This weekend's devastation in Haiti, another vestige of slavery

Visionary I

I can't help but feel pure anger in looking at the devastating images and videos coming out of Haiti following the 7.2 earthquake on Saturday. Haiti was the first Black-led republic and first independent Caribbean state after it defeated French rule in 1804 at the end of the Haitian Revolution. 


However, Haiti was never given a fair chance. France did not recognize Haiti's independence for another 20 years and when it did, King Charles X said that Haiti had to PAY FRANCE - 150M Francs for "reparations" 


This amount was more 10x of the Haitian government's entire revenue, and required Haiti to take on deep debt from French banks with high interest rates. Haiti paid France from 1825 right up until 1947 as "compensation for slave owners" following their "loss of property." 


And in between all of this, during the US occupation of Haiti, the equivalent to $13M worth of gold was transferred from Haiti to New York in 1914. 


Widely considered to be the poorest country in the Western hemisphere (more than half the population lives below the poverty line), is this any surprise given the centuries of exploitation the nation has faced? And while natural disasters cannot be attributed to these exogenous causes, the extent of the damage and lives lost largely stems from poor infrastructure like gaps in disaster preparedness, healthcare, sanitation and more. 


I didn't expect to come on here today and write a mini essay, but it had to be said. 


If you're in a position to help - please consider donating to an organization such as AirLink which is helping to get vital resources into the island. 


Finally, I'm curious what are your thoughts are on this? Where does Haiti go from here? How could France be held accountable? 


Community Manager Community Manager
Community Manager

Thank you for your post Nathan. @KamilleJ has also published additional organizations supporting local efforts here.

Révolutionnaire Team Révolutionnaire Team
Révolutionnaire Team

I agree with everything you said Nathan, it is truly sad what is happening and what has happened in Haiti. I'm not well versed on the history of Haiti, but it sounds similar to that of other previously colonised nations in the Caribbean and Africa. We see it over and over again. The inequality, poverty and underdevelopment of so many nations is a product of their colonial histories.


Sadly, I do not think that France or any other colonial powers will ever be held accountable. These countries still hold so much power and influence, plus colonial powers are still taking advantage of and exploiting through neocolonialism. However, one thing I will say is that the people of Haiti, and other previously colonised countries that have gone through similar devastation have a form of resilience you don't see much anywhere else. And hopefully one day, they will be a position to garner support from the international community and demand  accountability.

Révolutionnaire Team Révolutionnaire Team
Révolutionnaire Team

Mofe, such great insight! The resilience of these nations is truly unmatched. We can only hope for a brighter future and commit to supporting that outcome everyday. 


@NathanW I completely agree with you. It is so incredibly sad how Haiti has been forced into this position by France and could have had the resources to build better infrastructure to avoid disaster in these situations. Thank you for sharing the AirLink resource - just donated. Some more resources can also be found in @KamilleJ 's recent post. Let's continue to amplify and educate on this, so many are overlooking the historical context.