Why Haiti is still struggling

Dear Editor,

  I extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to the people of Haiti. The recent assassination of the President of Haiti Jovenel Moïse is a stark reminder of the instability that has plagued the Caribbean island for decades, or might I add, for more than two centuries.

  Haiti, while rich in mineral resources and said to be the poorest country in the hemisphere, is rife with turmoil. What is unfortunate is that too many persons look at the island's present condition and neglect to consider the past. The first island to attain its independence after defeating colonial countries such as Spain, England and the last one being France is still paying the price today on the political, social and economic front. The most powerful army at the time led by Napoleon Bonaparte was outwitted by gut and guile.

  Haiti, as most of us know, became the first independent country in the Caribbean in 1804 but it did not come without a price. They had to pay their colonizer France. It is said that in 1825 France, with warships ready, sailed to Haiti and demanded that they compensate France for its loss of slaves and its slave colony in exchange for French recognition of Haiti as a sovereign republic. How hypocritical is this? France demanded 150 million francs. This amount is equivalent to $21 billion in today's currency.

  Imagine, the same France is today still collecting the infamous French colonial tax from some 13 African countries annually to the tune of some $500 billion yet nothing is being said about this by the international community. This conspiracy continues today. They, the African countries, are forced to keep 50 percent of their foreign exchange reserves in an operation account held at the French treasury (I term this perpetual colonization). As a matter of fact, to paraphrase France's late president Charles de Gaulle who said that if these African countries cease from sending their funds to France, the country will drop to a third world status. And this from a continent where it is said that 40 of the 55 countries are poor.

  Back to the problem of Haiti. France received the final payment from Haiti in 1893/4 but it is said because the government of the United States funded the acquisition of Haiti's treasury in 1911 in order to receive payments related to indemnity, it took Haiti until 1947 to finalize its payment which is about 122 years. And we wonder why Haiti is still struggling? Can anyone tell us what happened to the some $900 million of the country's funds that were deposited in a Swiss account by former presidents who were protected until their demise by foreign governments? Promised donations after the earthquake never materialized.

  Please study Haiti's history and you will discover the continuous outside political, social and economic interference which continues to fuel past and current events and keep the nation of Haiti still hostage. Haiti needs the support of her brothers and sisters of the diaspora, not criticism and ridicule. Thanks to her bravery we are free today.

George Pantophlet

Member of Parliament