Eustache Antoine Francois Joseph Louis Borno
Eustache Antoine Francois Joseph Louis Borno (20 September 1865 – 29 July 1942) was a lawyer (law degree earned in 1890 at the Faculty of Paris) and Haitian politician. He served as President of the Republic of Haiti from 1922 to 1930 during the period of the American occupation of Haiti (1915–1934).
Eustache Antoine Francois Joseph Louis Borno was born on 20 September 1865 – 29 July 1942. Borno was of Mulatto heritage, being the son of a White French father and a Black Haitian mother.
In 1899, he was a diplomat in the Dominican Republic; then, in 1908, served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for President Nord Alexis.
The country of Haiti, devastated by internecine conflicts and the mismanagement of its leaders, was looked upon as a strategically vital location by the United States at the onset of World War I. The U.S. had extended its influence throughout the Caribbean and Latin America following the construction of the Panama Canal by invoking the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.
In 1914, the United States under President Woodrow Wilson presented a project for the control of customs and finances of Haiti. Borno, then Foreign Minister of President Joseph Davilmar Theodore, refused. The United States responded by confiscating the reserves of the National Bank of Haiti.
On 28 July 1915, a Haitian mob killed President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam in the legation of France, where he had taken refuge. The same day, U.S. troops landed in the country, restoring order to Port-au-Prince. They organized the election of a new president, Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, and immediately imposed a protectorate. Borno, appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, negotiated a U.S. commitment to the economic development of the country and refused to transfer any territory.
American contempt and brutality against the local population led to armed revolts in the countryside carried out by "cacos," farmers who had remained armed since the war of independence and were imbued with a culture of rebellion. U.S. troops claimed several thousand victims. Embarrassed by media coverage of the war and disappointed at the ineffectiveness of the occupation, U.S. President Harding decided in 1922 to improve the level of American administrators and appointed as High Commissioner Major General John H. Russell.
When President Dartiguenave served out his term, Louis Borno was elected by the State Council on 10 April 1922, to the surprise of the Americans. Borno, however, soon came to an agreement with Russell. He maintained a policy of "honest and frank cooperation," as Borno called it and persuaded the Americans to help develop the country economically.
The Haitian state was in debt. The external debt alone was equivalent to 4 years of the government budget. Borno decided in June 1922 to take out a loan of 23 million dollars to clear all debts. He reduced export taxes and soon the trade deficit balanced.
Infrastructure improvements were particularly impressive: 1700 km of roads were made usable, 189 bridges were built, many irrigation canals were rehabilitated, hospitals, schools, and public buildings were constructed, and drinking water was brought to the main cities. Port au-Prince became the first city of Latin America to have phone service available with automatic dialing. Agricultural education was organized with a central school of agriculture and 69 farms in the country.
Borno relied on the Catholic Church, with congregations coming from France to develop low-cost quality education throughout the country. Aware that many Haitians did not speak French, he was the first president to authorize the use of Creole in the education system.
He went to the United States in 1926 where he met President Calvin Coolidge. He mainly settled old border conflicts with Dominican President Horacio Vásquez in 1929.
But Borno refused to organize free elections. He maintained a Council of State, whose 21 members were appointed by himself. Thus he was re-elected by it on 12 April 1926. The print media was upset about this. Borno tried to regulate it and even imprisoned some journalists.
The world economic crisis that began in 1929 changed American policy. President Herbert Hoover sought to disengage itself from Haiti. He appointed a commission for this purpose, chaired by Cameron Forbes, who arrived in December 1929.
Because of the economic crisis, Haitian farmers became upset. On December the 6, an excited group faced some U.S. marines who fired on them and killed some.
The Forbes Committee resolved to organize free elections and end the American administration, but remained pessimistic about the sustainability of democracy in Haiti. The opposition chose a provisional president, Louis Eugene Roy.
Borno died on 29 July 1942, aged 76.