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9543: Heinl replies on history
Thanks for the Professorship, but Mr. will do:
1. The question on United States help to Haiti is an emotional one. There
are readers on this list who think the U.S. has never done anything to
help Haiti, or that if it has, it was the purely unintentional byproduct
of a selfish action. There are others who have more mixed emotions. I have
no desire to get into (nor will I)endless exchanges on that one. All of
what used to be called "The Great Powers" have meddled in Haiti, often
with disastrous results.
In the immediate context of the question, Duvalier saw clearly that the
U.S. was the most likely source of aid. Britain and France were busy
liquidating their colonial empires and had little to spare for Haiti. The
U.S. through WWII and after had put quite a lot of aid into Haiti (the
building of the Peligre dam - positive, funding for the Yaws eradication
campaign and Duvalier's medical fellowship in Michigan, the SHADA disaster
- negative) and was the logical source of money.
2. As far as the Church is concerned, "In the land of the blind, the
one-eyed man is king." All of the following points are made clearly in
1.The Jesuits were thrown out of Haiti in 1763 because they tried (to the
degree possible, a debatable concept) to ameliorate the worst excesses of
2. Some priests sided with the revoting slaves and were dealt with very
harshly by the French.
3. After independence until the concordat with Rome, what "Priests" Haiti
had were for the most part very shady characters. There's plenty of detail
in the book. COMPARED TO THAT GROUP, the priests who arrived after 1860
look pretty good. They established schools, helped organize various civic
functions that the government was unwilling or unable to do.
4. These priests were all white, educated in France, largely at Haiti's
expense. It would be convenient to use today's standards of judgement and
to retroactively brand them for sins of political incorrectness. Many of
them got things done, often in the face of great interference. Pere Riou,
who spent twenty-five years on La Tortue, did much until kicked out by
Papa Doc in '68. So did many others. But they were sons of Europe and
acted in the colonial mentality of the time.
5. One of Francois Duvalier's positive accomplishments was his
Haitianization of the clergy. Unfortunately, some of the billets were
filled with priests who were also macoutes and who strapped forty-fives on
under their soutanes, but the clergy was open to any Haitian who aspired.
In context, I stand by the recitation of the facts.
Thank you for reading the book. Many are quick to voice opinions about it
without having read it.