From World Afropedia
Jump to: navigation, search

View of Jacmel
View of Jacmel
CountryFlag of Haiti.svg Haiti
 • MayorEdwin Zenny
 • City26,077
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)

Jacmel, (Jakmèl in Kréyòl) also known by its indigenous Taíno name of Yaquimel, is a town in southern Haiti founded in 1698. It is the capital of the department of Sud-Est and has an estimated population of 40,000, while the municipality (commune) of Jacmel had a population of 137,966 at the 2003 Census.

The buildings are historic and date from the early nineteenth century; the town has been tentatively accepted as a World Heritage site and UNESCO reports that it has sustained damage in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[2]


The town was founded in 1698 as the capital of the south eastern part of the French colony Saint-Domingue. The area now called Jacmel was Taíno territory of the Xaragua chiefdom ruled by cacique Bohechio. With the arrival of the French, and the later establishment of the town, the French renamed Yaquimel as Jacmel.

The town has not changed much since the late 19th century when it was inhabited by wealthy coffee merchants, who lived in gracious mansions that adorned it. These mansions would later come to influence the home structure of much of New Orleans; the town's architecture boasted cast-iron pillars and balconies purchased in France. Today, many of these homes are now artisan shops that sell vibrant handicrafts, papier-mâché masks and carved-wood animal figures. In recent years, efforts have been made to revitalize the once flourishing cigar and coffee industries. The town is a popular tourist destination in Haiti due to its relative tranquility and distance from the political turmoil that plagues Port-au-Prince.

Over the years, this rather small town experienced a number of noted historical events. Some of these occurrences are:

War of Knives

Toussaint Louverture fought over Jacmel in the so-called War of Knives between him and his fellow countryman André Rigaud, who wished to maintain authority over the city. This war began in June 1799. By November the rebels were pushed back to this strategic southern port, the defence of which was commanded by Alexandre Pétion. Jacmel fell to Toussaint's troops in March 1800 and the rebellion was effectively over. Pétion and other mulatto leaders subsequently went into exile in France.

Creation of the Venezuelan flag

A predecessor of Simón Bolívar in the liberation struggle against colonialism in Spanish-ruled South America, Francisco de Miranda, created the first Venezuelan flag near Jacmel. Anchored in the Bay of Jacmel (Baie de Jacmel), he first raised the flag on March 12, 1806, on the corvette Leander. This day is still celebrated as Venezuelan Flag Day.

Ramón Emeterio Betances

Puerto Rican pro-independence leader Ramón Emeterio Betances spent a short interval in Jacmel in 1870, from where he channelled support for an uprising in the Dominican Republic, seeking to install a liberal government there. Then-president of Haiti Nissage Saget supported Betances's ideals of a pan-Antillean union, and gave the uprising his support.

Modern Jacmel prior to the 12 January 2010 earthquake

The port town is internationally known for its very vibrant art scene and elegant townhouses dating from the 19th century. Among the wealth of art and crafts available in Jacmel are the papier-mâché, done by nearly 200 artisans and the reknow Atelier created by Moro Baruk. In recent years Jacmel has been host to a large film festival, the 'Festival Film Jakmèl', started in 2004, and in 2007 the international music festival 'Festival Mizik Jakmèl' was successfully launched. Its carnival, the nearby Bassins Bleus (Haiti's most famous natural deep water pools), and the scenic white sand beaches attract many visitors. The town is regarded as one of the safest in the country and foreign visitors that enter the country in hope of a tranquil time often head for Jacmel. Its urbanization has been increasing in large part due to the income generated by tourism. Royal Caribbean, the leading tourism company whose cruise ships regularly dock at Labadee, plans to add stopovers at Jacmel. In February 2007, Edwin Zenny became the town's newly elected mayor. In addition, the Jacmel Film Festival is held there annually. On January 11, 2010, Choice Hotels announced they would open a 120-room Comfort Inn in Jacmel, the first chain hotel to be opened there in a decade.[3]

