Populist President Dumarsais Estime

Dumarsais Estime, Haiti's 33rd president, held office for four years. His presidency is notable because he was the first black leader elected after the U.S. occupation ended in 1934.


Although Estimé married a mulatto elite, his determined educated blacks were to make up the majority of his administration's political appointees. Reversing mulatto elite influence, he championed an education initiative, building schools in poverty-ridden villages and offering advanced teacher-training. This effort created a 45% rise in elementary school attendance.

Dumarsais Estime's agenda included road-construction projects, literacy programs, and improving community services. He also amended the Constitution to provide workers the right to form unions and raised the minimum wage.

Estimé's troubles began when his labor reforms backfired on him and unions rebelled. He was also frustrated by U.S. restrictions on Haiti's tax code and its manipulation of the budget. He labored under the misconception the U.S. had that his government was pro-Communist, refusing to forgive Haiti's enormous debt. To pay it off, Dumarsais Estime turned to the populace and asked for donations. The country responded including members of government, and approximately two-thirds was paid off. The remainder the U.S. forgave.

Dumarsais Estime noiriste agenda caused the mulatto elite to attack and undermine his administration continuously. Conversely, labor unions complained he had not done enough to liberate the black underclass.

His final downfall occurred when factions of the Haitian Army, in tandem with President Trujillo, attempted a coup. Dumarsais Estime held power another year until both his allies and the opposition forces turned on him. Resigning in 1950, he left for Paris.

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Read more: president, Education, School, Race in Haiti, Black Vs Mulato, Mulato, Francois Duvalier, Haitian President, constitution, Verrettes, France, Dumarsais Estime, US Occupation of Haiti, Minimum Wage, 1940, Noirism, Newsletter Articles

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Raymond Lafontant says...

He exiled in

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