The is a fascinating article about the enormous amounts of money Haiti had to pay in “compensation” to French and other international elites in exchange for liberation:
Ms. Present’s ancestors put an end to that, taking part in the modern world’s first successful slave revolution in 1791 and establishing an independent nation in 1804 — decades before Britain outlawed slavery or the Civil War broke out in America.
But for generations after independence, Haitians were forced to pay the descendants of their former slave masters, including the Empress of Brazil; the son-in-law of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I; Germany’s last imperial chancellor; and Gaston de Galliffet, the French general known as the “butcher of the Commune” for crushing an insurrection in Paris in 1871.
The burdens continued well into the 20th century. The wealth Ms. Present’s ancestors coaxed from the ground brought wild profits for a French bank that helped finance the Eiffel Tower, Crédit Industriel et Commercial, and its investors. They controlled Haiti’s treasury from Paris for decades, and the bank eventually became part of one of Europe’s largest financial conglomerates.
Haiti’s riches lured Wall Street, too, delivering big margins for the institution that ultimately became Citigroup. It elbowed out the French and helped spur the American invasion of Haiti — one of the longest military occupations in United States history.
Yet most coffee farmers in Ms. Present’s patch of Haiti have never had running water or septic tanks. They have crude outhouses and cook their diri ak pwa — rice and beans — over campfires. They deliver their coffee harvests on the backs of thin horses with palm-leaf saddles and rope reins, or hoist the loads on their heads to carry them, by foot, for miles on dirt roads.
Definitely worth reading the whole thing. The sheer amount of misery caused by this massive and wholly unjustified transfer of wealth from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere is almost incomprehensible.