"The Persecution of the Syrians" by Alain Turnier (1915-1991)

An excerpt from Turnier’s Les Etats-Unis et le marché haïtien (1955). Turnier was a renowned Haitian historian, economist, and statesman. Note that historically Haitians have called the island’s Arab population "Syrians," when in actuality many Haitian Arabs were Lebanese Christians.

Around the year 1893, the Syrians, who increased in number by the day, displayed and sold their wares in the streets and in public places.

Several times the government accused the Syrians of making counterfeit paper money. And the United States embassy even admitted that the accusations were true.

However, the Syrians’ greatest enemies, the true makers of his misfortune, were the experienced foreign merchants, because competition threatened their place [in society], their economic power, and their hold on politics….

A small newspaper, "l’Anti-Syrien," whose name perfectly reflects its content, was published with the help of [hostile] foreigners.

On 5 August [1883], a crowd of soldiers paid by the foreign [merchant] houses attacked the Syrian establishments with rocks…. The Syrian community asked the United States to protect them. [They did not turn to the French because] the French representative, Descos, had declared bluntly to [the American Minister,] Powell, that he was indifferent [toward the Syrians] because they threatened the commercial interests of the French [merchants in Haiti].

In a proclamation made on 18 March [1905], the [Haitian] government made all the Syrians, without exception, close their stores between 31 March and 1 April. Many [Syrians] had already left the country and nearly 60 more would leave by steamship on 31 March. They were fearful that all the excitement would lead to pillage and fire.