Haiti Debt on the Verge of being Canceled
By Carmen Dixon March 19th 2010 9:35AM
When Pat Robertson claimed that Haiti's tumultuous history was the result of "a pact with the Devil" long ago, he was right in a way. Following history's only slave revolt that resulted in the liberation of a nation, Haiti accepted a deal with France to pay "an odious" tax in exchange for her continued "freedom." Was France the "Devil" Robertson was speaking of? More than two decades after rebellious former slaves vanquished troops from Napoleon's army here in 1803, France's King Charles X made the fledgling republic of Haiti an offer it couldn't refuse.
In 1825, as the king's warships cruised just over the horizon from the Haitian capital, a French emissary demanded 150 million gold francs in exchange for recognizing the new republic. The implicit alternative was invasion and re-enslavement.
It was a huge sum, about five times Haiti's annual export revenue. Haiti's then-president reluctantly agreed, taking on a crushing debt. Impoverished Haiti pins hopes for future on a very old debt, WSJ via 'Odious Debts'
Finally, Haiti may be poised to resolve it's crippling international debt.
The Obama administration says it is near an agreement with other nations to cancel the $447 million that Haiti owes to the Inter-American Development Bank.
Treasury Department officials said Thursday that a deal would likely be struck this weekend to cancel Haiti's debt to the bank, which serves as a major source of development loans for Latin America and the Caribbean.
One of the Treasury officials who briefed reporters Thursday said that the administration is working for an agreement at IADB meetings that would not only cancel Haiti's IADB debt but would also to lead to Haiti receiving grants from the bank that would not have to be repaid.