable sadness; although he had opposed the measure, he was sure that Haiti needed a strong king.

But now the speaker was rapping his gavel again, and introducing another proposal. The new measure wasn’t as sweeping as the first, but it was broad enough – children born on plantations henceforward would be free to leave upon reaching their majority, and older peasants could leave if they paid a lump sum to the noble whose estate they worked. There was something else to it too – something about the terms on which nobles could release peasants voluntarily – but the speaker never finished.

“The king defies us!” shouted l’Avalasse. “We rejected his theft, and now he asks us to countenance another!”

“Treason!” Mont-Rouis responded. “The marquis speaks treason against the king!” And Firmin was shouting too – shouting that in the land of Toussaint and Dessalines, the land watered by the slaveholders’ blood, it was a crime for any man to be denied his freedom.

The poem, Vastey realized. It wasn’t for Independence Day. It was for this. Firmin is calling out to the council with Haiti’s soul.

“You dare call me a traitor!” l’Avalasse roared, cutting short the baron’s thoughts. He swung a heavy fist and Mont-Rouis, knocking the count to the floor. Firmin answered with a punch to l’Avalasse’s gut, and in seconds, there was fighting throughout the chamber. Vastey felt sick as he watched the battle; was this the depth that Haiti’s nobles had reached?

But now the Dahomey Guard was in the chamber, separating the combatants and dragging some of them out of the hall. With a shock, Vastey realized that the ones being dragged out were the king’s opponents, leaving only the royalists in the room. It seemed too convenient – had the fight been planned all along?

A guard grabbed the baron roughly, but another one – Kodjo, he recognized – forestalled him. “He stays,” Kodjo said, and Vastey was left on the bench.

The hall was cleared within minutes, and the speaker’s gavel punctuated the Dahomey Guards’ departure. “A vote on the king’s measure,” he called.

“Quorum call!” shouted one of the few opposing peers still in the chamber, but the speaker ignored him. “Vote now by show of hands,” he said, and one hand after another went up from the decimated assembly. Without quite knowing it, even Vastey had raised his hand: the king had proven his strength, and he was entitled to rule.

He wouldn’t stay the night in Cap-Haïtien, he decided. He would return to his estate tonight, and write more poems about the mountain mist and the children of the land. Maybe, this time, he would write them in Kreyol.

- 1858​
 
...This last update was absolutely beautiful.

Thanks! BTW, the Baron de Vastey is a real, and fascinating, character who was one of the founders of Haitian literature [1, 2 in English; 3, 4 in French]. He is considerably more long-lived here than in OTL where he was executed when the monarchy fell; at the time of the story, he's in his late 70s. He's been mentioned in a few of the other stories - he'll be a central figure in the same way Henri-Christophe and the Black Prince are - and I thought it might be good to have him appear as a viewpoint character.

The other characters in the latest story are fictional, although Alexandre Firmin is a very rough composite of two Haitian writers from OTL (Antenor Firmin and Coriolan Ardouin).

The next one will be modern - northerners in the south, or maybe vice versa, after the 2010 earthquake - and after that, I'll return to the 1890-92 civil war and the Black Prince's reign. I need to give the formative periods in the south more attention, but I'll do those two first barring any random inspiration.
 
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Just found this, and I love it. It's superbly written; not just the prose, but managing to stay engaging despite jumping to a new story each update.

I especially like how you've used the format to slowly build-up the Black Prince. I'm anxious to see what you've got in mind for him, but I'm also excited to learn about him from other viewpoints first.

In short, consider me subscribed. :)
 
Just found this, and I love it. It's superbly written; not just the prose, but managing to stay engaging despite jumping to a new story each update.

I especially like how you've used the format to slowly build-up the Black Prince. I'm anxious to see what you've got in mind for him, but I'm also excited to learn about him from other viewpoints first.

