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#2871: Antoine comments on Reparations from France (fwd)

From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

I support Barnes's position 100%.  However, just as importantly, Haiti needs
to develop a consensus and establish the internal structure that will handle
recovered monies, not only from France (this is a secular affront to our
sovereignty) but also stolen monies from the Duvalier-Benetts, and too many
others  to make a
comprehensive list possible on this medium.  We need to make sure that the
recovered monies will not in turn only serve to fatten the already rich
pockets of our corrupt administrators.

Barnes offers that "the money could go to a foundation destined to fund
schools for Haitian children and taking care of the literacy problem."
Others would argue that it should be primarily spent on public health
(combating the extremely disquieting rate of "SIDA", dysentery, etc) or on
agricultural projects that would tend to increase the productivity of our
agricultural sector and the elimination of starvation in the country.  It is
a very difficult process to even prioritize our urgent but numerous needs.
However, it must be done.  We need to develop responsible state and
judiciary agencies to handle these matters.  Doing so would strengthen our
cause greatly, because having one major misstep in the disbursement of some
recovered loot would seriously jeopardize all subsequent attempts of
recovery or reparation.

Can we spend money that we do not have in hand?  Obviously not, but let me
present in naive fashion the following scenario.  First, a commission would
decide (with the support of our legal, judicial, and financial experts) what
the amount of reparation should be.  This process would be as much as
possible devoid of frivolity.  Then we similarly develop a plan on how the
hypothetical recovery of France's extortion of Haiti's money (in exchange
for Charles X's 1825 formal recognition of our independence, obtained
militarily in 1804) would be spent to improve the lot of the majority class
of Haitians, in whatever capacities.  Let's say for the sake of argument
that part of this money could be demonstrably spent on building 300 clinics
and 500 literacy centers.  We then whip up domestic and international public
opinion in favor of our plan, and formally request that France do the right
thing and provide reparation for this historical injustice.  I believe that
France would be much more hard-pressed not to commit this reparation, and be
seen internationally as the country that would deny the poor people of Haiti
300 clinics and 500 literacy centers.  Of course, there is the carrot
motivator there as well, a chance to show the world the magnificence, high
responsibility, and leadership of France in the world.  So to the whole
world, it would look like a win/win situation.  Well, I really do not care
how this would be perceived as long as the Haitian people got their schools
and clinics.

As I stated, I have presented the above argument in a naive, not technical,
fashion.  Technically, you can find all sorts of faults with the model.  But
I am simply trying to advance an idea.  The hard work for a better
formulation and implementation of such an idea still lies ahead of us.

Barnes said: "Are there any special lawyers or Human rights groups out
there?"  Yeah, there are out there, but we tend to rely too much on foreign
consultants to do all the work for us.  Foreign expertise should be at the
very least matched by an equal participation, preferably greater, of Haitian

Of course, in this day and age, information can be far more valuable than
monies.  So we should be equally prepared to handle the possible recovery of
Haitian documents such as the FRAPH/FADH information seized by Uncle Sam in
true Tonton Macoute fashion, or Historical documents such as those mentioned
by Mr. Simidor in post #2855.  He mentions that "The material  in question
ranged  from administrative correspondence and documents of the Christophe,
Petion and Boyer era, to the late 19th century and the first US occupation
of Haiti".  I assume that those are the original documents.  How easily were
those priceless
items smuggled out of Haiti anyway?  We obviously need to plug quite a few
holes in the preservation of our historical documents.  Preventing such
unlawful private distribution of our patrimony would have been a much easier
task than recovering them.  Once again, we must create or strengthen our
institutions and internal structures to deal with the above problems,
whether we are dealing with treasury or patrimony.

Guy S. Antoine
Look thru & Imagine!