The Common Good

The Devil's Reparations for Haiti's Debt?

So Pat Robertson, to whom the media are still inexplicably willing to pay attention, is saying that Haiti is being punished for an alleged pact with the devil?

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This might be a reasonable time to point out that, when Haiti threw out the French, it was the latter who were on the side of evil -- first, as slave-owners (Haiti was the only modern nation created by a slave revolt). And then, when Haitians had finally attained freedom from plantation chattel slavery, France forced Haiti to pay reparations to the former slave-owners, to compensate them for their loss of "property."

You read that sentence right -- the ex-slaves were forced to pay their former masters, the equivalent of $21 billion (billion-with-a-b) in today's dollars. It took the tiny nation from 1825 to 1947 -- that's right, over a century -- to finish paying off this "debt," a crushing burden which bled away resources for education and economic development.

I'll leave it up to you to decide where the devil is in that history. But if you want to be on the side of the angels -- and God's Jubilee economics, as laid out in the Old Testament -- then surf over to Jubilee USA and see their advocacy points for Haiti today.

Elizabeth Palmberg is an assistant editor of Sojourners.

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