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| | |-+  Why The US Owes Haiti Billions - The Briefest History
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« on: November 27, 2013, 04:12:48 PM »

Why The US Owes Haiti Billions - The Briefest History

By Bill Quigley

Why does the US owe Haiti Billions? Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, stated his foreign policy view as the "Pottery Barn rule." That is - "if you break it, you own it."
 
The US has worked to break Haiti for over 200 years. We owe Haiti. Not charity. We owe Haiti as a matter of justice. Reparations. And not the $100 million promised by President Obama either - that is Powerball money. The US owes Haiti Billions - with a big B.
 
The US has worked for centuries to break Haiti. The US has used Haiti like a plantation. The US helped bleed the country economically since it freed itself, repeatedly invaded the country militarily, supported dictators who abused the people, used the country as a dumping ground for our own economic advantage, ruined their roads and agriculture, and toppled popularly elected officials. The US has even used Haiti like the old plantation owner and slipped over there repeatedly for sexual recreation.
 
Here is the briefest history of some of the major US efforts to break Haiti.
 
In 1804, when Haiti achieved its freedom from France in the world's first successful slave revolution, the United States refused to recognize the country. The US continued to refuse recognition to Haiti for 60 more years. Why? Because the US continued to enslave millions of its own citizens and feared recognizing Haiti would encourage slave revolution in the US.
 
After the 1804 revolution, Haiti was the subject of a crippling economic embargo by France and the US. US sanctions lasted until 1863. France ultimately used its military power to force Haiti to pay reparations for the slaves who were freed. The reparations were 150 million francs. (France sold the entire Louisiana territory to the US for 80 million francs!)
 
Haiti was forced to borrow money from banks in France and the US to pay reparations to France. A major loan from the US to pay off the French was finally paid off in 1947. The current value of the money Haiti was forced to pay to French and US banks? Over $20 Billion - with a big B.
 
The US occupied and ruled Haiti by force from 1915 to 1934. President Woodrow Wilson sent troops to invade in 1915. Revolts by Haitians were put down by US military - killing over 2000 in one skirmish alone. For the next nineteen years, the US controlled customs in Haiti, collected taxes, and ran many governmental institutions. How many billions were siphoned off by the US during these 19 years?
 
From 1957 to 1986 Haiti was forced to live under US backed dictators "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvlaier. The US supported these dictators economically and militarily because they did what the US wanted and were politically "anti-communist" - now translatable as against human rights for their people. Duvalier stole millions from Haiti and ran up hundreds of millions in debt that Haiti still owes. Ten thousand Haitians lost their lives. Estimates say that Haiti owes $1.3 billion in external debt and that 40% of that debt was run up by the US-backed Duvaliers.
 
Thirty years ago Haiti imported no rice. Today Haiti imports nearly all its rice. Though Haiti was the sugar growing capital of the Caribbean, it now imports sugar as well. Why? The US and the US dominated world financial institutions - the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank - forced Haiti to open its markets to the world. Then the US dumped millions of tons of US subsidized rice and sugar into Haiti - undercutting their farmers and ruining Haitian agriculture. By ruining Haitian agriculture, the US has forced Haiti into becoming the third largest world market for US rice. Good for US farmers, bad for Haiti.
 
In 2002, the US stopped hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to Haiti which were to be used for, among other public projects like education, roads. These are the same roads which relief teams are having so much trouble navigating now!
 
In 2004, the US again destroyed democracy in Haiti when they supported the coup against Haiti's elected President Aristide.
 
Haiti is even used for sexual recreation just like the old time plantations. Check the news carefully and you will find numerous stories of abuse of minors by missionaries, soldiers and charity workers. Plus there are the frequent sexual vacations taken to Haiti by people from the US and elsewhere. What is owed for that? What value would you put on it if it was your sisters and brothers?
 
US based corporations have for years been teaming up with Haitian elite to run sweatshops teeming with tens of thousands of Haitians who earn less than $2 a day.
 
The Haitian people have resisted the economic and military power of the US and others ever since their independence. Like all of us, Haitians made their own mistakes as well. But US power has forced Haitians to pay great prices - deaths, debt and abuse.
 
It is time for the people of the US to join with Haitians and reverse the course of US-Haitian relations.
 
This brief history shows why the US owes Haiti Billions - with a big B. This is not charity. This is justice. This is reparations. The current crisis is an opportunity for people in the US to own up to our country's history of dominating Haiti and to make a truly just response.
 
(For more on the history of exploitation of Haiti by the US see: Paul Farmer, THE USES OF HAITI; Peter Hallward, DAMNING THE FLOOD; and Randall Robinson, AN UNBROKEN AGONY).
 
Bill Quigley is Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights and a long-time Haiti human rights advocate.

 
http://ccrjustice.org/why-us-owes-haiti-billions-briefest-history-bill-quigley
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2013, 04:48:33 PM »

France dismisses petition for it to pay $17 billion in Haiti reparations

France on Tuesday rejected a petition calling for it to pay $17 billion to help with Haiti earthquake reconstruction as a way to make amends for fees charged Haiti by the French crown 200 years ago.

