Haitian disaster assistance: aid or long-overdue debt?

Haitian disaster assistance: aid or long-overdue debt?

As published in The Hill Times: Oct 19, 2016

Every time Haiti suffers a natural disaster the mainstream media reflexively laments the political corruption blocking Western aid to the island’s sick and injured. Unfortunately, dominant commentary on Haiti, a former “slave republic”, lacks depth and historical context.

Haiti needn’t have been poor or ill-governed. Had colonial Haiti’s slave revolt not been brutally crushed in 1804 by France with U.S. support; the Haitians may well have created their own democracy and enjoyed modest prosperity and independence. Instead, a busy guillotine returned power to the whip holder.

In 1991 The Chretien Liberals assisted the Clinton administration in ousting democratically-elected Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. This immensely popular leader was well on his way to implementing policy changes more favorable to working Haitians than absentee U.S. sweatshop owners. He was snatched up and whisked out of the country for, “…his own protection.” Actually, he was in terrible danger, not from poor Haitians but from CIA-supported gunmen. Since then, like before; Haiti has been governed by an assortment of individuals with little interest in the common good.

As well, France has consistently refused to pay reparations for the wealth drained from its' most profitable former colony. While France begrudgingly offered citizenship to many of its colonial subjects in the post-World War Two era; centuries of abuse should not be minimized and citizenship will not return native wealth to Haiti.

Considering the facts presented above; is Canada giving “aid” to Haiti or should we consider our disaster assistance a debt long overdue that ought to be paid by France and its U.S. colonial sponsor?