Haiti indemnity controversy

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The Haiti indemnity controversy culminated in an agreement by Haiti to a 1825 gold demand by France for a FR₣150 million indemnity (later reduced to FR₣90 million in 1838, comparable to US$40 billion as of 2010 with consideration to inflation) to be paid by the Republic of Haiti in claims over property lost through the Haitian Revolution in return for diplomatic recognition.[1] The gold demand was delivered to the country by 12 French warships armed with 528 cannons. Diplomatic recognition by France of Haiti came in 1825, twenty-one years after the Haiti's declaration of independence.[2][1] The payment of an indemnity to the former French plantation owners was originally suggested by Haitian president Pétion in 1814 as a way to deter a possible French attack on his country.[1]

2003 demand for reparations[edit]

In 2003, President of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide demanded that France pay Haiti over 21 billion U.S. dollars, what he said was the equivalent in today's money of the 90 million gold francs Haiti was forced to pay Paris after winning its freedom from France.[3][4] "Some analysts believe that France's refusal to support the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to Haiti until after the president's departure was linked to Aristide's demand for reparations, which were unpopular in Paris.

The United Nations Security Council, of which France is a permanent member, rejected a February 26, 2004, appeal from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for international peacekeeping forces to be sent into its member state Haiti, but voted unanimously to send in troops three days later, just hours after Aristide's controversial resignation.

"I believe that (the call for reparations) could have something to do with it, because they (France) were definitely not happy about it, and made some very hostile comments," Myrtha Desulme, chairperson of the Haiti-Jamaica Exchange Committee, told IPS. "(But) I believe that he did have grounds for that demand, because that is what started the downfall of Haiti," she says." [3][4][5]

Following the 2004 Haitian coup d'état, provisional prime minister Gerard Latortue rescinded the reparations demand, calling it "foolish" and "illegal".

2010 earthquake[edit]

Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the French foreign ministry made a formal request to the Paris Club on January 17 to completely cancel Haiti's external debt. A number of commentators drew references from the early 19th-century indemnity demand and how it had severely depleted the Haitian government's treasury and economic capabilities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c France urged to Pay 40 Billion
  2. ^ The Briefest History by Africa Speak
  3. ^ a b Jackson Miller, Dionne (March 12, 2004). "HAITI: Aristide's Call for Reparations From France Unlikely to Die". Inter Press Service news. Archived from the original on 2009-05-14. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Frank E. Smitha. "Haiti, 1789 to 1806". Archived from the original on 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  5. ^ "A Country Study: Haiti – Boyer: Expansion and Decline". * Library of Congress. 200a. Archived from the original on 2009-05-18. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 

External links[edit]