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  • WEEKNIGHTS ON PBS.

  • GEOFF: THE ISLAND NATION OF

  • HAITI OFTEN MAKES HEADLINES IN

  • THE MIDST OF CRISIS.

  • BUT THERE'S LESS ATTENTION TO

  • THE FACTORS UNDERLYING ITS

  • STATUS AS THE POOREST NATION IN

  • THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE, AND ONE

  • OF THE MOST UNSTABLE.

  • "THE NEW YORK TIMES" HAS

  • CONDUCTED AN UNPRECEDENTED

  • INVESTIGATION INTO THOSE ROOT

  • CAUSES, AND IS PUTTING A HARSH

  • SPOTLIGHT ON HAITI'S FORMER

  • COLONIZER, FRANCE.

  • ALI ROGIN HAS MORE.

  • ALI: TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS

  • SWEEPING INVESTIGATION, I'M

  • JOINED BY CATHERINE PORTER.

  • SHE'S THE TORONTO BUREAU CHIEF

  • OF "THE NEW YORK TIMES," AND

  • SHE'S BEEN COVERING HAITI SINCE

  • ITS DEVASTATING 2010 EARTHQUAKE

  • AND LED THE TEAM THAT PORED OVER

  • CENTURIES OLD DOCUMENTS AND

  • ARCHIVES FOR THIS STORY.

  • CATHERINE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

  • JOINING US.

  • HOW DID YOUR TEAM COME UP WITH

  • THIS IDEA?

  • CATHERINE: WELL, AS YOU

  • MENTIONED, I HAD BEEN IN HAITI

  • SINCE 2010, AND I THINK I'VE

  • BEEN BACK MORE THAN 30 TIMES,

  • AND ANY JOURNALIST WHO SPENDS

  • ANY TIME IN HAITI ASKS THE

  • QUESTION, LIKE, WHY IS IT LIKE

  • THIS?

  • WHY IS THE POVERTY SO BAD?

  • WHY IS INFRASTRUCTURE SO BAD?

  • AND WHY IS IT SO SO MUCH WORSE

  • THAN OTHER COUNTRIES AROUND IT?

  • AND THE OBVIOUS ANSWER IS OFTEN

  • GIVEN AS CORRUPTION, WHICH IS

  • TRUE.

  • BUT READING A BOOK ON ONE OF MY

  • TRIPS THERE, IT MENTIONED THIS

  • THING CALLED THE INDEPENDENCE

  • DEBT THAT HAITI HAD PAID TO

  • FRANCE.

  • AFTER WINNING ITS INDEPENDENCE,

  • IT HAD THEN BEEN FORCED TO PAY

  • IN CASH.

  • AND IT JUST STIRRED MY... LIKE I

  • JUST PLANTED A SEED WAY BACK

  • THEN.

  • AND I STARTED LOOKING FOR MORE

  • AND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ABOUT

  • THIS.

  • ALI: YEAH.

  • LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW THAT

  • INDEPENDENCE DEBT CAME TO BE,

  • BECAUSE I THINK, AS SOME PEOPLE

  • KNOW, HAITI WAS FOUNDED BY

  • FORMER SLAVES.

  • THEY OVERTHREW THEIR FRENCH

  • COLONIAL RULERS IN 1804, BUT NOT

  • LONG AFTER THAT, THEY ENDED UP

  • PAYING FRANCE.

  • WHY?

  • CATHERINE: YEAH, AND THEY CALLED

  • IT REPARATIONS, WHICH IS SO MIND

  • BOGGLING NOW.

  • 25 YEARS AT -- 1825, 21 YEARS

  • AFTER THE FIRST BLACK NATION OF

  • THE AMERICAS WAS FORMED, A

  • BATTALION OF FRENCH SHIPS

  • ARRIVED WITH A MESSAGE FROM THE

  • KING, BASICALLY SAYING, EITHER

  • YOU GIVE US MONEY OR PREPARE FOR

  • WAR.

  • AND AT THAT TIME, HAITI HAD BEEN

  • COMPLETELY FROZEN OUT.

  • AMERICA, THE UNITED STATES WOULD

  • NOT DEAL WITH IT.