In short, consider me subscribed. :)

Thanks for reading! The timing of the stories may make more sense if you know that my inspiration for this series is Ursula Le Guin's Orsinian Tales, which is a collection of short stories set in an imaginary Eastern European country. Le Guin's stories also skip around in time, and people who are viewpoint characters in one story might appear as historical figures - or be visible through the influence of their deeds - in another. That's what I'm trying to do here - to make the major characters as much part of the background as actors in their own right, and to show them from different viewpoints as they are perceived and remembered by others.

Thanks again for the praise and I hope you continue to read.
 
The Year After the End

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It was amazing how quickly a person could get used to things.

Getting water from the pump down the block, stumbling to the outhouse late at night, rummaging through old clothes at the street market – all these were things Amélie thought she’d left behind forever when she moved north. But now that she was back, she had to do them. She’d missed her Cap-Haïtien comforts – who was she kidding, she still did miss them – but her body had done what it had to do, and where the body went, the mind soon followed. Now, after a year, Port-au-Prince seemed almost… normal.

Normal? When half the city is still in ruins? Cousin Mirlande would laugh if she could hear the thought, but she’d also understand. Half her own house was collapsed, but she kept on living in the other half, and made do like everyone else did. A year of that, and making do was just something you did.

A shout of “watch where you’re going!” brought Amélie’s mind back to earth, and she stepped aside just in time to avoid being run over by a big two-wheeled cart. The cart was full of kerosene jugs bearing the mark of the International Relief Commission; Amélie wondered if the aid workers realized yet that they were missing.

She heard a string of curses, and saw that one of the wheels was stuck in a pothole. The kerosene-seller was small and slight, someone who shouldn’t be pushing that kind of load, and he gave her a hard look as he tried to get the cart moving again. It wasn’t Amélie’s fault, but she felt far too much like it was, and anyway, she was stronger than he was, so she put her hands to the poles and heaved.

A moment later the cart was back on the track. The kerosene-seller didn’t say a word of thanks, but he muttered something as he walked on; Amélie caught the word “northern,” and figured it was good that she didn’t hear the rest.

She checked the time: Mirlande would be at the clinic by now, but she’d asked Amélie to go to the market first. It was a shorter trip now than it had been when she’d first come: picking her way through rubble was another thing that had become second nature, but at least the streets were passable now.

They should be more than passable, she couldn’t help thinking. Over in Pétionville or Bois Verna, the city looked almost as it had before. But this part of town was one that nobody cared much about. Here, a half-ruined building that street children had colonized. There, a village of corrugated-metal huts thrown up on a lot where a house had once stood. A street or two further, an office block covered with wooden scaffolding that no one had worked on for months.

The market was also in an empty lot, but it was one that had always been empty. Even at this hour, Amélie had to fight her way through the crowds: everyone wanted to buy when the best wares of the day were available. She’d promised to get some milk for Nadia, groceries for dinner, gasoline for the generator at the clinic, alcohol to clean the medical instruments; she hoped she’d be able to find them all.

The milk was easy enough, and the woman at the stall told her where she could find the gasoline. But there was a knot of people between the stalls, and they didn’t move aside the way most people did. It took a minute for Amélie to realize that they were listening to someone speak – a religious meeting, or a political one.

“… When was the last time a politician came here, even one of the noiristes?” the speaker was saying. A political meeting, then. “The pétionistes think we’re beneath them, and the noiristes take our votes for granted. But we are Fanmi Goudou-Goudou, the Earthquake Family. If we stand as a family, if we stand together, we can make them listen…”

Amélie vaguely recognized the speaker: an insurgent member of the Parti noiriste, part of the leftist faction that was challenging the party leadership. He was just warming up, and if she stayed to listen, she’d be late to the clinic: she made her way carefully around the meeting, and went to find the gasoline.

It was the groceries that were the problem. Shopping for food was what always made Amélie realize she hadn’t quite got used to life back in the south. Nothing in the market would have made it onto a store shelf up north, even in a poor neighborhood: it would have been fed to animals, or else thrown away. She was buying for a child, as well as herself and Mirlande: how could she ask a child to eat this? It was an effort, both physical and mental, to select vegetables for her cousin’s table.

