For Haiti’s government and business community, Hollande’s visit with a delegation of French ministers and executives is a welcome opportunity to encourage more investment and highlight progress made since a devastating 2010 earthquake obliterated much of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. Over the last week, the French leader has been touring the region, stopping in French Caribbean islands and Cuba, where he said his country would be a “faithful ally” as Havana reforms its centrally planned economy.
But for some citizens of impoverished Haiti, Hollande’s visit is reminding them of the debilitating costs of the country’s successful slave revolt for independence. In 1825, crippled by an international embargo enforced by French warships, Haiti agreed to pay France an “independence debt” of 150 million gold francs to compensate colonists for their losses of land and slaves. It was later reduced to 90 million gold coins.
“We Haitians know that a big reason why we are suffering today is because we were forced to pay France for our freedom. If we were not punished for our independence long ago we would have had a better time,” Jean-Marc Bouchet said on a dusty, unpaved street in Port-au-Prince. via | Fox News.