France Should Repay Haiti: A Call for Justice

Last Updated: June 20, 2024By

France Should Repay Haiti: A Call for Justice

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Alright, imagine this: You’ve just won your freedom after being enslaved for years. It’s 1804, and the Caribbean island of Haiti has just become the first nation in the region to gain independence after a brave revolt by enslaved people. Sounds like a storybook ending, right? But the real world isn’t always so kind.

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Fast forward a bit, and France, the former colonizer, says, “Hold up. You owe us big time for all the money we’re losing now that you’re free.” So, Haiti, the new kid on the block, gets slapped with a massive debt that they don’t finish paying off until 1947! Two centuries of financial struggle and hardship because of this so-called “reparations” for lost income.

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A New Push for Reparations

Now, there’s a group of about 20 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) hanging out in Geneva for a UN forum on people of African descent. These folks are saying it’s time to give Haiti its money back – and they’re not talking chump change. They want a new, independent commission to make sure France pays up for what they call a “ransom.”

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What’s the Big Deal?

Think about it: Haiti’s had a rough ride with lots of turmoil and violence, partly because they started their independence journey deep in debt. The coalition says this money should go into fixing up Haiti – you know, roads, schools, hospitals, stuff that really makes a difference.

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Monique Clesca, a Haitian activist leading the charge, says, “It’s time France owns up to this. Let’s move forward.” She’s got a point. It’s not just about the money; it’s about recognizing the wrongs of the past and making things right.

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What Does France Say?

So far, not much. France’s foreign ministry hasn’t commented on this latest push. They’ve given Haiti hundreds of millions through development aid and have mentioned a “moral debt,” but that’s about it. The historians argue about how much Haiti actually paid, but the New York Times threw out a figure of $21 billion. But wait – Jemima Pierre, a professor at the University of British Columbia, says if you add interest over 200 years, we’re talking $150 billion, maybe even $200 billion. That’s a lot of zeros!

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The Bigger Picture

This isn’t just about Haiti and France. Last year, the UN forum suggested setting up a tribunal to handle reparations for slavery. This could be part of a larger movement to address historical injustices worldwide.

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Let’s be real – history can be messy, but it’s important to recognize and right the wrongs. For Haiti, getting back what they paid (and then some) could mean a brighter, more stable future. It’s about justice, recognition, and, yes, a whole lot of money that could really change lives.

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