Haiti’s history is inspiring, yet it is the poorest nation in the Western World. Why?
Haiti is yet to be properly acknowledged for its seminal role in ending slavery worldwide through the astute and courageous leadership of one of the great unsung heroes of humanity, Toussaint Louverture. Haiti also changed the course of USA history by forcing Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to relinquish interest in the Louisiana Territories, following his defeat by the Haitian people.
Haiti’s poverty was a punishment, imposed and compounded in the immediate aftermath of the Haitian Revolution which saw it become the first black Republic in 1803. Haiti’s victory was viewed as a threat by four superpowers in the region whose economies were being fueled by the slave trade: France, Spain, Great Britain and the United States of America. All four conspired to lock Haiti down and prevent it from opening trading agreements with its neighbors, effectively depriving the Haitian economy of oxygen.
Twenty-two years later, with Haiti severely weakened, France returned and under threat of war, forced Haiti to pay a Reparation Tax of 150 million gold francs, to former French slave owners. There was little mercy shown, and the Haitian people had to endure, for more than a century, externally imposed austerity, stretching across several generations, from 1825 to 1947. Therein lies the primary cause of Haiti’s poverty and why it is the poorest nation in the Western World today.
An additional injustice perpetrated against the Haitian people was the abduction of their leader, Toussaint Louverture, having been invited to peace negotiations. Toussaint Louverture was taken prisoner and transported to France where he died in solitary confinement at Fort de Joux in the Spring of 1803. The remains of Toussaint Louverture have yet to be repatriated from France to Haiti.
Hope Initiatives International, in collaboration with international academics and activists, will launch the following two major projects aimed at highlighting Haiti’s contribution to the ending of slavery and encouraging a review by France of the historic injustice of the Reparation Tax:
An international symposium on the historic contribution made by Toussaint Louverture to the ending of slavery, with the aim of establishing an international commission of inquiry to:
(i) Establish a chain of custody of the person and remains of Toussaint Louverture from the moment of his abduction in the Fall of 1802 until his death and burial at Fort de Joux on 7 April 1803;
(ii) Seek accountability from France concerning the whereabouts of the mortal remains of Toussaint Louverture today;
(iii) Support the Haitian people in their historic request for the repatriation of the remains of Toussaint Louverture to the Haitian Pantheon.
To build an international coalition aimed at encouraging France to repay (from 2025 – 2147) the modern equivalent of the 150 million gold francs (later reduced to 90 million gold francs) it imposed on the people of Haiti between 1825-1947, as reparation to former French slave owners. It is estimated that in today’s currency, Haiti was forced to pay approximately US$22 billion to France over a period of 122 years.