Haiti's long history

Yesterday plate tectonics caused a massive earthquake in Haiti. Many are dead, many more injured. Countless poorly built buildings have collapsed including the presidential palace, Haiti's White House. Many countries in the area are pledging aid and support including Canada where nearly 100,000 ex-pat Haitians live in Quebec alone.

Haiti has a long and troubled history, the links below are good a primer.

There are a couple of commonly held misconceptions that hold a key to Haiti's present sad state before and after the earthquake. Haiti was a colonized by the Spanish and the French. After murdering the original Tainto inhabitants who had greeted Columbus warmly and nursed his crew back to health, every square foot of ariable land was turned to sugar production. The plantations were owned by rich and operated by their slaves.

After a couple hundred years of oppression some of the slaves who had run away into the mountains organized and fought back against the european despots. They won, the slaves overthrew their masters, but at a huge cost. Napoleon had sent 30,000 troops to subdue the slave revolt. In exchange for their freedom and diplomatic recognition the new revolutionary government was forced by the european and american powers to repay their former French colonizers for their loss of land and other capital and the cost of Napoleon's idiotic attempt to re-instate slavery.

This huge debt and the odious compounded interest have haunted Haiti to this day. Last night i heard supposedly well educated commentators in the mainstream media make error after error in their analysis of Haiti's historic predicament. To answer just a couple, Haiti's forests have been 99% obliterated, a small proportion of this devastation was for firewood/fuel, but most of the clearing was done by international logging interests with every dollar in royalities collected by the Haitian goverment going to international banks to cover the huge and ever growing interest on it's slave rebellion incured debts. Second Haiti's once bountiful agriculutrial regions have had their nutrients used up to grow sugar that they could export to service the debt. Empires suck the resources from the hinterlands and bring those misbegotten assets home to further enrich their elites. A few hundred years ago the europeans were suking their empires dry now it's the U.S. in the future it could be China or India, The names change but the story doesn't.

The History of Haiti

Haiti's Odious Debt