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Make Haiti Whole - Not A Hole

by Dr. Henry C. Ficklin

Black History Month is an excellent time for African Americans to be reminded of why Haiti is such a poor country. This small island nation is located in the Western Hemisphere of the world and it is in the Americas (heralded in song to be blessed by God) of all places. Yet, Haiti remains an impoverished soil amongst the beauty and splendor of the Caribbean Islands, and continues to receive aid from churches and other humanitarian groups because of its need.

Unbelievably, the president of the greatest nation in the Western Hemisphere, indeed in the world, recently referred to this poor little country by using a vulgarity never before recorded as coming from the White House or from that high office. The term he used for mammalian defecation was more loathsome than the word "crap" or the "DD" word. It was an expletive that must be deleted because I am writing for polite society. He not only referenced Haiti, which is a nation populated by descendants from Africa, but included all African nations when he said that they were #@%*hole nations. Each time the thought of the honor and decency of the POTUS sinking so sunken enters a conversation, I want to gasp. However, with that being the posture of our beloved White House, we surely must resurrect Haiti's history to appreciate its powerful and redemptive dysphoria.
Hispaniola was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and colonized by the Spaniards, who ceded the western part (now Haiti) to France in 1697. The first African slaves were brought to the island in 1633. Haitians are a rare breed of proud African descendants who were enslaved under French rule on the island. However, after the French assisted the American colonists in winning their freedom from the British in 1776, only 28 years later the African people of Haiti gained their independence in 1804 following several years of a persistent and bloody struggle against the brutal French colonialists.

The French had considerable influence in the Western Hemisphere, especially with the United States having recently helped them to defeat the British. Therefore, they made conditions horrible for the new struggling nation of African descendants naming themselves Haitians, after the indigenous Indians who populated the island when Columbus invaded. They made certain that no other nation traded with them and refused to recognize the legitimate independence of this small island nation. The United States, perhaps the most notorious of the slave owning countries, believed that recognizing Haiti's independence would threaten the stability of its own inhumane system of slave labor.

Perhaps the French had a bit of egg on their faces after helping the American colonists defeat the British, but in a short time afterwards, the French were defeated by the enslaved African people profitable to them. The presumed smirch of the British upon them must have been a national embarrassment much too heavy for them to bear. So, in 1825 the France demanded that Haiti pay them 150 million gold francs to "compensate" French plantation slave-owners for their "financial losses" and in exchange for France's recognition of Haiti's independence.

Remittance in gold was indeed a hardship, aside from the internal political corruption, it took close to 100 years to pay off this debt and the debt was paid on the backs of the Haitian people who continued to work the land. All the public schools in Haiti were closed in order to make the first payment. Just imagine what a devastating effect that move alone had on the people of Haiti. We must comprehend why Haiti is in the condition it's in today and realize that they too are suffering from the remnants of a brutal system of colonial slavery that did not halt when they won their freedom from the French. The American colonists' yoke with the British terminated when their freedom was won.

It was not until 1947 that the Haitians were finally free from this European colonialist and from paying an unjust debt to their government. The French should pay back every cent, roughly 22 billion dollars (in gold). It would go a long way to help Haiti become what it should be having been freed just a short time after our own country's freedom from harsh imperialism. Oh, 1947? What else took place that year? Well, I will let you read that on your own. But, right now, I want you to understand why Haiti is in the hole (to use a pun) it's in. This month, let's celebrate great African American leaders like Toussaint L'ouverture, the slave general that defeated Napoleon, who was one of the greatest generals to ever live.

Now, do I need to mention that L'ouverture was also largely responsible for the United States getting Louisiana at such a bargain price? You remember from your history classes "the Louisiana purchase" of 1803 and you were never told why? Well, it's not too late to thank the Haitians for not only the first successful slave revolt in history, and being the first independent nation of African descendants, but also for our easy acquisition of 828,000 square miles of territory which amounts to just under a third of the centennial United States of America. You need to know this whole history and Trump needs to know who's not a(n) 'expletive'-hole.


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Dr. Henry C. Ficklin