2010 Haiti Earthquake

Earthquake damage in Jacmel
Damage to old buildings in Jacmel

On 12 January 2010, Haiti experienced a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that caused heavy damage and casualties in Jacmel.[4] The first tremblor rocked the city at 4:40pm, but the later tremblor at 5:37pm stopped the cathedral's clock. A Jacmel radio station estimated that at least 5000 were dead from the quake itself, although mayor Zennie Edwin later reported that the figure was closer to 300-500 deaths and 4,000 injured. In the earthquake, around 70 per cent of the homes were damaged, with most of the heavier damage being suffered in the poorer neighbourhoods.[5] Town Hall was so severely damaged that, though it survived, it had to be demolished.[6] A small tsunami hit Jacmel Bay, with the ocean receding, leaving fish high and dry on the seabed, and rushing back in, four times.[7]

Among the facilities destroyed in the earthquake was Pazapa (Creole for "Step by step"), a charity run from two buildings in downtown Jacmel which helped disabled children. The charity's two rented buildings suffered condemning damage, just after the children left for the day, in the quake.[8] The Ciné Institute, Haiti's sole film school, was also destroyed in the quake.[9] Also destroyed was the Fosaj art school.[10]

Relief efforts had been slow because of the lack of supplies and focus on the capital Port-au-Prince.[11] However, efforts by the Ciné Institute drew rescue and relief workers to Jacmel. Colombian rescue workers from Bogota firefighters arrived first, followed by Chilean doctors, 4 French NGOs (FAUSI, DASU, PUI, CMS) brought by sea on a Dominican Republic navy boat, and Sri Lankan workers answered the call.[12] The Haitian government had requested to the Canadian government that they concentrate relief efforts on the area of Jacmel. Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean's parents were born in Jacmel, which she visited frequently as a child.[13]

The Jacmel Airport suffered incapacitating damage during the earthquake and was initially unable to receive the C-130 aircraft, though it was expected to open for C-130's on January 20.[14] However, it has been used since 14 January 2010 as a base of operations for scouting the area with Canadian CH-146 Griffon helicopters, in advance of the relief efforts.[15] The small, 1 km (3,300 ft) airstrip in Jacmel is too small to process the larger C-17 aircraft that were to fly in supplies. As of January 18, 2010 the Canadian navy frigate HMCS Halifax with a crew of 225, has been deployed at Jacmel to help in the relief efforts.[16] The crew of the Halifax will be assisting Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) which was brought to the area by helicopter on January 18 as well. The port is shallow, and was not large enough to handle the Halifax so supplies had to be shipped to the shore and back again.[15] Together DART and the Halifax crew primarily concentrated on setting up a field hospital and a water purification system. The first Canadian CC-130 flight into Jacmel Airport occurred on 19 January 2010.[15] Also sent to Jacmel, is a mobile surgical hospital donated by a Swiss relief agency.[17] The Cuban military set up a field hospital in the region.[18]

A 22-day-old baby girl, Elisabeth Joassaint, was found in the ruins of her home on 19 January 2010 by a team of French rescuers from the NGO FAUSI (Fabien Lampert, Alexandre Pertin and Eric Mellet), and rushed to the hospital by Colombian medic Mauricio Milanes. Her mother Michelène was unable to get news about her since the earthquake struck. The girl was found many days beyond the usual survival period of three days without water.[19] She recovered well and still lives with her mother in Jacmel. She was the youngest survivor of the Haiti eathquake, and the only one found in Jacmel.

As of the 22nd, the DART facility moved from next to the Saint-Michel Hospital to the harbourfront.[20] The DART field hospital was set up on the pier, as is operating full out.[21] The DART water production plant that cleans sea water or river water was set up on a jetty.[22]

As of the 24th, refugee camps have started to get organized, with the start of construction of proper latrines. Food distribution is delivered by the UN, with Canadian soldiers providing security, and Haitian Girl Guides and Boy Scouts handling crowd control and organization.[23] Canadian military firefighters are inspecting buildings in Jacmel to ascertain which are structurally sound and usable. A Canadian Army clinic has been set up on the beach. The Canadian Army has set up a tent city for residents who have lost their homes.[24]

