Mar 1, 2010
Right-wing talk radio has been arguing that the Haitians don’t deserve U.S. aid, since they caused their own poverty.
In fact, the amount of aid the U.S. is giving Haiti is a tiny fraction of the wealth stolen from the country, first by ruling classes in Europe and more recently by U.S. banks and corporations.
Before the revolt of Haiti’s slaves starting in 1791, they produced incredible wealth for the French slave owners and the French state, dying by the hundreds of thousands in the process. After the slaves won their freedom and independence, the U.S. and Britain joined France in forcing the new Haitian government – at gunpoint – to pay France’s dispossessed slave owners a sum amounting to 90 million gold francs plus interest – “reparations” for their lost slave holdings. Haiti was forced to take out high-interest loans from French banks, plunging Haiti into deep foreign debt that would last for nearly 125 years!
A lot of this loan-sharking interest ended up being paid to U.S. banks, which bought up many of these lucrative loans. In 1915, the U.S. Marines invaded and occupied Haiti, seized strong boxes containing the funds of the Haitian government, and took them to New York. The commander of these troops, Major General Smedley Butler later wrote in his book War is a Racket, “I helped make Haiti a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.” Haiti became the economic captive of the New York banks.
U.S. forces occupied Haiti until 1934, running the country like a colony. Afterwards, the U.S. continued to run the finances of the Haitian government until 1947, when Haiti’s loans for “reparations” to French slave owners were finally paid off, dozens of times over counting all the interest. Since this time, Haiti has continued to be used as a source of cheap labor by U.S. corporations and their contractors.
The right-wing talk shows are blatantly lying when they say that Haitians have caused their own poverty.
It’s better to learn about history than listen to people who make false, ignorant remarks.