Payback

Should France Repay Haiti's ‘Independence Debt’?

Could hope for Haiti lie in a centuries-old transaction? Noam Chomsky, the American linguist, and Naomi Klein, the Canadian author of The Shock Doctrine, are among those in a group of international academics, politicians, and journalists who wrote Nicolas Sarkozy an open letter asking him to repay Haiti the massive “independence debt” imposed on the Caribbean nation about 200 years ago. Today, that debt is about $21.6 billion. If France reimbursed Haiti, the group says that it would create a solution to the budget shortfalls the country is facing. Their letter says: “In light of the urgent financial need in the country in the wake of the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, we urge you to pay Haiti, the world's first black republic, the restitution it is due.”