And as she did, she heard a shout from the direction of the meeting. “Fanmi Goudou-Goudou!” the people called. “Fanmi Prince-Nwa!” It was the latter that turned into a chant: “Prince Nwa! Prince Nwa!”

That was when Amélie discovered that, even after a year, she wasn’t beyond shock. The name they were calling was…

“Yes!” the speaker shouted above the chanting crowd. “Yes! We are the Earthquake Family, the Black Prince’s Family! The Prince fights for us! With the Prince, we will rebuild!” And when the people lifted him up on their shoulders, Amélie could see that he was wearing an ebon cape.


*******​


Two hours in the clinic, and Mirlande was already tired. Worry on top of work did that – it was one thing to change bedpans and clean the intravenous lines, and another to make sure every drop of cleaning fluid was accounted for because she didn’t know when she might get more. Amélie was at the market getting gasoline and alcohol, but they couldn’t always be found, especially if someone set up a roadblock or there was a problem with the relief trucks.

She finished turning old Alexandre – he’d get bedsores if nobody did, and the night nurse was sometimes careless – and put the line back in his arm. Mireille, in the next bed, needed to be washed: Mirlande lifted her carefully into a wheelchair, and wondered where she might find clean water. There was supposed to be running water in the clinic, but it hadn’t worked since the earthquake, and the pump at the end of the block was unreliable at the best of times…

There. That can in the corner hadn’t been used yet, and if she heated it, there would be enough to do the job. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind than the deed followed.

She took Mireille back to bed, and realized that she was too drained to do anything else. It was ten minutes until her official break, but she was damned if she let anyone tell her not to sit down now. There was a chair by Alexandre’s bed, and if someone asked, she could always say she was monitoring his vital signs.

Maybe I should have gone north with Amélie, she thought. That was why her cousin had come down to Port-au-Prince, even though she’d never said so. Amélie always insisted that she’d only come to help, but Mirlande knew she really wanted to bring the two of them back to Le Cap.

But it was never on the cards. Mirlande had been north a few times to visit, and she didn’t care for it: you had to think twice before speaking your mind, and the people acted like they were more Haitian than the southerners. And besides, Mirlande was a nurse. For a southerner to go north after the earthquake was giving up; for a nurse to do so was something close to treason. The Republic needed all the nurses it had, and more besides.

So a year later, Mirlande was still in Port-au-Prince, and Amélie, who’d come to bring her and Nadia north, was living in the spare room down the road and helping out at the clinic…

There was a noise from Alexandre’s bed as he stirred, and Mirlande realized she’d closed her eyes. She shook herself awake and checked the time: she was officially on break now, and could safely make her way to the lounge. A few others were already there – one of the doctors, another nurse, and a few of the patients who were well enough to help and paid their fees with labor – and they nodded to her as she found an empty space on the couch.

She let the conversation wash over her – it was politics, as it always was this close to an election. “The pétionistes are dangerous,” Doctor Lamothe was saying. “Foreign aid is what, thirty percent of the budget this year? And they’re letting the Americans tell them how to spend it… the Americans and the northerners.” Few things rankled the Republic more than the fact that the Kingdom had not only been spared the earthquake but was now playing Lady Bountiful to its poorer southern sister.


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“Nonsense, Daniel,” Mirlande roused herself to say. “When something like the goudou-goudou happens, what are we supposed to do – tell the world it shouldn’t help us? We’ve got patients in this clinic who are grateful for that help.”

“No, not at first,” the doctor conceded, “but it’s been a year. The rescue teams were welcome, the emergency repairs were welcome, but now the pétionistes are becoming addicted. Whatever doesn’t go directly into their pockets goes to their part of town, and our children will have to pay the bills for it.”

“But some of it does come down to us. And without it, we’d have nothing at all.”

