We perish because we know not… #TLENews
Haiti is the world’s oldest black republic and one of the oldest republics in the Western Hemisphere. Although Haiti actively assisted the independence movements of many Latin American countries – and secured a promise from the great liberator, Simón Bolívar, that he would free their slaves after winning independence from Spain – the nation of former slaves was excluded from the hemisphere’s first regional meeting of independent nations, held in Panama in 1826. Furthermore, owing to entrenched opposition from Southern slave states, Haiti did not receive U.S. diplomatic recognition until 1862 (after those states had seceded from the Union) – largely through the efforts of anti-slavery senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts.
In 1825, French ruler King Charles X offered to recognize Haiti’s independence on the condition that the new Black Republic pays 150 million gold francs in ransom. The extorted bounty was distributed to white slave holders for the loss of “property” they claim to have suffered as a result of the abolitionist Haitian Revolution.
This illegal and barbaric ransom was collected from 1825 to 1947. It was collected by violent means with an official ordinance of the French State which threatened to re-enslave the self-liberated Africans.
In 1838, France agreed to reduce the debt to 90 million francs to be paid over a period of 30 years to compensate former plantation owners who had lost their property
1853: French Admiral Duquesne threatens to bombard Port-au-Prince to restart payments on the French ransom which had been stopped in 1852 by Haitian Emperor Faustin Soulouque.
March 1877: French gun-boat aggression against Haiti. At issue: resumption of payments on the 1825 ransom – balance then re-estimated at 20 million gold Francs.
In 1915 the United States, responding to complaints to President Woodrow Wilson from American banks to which Haiti was deeply in debt, occupied the country. The occupation of Haiti lasted until 1934. The US occupation was self-interested and sometimes brutal and caused problems that lasted past its lifetime. Reforms, though, were carried out.
In 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide became Haiti’s first democratically elected president, winning more than 67 percent of the vote and defeating a neoliberal former World Bank official. When Aristide attempted to reverse the neoliberal policies foisted on Haiti, the United States strongly resisted. Less than one year later, Aristide was ousted by officers of the Haitian army who had been trained at the U.S. School of the Americas and/or were on the CIA payroll.
On April 7, 2003, the value of the infamous Charles X ransom was estimated at $22 Billion by Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide who demanded its restitution.
In 2004, Aristide was forced to leave Haiti in what many thought was a kidnapping by U.S. Army Special Forces as part of a U.S.-backed coup d’etat. The Bush administration then saw to it that Aristide’s progressive policies were reversed.
With the devastating effects of the early 2010 earthquake in Haiti there came renewed calls for a further debt cancellation from civil society groups. In light of the tragedy and new borrowing that lifted Haiti’s debts back to $1.25 billion, groups such as the Jubilee Debt Campaign called for this debt to be dropped. Furthermore, during the aftermath emergency money was offered to the Haitian government from the IMF in the form of loans. Civil society groups protested the offer of loans and not grants for such an already heavily indebted country trying to cope with such destruction. Some have argued, however, that because Haiti’s annual debt service payments are so low ($9 million a year, net of the debt service paid on Haiti’s behalf by the U.S. government), canceling the debt would do little to help the country recover from the earthquake, and should not be a priority for activism
A delegation of Haitian children (descendants of abolitionist leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines) from all corners of the island shall await French President François Hollande as he sets foot in Haiti, on May 12, 2015.
Their demand is clear and simple: TIME TO RETURN TO US OUR STOLEN BREAST MILK!