- June 20, 2022
- Posted by: admin
- Category: News
During the year 1791, enslaved Haitians ousted the French and founded a nation. But France made generations of Haitians pay for their freedom. How much it cost them was a mystery, until now.
By Catherine Porter, Constant Méheut, Matt Apuzzo and Selam Gebrekidan —
DONDON, Haiti — Adrienne Present steps into the thin forest beside her house and plucks the season’s first coffee cherries, shining like red marbles in her hands.
The harvest has begun.
Each morning, she lights a coal fire on the floor of her home in the dark. Electricity has never come to her patch of northern Haiti.
She sets out a pot of water, fetched from the nearest source — a mountain spring sputtering into a farmer’s field. Then she adds the coffee she has dried, winnowed, roasted and pounded into powder with a large mortar called a pilon, the way she was taught as a child.
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.
Many, like Ms. Present’s husband, Jean Pierrelus Valcin, can’t read, having never “sat on a school bench,” as the Haitian Creole saying goes. All six of the couple’s children started school, but none finished, given the steep fees charged in Haiti, where the vast majority of education is private because the country never built more than a tiny public school system.
“There is nothing here,” said Mr. Valcin, who is losing his eyesight but can’t afford to visit a specialist. “Our children have to leave the country to find jobs.”
He used a term you hear often in Haiti — mizè. More than poverty, it means misery.
Read the original article here – https://reparationscomm.org/reparations-news/the-root-of-haitis-misery-reparations-to-enslavers/