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woensdag 29 september 2021

#WORLD #WORLDWIDE #FRANCE HAITI #ANARCHISM #News #Journal #Update - (en) #France, #UCL #AL #318 - June 1796-December 1801, File Haitian Revolution: The cursed legacy of large plantations (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

 After driving out the British, eliminating his rival André Rigaud at the cost of

a civil war, then unifying the island by invading eastern Spain, Toussaint
Louverture wanted to restore public finances. Problem: ex-slaves continue to flee
the cotton and sugar cane fields. ---- From June 1796 to August 1798, it is the
final phase of the war for the control of Saint-Domingue. It is now a question of
driving the Anglo-Royalists out of their strongholds, such as Port-Republican
[1], and of liberating the territories where slavery still exists. It is a
painful, long-drawn-out war in which the British will have swallowed up, without
hope of success, 20,000 soldiers.

Faced with them, the French forces are stronger and more seasoned than ever but,
under the veneer of sacred union for the Republic and "general liberty", mistrust
poisons relations between the black officers who dominate the West and the United
States. North, and the "mulatto party" of Generals Rigaud and Pétion, influential
in the South. As for the civilian representatives of the metropolis, they are
more and more spectators of the decisions of the local soldiers.

When, in the spring of 1798, the British, demoralized, thought of re-embarking,
Louverture negotiated with them, then with the United States, trade and
non-aggression agreements profitable in Santo Domingo ... but totally
disconnected from the interests of France, in conflict with these two powers. On
his own initiative, he also promised amnesty to royalists who had emigrated or
had collaborated with the English.

When Paris learns all this, it is indignation. The government deduced that
General Louverture, despite his declarations of loyalty, was playing a personal
game and pushing the colony on the path to independence. But how to oppose it,
7,000 kilometers away?

After the departure of the British at the end of August 1798, all that remained
for Toussaint was to eliminate the final obstacles to his authority.

The "mulatto party" crushed in the South

André Rigaud (1761-1811)
This veteran of the American War of Independence fought in 1790-1791 for the
civil rights of free Mulattoes and Blacks in Santo Domingo. In 1793, he rallied
to the abolition of slavery. Leader of the "mulatto party" and main competitor of
Toussaint Louverture, he was eliminated at the end of the "war in the South".
General Rigaud rebels in his southern stronghold. It was reconquered by force, at
the cost of a cruel "war in the South", from June 1799 to August 1800, which
claimed 5,000 to 10,000 victims. Dessalines and Christophe ravage the territory.
Rigaud and Pétion go into exile in France. The populations of the South will
retain, for decades, a deep resentment.

Finally, from April 1800 to February 1801, against the advice of Paris, which
feared its growing influence, Toussaint Louverture took effective control of the
eastern province. The latter had been theoretically French since 1795 but, for
lack of resources, it had remained under the control of the Spanish
administration and slavery continued there.

At the beginning of 1801, the whole island was therefore unified under the
authority of Toussaint Louverture. Now that the guns are silent, the general is
in a hurry to move on to the second great work of his life: rebuilding the
company in Domingo. According to his views, and before the metropolis tries to
regain control. However, to do so, it will rely not on the working masses, but on
the wealthy classes. And the Louverturian mechanics, until then invincible, will
seize up.

 From 1791 to 1795, the insurrection and then the war caused sugar production to
fall by 98%. By instituting a form of serfdom, Toussaint raised it, in 1801, to
56% of its 1790 level. But a new revolt was brewing.
Engraving from Samuel Hazard, Santo Domingo, past and present (1873).
Toussaint is aware that Saint-Domingue is only a small island surrounded by
hostile powers; that in Paris itself, the slave lobby continues to plot against
the revolution. To keep the enemy in check, he relies on his army, 20,000
veterans strong, but which alone absorbs 60% of the colony's budget! To equip it
without depending on French supplies, by buying weapons in the United States, you
need money. And to get it, you have to sell thousands of tons of sugar, cotton
and coffee.