“Not if we stood up and took it!” The doctor was standing now himself. “There’s enough to go around if we spent it equally. If we throw the pétionistes out, we could make sure our money is spent fixing the things that need to be fixed, rather than on luxuries that none of us will ever see. In a family, the children eat before the mother gets new clothes – if we acted like a family, we wouldn’t need the aid workers lording it over us.”

Something about what the doctor said rang a bell in Mirlande’s mind. “Is this about that Earthquake Family? I’ve seen them in the neighborhood lately.”

“That’s exactly it,” answered Doctor Lamothe. “Family. Self-reliance. It’s something we noiristes have forgotten for too long. The Family will take the party, and if they take the party, they’ll take the election.”

“With the prince nwa on their side? Calling on him is a dangerous thing.”

“After great loss, we need a great builder.”

“Yes, but he’s a beast, and he isn’t tame.”


*******​

“They were shouting the Black Prince’s name,” Amélie whispered as she helped Mirlande fix the generator. She’d always had a talent for fixing things, and after fifteen years of office jobs in Cap-Haïtien, working with her hands felt good.

“Yes. They’re asking him for power.”

“We would never call his name like that in the north. Don’t they know that they’re calling on evil?”

“The Prince was evil when he lived, yes,” Mirlande said. “We haven’t forgotten that. He brought horror on us too. But now that he’s a loa, he’s beyond good and evil. He’s a force. Maybe we need that.”

“He’s a destroyer.”

“What he is, is power without limit. Even nature doesn’t limit him – and after what nature has done to us, some people think that’s a limit we need to overcome. Power can create as well as destroy.”

“Compassion doesn’t limit him either. The law of God doesn’t limit him. The Prince’s power is the kind that gets inside a person’s soul and makes him a monster. I saw it in that politician – he’s as hungry for the power as he is to do good.” She turned the last screw and took the housing off the motor. “Souls are his price.”

“Maybe we can build one of those too,” Mirlande said, but Amélie could see she wasn’t sure.


*******​


Later, after the end of their shift, the two women walked home. Amélie was carrying the groceries; she could see her older cousin was exhausted, and she’d promised to do the cooking.

Around the corner, a group of people was working – some of them carrying rubble away, others mixing mortar for the pile of bricks that lay on the lot. There had been a house here before the earthquake, and it seemed there soon would be again.

“That’s him!” said Amélie suddenly, realizing who was directing the group. “It’s the Earthquake Family man, the one from the market.” And it was him, now in street clothes, overseeing an army of volunteers.

“They’re doing it with party money, is what I hear,” Mirlande said. People like Doctor Lamothe were evidently making sure that not all the Parti noiriste’s funds were spent greasing the district bosses’ palms. “They have a road crew too. I hope they come soon.”

Amélie nodded, but a noise had caught her attention: the politician and one of the volunteers were arguing over the best way to build a wall. Others joined in, shouting and gesticulating, and finally, the politician yielded.

The funny thing was that he didn’t look like someone who’d just lost an argument. “Beautiful,” he was saying. “We are all Prince-Nwa’s family. We all have his power, and none of us have limits, so if any of you have something to say to me, make sure you say it.” Around him, the work continued.

The women rounded the last corner to their home, and Mirlande, who’d been silent throughout the journey, turned suddenly to her cousin. “Maybe this is the year we’ll tame him,” she said.

“He can’t be tamed,” answered Amélie, but for the first time, she wondered if she might be wrong.


- 2011​
 
Yet another captivating story that I want to know the end of... what are you doing here? Trying to get us hooked? :)
 
Sounds like 2010 southern Haiti is as poor as the OTL version (hopefully not even worse). How does northern Haiti stack up among Latin American/Caribbean nations?