By Robert Marquand, Staff writer / August 17, 2010

France dismissed a call by left-leaning politicians and others for it to pay the modern equivalent of 90 million gold francs – about $17 billion – to Haiti as reparations for a 200-year-old injustice.

A petition signed by 100 artists, scholars, and EU politicians that was released Monday called on France to give Haiti $17 billion for earthquake reconstruction. The money would essentially reimburse a fee French King Charles X charged Haiti after a revolt that ended slavery there. King Charles justified the fee as compensation for the loss of slaves and other property.

Such requests are not new, authorities say, arguing that France has given substantial aid and debt relief to its former colony, and plans more.

The British Guardian and French Liberation dailies yesterday ran the open letter to French president Nicolas Sarkozy signed by the likes of US academics Cornel West and Noam Chomsky, EU political figures Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Eva Joly, columnist Naomi Klein, and a host of US and French academics, rappers, and public figures.

Some 90 million was “extorted” by the French crown for losses in slaves and property and “illegitimately forced a people who had won their independence in a successful slave revolt, to pay again for their freedom,” the letter states.

By 1804 a Haitian revolt against colonial France made it the first independent former black slave republic. But faced with threats of a French blockade, invasion, and isolation, Haiti agreed to pay, taking until 1947 to pay-off interest on what is known as its “independence debt.” Accompanied by 14 gunships in 1825, France demanded Haiti pay for its freedom and slave value to the tune of 150 million gold francs (reduced in 1838) by borrowing from a French bank.

Two days ago President Sarkozy, citing the Pakistan floods, Russian wildfires, and the Haitian earthquake, called on the European Union to develop a “rapid response” to global natural disasters.

But the call contrasts with an Aug. 6 statement by UN Haitian special envoy Bill Clinton, who said that only 10 percent of the $5.6 billion promised to Haiti at a donor’s conference last March had come through.

Sarkozy, who became the first French head of state to visit Haiti last February, implied France still owes something to the country: "Our presence here did not leave only good memories. Even if I did not start my mandate at the time of Charles X, I am still responsible in the name of France."

Responding to the petition, foreign ministry spokesperson Christine Fages said France gives Haiti $25 million a year, has given $30 million in humanitarian aid since the earthquake in January that left some 250,000 dead, has erased a $72 million in debt, and plans a total of $420 million more in aid through next year.

French officials did not address the legitimacy of the debt, with analysts saying such an admission could open a flood-gate of former colonial claims. France, for its part, has steadily requested that Moscow recompense a group of French investors that prior to 1917 put vast sums into the Russian rail system. Lenin declared the debt void under Soviet rule. But recently Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin agreed to reopen negotiations.

A set of activists hacked onto the French foreign ministry website on Bastille day. The “Committee for the Reimbursement of the Indemnity Money Extorted from Haiti (CRIME)” left a bogus announcement that the French government had finally agreed to repay the money it received from Haiti in the 19th century. Days later officials said they might prosecute the hackers.

In the open letter, signees said that, “We believe the ideals of equality, fraternity and liberty would be far better served if, instead of pouring public resources into the prosecution of these pranksters, France were to start paying Haiti back for the 90 million gold francs that were extorted following Haitian independence.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2010/0817/France-dismisses-petition-for-it-to-pay-17-billion-in-Haiti-reparations
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2013, 05:30:11 PM »

External debt of Haiti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Haiti’s legacy of debt began shortly after gaining independence from France in 1804. In 1825, France, with warships at the ready, demanded Haiti compensate France for its loss of men and slave colony. In exchange for French recognition of Haiti as a sovereign republic, France demanded payment of 150 million francs (modern equivalent of $21 billion).[1] In 1838, France agreed to reduce the debt to 60 million francs to be paid over a period of 30 years.[2] " Benefit Conferred, by Plaintiff, on Defendants, with Defendants’ Knowledge.

The transfer of wealth from Haiti to the French government and from Haiti to the various banks that financed the Independence Debt is well established. Detailed claims, submitted by former slave owners for compensation, including the monetary value of the “lost” slaves, and which formed the basis for the French government’s demands have been documented.

Likewise, the terms of the 1825 Ordinance and accounts of its negotiation have survived.

The French government acknowledges the payment of 90,000,000F. The story of the first payment - 24,000,000 gold francs – being transported across Paris, from the vaults of Ternaux Grandolphe et Cie to the coffers of the French Treasury was recorded in detail. Historians have traced loan documents from the time of the 1825 Ordinance, through the various refinancing efforts, to the final remittance to National City Bank in 1947.[3]

From 1957 to 1986 Haiti was ruled by the corrupt and oppressive Duvalier family. Loans incurred during this period alone were estimated to account for approximately 40% of Haiti's debt in 2000, before debt-relief was granted. These funds were used to strengthen the Duvaliers' control over Haiti and for various fraudulent schemes. Large amounts were simply stolen by the Duvaliers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/External_debt_of_Haiti
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