"Salomon’s Vision" by the Island Luminous Editorial Board
Formerly Emperor Faustin Soulouque’s Minister of Finance, Louis Etienne Lysius Félicité Salomon tried earnestly to improve Haiti’s economy once president. He asked French investors to provide the capital needed to create a national bank, which opened in 1880. That same year, he resumed payments on the French indemnity, knowing that the pinch on Haiti’s economy would pay dividends in the future.
Meanwhile, Salomon improved the nation in many other ways. He oversaw the creation of Haiti’s postal system. And he invited a British company to install a telegraph cable that connected Port-au-Prince and Kingston, Jamaica. A second cable was set-up in 1887, connecting Môle St. Nicolas to Santiago de Cuba.
Like he had done with the national bank, Salomon invited Frenchmen, teachers, to try to improve the Lycée Pétion in Port-au-Prince. He also asked the French to send a military mission to Haiti to improve the Haitian army.
Salomon’s military expenditures, however, soon became a burden upon the state, which struggled to overcome numerous obstacles. Between 1881 and 1882, a smallpox epidemic broke out. And the very next year, Salomon’s rival, Boyer-Bazelais, led a revolution, which was ultimately put-down, but with great economic and political costs to the government. Meanwhile, the economy was weakened even further by "l’Affaire des Mandats," an embarrassing scandal at the national bank, where French, English, and American capitalists had been embezzling money with the help of Haitian accomplices.