Your piece inspired me to write the French ambassador:
Esteemed Ambassador Vimont,
In light of the tremendous need in Haiti for reconstruction funds after the worst disaster in modern world history, it seems that now would be an ideal time for France to recognize its historic obligation to Haiti. In an earlier era, before human rights were universally valued, when racism, slavery, and colonialism were the norm, the predecessors of the modern French state extracted a crushing tribute from Haiti as the price for her people's legitimate liberation from enslavement. Although these events may seem distant in the past, any student of capital will understand that wealth is created exponentially from existing wealth, and that while modern France enjoys the legacy of the wealth it received from Haiti multiplied many times over, Haiti's early indebtedness put it on a trajectory of continued poverty. Only in 1947, after over a century of Haitians' dedicating the vast majority of their productivity to paying the illegitimate debt, could Haiti start from zero.
According to research, the cumulative wealth that Haiti lost by acquiescing to the demands of 19th century France totals around US$22 billion. It is estimated that US$14 billion will be required merely to rebuild Haiti back to its miserable pre-earthquake conditions. A commitment by France to spend $22 billion over the next decade to bring its former colony out of misery would right a historic wrong and restore full humanity to the Haitian people. While no one can compel modern France to pay back $22 billion to powerless Haiti, the focus on that country since the quake has alerted the world to the original injustice that contributed to Haiti's standing as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and has imprinted in the world's opinion the principle that France owes a tremendous debt to Haiti. I urge the government of France to recognize and pay back its legitimate debt to the Haitian people at this time.
Feb 20 2010 - 6:11pm