France Urged to Repay Haiti's $22B 'Independence Debt'

Payout would make up for quake aid shortfall
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2010 4:29 AM CDT
France Urged to Repay Haiti $22B 'Freedom Debt'
French President Nicolas Sarkozy holds a joint press conference with Haitian President Rene Preval outside the earthquake-damaged Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in February.   (Getty Images)

France should fork over almost $22 billion to Haiti to make up for the "independence debt" it extorted from its former colony 200 years ago, a group of prominent activists and authors has urged in a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The money would give the impoverished Caribbean nation much-needed funds to rebuild from the January earthquake, making up for the $4.6 billion shortfall in promised international donations, according to signatories including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Cornel West.

"The 'independence debt' illegitimately forced a people who had won their independence in a successful slave revolt to pay again for the freedom," the letter states. "In light of the urgent financial need in the country in the wake of the devastating earthquake, we urge you to pay Haiti, the world's first black republic, the restitution it is due." European, Canadian, and Philippine parliament members also signed the letter, the Guardian reports.
(Read more Noam Chomsky stories.)

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