ANTOINE LOUIS LéOCARDIE ÉLIE LESCOT (December 9, 1883 – October
20, 1974) was the
President of Haiti
* 1 Early life * 2 Wartime election * 3 Failed rubber cultivation program * 4 Decline and exile * 5 References
Lescot was born in
Saint-Louis-du-Nord to a middle-class mixed-race
family, descended from free persons of color in the colonial era. He
After his first wife died in 1911, Lescot entered politics. He was
elected to the Chamber of Deputies two years later. After a four-year
stay in France during the United States occupation of
His close political and economic ties to the United States helped lay
the groundwork for his ascendancy to Haiti's presidency, and he
received the State Department's tacit backing for his campaign to
Sténio Vincent in 1941. Prominent members of the Chamber of
Deputies opposed his candidacy, arguing
Lescot quickly moved to consolidate his control over the state apparatus, naming himself head of the Military Guard and appointing a clique of white and mixed-race members of the elite to major government posts, including his own sons. This action earned him great disdain among Haiti's large majority of ethnic Africans. Poster from U.S. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. News Bureau, 1943
After the bombing of
FAILED RUBBER CULTIVATION PROGRAM
As an Axis blockade cut off rubber supplies from the East, Lescot's administration began an ambitious program, in cooperation with the United States, to expand wartime production of rubber in the Haitian countryside. The Export-Import Bank in Washington granted $5 million in 1941 for the development of rubber plants in Haiti. The program was called the Société Haïtiano-Américane de Développement Agricole (SHADA) and managed by American agronomist Thomas Fennell .
SHADA began production in 1941 with the provision of ample military support per contract with the US government. By 1943, an estimated 47,177 acres (190.92 km2) were cleared for the planting of cryptostegia vine, which was considered to yield high amounts of latex. The program eventually claimed over 100,000 hectares of land. Farmers in Haiti's northern countryside were lured from food crop cultivation to meet increasing demand for rubber.
Lescot energetically campaigned on SHADA's behalf, arguing the program would modernize Haitian agriculture. The United States also promoted the project with a robust public relations campaign. Peasant families were forcibly removed from Haiti's most arable tracts of land. After nearly a million fruit-bearing trees in Jérémie were cut down and peasant houses invaded or razed, the Haitian Minister of Agriculture, Maurice Dartigue, wrote to Fennell asking him to respect "the mentality and legitimate interests of the Haitian peasant and city-dwellers." But yields did not meet expectations, and insufficient amounts of rubber were produced to generate significant exports. Droughts contributed to poor harvests.
"The worst thing that can be said of SHADA is that they are doing at considerable expense to the American taxpayer and in a manner that does not command the respect of the Haitian people", concluded a survey by the US military. The US government offered $175,000 as compensation to displaced peasants after recommending the program's cancellation.
Lescot feared SHADA's termination would add the burden of higher unemployment (at its height it employed over 90,000 people) to a sinking economy and hurt his public image. He asked the Rubber Development Corporation to extend its closing of the program gradually until the end of the war, but was refused.
DECLINE AND EXILE
With his government near bankruptcy and struggling with a flagging
economy, Lescot pleaded unsuccessfully with the United States for an
extension on debt repayments. Relations between Lescot and Trujillo in
That same year Lescot extended his presidential term from five years to seven. By 1946, his attempts to muzzle the opposition press sparked fierce student demonstrations; a revolt broke out in Port-au-Prince. Black-empowerment noirists, Marxists, and populist leaders joined forces in opposition. Crowds protested outside the National Palace , workers went on strike, and the homes of authorities were ransacked. Lescot's mulatto-dominated government was highly resented by Haiti's predominately black military Garde.
Lescot tried to order the Military Guard to break up the demonstrations, but was rebuffed. Convinced their lives were in danger, Lescot and his cabinet fled into exile. A three-person military junta took power in his place and pledged to organize elections. In the immediate aftermath of Lescot's exile, an independent radio and print press flourished and long-repressed dissident groups expressed optimism about Haiti's future. Dumarsais Estimé eventually succeeded Lescot as head of the republic, becoming Haiti's first black president since the US occupation.
* ^ "Showgirl Daughter of Ex-President" (Vol.5 No.9). Jet. March
18, 1954. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
* ^ A B C D John Pike. "
* v * t * e
Heads of State of
* Dessalines/Jacques I * Christophe/Henri I * Blanchet (acting) * Pétion * Boyer * Rivière-Hérard * Guerrier * Pierrot * Riché * Soulouque/Faustin I
* Geffrard * Saget (provisional) * Salnave * Saget * Council of Secretaries of State * Domingue * Boisrond-Canal * Lamothe (provisional) * Salomon * Boisrond-Canal (provisional) * Légitime * Jeune (provisional) * Hyppolite * Simon Sam * Boisrond-Canal (provisional) * Alexis * Simon * Leconte * Auguste * Oreste * Zamor * Théodore * Guillaume Sam * Dartiguenave * Borno * Roy
* Pierre-Louis (provisional)
* Sylvain (provisional)
* Executive Government Council
* Fignolé (provisional)
* Namphy * Manigat * Namphy * Avril * Abraham * Pascal-Trouillot * Aristide * Cédras * Nérette * Bazin (provisional) * Jonassaint (provisional) * Aristide * Préval * Aristide * Alexandre (provisional) * Préval
* Martelly * Privert (provisional) * Moïse
* WorldCat Identities * VIAF : 43554130 * LCCN : n95094207 * SUDOC : 159822793 * BNF : cb16715586j (data) * IATH