A series of articles from New York Times published this weekend sheds light on Haiti’s tragic history of independence and the astronomical debt the country had to pay to France in the 19th century, a topic less exploited by the Haitian type of politics .
After several months of examining the archives, the American newspaper estimated that the payments, paid from 1825 by the first black republic in history, to compensate former slave colonists, “cost the economic development of Haiti between 21 and 115 billion dollars of losses.two centuries, or one to eight times the country’s gross domestic product by 2020.
If the publication is widely shared and commented on social networks, absolute silence prevails on the side of the authorities in the Port-au-Prince area and on the side of its opponents.
“Haitian politicians have an unfortunate tendency to work only in the present,” Haitian historian Pierre Buteau reacted Monday to AFP. Politicians are only interested in the struggle for power ”.
Dismissal of the claimant president
The reluctance of Haitian leaders to embrace this goal may also be explained by Western interventionism in the Caribbean country’s recent past.
In 2003, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide posed the question of this debt of independence as his fighting horse, counting, in cents, the amount France had received at more than 21 billion dollars.
Faced with an armed uprising and a popular uprising, which denounced human rights violations, he was ousted from power in February 2004, under strong American, French and Canadian pressure.
Interviewed nearly two decades later by The New York Times, Thierry Burkard, France’s ambassador at the time, admitted that there was ‘little’ connection between Mr Aristide’s ouster and his requests for repayment of this debt.
By declaring its independence on January 1, 1804, Haiti found itself expelled from the nations of a world then dominated by slave powers.
“The way in which for a century and a half, Haiti had to pay France for the desire to be independent, […] all of Haiti’s international integration has been compromised “, analyzed French economist Thomas Piketty in the release, in 2019, of his book” Capital and ideology “in which he extensively discusses the Haitian debt problem. of freedom.
Eiffel Tower funded with Haitian money
The payments demanded by France have deprived the Haitian economy of resources vital to its growth as they have allowed its former metropolis to flourish.
The New York Times showed how, at the end of the 19th century, the CIC bank returned to France, through toxic loans that were supposed to help Port-au-Prince eliminate its debt, the revenue of young national bank of Haitian.
This capital subsequently allowed the Parisian banking establishment to finance, in particular, the construction of the Eiffel Tower.
CIC’s current parent company reacted Monday to American media statements.
“Because it is important to shed light on all parts of the history of colonization-including in the 1870s, the mutual bank will fund independent academic work to shed light on the past,” Crédit Mutuel announced in a press release.
Through its investigative work, the New York Times also sheds light on the theft of Haitian gold reserves by American soldiers at the beginning of the 20th century.
“December 17, 1914. Eight American Marines crossed the threshold of the National Bank of Haiti in the early afternoon and came out with their arms loaded with wooden boxes filled with gold. Freight: 500,000 dollars, ”the newspaper reported.
These facts preceded the invasion of Haiti by the American army, which occupied the country from July 1915 to August 1934.
The United States retained direct control over Haitian finances more than a decade after its troops left.