Péralte, Charlemagne – Guerrilla Leader


Péralte, Charlemagne. Guerrilla leader – Born in 1886 in Hinche, Péralte was an officer in the Haitian Army. He resigned in 1915 and returned to his home in Hinche to become a farmer. When the US Marines, who had invaded Haiti in 1915, began forcing Haitians into labour gangs to carry out public works, antipathy to the US occupation grew. In 1917 he was arrested for an attack on the home of a US officer, and sentenced to five years hard labour. He escaped from captivity, and mobilised several thousand peasant irregulars to fight against the US occupation. The success of the guerrilla resistance campaign led by Péralte, forced the US to deploy more Marines, but he was still able to declare a provisional government in the north of Haiti in 1919.

In November 1919 Péralte was betrayed by a spy, and killed by a US Marine. A famous photograph, picturing the dead leader tied upright to a door, Christ-like, has taken its place as an icon of Haitian nationalism.

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