As of the 26th, the first wave of rescue workers have started rotating out of Jacmel.[21] The DART water production plant has started producing water, though the river water was less usable than sea water, so production is slower.[25] River water has 900ppm of dissolved solids while sea water has 35,000ppm.[26]

On the 28th, the first post-quake baby was born at the Canadian clinic.[26] The main wharf at the port is handling two ships a day with relief supplies from the Dominican Republic.[27]

On the 29th, Choice Hotels announced that it would continue with its plans to open two hotels in Jacmel, although opening would be delayed. The 32-room hotel that will be converted into a Comfort Inn was not damaged in the quake, and Choice Hotels is delivering aid supplies to guests and refugees currently housed in the facility. Choice Hotels will also continue with plans to open a 120-room hotel under the Ascend Collection banner as the "Belle Rive". This represents the first time in a decade that a multinational brand hotel chain has come to Haiti (Holiday Inn vacated Haiti, and Hilton cancelled its plans in Haiti).[28][29]

As of the 2nd February, the École Wolfe Displaced Persons Camp, had been outfitted with a clean water bladder, latrines, and showers. The refugee camp contained more than 200 people, and now had a clean water supply.[30]

As of the 3rd February, Patrimoine Sans Frontière has announced a mission to Jacmel, to attempt to preserve as much heritage architecture as possible, while also ensuring minimal safety standards.[31]

On 19 February, HMCS Halifax finished it operational tour, and left Jacmel.[32]

After seeing the films from Cine Institute, residents of sister city, Gainesville, Florida, USA, voiced a commitment to renew their friendship and commit to help Jacmel. Community leaders arrived in Jacmel on February 20. Meanwhile, volunteers in Gainesville meet every week and have created a non-profit with the sole intent helping Jacmel recover. A city wide music festival will be held at the Florida School of Massage in Gainesville to raise money for Jacmel.[33][34]

In early March, airport staff have revealed intentions to expand the runway from 3,300 ft to 5000–6000 ft, to allow for large passenger plane access.[35]

As of 4 March, Swiss-based Medair has started providing permanent shelters in Jacmel, that have evolved from metal-framed tents to metal-clad sheds. With residents clearing their own lots, Medair would provide the shelter.[36] Residents of the Pinchinat tent city in Jacmel are receiving one meal a day.[36] Pinchinat contains about 6000 residents.[36]

On 9 March, the dockside Canadian walk-in medical clinic closed, after treating more than 10,000 patients.[37]

On 15 March, some schools reopened.[38]

As of 16 March, the Canadian military have vacated Jacmel.[39]

In the wake of the Canadian military pullout, Jacmel was left missing many things needed to operate as a reception and distribution hub. The airport could no longer process international flights, as no equipment remained to operate the control tower, nor heavy equipment to process the planes, or security to police supplies at the airport. The seaport was left without heavy equipment to handle cargo on ships, and without security to secure the port.[40][41]

Notable residents



A beach in Jacmel
  • Radio Ambiance FM 93.5 [1]

La première & l'unique radio station sur internet depuis Jacmel

  • Ambiance Télé Canal 11 [2]
  • Radio Anacaona
  • Radio Hispaniola FM
  • Radio Lumiere, 100.9 FM (as of March 20, 2011) [3]
  • Radio Télé-Diffusion Jacmelienne
  • Radio Télé-Express Continental
  • Radio Vibration Inter
  • Radio Jacmel Inter
  • Radio Détente
  • Négritude
  • Vision 2000
    National radio with a Jacmel bureau[43]
  • RTDJ 101.5
    oldest radio station in Jacmel, founded in the early 1980s.[43]

RTDJ 101.5

RTDJ 101.5 was located in downtown Jacmel, but the 12 January 2010 earthquake destroyed its headquarters. The station is the oldest in Jacmel and was founded in the early 1980s. After the quake, it operated from a tent, with salvaged equipment from the rubble. Post-quake, there is no advertising revenue, due to the damage to local businesses.[43]


The Port of Jacmel (HTJAK)[44] is a small, relatively shallow port and is unable to harbour large ships.[15] There is also a pleasurecraft dock as part of the port, which survived the quake.[45] It is run by the Autorité Portuaire Nationale.

