"Alexis’s War" by Gérard Jolibois
An excerpt from Jolibois’s L’exécution des Frères Coicou (1986). Jolibois was a historian and a journalist. Below, he explains how when Firmin tried to return to Haiti in 1808, Alexis deployed his militia, "zinglings," to attack Firmin’s supporters. Sympathetic toward Firmin, Jolibois recalls how Alexis executed the three Coicou brothers, who were loyal Firministes.
On Wednesday, 15 January , the "télédjol" [the word on the street] reported that the Northwest and the Artibonite had rebelled against the government and that [Anténor] Firmin and [his supporter,] a popular ex-delegate in the Artibonite, General Jean-Jumeau, had arrived in Gonaïves.
The government’s response was quick and brutal… In Gonaïves like in Saint Marc [to the south] the revolutionaries, even Firmin, had to take refuge in foreign consulates. General Jean-Jumeau was captured in Dessalines [a small city in the Artibonite] where he was shot within the hour.
On Sunday and Monday, 15 and 16 [January] 1808, the news spread to the capital city, where families who had supported or admired Anténor Firmin were terrorized and tormented.
In the night between Saturday and Sunday, 14 and 15 March, [Firmin’s supporters,] the three Coicou brothers [Horace, Massilon, and Pierre-Louis] were executed outside the walls of the cemetery in Port-au-Prince. A dozen shared their fate.
While the police, "zinglings," roamed the streets to make arrests, nearly one-thousand people, mostly intellectuals and elites, went to seek asylum in the embassies and consulates in the capital.