Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Give Haiti a fresh start: cancel the debt!

From my safe distance behind a desk, I've spent more hours watching coverage of the Haitian earthquake  for the last week than anything else.  Like millions of others, I've wished I could reach through the television set to offer water and whatever medicines and bandages I have in my cabinet.  I've sent what money I could afford to the relief efforts and I've used this blog to promote organizations like Doctors Without Borders that have exemplary reputations for delivering the good.  So what else can we do?

We can all go to  Care2's Petition Site and ask for Haiti's international debt to be cancelled.  Help Haiti get a fresh start!

The petition asks U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner  to use his influence to persuade international lending institutions and countries to do the right thing and drop Haiti's debt.

The Jubilee USA Network has been working on debt cancellation for Haiti and the other world's poorest country for many years and last year did manage to get a huge chunk of Haiti's international debt canceled, but nearly $1 billion in debt remains for the world's fourth-poorest country.

If you were a slave, how much would you pay (if you could) to be free?  The slave colony Haiti won its freedom from France in 1804, but 20 years later, surrounded by French warships, Haiti was forced to agree to compensate France for the loss of its colony-- some $21 billion in today's terms.

At the peak of Haiti's debt, some $1.4 billion, some 45% of that debt was estimated to occur under the U.S.-supported dictatorship of the Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvaliers.  I think we have a special responsibility in this country to get this debt canceled.  Sign the petition and then call the White House at  202-456-1111 and leave a message for Geithner.  It's the least we can do.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Michaelann, it shows you true care and are doing everything possible to help. Everyone is devastated with the tragedy. But if the Haitians come out this strong and united, and nation does get a fresh start, then those who lost their lives did not die in vain.

- Jonathan