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#2954: Bell replies to Antoine on Chirac

From: madison bell <mbell@goucher.edu>

Guy Antoine's translation:

>Chirac said: "Haiti n'a pas été, [a proprement parlé] (sic), une colonie
>  let's look at the verb tense " n'a pas
>été ", which would translate in English to "has not been".  Therefore, what
>Chirac said was that "Haiti has not been, properly speaking, a French

...is very exact.  Chirac's phrasing is weird, in a way which I think is 
indicative of political queasiness.  Remember the remarks of Bill Clinton 
on various uncomfortable subjects?

Also, the "has not been" construction requires a dependent clause to 
relieve it of its grammatical awkwardness, par exemple: Haiti n'a pas été, 
[a proprement parlé] (sic), une colonie
>française... {depuis que ces maudits negres l'ont rendu un pays 
>independent en tuant la plupart de nos colons}


Haiti has not, properly speaking, been a French colony {since those 
accursed negroes made it independent, killing a whole mess of our colonists 
along the way}.

If M. Chirac was an American politician I would write the whole thing off 
to ignorance.  cf George W Bush &c.  I'd assume he just doesn't know the 
history.   But what seems more likely is that he knows enough of the 
history to make him uncomfortable with the question and to provide him with 
a semantic evasion to slide away from it.

A simple score card of the French/Haitian relationship goes like this.

1.      France created the conditions for the Haitian revolution by 
importing enough slaves from Africa to create a population of half a 
million by 1791.

2.      Aforesaid slaves, in the process of liberating themselves and 
creating a new nation, killed a good number of French colonists and 
destroyed the property rights of France in its colony.

3.      In order to have its independence recognized by France, Haiti was 
compelled to agree to pay a massive indemnity -- so large that it crippled 
Haiti economically for about the next 100 years.

All which certainly does mean that France's relationship with Haiti is 
rather different than that with its other colonies..... but not that Haiti 
"has not been a French colony."