See, the U.S. has a long history with Haiti, dating back to the early 1800s when Haiti defeated France in the world’s first successful slave rebellion, leading Haiti to become the first independent black nation.
While black people around the world celebrate this moment in history, this victory didn’t come without costs.
After the 1804 revolution, France found a way to gain economic control of Haiti, forcing the new country to pay back 150 million francs for the enslaved Haitians that were freed after the war.
In order to pay this debt, Haiti was forced to take out a major loan from the young U.S., which didn’t recognize Haiti for another 60 years. This debt wasn’t paid off till 1947, at a current value of over $20 billion.
Haiti’s economic dependency on the U.S. didn’t end there, though. From 1957 to 1986, Haiti’s government was run by two U.S.-backed dictators, “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
“Duvalier stole millions from Haiti and ran up hundreds of millions in debt that Haiti still owes. Ten thousand Haitians lost their lives,” longtime Haiti human rights advocate Bill Quigley explained in the Huffington Post. “Estimates say that Haiti owes $1.3 billion in external debt and that 40 percent of that debt was run up by the U.S.-backed Duvaliers.”
Although this era had a ripple effect of negative consequences that the people of Haiti still face, the U.S. continues to play a big role in Haitian economics and politics, including efforts to rebuild the nation after the earthquake.
But instead of using relief funds to provide some much needed assistance to the country, the Red Cross used half a billion dollars to build just six permanent homes in Haiti.
Now, the Trump administration’s decision to terminate TPS will force up to 60,000 Haitians back to a country that’s still facing food shortages, widespread homelessness, and lack of access to schools and medical facilities to say the least.
This isn’t only wrong — it’s inhumane. The U.S. should use this as an opportunity to reverse the damage it’s done to Haiti.