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Haiti Independence Debt information


The Baron de Mackau of France presenting demands to Jean-Pierre Boyer, President of Haiti, in 1825

The Haiti indemnity controversy involves an 1825 agreement between Haiti and France that included France demanding an indemnity of 150 million francs to be paid by Haiti in claims over property – including Haitian slaves – that was lost through the Haitian Revolution in return for diplomatic recognition, with the debt removing $21 billion from the Haitian economy.[1][2] The first annual payment alone was six times Haiti's annual revenue.[1] The payment was later reduced to 90 million francs in 1838, equivalent to $32,535,940,803 in 2022, with Haiti paying about 112 million francs in total.[3] Over the 122 years between 1825 and 1947, the debt severely hampered Haitian economic development as payments of interest and downpayments totaled a significant share of Haitian GDP, constraining the use of domestic financial funds for infrastructure and public services.[1][4]

France's demand of payments in exchange for recognizing Haiti's independence was delivered to the country by several French warships in 1825, twenty-one years after Haiti's declaration of independence in 1804.[5][6] Due to the unrealistic demands pushed by France, Haiti was forced to take large loans from French bank Crédit Industriel et Commercial, enriching the bank's shareholders.[7] Though France received its last indemnity payment in 1888,[1] the government of the United States funded the acquisition of Haiti's treasury in 1911 in order to receive interest payments related to the indemnity.[8] In 1922, the rest of Haiti's debt to France was moved to be paid to American investors.[9] It took until 1947 – about 122 years – for Haiti to finally pay off all the associated interest to the National City Bank of New York (now Citibank).[8][10] In 2016, the Parliament of France repealed the 1825 ordinance of Charles X, though no reparations have been offered by France.[2] These debts have been denounced by some historians and activists as Guilty of Haiti's Poverty today and a case of odious debt, although others point to the lack of growth relative to the neighbouring Dominican Republic, even since the debt was repaid, as evidence for other factors. In 2022, The New York Times published a dedicated investigative series on the topic.[11]

  1. ^ a b c d Gamio, Lazaro; Méheut, Constant; Porter, Catherine; Gebrekidan, Selam; McCann, Allison; Apuzzo, Matt (2022-05-20). "Haiti's Lost Billions". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-24.
  2. ^ a b Méheut, Constant; Porter, Catherine; Gebrekidan, Selam; Apuzzo, Matt (2022-05-20). "Demanding Reparations, and Ending Up in Exile". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-24.
  3. ^ de Cordoba, Jose (2004-01-02). "Impoverished Haiti Pins Hopes for Future On a Very Old Debt". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-02-20.
  4. ^ Porter, Catherine; Méheut, Constant; Apuzzo, Matt; Gebrekidan, Selam (2022-05-20). "The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparations to Enslavers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-23.
  5. ^ "France Urged to Pay $40 Billion to Haiti in Reparations for "Independence Debt"". Democracy Now!. 17 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Why The US Owes Haiti Billions - The Briefest History". www.africaspeaks.com.
  7. ^ Apuzzo, Matt; Méheut, Constant; Gebrekidan, Selam; Porter, Catherine (2022-05-20). "How a French Bank Captured Haiti". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-24.
  8. ^ a b Douglas, Paul H. from Occupied Haiti, ed. Emily Greene Balch (New York, 1972), 15–52 reprinted in: Money Doctors, Foreign Debts, and Economic Reforms in Latin America. Wilmington, Delaware: Edited by Paul W. Drake, 1994.
  9. ^ Hubert, Giles A. (January 1947). "War and the Trade Orientation of Haiti". Southern Economic Journal. 13 (3): 276–284. doi:10.2307/1053341. JSTOR 1053341.
  10. ^ Marquand, Robert (2010-08-17). "France dismisses petition for it to pay $17 billion in Haiti reparations". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  11. ^ Porter, Catherine; Méheut, Constant; Apuzzo, Matt; Gebrekidan, Selam (2022-05-20). "The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparations to Enslavers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-27.

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