Bruce
 
Yet another captivating story that I want to know the end of... what are you doing here? Trying to get us hooked? :)

The discussion of political parties on the first page (post 2) gives some clue as to how things will turn out - a coalition led by the Parti noiriste wins the 2011 election in the south. How influential the Fanmi Goudou-Goudou is in this coalition, what reforms it enacts, and whether it succumbs to the temptations of power, all will be shown in a future story.

The next story, BTW, will return to the Black Prince's time.

Sounds like 2010 southern Haiti is as poor as the OTL version (hopefully not even worse). How does northern Haiti stack up among Latin American/Caribbean nations?

The Republic isn't quite as poor as OTL - it wasn't crippled by French reparations, and it has been somewhat more politically stable since the 1940s. Its per capita GDP (PPP) is about twice that of OTL Haiti - in other words, a living standard equivalent to Nigeria rather than Uganda. The richer urban parts of the country, like Port-au-Prince, are comparable to Lagos.

Of course, that's still poor enough that a big earthquake will leave the country prostrate, and the wealth is maldistributed, so the lesser degree of poverty is seen on a macro scale (30 percent of the 2011 budget coming from foreign donors as compared to ~66 percent in OTL; the middle-class neighborhoods of TTL are rebuilt by the time of the story) rather than in the conditions of the neighborhood where the story takes place. Although even there, it isn't as much of a shantytown as it would be in OTL.

The Kingdom is a middle-income country with a living standard is somewhere near that of the Dominican Republic - a GDP (PPP) of about $9000. The wealth is even more maldistributed than in the south, and there are pockets of poverty, but it's a much more comfortable place to live than the Republic.
 
Just found this. So I inadvertently gave you an idea for a TL, huh ? :eek: :)

Well, I guess we island nation-althisters are like that... :p

I'll give this a read tomorrow, after I come back from work. :cool:
 
Very very very good Jonathan your knowledge of Haitian history is even better then mines and I am Haitian American!:D One thing to keep in point on unification it that the North and South were bound to unite anyway. The border between the Kingdom of the North and the South is very unnatural and even if Christophe died peacefully and with no revolution, a war would happen to unite the island. That was bound to happen and the way you wrote it if the North is stronger economically then the south then that means militarily it will be stronger. So that means the new King if he wants to be taken seriously will go invade the south since it is a weak nation. That is why Haiti invaded the Dominican Republic for many times. Haitian society is very militaristic that is why today many Haitians want the army to come back. It is a sense of pride. And a war to unite the island would be seen as a chance to continue Dessalines or Toussaint's cause for a united nation. The flag says "L'union fait la force." The island was bound to unite anyway. I find it hard to believe that any ruler of the north seeing the south weak would not invade it. Hell Boyer did it without a single shot. Anyway it is your TL and I like it and hope you continue it.

My family is from the south and if it does stay poor then I wonder how that would have changed my family? My dad told me his father went to Cuba to work there in the early 1930s with his four other brothers when he was 17 and came back to Haiti in the 1950s in his 30s. I guess in this TL my grandad probably would have stayed in Cuba. Because he came back for reasons we do not know to this day. My grand dads brother all said he loved it there. Also my dad's mother was born in Cuba because my great grand mother and great grand father father went to Cuba to work in the early 1900s. My dad said that the family joked around my grandmother that she was born in Cuba and that Duvalier would arrest her on suspicion of being a communist.:D Many Haitians went to Cuba in the early 1900s and never came back. So if the south stays poor and unstable then my dad's side of the family would be Cuban. My mom's side of the family did not travel much and were farmers. My grand father is a still a farmer. So I guess they would stay. Which means I do not exist this TL!:eek::p Do you plan to incorporate the clown that is Aristide? Also will there be a Duvalier
 
One thing to keep in point on unification it that the North and South were bound to unite anyway. The border between the Kingdom of the North and the South is very unnatural and even if Christophe died peacefully and with no revolution, a war would happen to unite the island. That was bound to happen and the way you wrote it if the North is stronger economically then the south then that means militarily it will be stronger. So that means the new King if he wants to be taken seriously will go invade the south since it is a weak nation. That is why Haiti invaded the Dominican Republic for many times. Haitian society is very militaristic that is why today many Haitians want the army to come back. It is a sense of pride. And a war to unite the island would be seen as a chance to continue Dessalines or Toussaint's cause for a united nation. The flag says "L'union fait la force." The island was bound to unite anyway. I find it hard to believe that any ruler of the north seeing the south weak would not invade it. Hell Boyer did it without a single shot. Anyway it is your TL and I like it and hope you continue it.

