[Fr. zhak-mel]
Jacmel, city (1989 est. pop. 217,000), S Haiti. About 25 mi (40 km) S of Port-au-Prince, Jacmel is an important port on the Caribbean Sea. The city was heavily damaged in the Jan., 2010, earthquake. The name is also spelled Jaquemel.
Jacmel, (Jakmèl in Kréyòl) also known by its indigenous name of Yaquimel, is a city in southern Haiti founded in 1698. It is the capital of the department of Sud-Est. Considered a cultural capital of Haiti, Jacmel is a serene port town with an estimated population of 40,000 and growing. The city has not changed much since the late 19th century when the town was inhabited by wealthy coffee merchants, who lived in gracious mansions that adorned the town. These mansions would later come to influence the home structure of much of New Orleans; the architecture of the city 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 much of the capital.

History of Jacmel

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

The 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 cit. This war began in June of 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.


Francisco de Miranda creates the Venezuelan flag

A predecessor of Simón Bolívar in the liberation struggle from 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 seeks an Antillean union

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

Jacmel today

The port town is internationally known for its vibrant art scene and elegant townhouses dating to the 1800s. 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 Bleu (Haiti's famed blue water pools), and the scenic white sand beaches attract many visitors. The port city is regarded as one of the safest cities in the country and many incoming foreigners that enter the country in hope of a tranquil time, often head for Jacmel. Jacmel's urbanization has been increasing in large part due to economic finance generated through tourism. Royal Caribbean, the leasing tourism company whose cruise ships regularly dock at Labadée, plans to add stoppovers to Jacmel. In February 2007, Edo Zenny became the city's newly elected mayor.

Notable residents



  • Radio Ambiance FM
  • Ambiance TV
  • Radio Anacaona
  • Radio Hispaniola Fm
  • Radio Télé-Diffusion Jacmelienne
  • Radio Télé-Express Continental
  • Radio Vibration Inter
  • Radio Jacmel Inter
  • Radio Détente
  • Radio Négritude


External links

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