In the first half of the twentieth century, the United States has intervened militarily in the Caribbean. This intervention lasted from 1898 to the mid 1930’s. During those thirty three years, the United States intervened militarily in Cuba, Mexico, Haiti, Santo Domingo (which is now Dominican Republic), Panama and Nicaragua. This paper will focus on the effects that this intervention had on Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Though the United States intervention in Haiti and the Dominican Republic aggravated a number of socio-economic and political problems, there were also positive impacts made on these countries due to the interventions.
By 1912 escalating instability in Haiti all but invited foreign intervention. The countries most productive president of the early twentieth century, Cincinnatus Leconte, had died in an explosion in the National Palace in August 1912. After Cincinnatus Leconte death at least five more contenders claim the country’s leadership over the next three years. During 1914 United States naval forces intermittently protected American Nationals in a time of rioting and revolution in Haiti. Due to these civil disturbances and lack of stable friendly government, the United States occupied and ruled Haiti by means of military government between 1915 and 1934. This occupation by the United States had several significant effects on Haiti.
During the occupation, a number of infrastructure development projects were accomplished that made real material improvements to the country and the people. These included roads, bridges, diseases control, establishments of schools and the development of a communications infrastructure. Port-au-Prince was made the major city and trading center. Telephone systems in the country began to function, several towns gained access to clean water and a construction boom helped to restore wharves, lighthouses, schools and hospitals. Public health improved partially because of the United States directed campaigns against malaria and yaws. These changes were seen as positive towards the country as they assist with the development of the country in more ways than one. These changes though they were positive however, created a vast amount of socio-economic and political problems in Haiti after a time.
Due to the fact that these different infrastructures were put place it therefore meant that a labour force was needed. In most cases if not all the Americans looked to the Haitians for this labour supply and as a result and institution of forced labour was established. According to Schmidt, Hans in his book “The U.S. occupation of Haiti”, this violent form of force labour which was called “corvée labour” used chain gangs, and armed guards that were permitted to beat and to a larger extent shoot anyone who fled compulsory service. This form of labour was looked upon and regarded as identical to slavery. Due to this there was a resentment of the foreign occupation which led to protest and several vile occurrences in which a large number of Haitian civilians were killed by the United States Army and or Marines . These issues definitely resulted in a number of socio economic and political problems such as high death rate and this in turn would lead to economic problems. With the natives being killed, either through protest, overwork or by the marines there would be a decline in the labour force resulting in a decline in production which in turn would affect the countries economy.
The education system in Haiti was redesigned by the United States officials from the ground up. This however imposed a social problem in the country. This is due to the fact that the redesign involves the destruction of the existing system of “Liberal Arts” education inherited and adapted from the French. According to Renda, Mary A. in “Taking Haiti: military occupation and the culture of U.S. imperialism 1915-1940.” due to its emphasis on vocational training, the American system that replaced...
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Schmidt, Hans. The U.S. occupation of Haiti. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
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