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Remembering Haiti before the Quake

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This earthquake is only the latest in a string of disasters, mostly humanitarian, that have hit Haiti since it became the first black slave nation to win its independence, albeit with a heavy penalty that hung around their necks for the next 150 years.

On 1 January 1804, Dessalines, the new leader under the dictatorial 1801 constitution, declared Haiti a free republic. Haiti was the first independent nation in Latin America, the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world, and the only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion. The country was crippled by years of war, its agriculture devastated, its formal commerce nonexistent, and the people uneducated and mostly unskilled.

Haiti agreed to make reparations to French slaveholders in 1825 in the amount of 150 million francs, reduced in 1838 to 60 million francs, in exchange for French recognition of its independence and to achieve freedom from French aggression. This indemnity bankrupted the Haitian treasury and mortgaged Haiti’s future to the French banks providing the funds for the large first installment, permanently affecting Haiti’s ability to be prosperous.

There is much, much more to this sad story, including the United States’ muckery in their situation to their detriment.

People have been fighting for Haiti for years. I’ve personally met Leisa Faulkner, who is again going to Haiti to help. It’s a sad tragedy, what’s happened there in the past days, but with sudden international fame maybe the rest of their plight will receive attention. The poor populace just wants their democratically elected president to be president and not forced to flee from the country time and again. Lavalas!

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