  • BRITAIN WOULDN'T ACKNOWLEDGE IT.

  • SO FACING WAR AND DESPERATE FOR

  • INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION, THE

  • PRESIDENT OF HAITI AT THE TIME

  • AGREED.

  • ALI: RIGHT.

  • AND YOU DOVE INTO HOW MUCH THOSE

  • SO-CALLED REPARATIONS WOULD

  • EQUAL IN TODAY'S MONEY.

  • YOU ALSO LOOKED INTO THE VALUE

  • THAT WAS LOST TO THE HAITIAN

  • ECONOMY BECAUSE OF SO MUCH OF

  • THIS MONEY AND THE INTEREST ON

  • THESE PAYMENTS GOING OUT OF THE

  • HAITIAN ECONOMY, NOT GOING TO

  • HAITIANS.

  • TELL US ABOUT THOSE FIGURES.

  • CATHERINE: AFTER WE DID ALL THAT

  • RESEARCH, WE COLLECTED THE

  • FIGURES AND WE WERE ABLE TO

  • EXTRAPOLATE WHAT THE OPPORTUNITY

  • COST WAS TO HAITI.

  • SO IF HAITI HADN'T GROWN, IF ITS

  • ECONOMY HAD STAYED AS STAGNANT

  • AS IT HAD BEEN THROUGHOUT THE

  • 1800S, IT WOULD HAVE MEANT IT

  • WOULD HAVE ADDED $21 BILLION

  • U.S. DOLLARS TO THE ECONOMY

  • TODAY.

  • IF THE ECONOMY OF HAITI HAD BEEN

  • BOOSTED AND GROWN AT THE SAME

  • RATE AS THE AVERAGE RATE OF

  • LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES AROUND

  • IT, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A

  • STAGGERING $115 BILLION.

  • ALI: OF COURSE, THE UNITED

  • STATES ALSO HAS A LONG AND

  • SORDID HISTORY WITH HAITI.

  • WHAT DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THAT

  • RELATIONSHIP?

  • CATHERINE: WELL, YOU KNOW, WHAT

  • WAS REALLY INTERESTING IS THAT

  • FIRST YOU HAD THESE FRENCH

  • COLONIAL MASTERS AND THEY HELD A

  • TIGHT GRIP ON HAITI LONG AFTER

  • INDEPENDENCE.

  • AND FINALLY, THE WAY THAT THEY

  • HELD ON TO THE FINANCIAL STRINGS

  • OF THE COUNTRY WAS THROUGH THE

  • HAITIAN NATIONAL BANK.

  • AND SOON ENOUGH, AMERICAN BANKS

  • TOOK AN INTEREST IN THE HAITIAN

  • NATIONAL BANK BECAUSE, AS WE

  • SAW, INCREASINGLY MORE AND MORE

  • BANKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

  • SAW THAT THIS WAS A PLACE THAT

  • DESPITE HOW POOR IT WAS, THEY

  • COULD GET RICH.

  • SO WE DISCOVERED THAT ONE OF THE

  • REASONS THE UNITED STATES, YOU

  • KNOW, INVADED HAITI AND OCCUPIED

  • IT FOR A VERY LONG TIME,

  • STARTING IN 1917, WAS BECAUSE A

  • BANK THAT IS NOW KNOWN AS

  • CITIGROUP HAD REALLY PRODDED THE

  • STATE DEPARTMENT TO GO IN AND

  • SECURE ITS INTERESTS IN THE

  • HAITIAN NATIONAL BANK.

  • AND THAT THEN QUICKLY DEVELOPED

  • INTO A FULL FLEDGED OCCUPATION.

  • SO PART OF THE IMPETUS WAS

  • FINANCIAL INTERESTS OF WALL

  • STREET BANKERS.

  • ALI: CATHERINE PORTER WITH "THE

  • NEW YORK TIMES," THANK YOU SO

  • MUCH FOR JOINING US.

  • CATHERINE: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

  • HAVING ME.

WEEKNIGHTS ON PBS.

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B1 US haiti catherine haitian ali independence economy

Hundreds of years after Haiti paid to be free from slavery the costs are still being felt

  • 3 0
    Yui posted on 2022/07/30
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