Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Joke: France Is Cancelling Haiti's Current Debt to Paris

France has already said it was canceling all of Haiti's 56 million euro (US$77 million) debt to Paris. The aid package also will include reconstruction money, emergency aid and $40 million in support for the Haitian government's budget.
What's so funny?

In 1825, crippled by the U.S.-led international embargo that was enforced by French warships, Haiti agreed to pay France 150 million francs in compensation for the lost "property" — including slaves — of French plantation owners.

By comparison, France sold the United States its immensely larger Louisiana Territory in 1803 for just 60 million francs. The amount for Haiti was later lowered to 90 million gold francs.

Haiti did not finish paying the debilitating debt — which was swollen by massive interest payments to French and American banks — until 1947.
And here's the punchline:

It had been the world's richest colony, providing half the globe's sugar and other exports including coffee, cotton, hardwood and indigo that exceeded the value of everything produced in the United States in 1788.

By the early 1780s, half of Haiti's forests were gone, leading to the devastating erosion and extreme poverty that bedevils the country today. [Emphasis mine.]
Hilarious, right? I have to laugh to keep from smacking somebody.

And just so you know, I contacted UNICEF and here's the most pertinent part of their response:

Lastly, the most immediate and practical means of supporting UNICEF's work to care for the children of Haiti would be through direct, monetary donation. Your readers may contribute to our Haiti appeal via our global donations site:

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But Don't Jack My Genuis