Also located in Jacmel is a small airstrip (MTJA)[46] capable of handling small to medium sized planes. The airstrip is unable to handle large aircraft.[15]

Jacmel has a single hospital, Hôpital Saint-Michel, which locals had nicknamed "the morgue" prior to the earthquake.[47] The hospital is the largest hospital or health centre in the region.[48] It has a staff of six doctors and ten nurses. The quake half collapsed the hospital, including the maternity ward,[47][49] however, the hospital continues to operate.[50] The radiology department was the only undamaged portion of the hospital.[48]

Jacmel had a civil court building, which was destroyed in the tremblor.[51]

The town's main square is Place Toussaint Louverture, named after the Haitian revolutionary leader.[27]

Sister cities


  1. based on Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d'Informatique
  2. "Heritage in Haiti". 2010-01-20. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  3. "Chain Hotels Coming Back to Haiti". ABC News. January 11, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  4. "Magnitude 7.0 - HAITI REGION", United States Geological Survey
  5. AFP, "In Haiti, the Jacmel cathedral clock stopped at 5:37 pm", 20 January 2010 (accessed 20 January 2010)
  6. Globe and Mail, "Welcome to Jacmel", Jessica Leeder, 9 February 2010 (accessed 10 February 2010)
  7. Washington Post, "In Jacmel, Haiti, parties give way to aftershocks and rescue missions", Susan Kinzie, 24 January 2010 (accessed 24 January 2010)
  8. Globe and Mail, "Program for the disabled lost in Haiti's rubble", John Ibbitson, 25 January 2010 (accessed 25 January 2010)
  9. (French) La Presse (Montreal), "Le prix d'Avatar", Marc Cassivi, 19 January 2010 (accessed 25 January 2010)
  10. artnet, "Haiti's Cultural Destruction", 26 January 2010 (accessed 27 January 2010)
  11. CNN, "Burning tires illuminate what remains of Haitian town", Mallory Simon, 14 January 2010
  12. CNN, "O'Brien: Haiti's cultural core suffers, too", Soledad O'Brien, Rose Arce, 20 January 2010 (accessed 20 January 2010)
  13. "Canadians focus Haitian relief on town with ties to GG". National Post. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  14. Associated Press, "Military sends more troops in Haiti aid effort", PAULINE JELINEK and ANNE FLAHERTY, 19 January 2010
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Globe and Mail, "Canada's big task in Haiti starts on small airstrip", Gloria Galloway, 19 January 2010 (Accessed 19 January 2010)
  16. "Canadian Forces head to port town of Jacmel". CBC News. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  17. TopNews, "Canadian Forces brings mobile surgical unit to quake-hit Haitian community", Jason Ramsey, 30 January 2010 (accessed 31 January 2010)
  18. Caribbean Net News, "Cuba to open fifth field hospital in Haiti", 5 February 2010 (accessed 5 February 2010)
  19. (French) LCN, "Un autre petit miracle à Jacmel", TVA Nouvelles, 20 January 2010 (accessed 21 January 2010)
  20. Globe and Mail, "A city struggles to escape from chaos", John Ibbitson, 22 January 2010 (accessed 23 January 2010)
  21. 21.0 21.1 Toronto Star, "This Haitian town is singing Canada's praise", Brett Popplewell, 26 January 2010 (accessed 27 January 2010)
  22. CBC News, "Canadian clinic in Haiti running near capacity", 26 January 2010 (accessed 27 January 2010)
  23. Chronicle Herald, "It’s home, at least for now", Stephen Maher, 25 January 2010 (accessed 25 January 2010)
  24. Canadian Press, "Canadian relief efforts face rough terrain, bad roads in quake-struck Haiti", Alexander Panetta, 24 January 2010 (accessed 25 January 2010)
