Friday, January 22, 2010

A Deal With the Devil

In 1794, a slave uprising began and within ten years the French were expelled and Haiti became the only nation in the world’s history to be born of a successful slave revolt.

France, refusing to let her “rights” to the land and its inhabitants go uncompensated, posted warships off Haiti’s coast, and after 25 years of international isolation and threat supported by the U.S. and Europe, Haiti agreed to take out a loan from a designated French bank and pay compensation to French plantation owners for their loss of “property,” including the freed slaves. The amount of the debt – the modern equivalent of 21 billion dollars – was ten times that of Haiti’s total 1825 revenue and twice the price of the Louisiana Purchase, paid by the United States to France (a year before Haiti’s independence) for seventy-four times more land.

This imposition of compensation by a defeated power and reimbursement by freed slaves of their former owners is unique in history and violated international law even in 1825. The 1825 agreement began a cycle of debt that has condemned the Haitian people to poverty ever since whose government has some years paid up to 80% of it’s annual revenues to service debt. Needless to say, money for the most basic infrastructure enjoyed by most western nations was not available. Haiti did not finish paying the loans that financed the debt until 1947. Over a century after the global slave trade was recognized and eliminated as the evil it was, the Haitians were still paying their ancestors’ masters for their freedom.

Now that sounds like a deal with the devil.

From Steve Bell's Debt, Dictatorship and Disaster – A brief history of Haiti. As seen on Bene Diction Blogs On.

- Peace

1 comment:

PsySal said...

Wow. That is breathtaking.

Sometimes I find out details like this, about why world I was born into is the way it is, and how it got to be like this. Money is a terrible thing.