External debt of Haiti

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Haiti’s legacy of debt began shortly after gaining independence from France in 1804, culminated with the 1825 gold indemnity. Within two centuries, Haiti shifted from richest to poorest nation in the western hemisphere. In 1825, France returned with warships at the ready, threatened to re-enslave Haiti, and demanded the country compensate France for its loss of men and slave colony. In exchange for French recognition of Haiti as a sovereign republic, France initially demanded payment of 150 million gold francs. World powers whose economy heavily depended on slavery, including the USA and Canada, rallied themselves with France and deemed the debt to be valid. [1] In 1838, France agreed to reduce the ransom to 90 million gold francs to compensate former plantation owners who had lost their property along with their slaves.[2] By 1898, France indirectly controlled nearly 80% of Haiti's economy via Germany. Then the USA resented more fear from the German Imperial Navy than they felt threaten from the whole British Empire. Germany then toppled the economy of Puerto Rico. The USA quickly declared war on Spain and took over Cuba. On all sides of the conflict, the treaties were never about friendship but only interest. Drafted plans by Germany's Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II further aggravated the debt of Haiti. Haiti got blamed from all sides for triggering the abolition of slavery - even from the Americas and the African territories the colonists later invaded. Germany threatened to seize Haiti for late payments and to invade the USA for insolence - with European powers. German politics or perhaps European manipulation or fear of re-colonization led the USA to invade Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean territories in the Americas. By the 1900s severe famine ravaged Haiti. Germany was among the first to forgive Haiti and lend some money. Nevertheless, Europe missed the luxury of slavery. So the German forgiveness didn't last long. It soon changed with the rise of Nazi radicals in Germany. Exorbitant taxes were imposed on the German loans. Haiti couldn't pay back France and Germany at the same. Haiti's failure to keep up with paying its dues to Europe led the USA to pay back the German loans and occupied Haiti for nearly 20 years. It was a strategic and economic occupation. Haiti couldn't keep up either with the French and the U.S. repayments.[3] As result, U.S. armed forces entered Haiti in 1914 and directly took gold from Haiti's Treasury. During the U.S. occupation, some history books were banned in Haitian schools by the new Status Quo. Later, European powers as a whole threaten the USA for repeating their footstep in Haiti. The U.S. occupation of Haiti ended in 1934.[4] The last payment was sent to France just after the end of World War II. The total of Haiti's gold deposit locked in French Treasury was estimated at $22 billion in 2004 by the president Jean Bertrand Aristide's administration. However, its value rose to $40 billion in 2010.[5][6] The 1952 indemnity of Germany for WWII Holocaust and Nazi crimes - which accumulated to €90 billion of disbursement as of 2014[7] - continues to inspire Haiti and CARICOM leaders to repeatedly filed lawsuits trying to get Haiti's gold ransom back.[8] In recent years, CARICOM filed lawsuit against European countries who claimed innocence in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Among the pretended innocents whose veils were pierced and their guilt exposed are Norway and Sweden: two Scandinavian countries known for their lucrative trades of thralls and serfs from Europe and Asia, and later on 'slaves' from the Gold Coast. Though Haiti made the last payment in 1947, the counter-argument is still as followed in the 21st century: the European colonists responsible for slavery crimes died before they could be trialed and never agreed for their descendants to pay restitution for their slavery crimes - compared to Nazi Germany who was trialed and then agreed for the current German generation to continue paying reparation for the WWII holocaust crimes. In 2014, CARICOM officially announced that a law firm in the UK was hired to file a slavery reparation lawsuit against 11 European countries. The big dealers of the trans-Atlantic slave trade were UK, France, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.[9] [10][11][12][13]

To conclude the aforementioned passage about Haiti's debt - one must not forget the biggest cover-up behind the reasons for not returning the gold ransom to Haiti. It will simply trigger further claims: during the Haitian revolution, Napoleon ordered the suffocation of 100,000 slaves with sulfur dioxide. The Napoleonic genocide was among the events that were concealed and banned from teaching in school. Today, Nazi Germany is credited for the factories of death which were mass extinction facilities equipped with poisonous gases. Nevertheless, the beloved Napoleon of France had already invented them long before Adolf Hitler was born.[14]

  • N.B.- In this article, the term 'slave' is synonym to what Portuguese-colonist ethnographers called the 'Negro People' of the Gold Coast. Though it shares roots with terms like slavic, serf, thrall, robot - the treatment and living conditions were so much worse for the slaves.

