Bonnet, Guy-Joseph (General)


  • Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Haiti: State Against Nation. The Origin and Legacy of Duvalierism
  • Ardouin, A. Beaubrun. Etudes sur l’Histoire d’Haïti [1853-60].
  • De Pradine, Linstant. Receuil général des lois et acte du gouvernement d’Haïti depuis la proclamation de son indépendence. Vol. 1, 1804-08.

Decisions Made

  • Bonnet is remembered for leading the Haitian Senate to approve two pieces of legislation in early March 1807: the first was to name Pétion, Alexandre the president of the western and southern parts of Haiti;
  • General Bonnet’s second claim to fame was to get the Senate to approve a tax package.
  • The approved tax package had two distinct features to it: 1), customhouses became tax collection centers for all sorts of agricultural commodities; and 2), the early country’s two major exports, coffee and sugar, received differential treatment when it came to tax penalties.
  • By 1810, around 73% of all government revenues were collected at the customhouses, with export taxes and fees accounting for more than 50% of the national budget (Trouillot, 61).
  • Sugar and its derivatives were taxed internally but exempted from export tax;
  • Coffee, however, received the bulk of the high export tax penalties.

Effects of Decisions

  • Remember, around the 1807 time frame, the Haitian states (and their intendant oligarchs) were primarily focused on the revenues from sugar production exports
  • The peasantry and small farmers, however, spent their labor on low-friction and high-yield coffee production.
  • As a result, the effects of General Bonnet’s taxation laws were significantly regressive and set the tone for Haiti’s economic tax policies for hundreds of years.
  • According to Trouillot, Bonnet’s new law clearly favored the haves over the have-nots by shifting “… the burden of state financing from the major planters, producing sugar, to the peasants and small farmers, producing coffee. “