Haiti, Forgive Us
Amy Goodman - The tragedy of the Haitian earthquake continues to unfold, with slow delivery of aid, the horrific number of amputations performed out of desperate medical necessity, more than a million homeless, perhaps 240,000 dead, hunger, dehydration, the emergence of infections and waterborne diseases, and the approach of the rainy season, which will be followed by the hurricane season. Haiti has suffered a massive blow, an earthquake for which its infrastructure was not prepared, after decades—no, centuries—of military and economic manipulation by foreign governments, most notably the United States and France.
Haiti was a slave plantation controlled by France. In 1804, inspired by Toussaint L’Ouverture (after whom the now barely functioning airport in Port-au-Prince is named), the slaves rebelled, founding the world’s first black republic. Under military threat from France in 1825, Haiti agreed to pay reparations to France for lost “property,” including slaves that French owners lost in the rebellion. It was either agree to pay the reparations or have France invade Haiti and reimpose slavery. Many Haitians believe that original debt, which Haiti dutifully paid through World War II, committed Haiti to a future of poverty that it has never been able to escape. (While France, as part of the deal, recognized Haiti’s sovereignty, slave-owning politicians in the United States, like Thomas Jefferson, refused to recognize the black republic, afraid it would inspire a slave revolt here. The U.S. withheld formal recognition until 1862.)
The U.S. Marines occupied Haiti from 1915 until 1934. Read more.