By Noé Augustin | Donor
NEW YORK“Whether culturally or politically, Haiti has had a great influence on many countries around the world. Here is an overview of some of these places.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic are linked in countless ways, the most obvious of which is that the two nations share the island of Hispaniola. However, due to anti-Haitianism, these connections are often overlooked, distorted or forgotten.
Take merengue, for example, the national music of the Dominican Republic. Some historians say it is a version of mereng, a style of Haitian music of Bantu origin, which was introduced to the DR during the unification of Hispaniola. The music was changed and mixed with Dominican melodies over Spanish lyrics to form merengue.
Another link is the list of notable Dominicans of Haitian descent, although some often hide this part of their heritage. Among those of Haitian descent are:
Even today, an estimated 600,000 to 1,000,000 Haitians currently live in the Dominican Republic. Over the years, it has been a fairly accessible and stable option for many Haitians seeking work, education, business opportunities, and even recreation. Haitian vendors, for example, cross the porous border daily to buy or sell goods.
The first Haitians in Cuba arrived during the Haitian Revolution, when whites fleeing the revolt took with them around 30,000 slaves. Since then, a steady stream of Haitians have landed on the crocodile-shaped island, the largest in the Caribbean, just 380 miles west of Cap-Haitien.
Upon their arrival in eastern Cuba, the Haitians were isolated from the rest of the community due to racism and their practice of voodoo, perceived as witchcraft. Despite this, the Haitian-Cuban culture continued to develop, giving rise to one of the most important characteristics of Cuba: Tumba Francesa.
Tumba Francesa, which translates to the French drum, is a mix of classical European dances with Afro-Caribbean melodies and rhythms. His songs are sung in a mixture of Spanish and Kreyol, known as Kreyol Cubano. The dances are very similar to the Spanish and French Contradanza (Contredanse). The instruments used are clearly of Haitian origin.
Today, there are approximately 300,000 Haitians in Cuba where Creole is the second most spoken language. Haitiano-Cubans are now more accepted and their rich culture is celebrated throughout the country.
Other Caribbean nations
Many other Caribbean countries have diplomatic and cultural ties with Haiti.
The Lesser Antilles, for example, are linked to Haiti through music and language:
- Zouk, a genre of music popular throughout the French West Indies, has its origins in Haitian konpa. When konpa groups like Tabou Combo toured Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Lucia in the 70s and 80s, local musicians adopted the genre and renamed it Zouk.
- Many forms of Antillean Creole closely resemble Haitian Creole, sharing similar grammar and vocabulary, making conversations easier.
- Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Dominica and Sainte-Martre are all home to small Haitian communities.
Much larger Haitian communities exist in countries such as the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, representing 25% of the population of the Bahamas and 21% of the population of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Many Haitians have moved there for jobs, making them vital to the economies of these nations.
In the Bahamas, products such as mangoes and coffee are imported mainly from Haiti.
South America and Central America
In 1808, General Simón Bolivar launched the Latin American Revolution which culminated in the liberation of all of South America from Spain. By 1815, however, Spain had the upper hand and succeeded in driving Bolivar out into the Caribbean.
Haiti, a newly liberated republic led by President Alexandre Pétion, welcomed Bolivar with open arms. He provided the general with strategists, thousands of guns, supplies, and hundreds of troops. In turn, Pétion asked Bolivar to abolish slavery from all of Latin America.
Thanks to this economic boost, Bolivar won the war.
Although he abolished slavery, Bolivar maintained heavy anti-black regulations lest former slaves revolt and seize power; just as they had done in Haiti. Today, large Haitian communities throughout South America exist in countries like Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil.
During the Haitian Revolution, one place the French sought refuge was the United States, particularly today’s Louisiana. About 10,000 enslaved Haitians arrived in New Orleans alongside the fleeing French, taking their cuisine and their religion, voodoo. Eventually, their cuisine merged with Southern cuisine, forming Creole cuisine, and their religion was adopted into Louisiana Voodoo.
A century later, as Haitians immigrated to America, communities developed on the East Coast and now in parts of the Midwest, often playing a role in shaping American culture.
American historical figures of Haitian descent include writers and activists WEB Dubois and the first black college professor, Charles L. Reason, to name a few. Musicians such as Wyclef, Jason Derulo and Bibi Bourelly as well as politicians Karine Jean-Pierre, Karl Racine and Kwame Raoul are all Haitian-Americans.
France and Spain
In 1492, Christopher Columbus claimed the island of Hispañola for Spain. The Tainos, natives of the country, were enslaved to mine gold and work on plantations, financing Spain’s development as a European empire.
In the early 1600s, Spain abandoned the western third of the island, now Haiti, due to piracy. In 1625, France claimed this third, calling it Saint Domingue. It quickly became one of the most profitable colonies in the whole world. With more than 700,000 Africans, it produces 40% of the world’s sugar and 60% of its coffee, making France a colonial superpower.
Although France then lost Saint Domingue in the Haitian Revolution, the billions of dollars in payments it imposed on the nation funded it for many years.
In 1822, during Greece’s war of independence from the Ottomans, Adamantios Korais, the governor of Greece, sent a letter to Haitian President Jean Pierre Boyer, asking for financial or military support, given that Haiti had recently gained independence itself.
Due to Haiti’s poor financial situation and lack of soldiers, Boyer was unable to send adequate aid. To show solidarity, however, Haiti officially recognized Greece as an independent state, the first country to do so.
The two countries had a strong relationship and in 1935 Princess Marina of Greece visited Haiti to express her country’s gratitude.
Haiti’s greatest influences on the African continent have been political and inspirational.
In 1949, Italy gave up its colonies of Eritrea, Somalia and Libya after losing World War II. A plan was then devised for France and Britain to take control of Libya and divide Eritrea into Somalia and Ethiopia.
When the UN voted on the issue, Haiti’s delegate Emile Saint-Lot, who also played an important role in drafting the Declaration of Human Rights, voted against Eritrea’s plan. despite direct orders from the Haitian president to vote in favour. . As a result, the votes needed to pass it were never obtained, thus granting Libya and Eritrea their independence.
In the 1950s, Max Dorsinville, another Haitian member of the UN, oversaw the decolonization of much of West Africa, for example overseeing the first presidential election in Togo.
Under the Duvalier regime, many Haitian intellectuals settled in Africa, particularly in Senegal and in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
After the 2010 earthquake, African countries, including Senegal, opened their arms to Haitians seeking refuge. Today, small Haitian communities exist throughout West Africa.