First, thanks for reading and commenting - I want to treat my alternate Haiti with respect and get the cultural details right, as I try to do with all my settings, and your thoughts as a Haitian-American are very valuable.

Second, you make a fair point about Haitian militarism and the desire for unity. The continued separation between Republic and Kingdom into the 20th and 21st century is to some extent a handwave, because the stories wouldn't work without the two Haitis' economic and cultural differences playing off each other.

But on the other hand, while both Haitian states might want to reunite the country, their reach might exceed their grasp. Haiti conquered the Dominican Republic but couldn't keep it, and Boyer was only able to reunite Haiti so bloodlessly because Henri-Christophe's government had collapsed. In TTL, with a more stable northern state, the two might be too evenly balanced for either to overcome the other by force. The north is richer and would have the better-equipped army, but the south would outnumber them two to one in population and have many more soldiers. Also, the people in the south would resist the north heavily because they wouldn't want fermage imposed on them, so even if the Kingdom conquered some parts of the Republic, it would face constant rebellion.

So while there would definitely be wars between the two states, and the borders might change from time to time (although the edge of the northern cordillera would seem like a "natural" border), I think it's plausible that both might manage to stay independent. And by the twentieth century, the economic disparities and growing cultural differences might make conquest too costly a proposition to consider.

My family is from the south and if it does stay poor then I wonder how that would have changed my family? My dad told me his father went to Cuba to work there in the early 1930s with his four other brothers when he was 17 and came back to Haiti in the 1950s in his 30s. I guess in this TL my grandad probably would have stayed in Cuba. Because he came back for reasons we do not know to this day. My grand dads brother all said he loved it there. Also my dad's mother was born in Cuba because my great grand mother and great grand father father went to Cuba to work in the early 1900s. My dad said that the family joked around my grandmother that she was born in Cuba and that Duvalier would arrest her on suspicion of being a communist.:D Many Haitians went to Cuba in the early 1900s and never came back. So if the south stays poor and unstable then my dad's side of the family would be Cuban. My mom's side of the family did not travel much and were farmers. My grand father is a still a farmer. So I guess they would stay. Which means I do not exist this TL!:eek::p

It is likely that many Haitians would still go to Cuba to seek work (although even in the south, the instability and poverty during the early 20th century wouldn't be quite as bad as OTL). But maybe your father's family would come back during the late 1940s or 1950s, which in TTL will be a time of optimism and economic growth, and will also be a time when the southern government will actively try to convince skilled emigrants to return. One of the future stories, or maybe more than one, will involve the interaction between the two Haitis and their respective diasporas. So your family might still exist.

If you don't mind my asking, what part of Haiti is your family from?

Do you plan to incorporate the clown that is Aristide? Also will there be a Duvalier

There will not be an Aristide or a Duvalier - the political leaders so far from the POD will be different from the ones we know.

There will be leftist politicians with populist ideas similar to Aristide, although they will probably not take power. The Kingdom's Parti dessaliniste and the Republic's Parti noiriste are to the left economically, but their policies resemble those of the Dumarsais Estimé presidency of the 1940s more than they do Aristide's.

The Black Prince (so called because he dresses in black like Baron Samedi) is modeled in many ways after Papa Doc, but he will have a different career and of course a different end.
 
