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Antonio Holley, 2010 July

Haiti, the world’s first former slave country, IS in ruin due to the earthquake of 2010 however Haiti is NOT a failed state.  Even though Haiti has experienced one of the highest death toll counts due to an earthquake in modern history and it is already the poorest country in the western hemisphere (now millions more are left homeless) there is hope.

Although international donors promised over $5 billion to Haiti for earthquake relief, less than 2% of the pledged billions have been collected.  Only four countries delivered any money at all.  The United States pledged $1 billion and has delivered nothing.

We the world, the human race, are failing Haiti entirely.

This week, Haiti was forgiven some of its international debt. We are speaking here of the mere $286 million forgiven last week by the International Monetary Fund.  (Haiti owes probably between $640 million and $1.5 billion internationally.)  That’s an insult if you consider how Haiti came to accrue its odious debt and by all means I mean to encourage you, Reader, to research further into the matter.  There are charities trying to help but the work is enormous.  We must look at Haiti’s problems.

Haiti’s history of slavery and the war with Napoleon (to gain its independence) came with quite a price tag.  On top of the cost of the war, Haiti had to pay France 90 million gold francs to “compensate”  French  plantation slave-owners for their “financial losses” and in exchange for France’s recognition of Haiti’s independence.  Haiti was forced to pay this ransom so the country could live in peace and freedom and to be relieved from a crippling embargo imposed by France, England and the United States.  The debt was paid over 100 long years on the backs of the Haitian people who continued to work the land.  All public schools were closed in Haiti in order to make the first payment.  That translates to billions in modern monies.

The United Nations ought to take up this case and force France to pay back all of the money it extorted from Haiti.  Incidently, Haiti is one of the original members of the United Nations and several of its specialized and related agencies.  The whole situation surrounding France’s ransoming of Haiti is a crime against humanity.  They really should also be made to pay retribution for the profit they made off of the sweat of slaves.

Haiti is an extremely valuable port city.  Haiti was once the jewel of the West Indies.  It is so valuable that Napoleon put up the bulk of his army to defeat the slave uprising.  The Haitians then weakened the French army, enabling the U.S. to defeat France with relative east.  We, the U.S. should be grateful towards Haiti and translate that gratitude into action and resources now when it is so desperately needed.

 Pat Robsinson’s statement that the Haitians made a pact with the devil to defeat Napoleon makes me angry but at the same time, it’s too ridiculous to really give it any credence.  I guess he is saying Haiti should have stuck with slavery, which is the real devil and a far worse hell.

After gaining its freedom from France, paying France back, and being excluded from the industrial revolution in general unlike other freed slave states, Haiti never had a chance.  It depends upon tourism to survive and that of course was demolished in the earthquake. 

Haiti has not enjoyed any growth since my last visit twenty years ago.  I am sure the governments that made pledges see the same thing.  There’s been no stable government in Haiti since I first visited in the late eighties.  There have been eleven different presidents from “Baby Doc” Duvalier to the current president.  In contrast, America has had our three past and our one current president versus eleven in Haiti.  This is an obvious sign of a government in turmoil.

I am an art lover.  I painted a picture of the Haitian Presidential Palace before the earthquake and one of the collapsed Palace after the earthquake.  In reality the Palace had been collapsed long before the earthquake.

The government must put the people first.  I suppose the Haitian government has gotten comfortably numb.  But the people cannot wait!  They need aid NOW!  They are living in 6’x6’ plastic tents. As I look out over Port-au-Prince from the air I see hundreds of thousands of tents spread all over the city.  The rain is coming down in Port-au-Prince tonight.  I personally know how it feels to be in a small tent when it is raining as I served in the U.S. Army.  Your sleeping mat and your clothes get soaked.  I was in a tent for a short time.  Haitians have been in tents for six months and there is no end in sight.

Most of the world sits back and watches after promising billions of dollars in relief.  We must get the Haitians off of the ground – literally and figuratively regardless of politics.  The Red Cross is trying to make a difference.  I see the actor Sean Penn is running a tent city.  I see that the Clinton Foundation is looking hard at Haiti and its problems before they make their move.

Haitians need trailers now to live in and they need help fixing the government a little bit later.  These are human beings living worse off than our dogs in America.  France needs to step up.   They need to ship trailers before a hurricane comes and kills many more Haitians.  No one rescued the Haitians from the earthquake.  They were left to die.  We cannot sit back and let the Haitians suffer any more. 

God will judge each nation and bring wrath unto those who do nothing.

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