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 finally acknowledged the payment of 90,000,000 gold francs in 1893. The story of the first payment - 24,000,000 gold francs – being transported across Paris, from the vaults of Ternaux Gandolphe 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.[15]

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.

Initiatives to cancel Haiti's debt[edit]

Jubilee USA, Jubilee Debt Campaign (UK)[16] and others, called for the immediate cancellation of Haiti's debt to multilateral institutions, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Inter-American Development Bank, based on the argument that this debt is unjust (under a legal term called odious debt) and that Haiti could better use the funds going towards debt service for education, health care, and basic infrastructure.[17]

The Haiti Debt Cancellation Resolution[18] had 66 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives as of February 2008.

Several organizations in the U.S. issued action alerts around the Haiti Debt Cancellation Resolution, and a Congressional letter to the U.S. Treasury,[19] including Jubilee USA, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and Pax Christi USA.

Debt cancellation[edit]

Haiti had a total external debt of $1.8 billion at its peak.[20][21] In April, Haiti was added to the World Bank and IMF's highly indebted poor country initiative (HIPC) following the election of new president René Préval. In September 2009, following a program of economic and social reforms, Haiti met the requirements for completion of the HIPC program, qualifying it for cancellation of its external debt obligations. This cut the face value of the debt by $757 million[22] and future debt service (including interest) by $1.2 billion.[23]

Haiti's largest creditor, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was part of the debt relief initiative, but the initiative only canceled loans made before 2005, and the IDB has lent more since. Haiti's debt to the IDB amounts to approximately half a billion dollars with debt service payments projected by the IMF to increase in the following years. The U.S. government has been paying this debt service on Haiti's behalf since before the quake.[24]

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.[22]

Agence France Press reported on 26 January 2010 that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela said that Petrocaribe, Venezuela's cut-rate regional energy alliance, will forgive Haiti's debt. Haiti's debt with Venezuela is $295 million, about one-quarter of its foreign debt of $1.25 billion, according to International Monetary Fund figures.[23]

On 28 May 2010, the World Bank announced it had waived Haiti's remaining debts to the bank.[25] The value of the waiver was $36 million.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.democracynow.org/seo/2010/8/17/france_urged_to_pay_40_billion
  2. ^ http://www.africaspeaks.com/reasoning/index.php?topic=8805.0;wap2
  3. ^ http://whynationsfail.com/blog/2012/4/3/why-is-haiti-so-poor.html
  4. ^ http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?Itemid=74&id=31&jumival=4741&option=com_content&task=view
  5. ^ http://www.africaspeaks.com/reasoning/index.php?topic=8805.0;wap2
  6. ^ http://www.democracynow.org/seo/2010/8/17/france_urged_to_pay_40_billion
  7. ^ http://www.timesofisrael.com/germany-increases-reparations-for-holocaust-survivors/
  8. ^ http://www.cbsnews.com/news/haiti-earthquake-aid-nearly-15-billion-in-donations/
  9. ^ U.K., France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and Sweden| http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/1/12/caribbean-nationsaimforreparations.html
  10. ^ http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11170654
  11. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2577312/Caribbean-leaders-sue-Britain-slave-trade-150-years-abolished.html
  12. ^ http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/review-raoul-pecks-expose-on-haitis-post-earthquake-billions-fatal-assistance-tonight-at-maysles-cinema-20150123
  13. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/movies/fatal-assistance-about-relief-efforts-in-haiti.html?_r=0
  14. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1038453/The-French-Fuhrer-Genocidal-Napoleon-barbaric-Hitler-historian-claims.html
  15. ^ http://www.odiousdebts.org/odiousdebts/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=9636
  16. ^ Jubilee Debt Campaign UK : Home : Drop the Debt
  17. ^ http://www.jubileeusa.org/jubilee.cgi?path=/take_action&page=haiti06.html
  18. ^ C:\TEMP\WATERS~1.XML
  19. ^ http://www.ijdh.org/articles/articles/article_recent_news_2-12-08.html
  20. ^ Jubilee Debt Campaign UK : Country information : Haiti
  21. ^ "Haiti the land where children eat mud". The Times (London). 17 May 2009. 
  22. ^ a b David Roodman - For Haitians' Sake, Drop the "Drop the Debt"
  23. ^ a b IMF - Haiti: Debt Statistics and IMF support
  24. ^ Inter-American Development Bank - Debt Relief
  25. ^ "World Bank cancels Haiti's debt". AFP. 29 May 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Wroughton, Lesley (28 May 2010). "World Bank cancels remaining Haiti debt". Reuters. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 

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