Responding to Erasure: U.S. Imperialism, Guantánamo Bay, and Haitian Asylum Policy

Part of the New Caribbean Studies book series (NCARS)


Approaching the U.S. naval base at the Guantánamo Bay as a site of conscience for the Caribbean region, this chapter juxtaposes first-hand accounts of the Battle of Guantánamo in 1898; the U.S. State Department’s elimination of Haitians’ right to sanctuary in the following decade; and U.S. policy towards Haitian asylum seekers in the aftermath of its endorsement of the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1968. Walicek considers longitudinal patterns associated with the U.S. government’s use of the base to achieve certain foreign policy goals in Haiti, as well as related discriminatory practices involving Haitian asylum seekers in the 1970s. He shows that the origins of shameful anti-asylum policies targeting Haitians in the second half of the twentieth century can be traced to U.S. diplomats’ concerns about how asylum policy functioned within Haiti’s borders in the later nineteenth century. Changes to this policy, which consisted of the elimination of protection for Haitian nationals, were instituted in 1908 with military support from Guantánamo Bay. Grounded in the humanities’ commitment to the critical assessment of debates about justice and international conflict, this chapter shows that humanitarian concerns seldom informed U.S. policies towards Haitians who voiced fears of violence and persecution, even in the face of evidence that their claims were credible. Its final part presents the work of Haiti’s ‘freedom culture’ artists as a model for rethinking the history of Guantánamo Bay. 


Haitian Asylum Seekers Asylum Policy Naval Base Duvalier Haitian Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anker, Deborah. “U.S. Immigration and Asylum Policy: A Brief Historical Perspective.” Defense of the Alien 3 (1990): 74–85.Google Scholar
  2. Atis Indepandan. Album booklet, Ki-sa Pou-n Fe? 4–5. Paredon Records, 1975.Google Scholar
  3. Averill, Gage. “Papa Took a Boat: The Tragedy of the Haitian Boat People.” The Beat, 11, no. 4 (1992): 26–27, 74.Google Scholar
  4. ———. A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1997.Google Scholar
  5. Braziel, Jana Evans. “Haiti, Guantánamo, and the ‘One Indispensible Nation’: U.S. Imperialism, ‘Apparent States,’ and Postcolonial Problems of Sovereignty.” Cultural Critique 64 (Fall 2006): 127–60.Google Scholar
  6. Caribbean Nations: Assessments of Conditions and U.S. Influence, Report of a Special Study Mission to the Committee on Foreign Affairs U.S. House of Representatives (96th Congress, First Session). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979.Google Scholar
  7. Douglass, Frederick. “Lecture on Haiti.” In Great Speeches by Frederick Douglass, edited by James Daley, 105–24. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2013.Google Scholar
  8. Dubois, Laurent. The Aftershocks of History. New York, Metropolitan Books, 2012.Google Scholar
  9. Gerardo, Castellano. Paseos Efímeros. Havana: Editorial Hermes, 1930.Google Scholar
  10. Goldstein, Brandt. Storming the Court. New York: Scribner, 2005.Google Scholar
  11. Goode, W.A.M. With Sampson Through the War. New York: Doubleday & McClure Co., 1899.Google Scholar
  12. Greenberg, Karen. The Least Worst Place: Guantánamo’s First Hundred Days. New York: Oxford, 2009.Google Scholar
  13. Hansen, Jonathan M. The Lost Promise of Patriotism: Debating American Identity, 1890–1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  14. ———. Guantánamo: An American History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2011.Google Scholar
  15. Helg, Aline. Our Rightful Share. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  16. Himelhoch, Myra. “Frederick Douglass and Haiti’s Mole St. Nicolas.” The Journal of Negro History LVI, no. 3 (July 1971): 161–80.Google Scholar
  17. Hoes, Rosewell Randall. God’s Hand at Santiago. New York, 1898.Google Scholar
  18. Lenox, Malissia. “Refugees, Racism, and Reparations.” Stanford Law Review 45, no. 3 (1991): 687–724.Google Scholar
  19. McCalla, Bowman H. Memoirs of a Naval Career. Santa Barbara, CA, 1910.Google Scholar
  20. Mintz, Sidney W. “Panglosses and Pollyannas; Or Whose Reality Are We Talking About?” In The Meaning of Freedom, Economics, Politics, and Culture After Slavery, edited by Frank McGlynn and Seymour Drescher, 245–56. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.Google Scholar
  21. Mitchell, Christopher. “U.S. Policy Toward Haitian Boat People, 1972–93.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Strategies for Immigration Control: An International Comparison 534 (July 1994): 69–80.Google Scholar
  22. Paik, A. Naomi. Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps Since World War II. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  23. Rice, Wallace, ed. Heroic Deeds in Our War with Spain: An Episodic History of the Fighting of 1898 on Sea and Shore. Chicago: George M. Hill Co., 1898.Google Scholar
  24. Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.Google Scholar
  25. Schleifer, Nancy. “Territorial Asylum in the Americas: Practical Considerations for Relocation.” University of Miami Inter-American Law Review 12, no. 2 (1980): 359–80.Google Scholar
  26. Shulimson, Jack, Wanda J. Renfrow, David E. Kelly, and Evelyn A. Englander, eds. Marines in the Spanish-American War. Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division, U.S. Marine Corps, 1998.Google Scholar
  27. Siegel, Adam. The Use of Naval Forces in the Post-War Era, 1946–1990. Alexandria, VA: Center for Naval Analyses, 1991.Google Scholar
  28. Stepick, Alex. “A Study in Conflicting Forces Shaping U.S. Immigration Policy.” U.S. Immigration Policy 45, no. 2 (Spring 1982): 163–96.Google Scholar
  29. ———. “Unintended Consequences: Rejecting Haitian Boat People and Destablizing Duvalier.” In Western Hemisphere Immigration Policy and United States Foreign Policy, edited by Christopher Mitchell, 125–55. University Park: Penn State University Press, 1992.Google Scholar
  30. Wilsher, Daniel. Immigration Detention: Law, History, Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.Google Scholar

Newspapers and Periodicals

  1. Google Scholar
  2. The Atlantic Google Scholar
  3. Christian Century Google Scholar
  4. The New York Times Google Scholar
  5. Pall Mall Magazine Google Scholar
  6. The San Francisco Examiner Google Scholar
  7. The Washington Post Google Scholar

Archival Sources

  1. Papers Related to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976.Google Scholar
  2. National Archives, Central Files, U.S. State Department Records on Haiti, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras CampusSan JuanPuerto Rico

Personalised recommendations