Tuesday, August 17, 2010

France urged to pay back Haiti

A letter sent to France President Nicolas Sarkozy urges the country to repay a 200 year old debt. When Haiti became independent from France they imposed a payment on Haiti which is now valued at 22 billion dollars. France imposed the payment because they felt they would lose money because their Haitian slaves were now free and would no longer work for France. Haiti was still making payments on this debt in up until 1947.

From Al Jazeera, we find out more about the letter.

Campaigners, including Noam Chomsky, the US linguist, and Naomi Klein, the Canadian author, described the debt as "patently illegitimate ... and illegal".

"The 'independence debt', which is today valued at over 17bn euros illegitimately forced a people who had won their independence in a successful slave revolt, to pay again for the freedom," the letter, published in Britain's Guardian and France's Liberation on Sunday, said.

Haiti launched a lawsuit in 2004 to recover the money, but it was abandoned after France backed the overthrow of Haiti's government.

The letter said such actions were "inappropriate responses to a demand that is morally, economically, and legally unassailable".

"In light of the urgent financial need in the country in the wake of the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, we urge you to pay Haiti, the world's first black republic, the restitution it is due," it said.

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