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U.S. OCCUPATION FROM 1915-34 LEFT FEW MARKS

The last U.S. occupation of Haiti early this century left few traces, except for one enduring vestige - the present army.

U.S. Marines landed on July 28, 1915, when Haiti was in anarchy. A mob had just lynched an unpopular president, Vilbrun Guillaume Sam. The Marines came to protect American residents, restore order and enforce Haiti's financial obligations to U.S. investors. They stayed 19 years.The Marines disbanded Haiti's army and replaced it with a Marine-led Gendarmerie - the embryo of the current army. By 1919, the Marines suppressed a nationalist revolt, killing thousands, and gunned down its leader, Charlemagne Peralte, now considered a national martyr.

The Marines, who didn't hide their racism, humiliated Haiti's French-speaking elite and antagonized peasants through forced labor.

The Americans did bring order and needed public services. They built roads, sewers and hospitals, balanced the budget and created an efficient bureaucracy. But all that withered after they left in 1934.

In their wake came a series of relatively stable regimes and even a 10-year golden era when Port-au-Prince became a trendy hangout for affluent tourists.

That period ended when Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier rose to power in 1957 through army-rigged elections. Under his reign of terror, Haiti's economy nose-dived. Repression and misery have been Haiti's lot ever since.