If we really wanted to help Haiti:

Maybe someone would get rid of all of Haiti’s external debt? Yes, please. That’d be some real help. Haiti was the first slave nation to gain sovereignty. They were a nation completely enslaved, used in the harvest of sugar cane, and they had an uprising, and then had to pay $15 million dollars to France for their freedom, beginning a lifetime of debt, resulting in Haiti being one of the poorest nations in the western world. Turns out, if want autonomy, you have to pay. I earned this in my “Black History in America” class at KU. For any KU students, if you have the chance to take this class, PLEASE DO. It’s so excellent. Taken from Wikipedia (but is actually factual):

Haiti’s legacy of debt began shortly after gaining independence from France in 1804. In 1825, France, with warships at the ready, demanded Haiti “compensate” France for its loss of a slave colony. In exchange for French recognition of Haiti as a sovereign republic, France demanded payment of 150 million francs (modern equivalent of $21 billion).

Between 1964 and 1986 Haiti was ruled by the corrupt and oppressive Duvalier family. Loans incurred during this period alone are estimated to account for approximately 40% of Haiti’s debt. These funds were used to strengthen the Duvaliers control over Haiti and for various fraudulent schemes. Large amounts were simply stolen by the Duvaliers. Although donor countries and institutions were aware of the misappropriation of funds, it was tolerated so long as the Duvaliers stayed in the anti-communist camp. Initiatives to Cancel Haiti’s Debt

Jubilee USA, *Jubilee Debt Campaign (UK) and others, called for the immediate cancellation of Haiti’s debt to multilateral institutions, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the previously excluded lender, the Inter-American Development Bank, based on the argument that this debt is unjust (under a legal term called odious debt) and that Haiti could better use the funds going towards debt service for education, health care, and basic infrastructure. The Haiti Debt Cancellation Resolution had 66 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives as of February 2008.

Several organizations in the U.S. issued action alerts around the Haiti Debt Cancellation Resolution, and a Congressional letter to the U.S. Treasury, including Jubilee USA, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and Pax Christi USA.

Haiti had a total external debt of 1.8 billion dollars at peak. In April, Haiti was added to the World Bank and IMF’s highly indebted poor country initiative (HIPC) following the election of new president René Préval. In September 2009, following a program of economic and social reforms, Haiti met the requirements for completion of the HIPC program, qualifying it for cancellation of its external debt obligations. This amounted to $1.2 billion in cancellation, leaving the remaining $800 million as its debt.

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