French President Emmanuel Macron recently visited the French prison where revolutionary leader, Touissant Louverture died, having been kidnapped during what were supposed to be negotiations. Louverture had wanted equal rights for Haitians which the French would not accept. Jean-Jacques Dessalines subsequently determined the French could not be trusted and must be defeated militarily, which they were. This is the first time a French leader has paid tribute to Louverture. It is just the first step on what would be a long road to reconciliation and justice. The full New York Times article follows.
New York Times
A bit late in posting this, but in response to the recent New York Times series, a major French bank is hiring researchers to look into the history of its involvement in Haiti. It is not straight-forward given mergers and the loss of almost all relevant documentation over the years, hence the need for outside expertise. Haiti's history is one of exploitation by individual, institutions, and countries. As the article by Matt Apuzzo points out, foreign banks have played a significant role in maintaining an ecosystem of exploitation. This investigation is welcome and would not be happening without the NYT journalists and their reporting.
The New York Times has run an excellent multi-part series on how the United States and France impoverished and de-stabilised while enriching themselves. The piece, copied below, is entitled "The Ransom" and covers how Wall Street, and in particular the Bank that became Citigroup, urged the US occupation of Haiti. Other pieces in this series include "The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparation to Enslavers", "Haiti's Lost Billions", and "How a French Bank Captured Haiti" and "Demanding Reparations and Ending Up in Exile." Both in the past and at present Haitians struggle with racism, corporate greed, and political exploitation of other countries. This aspect of Haitian history is rarely tought in the USA or France - but it should be.
Below is a beautiful article (with similarly beautiful photos) taken by New York Times contributer Peter Kujawisnki. The author, who previously lived in Haiti, visited as a tourist recently and reflects on what has and has not changed. As with many of us who previously lived in Haiti, his memories are complicated and filters what he experiences now as a visitor. He sees signs of progress and the potential renewal of long dormant tourism in a country that remains much in need of livelihood opportunities. Visting Haiti, and experiecing what it has to offer, as he puts it is now neither brave nor unusual - just normal.
Nicholas Kristof wrote an article on the importance of family planning to poverty reduction. The article revolves around the lives of a woman named Nahomie, her ten children, and the grinding poverty they are facing. I've copied the article below but you can also read it on his excellent blog ""On the Ground." After, take a look at the +250 comments posted and consider adding your own. It is my hope that Nahomie's children will fare better. With the United States supporting the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) again, perhaps we can yet make that a reality.
President Obama is in the United Kingdom this week as part of the G20 Summit. As Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed, more is at stake than banks. According to World Bank estimates, the global economic crisis will cause an additional 22 children to die per hour, throughout all of 2009. Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, stated, “In London, Washington and Paris, people talk of bonuses or no bonuses...In parts of Africa, South Asia and Latin America, the struggle is for food or no food.”