Finally, Jubilee!

After a grand slam of hurricanes devastated Haiti in 2008, relief agencies promptly pitched in to clean up. But the most crucial form of relief for the impoverished nation—debt relief—has finally arrived following Haiti’s completion of the World Bank’s required policy changes under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. In September 2009, Haitian and U.S. diplomats signed an agreement to erase the last of Haiti’s external debt, which totaled more than $1 billion. Although natural disasters like the 2008 hurricanes compounded Haiti’s financial troubles, some of the worst debts the country was forced to pay were racked up decades before by the Duvalier dictatorship. “It was more than time!” Claudette Werleigh, former prime minister of Haiti, told Sojourners. “A large part of the debt was due to cumulative interest that often surpasses the amount of money actually borrowed. It was cruel and inhumane to ask a population fighting for bare survival to pay such a sum.” In achieving eligibility for debt relief, Haiti joined more than 20 countries that have completed the HIPC program so far.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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Why Celebrate Columbus Day?

Gurgen Bakhshetsyan / Shutterstock.com
Photo via Gurgen Bakhshetsyan / Shutterstock.com

As an explorer, Columbus was not the first to reach the Western Hemisphere. Native Americans had been here for 10,000-20,000 years, and Vikings and Chinese are among those others who hold prior claims. Even after four attempts, Columbus never realized his goal of finding a western ocean route to Asia. As a “founding father type figure” he never set foot in what is now considered America but landed in the present day Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti. 

As a Christian example he enacted terrible cruelties to friendly natives: assuming unlawful rights of authority; robbing and subjugating whole nations of their freedom and entire capital; allowing his men to rape, murder and pillage at will; and deliberately leading the way for the genocide of millions, considered by many to be the worst demographic catastrophe in recorded history.

So why do Americans celebrate Columbus Day?