Neither will be that powerful, but they may still be strong enough: the Dominican Republic at that time had less than 100,000 people and much of the black and mulatto population was pro-Haitian, so a relatively stable state that comprises even half of Haiti might be able to move in. On the other hand, the Republic and the Kingdom would each have an incentive to stop the other one from taking over the DR, and they would both likely be distracted by internal issues. So on balance, I'd bet on the DR joining Gran Colombia and becoming a more South American-influenced state as you say, but retaining a significant pro-Haitian faction because the Haitian occupation would not have alienated the people.

This to me seems the most likely, but the Dominican Republic is unlikely to remain in Gran Colombia very long since Gran Colombia itself as that country fell apart in 1831 (and I doubt the POD here would have any effect on Gran Colombia remaining united or not). Plus slavery wasn't abolished in Colombia until 1852 which means that for the entire time that the Dominican Republic (or Spanish Haiti as it was called in 1821 and probably renamed as the department of East Haiti (or simply just the department of Haiti)) was in Gran Colombia, slavery would still exist.

This would set up an interesting scenario; pro-Haitian sentiment would probably remain very strong among the black and mulatto classes and slaves in the department of (East) Haiti would probably regularly flee to the Republic of Haiti (thus burgeoning it's population) and less so to the Kingdom of Haiti. The two independent Haitis would probably also be at loggerheads with Bolivar's Gran Colombia over slavery and the runaway slaves. Depending on Juan Pablo Duarte's views on slavery in your TL, then he might still form a Dominican independence movement in the 1830s. Even if the DR remains Colombian after the 1830s/1840s, by the time the 1890s roll around there would probably have been quite a few rebellions against Colombian rule and the US is likely at some point to support such a rebellion in it's quest to gain influence in the Caribbean to acquire bases for the projected Canal across Central America.
 
My mother side of the family is from Petit-Goave. My dads family are from Les Cayes. The only way for there to keep a divided Haiti into the 20th century is that there needs to be at least a couple of failed wars of unification. If the wars are bloody and lead to a stalemate then the tow nations will think it is not worth it. However I can see in the 21st century of relations better and a movement to unite the two nations. Also I forgot to add how will Faustin Souloque fit in your story later? At this point he was a young officer in the military. I could see him be a dictator of the south.
 
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This would set up an interesting scenario; pro-Haitian sentiment would probably remain very strong among the black and mulatto classes and slaves in the department of (East) Haiti would probably regularly flee to the Republic of Haiti (thus burgeoning it's population) and less so to the Kingdom of Haiti. The two independent Haitis would probably also be at loggerheads with Bolivar's Gran Colombia over slavery and the runaway slaves.

That's likely to happen, and it could go a few different ways. Some of the East Haitian planters might agitate for abolition of slavery, or even pre-emptively free their slaves, rather than see their labor force desert to the independent Haitis. Others would clamor for Gran Colombia to send troops to teach the Haitis a lesson.

I doubt that Gran Colombia would be able to mount any serious invasion - it had troubles of its own, its leaders would remember how well invading Haiti worked out for the French and British, and there would probably be at least some residual gratitude for the help that Pétion gave Bolivar. But a failed invasion could hasten Gran Colombia's breakup, and a refusal to invade might lead the Dominicans to secede - after all, if Bogotá won't protect them, what's the point of sending tax payments there?

I'm guessing that East Haiti would declare independence and become the Dominican Republic by 1830, certainly before 1840.

Depending on Juan Pablo Duarte's views on slavery in your TL, then he might still form a Dominican independence movement in the 1830s.

If independence happens in the late 1820s or early 1830s, then Duarte would be too young to play a major part. But if the independence movement is led by slaveowners - as it might well be, if the cause of secession is Gran Colombia's failure to stop Dominican slaves from defecting to the Haitis - then people like Duarte might play a part in the political battles that follow. Maybe there would be a struggle, or even a civil war, between slaveowners and abolitionists, with one or both of the Haitis in a position to play kingmaker.

My mother side of the family is from Petit-Goave. My dads family are from Les Cayes.

I used to know someone from Les Cayes; the coastline there is beautiful.

