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Context of '1825: France Recognizes Haiti in Return for Massive Compensation'

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1806: US Places Embargo on Trade with Haiti

Fearful that the Haitian revolution might inspire enslaved Africans in other parts of the world to rebel, US Congress bans trade with Haiti joining French and Spanish boycotts. The embargoes cripple Haiti’s economy, already weakened by 12 years of civil war. The embargo will be renewed in 1807 and 1809. [Dunkel, 1994] The embargo is accompanied by a threat of recolonization and re-enslavement if Haiti fails to compensate France for losses incurred when French plantation owners lost access to Haiti’s slave labor. [Newsday, 12/3/2003; Miami Herald, 12/18/2003; Boston Globe, 1/4/2004]

Entity Tags: US Congress

Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Haiti is forced to pay 150 million gold francs to France to “compensate” French plantation slave-owners for their “financial losses.” The amount demanded by the French represents more than twice the value of the entire country’s net worth. In exchange, France agrees to recognize Haiti’s independence. Years later, the amount is reduced to 90 million gold francs, however it will take Haiti close to 100 years to pay off this debt and only with the help of high interest loans to French banks. [Rogozinski, 1992; Newsday, 12/3/2003; Miami Herald, 12/18/2003; Boston Globe, 1/4/2004]

Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide demands that France return the money Haiti had paid to its former colonizer in service of a dubious debt agreement the country had been forced to accept—under threat of recolonization—in 1825 (see 1825). The exact amount, with interest added and adjusted for inflation, is $21,685,135,571.48. [Haiti Action (.net), 8/5/2003; Newsday, 12/3/2003; Miami Herald, 12/18/2003; London Review of Books, 4/15/2004] France will later back the removal of Aristide in February 2004 (see February 25, 2004). [New York Times, 2/26/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin outlines a proposal he will submit to the UN on February 26, which calls for Aristide’s resignation and recommends that an international security force be dispatched to Haiti to help stabilize the country. According to the minister, President Aristide “bears heavy responsibility for the current situation” and it is his responsibility “to accept the consequences while respecting the rule of law.” Villepin adds: “Everyone sees quite well that a new page must be opened in Haiti’s history.” [New York Times, 2/26/2004] Notably, a few months before, Aristide’s government had called on France to pay some $21 billion in reparations to Haiti (see November 2003). [London Review of Books, 4/15/2004]

Entity Tags: Dominique de Villepin

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue drops a demand that former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide had made to France—that the country’s former colonizer pay reparations to Haiti in the amount of $21 billion (see November 2003). “This claim was illegal, ridiculous and was made only for political reasons,” Prime Minister Gerard Latortue claims, adding that Haiti wants to have good relations with France. “This matter is closed. What we need now is increased cooperation with France that could help us build roads, hospitals, schools and other infrastructure.” France, significantly, had called for Aristide’s resignation before his ouster (see February 25, 2004), leading many to speculate that its involvement in the intervention had been motivated by its interest in ending the reparations demand. During a visit earlier in the month, Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie denied this allegation, saying that French involvement had been motivated solely by a desire to help Haiti. [Reuters, 4/18/2004]

Entity Tags: Gerard Latortue, Michele Alliot-Marie

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

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