However, this goal is unattainable as long as farmers avoid labor on the
plantations. To fix them there, Toussaint therefore makes a cruel, decisive
choice, which will effectively raise production, but will revolt the black
proletariat of the North, which was the vanguard of the revolution. By the
culture regulation of October 12, 1800, it militarized production, and put an end
to the free movement of workers: "the security of freedom requires it" , it is
paradoxically written in the preamble[2].

Establishment of a form of serfdom

Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806)
This former slave is the most intrepid, but also the most brutal of the leaders
of the revolution. Winner of the French, he proclaimed himself Emperor of Haiti.
Tired of his dictatorship, Pétion and Christophe will conspire against him and
bring him down.
This "agrarian caporalism", as historians will call it, does not restore slavery,
since the personal status of farmers is not called into question. But he did
establish a form of serfdom, by attaching them "to the soil". The fugitives are
hunted down, and the disobedient punished. The whip, a symbol of the past, has
been abolished, but it has been replaced by the cocomacac (stick) of which
General Dessalines makes extensive use[3].

In order to strengthen discipline, dozens of areas have in fact been rented out
to military commanders, who thus have a personal interest in boosting
productivity. Moyse, Henry Christophe or Dessalines - who alone is at the head of
32 estates - are enriched. A black bourgeoisie, resulting from the military
hierarchy, is constituted.

By dint of civic exhortations and cocomacac , the hangars of Port-Républicain and
Cape Town are being replenished. In 1801, sugar production rose to 56% of its
1790 level (against 2% in 1795); that of coffee, at 37% (against 3%); that of
cotton, at 60% (against 1%)[4]. On the surface, it is a success. In reality, the
revolt is brewing.

All the more so as the Constitution of the colony, promulgated in 1801, was a
major disappointment. Of course, its fundamental articles confirm "general
freedom". But, for the rest, it constitutionalizes the most coercive cultural
regulations, for the benefit of a now multicolored bourgeoisie.

So certainly, in the cities, it is time for optimism, trade is reviving, theaters
are reopening, the Whites worship Toussaint their savior ... and it is even said
that rich exiles are negotiating to regain possession of their domains.

But on the contrary, in the countryside, resistance to the new order is growing.
The marronnages develop - in certain districts, they are more populated than in
1791[5]- and several black leaders, like Goman, Makaya or especially Lamour
Dérance, remain fiercely rebellious.

Peasant revolts in the North

Moyse (1773-1801)
Adopted nephew, right-hand man and comrade in arms of Toussaint, he disapproves
of his agrarian policy and his Constitution. He was shot following the peasant
revolt of October 1801.
Only three months after the proclamation of the Constitution in October 1801, the
fragility of the Louverturian regime was brutally revealed in its very heart, in
the North, by a wave of peasant revolts accompanied by mutinies in the army. The
insurgents, peasants and soldiers, reject the power of the white planters - 250
are massacred - and demand the sharing of land. General Moyse himself, nephew and
putative successor of Toussaint Louverture, openly sympathizes with them.

The uprising is crushed in blood, with a ferocity that speaks volumes about the
disarray within the Louverturian leadership. Christophe represses mercilessly.
Moyse, captured, is shot. Dessalines has all the cultivators of the plantations
whose masters have been murdered executed. In Cape Town, Toussaint himself
harangues the crowd before the public punishment of some forty insurgents. Anyone
who threatens the order will be executed in this way, he proclaims, before the
condemned, chained to one another, are cannon-shot [6].

The repression - which will make a thousand victims - will leave traces. The
cracked regime seeks to strengthen its control over the population. The decree of
25 November 1801 hardened the hunt for "vagabonds", the repression of marronnage
and ordered the registration of all farmers. To dissociate them from them, the
soldiers no longer have the right to see them - except their parents[7]. Even
within the army, the authoritarianism of "old Toussaint" increasingly impatient
its most eminent officers.

At the end of 1801, the "governor for life" regime was therefore in crisis. It is
in this context that the black proletariat will be confronted with its hardest
test since 1791: the French expedition to regain control of Saint-Domingue.

Guillaume Davranche (UCL Montreuil)

https://www.unioncommunistelibertaire.org/?Dossier-Revolution-haitienne-Le-legs-maudit-des-grandes-plantations
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