And Issa el Saieh was from Petit-Goave, wasn't he? I'll have to figure out how the Arab Haitians fit into TTL. (There's a video of him here).

The only way for there to keep a divided Haiti into the 20th century is that there needs to be at least a couple of failed wars of unification. If the wars are bloody and lead to a stalemate then the tow nations will think it is not worth it. However I can see in the 21st century of relations better and a movement to unite the two nations.

Maybe the wars would take place in the 1830s - I could see Boyer trying to invade the north after Henri Christophe's death - with a rematch later in the century, after which both sides decide that a third round would be too costly. Eventually there would be a peace treaty and, by the early 20th century, relations would be tense but normal; later in the century there could be a true reconciliation. I think the two Haitis would have too much in common and too much shared history to write each other off completely.

A war between the Republic and Kingdom during the early 1830s might also be a reason for them to stay out of the Dominican Republic's affairs during that time.

Also I forgot to add how will Faustin Souloque fit in your story later? At this point he was a young officer in the military. I could see him be a dictator of the south.

He served under Pétion and Boyer, so he would definitely be in the southern army and would fight in any wars that might take place between north and south. He'd have plenty of chances to build a reputation in the army and go into politics, and he certainly had the ambition. I think he'd try to take over. He wouldn't become emperor in TTL - monarchy would be seen as a northern thing - but he might declare himself president for life, or take some Roman republican title. Hmmm, I think he'll feature in a story or two.

(BTW, you may have noticed that a business agent named Soulouque is mentioned in the 1890 story at post 8. He's one of Faustin's grandsons - Faustin married differently in TTL, had several children, and some had children of their own. How the family ended up in the north... well, you'll see.)
 
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That's likely to happen, and it could go a few different ways. Some of the East Haitian planters might agitate for abolition of slavery, or even pre-emptively free their slaves, rather than see their labor force desert to the independent Haitis. Others would clamor for Gran Colombia to send troops to teach the Haitis a lesson.

I doubt that Gran Colombia would be able to mount any serious invasion - it had troubles of its own, its leaders would remember how well invading Haiti worked out for the French and British, and there would probably be at least some residual gratitude for the help that Pétion gave Bolivar. But a failed invasion could hasten Gran Colombia's breakup, and a refusal to invade might lead the Dominicans to secede - after all, if Bogotá won't protect them, what's the point of sending tax payments there?

I'm guessing that East Haiti would declare independence and become the Dominican Republic by 1830, certainly before 1840.



If independence happens in the late 1820s or early 1830s, then Duarte would be too young to play a major part. But if the independence movement is led by slaveowners - as it might well be, if the cause of secession is Gran Colombia's failure to stop Dominican slaves from defecting to the Haitis - then people like Duarte might play a part in the political battles that follow. Maybe there would be a struggle, or even a civil war, between slaveowners and abolitionists, with one or both of the Haitis in a position to play kingmaker.

I would think East Haiti would become independent in 1831 when Gran Colombia collapsed rather than 1830.

I can't see an independent East Haiti/Dominican Republic lasting long as slaveowners' state. Especially considering the population disparity between the Haitis in the west and the Haiti/Dominican Republic in the east as you pointed out earlier in the thread. Between the smaller population (which would include a sizeable number of slaves) and the two western Haitis supporting emancipation, I doubt any civil war between slaveowners and abolitionists would last long. In fact there might not even be one, at least not between slaveowners and abolitionists. There might just be a major slave rebellion leading to intervention by the two Haitis (perhaps in a rare instance of cooperation). This might lead to an independent East Haiti that remained separate from the two western Haitis or to the partition of the Dominican Republic between the Republic and Kingdom of Haiti (perhaps along the mountain range you referred to) and eventually to a rebellion against one or both of these annexations later on (perhaps by the 1850s) by Dominicans/East Haitians dissatisfied with their treatment by the western Haitians.

Maybe Duarte would play a part in this later struggle.
 
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