  25. CTV News, "DART produces clean drinking water for Haitians", 26 January 2010 (accessed 27 January 2010)
  26. 26.0 26.1 The Province, "Canadian military clinic delivers baby amid destruction in Haitian town", Andrew Mayeda, 28 January 2010 (accessed 28 January 2010)
  27. 27.0 27.1 Christian Science Monitor, "Haiti earthquake jolts a million city-dwellers to head for 'home'", Howard LaFranchi, 29 January 2010 (accessed 29 January 2010)
  28. PR Newswire, "Choice Hotels International Reiterates Commitment to Haiti and Development Projects in Jacmel", First Call, 29 January 2010 (accessed 30 January 2010)
  29. Post-Gazette, "Choice Hotels opening Haiti's first chain hotels in a decade", Associated Press, 30 January 2010 (accessed 30 January 2010)
  30. Trident News, "HMCS Halifax raising hope in Haiti", SLt. Fudge (accessed 23 February 2010)
  31. (French) Courrier international, "Patrimoine Sans Frontière se mobilise aux cotés des Haïtiens", Evelyne Trouillot, 3 February 2010 (accessed 5 February 2010)
  32. Canadian Press, "Canada stops Haitian evacuation flights, death toll set to jump", CP, 22 February 2010 (accessed 23 February 2010)
  33. Official website: "FROM: GAINESVILLE... With LOVE!!!"
  34. Facebook group: "From Gainesville With Love"
  35. Globe and Mail, "The little airfield with big ambitions", 4 March 2010 (accessed 6 March 2010)
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Globe and Mail, "Haiti turns to housing the homeless", Jessica Leeder, 5 March 2010 (accessed 9 March 2010)
  37. Globe and Mail, "Jacmel's unofficial department of public complaints", Jessica Leeder, 9 March 2010 (accessed 19 March 2010)
  38. (French) Alter Presse, "Haïti-Séisme : Réouverture timide des écoles à Jacmel, 2 mois après ", Karenine Francesca Théosmy, 19 March 2010 (accessed 19 March 2010)
  39. Globe and Mail, "Jacmel's unofficial department of public complaints", Jessica Leeder, 16 March 2010 (accessed 19 March 2010)
  40. Globe and Mail, "Pulling the plug in Haiti", Rod Jamer, 25 March 2010 (accessed 27 March 2010)
  41. Globe and Mail, "Departure of Canadian Forces hampers Jacmel’s reconstruction", Jessica Leeder, 23 March 2010 (accessed 27 March 2010)
  42. (French) Le Devoir, "Haïti: les soldats canadiens déployés à Jacmel", GUILLAUME BOURGAULT-CÔTÉ, 18 January 2010 (accessed 24 January 2010)
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 Globe and Mail, "Jacmel’s airwaves radiating hope in Haiti", Jessica Leeder, 16 March 2010 (accessed 19 March 2010)
  44. World Port Source, "HTJAK" (accessed 24 January 2010)
  45. Woodinville Weekly, "Matching good deeds to worthy needs", Deborah Stone, 22 February 2010 (accessed 23 February 2010)
  46. World Aero Data, "MTJA" (accessed 24 January 2010)
  47. 47.0 47.1 Wall Street Journal, "Smaller Towns Struggle As Help Is Slow to Arrive", Christopher Rhoads, 19 January 2010 (accessed 20 January 2010)
  48. 48.0 48.1 (French) IRIN, "HAÏTI: Les craintes d’un tremblement de terre persistent", 02 February 2010 (accessed 02 February 2010)
  49. Washington Post, "Virginia medical team reaches Haitian city, begins to treat patients", Susan Kinzie, 20 January 2010 (accessed 20 January 2010)
  50. (French) La Voix du Nord, "Médecin et pompier professionnel à Berck", RENÉ DURIEZ, 27 January 2010 (accessed 27 January 2010)
  51. (French) Metropole Haiti, "Le système judiciaire paralysé trois semaines après le séisme", LLM, 5 February 2010 (accessed 6 February 2010)

External links

da:Jacmel de:Jacmel es:Jacmel fr:Jacmel it:Jacmel he:ג'אקמל ht:Jakmèl (komin) lmo:Jacmel nl:Jacmel (stad) ja:ジャクメル no:Jacmel nn:Jacmel pms:Jacmel pl:Jacmel pt:Jacmel ru:Жакмель sco:Jacmel simple:Jacmel zh:雅克梅勒