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France to cancel Haiti’s debt


French President Francois Holland has announced that Haiti’s debt will be cancelled.

President Francois Hollande announced today, during the official unveiling of the Memorial ACTe in Point-A-Pitre, Guadeloupe, that France will cancel all of Haiti’s debt.

The memorial, a newly built building overlooking the bay of Guadeloupe's main town, Pointe-à-Pitre, looks at the history of slavery from antiquity to the modern day and pays homage to slave revolts and runaways who established free communities in the New World. Its cost - 83 million euros - has aroused criticism on an island with serious economic problems, although local officials hope it will help attract tourists to the island.

The memorial, a newly built building overlooking the bay of Guadeloupe’s main town, Pointe-à-Pitre, looks at the history of slavery from antiquity to the modern day and pays homage to slave revolts and runaways who established free communities in the New World.
Its cost – 83 million euros – has aroused criticism on an island with serious economic problems, although local officials hope it will help attract tourists to the island.

Those present, including Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Dominica’s Roosevelt Skerrit, immediately gave him a standing ovation, while other members of the delegation broke down into tears upon hearing the announcement.

However, Hollande, who revealed he would be travelling to Haiti later in the day and who is also due to visit Cuba, also appeared to reject the idea of monetary reparations.

“When I go to Haiti, I will, for my part, handle the debt that we have,” Hollande said to loud applause. But later in the same speech he cited a famous French Caribbean writer’s objections to financial reparations.

France has faced calls to pay Haiti billions of euros in reparations — a sum that approximates the amount Haiti paid France after slaveholders demanded compensation for loss of property. Haiti, which became the world’s first black republic after winning its war of independence in 1804, agreed to pay the debt in exchange for official recognition from France in 1825. Critics say the so-called independence ransom was illegal from its inception, since France had already outlawed slavery by the time it asked for compensation.

In 2010, then French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Haiti in the aftermath of an earthquake that killed upwards of 100,000 people. That marked the first visit from a sitting French president  in the nation’s history. Although France agreed at the time to cancel Haiti’s 56 million euro debt, it rejected demands from activists to pay 17 billion euros in reparations.

In 2001, France passed a law that recognized the slave trade and slavery as a crime against a humanity.

In 2013, Hollande evoked France’s “debt” toward Africa but also said the history “cannot be the subject of a transaction.”

In the same speech in Guadeloupe, Hollande blasted modern-day “slave traders” in the Mediterranean, criticizing smugglers who profit from “human cargo”. Last year, more than 200,000 refugees, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. More than 3,000 of them died.

14 Responses to France to cancel Haiti’s debt

  1. Jus me May 10, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    I expect the ones who “broke down” were the ones who paid a week early LOL.

    See PM Stuart, take note.
    Its not only about what you can grab.

  2. Antony Rack
    Antony Rack May 11, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Dear God I thank you in the name of Jesus.for your mercy for your people on the island of Haiti, dear God they have had hundreds of years of suffering, and bad leadership, please lord help them to find there way and be very successful in there January.

  3. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock May 11, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Haiti, led the way for black leaders to be no good.

  4. Randy Hartman
    Randy Hartman May 11, 2015 at 5:15 am

    what about France’s (and other imperialist powers) dept.. .. oh right!! that was//is theft and murder

  5. Alex Alleyne May 11, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Its about time and while signing the debt off , please don’t forget to write a cheque for 10 billion dollars , ……….just to start .

  6. Alex Alleyne May 11, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Ya all think England will do the same for the English speaking Caribbean ???????. REPARATION time …………….Yeah man.

  7. Zeke Fahrid
    Zeke Fahrid May 11, 2015 at 7:20 am

    I wish the headlines had read “France promise to pay back Haiti”

  8. Carson c Cadogan May 11, 2015 at 9:09 am

    The media in Barbados was quick to jump on the bandwagon proclaiming that Barbados is the worse in economic growth.

    What they failed to mention is the fact that the countries doing better than Barbados have better conditions. Dem. Republic had more that US$2 billion in debt forgiveness from Venezuela, Haiti debt to the IMF was cancelled and special previsions made for them, now France is going to forgive its debt.

    With Billions of dollars of debt forgiveness any country in the World show tremendous positive growth.

    Can anyone tell me which Government or agency has forgiven any of Barbados’ debts?

    • Olutoye Walrond May 12, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Mr. Cadogan, please explain to us lesser enlightened mortals what forgiveness of a nation’s debt has to do with the performance of the economy in any given year?

  9. Donna Harewood May 11, 2015 at 10:52 am

    There was never any debt to France for him to cancel. I give him a one hand clap for this, though it’s more than most other European leaders are prepared to do. Unfortunately though, with Haiti’s record of corrupt leadership one can only pray that this does some good for the majority. For the most part we Caribbean people have been no better at acknowledging that ‘all men are created equal’ than the Europeans were. Most of us are ruthlessly engaged in scrambling to replace the colonial masters at the top of the food chain. So sad!

  10. Alex Alleyne May 11, 2015 at 11:52 am

    If FRANCE refuse to pay in a timely fasion , HAITI should take them to the International court in the hauge.

  11. Walter Prescod May 11, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Why is it no one mentioned that this less than what Haiti payed to Fronce for its freedom.
    Is France now becoming generous? No! they owe Haiti much more

  12. John Moore May 12, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Don’t rejoice too much. Cancelling Haiti’s debt is mere window dressing. What France owes Haiti, what it took from Haiti, the enslavement it imposed on Haiti makes this gesture nothing more than a public relations exercise.

  13. Bose Sharma May 13, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    In its grab for freedom Haiti threw out the baby with the toxic bath water and this has defined all colonial black leaders ever since. Today there is hardly a black leader of ex-colonial countries who is brave enough to put his hand up and say he is not corrupt. This is why the UK PM Cameron was so confident when he was overheard saying that some of the most corrupt leaders were coming to his Anti- corruption conference last week!

    Only poor countries as declared by the UN can have debt forgiveness and Barbados is not a poor country, not if you have the highest exchange dollar in the region.
    Black leaders would never earn the respect of their colleagues until they understand that you don’t enrich yourself through politics, but your country. I am not saying that white leaders are not corrupt, just look at some of the central and south American leaders. The default position of most white first world leaders is all black leaders are corrupt. I had to face this and a young immigrant growing up in the UK with a strong Caribbean ac
    cent. So I had to always work harder, whether at school or on the sports fields, to be almost equal!

    This is what black leaders MUST do to be accepted and that is why Cameron’s corruption conference should’ve being held in the Caribbean or Africa and that would have given it more meaningful acceptance, even more soul.


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