Racism Watchdog CRAN to Reopen Haiti 1804 Independence Case

Caisse des Depots Photo: flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown

Caisse des Depots
Photo: flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown

The racism watchdog CRAN (Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noires de France) announced last Friday its intention to file a legal suit against the Caisse des Depots (CDC), a state-owned bank over its profits from the slave trade in Haiti.

CRAN confirmed the move on Friday to sue the state-owned bank on the same day that Francois Hollande announced that his government had no intention of paying reparations for Paris’ role in the 18th Century slave trade, which ended in 1804 when the Caribbean nation won its independence in a slave revolt.

“There are many ways France can repair its past errors; It could build a museum dedicated to slavery, it could promote education about the issue, it could pay reparations to Haiti, but Hollande refuses to do anything,” Luis-Georges Tin, CRAN’s president, explained.

Haiti’s fight for independence came at a price. Controversially, the nation was forced to pay the French 90 million gold francs to placate the slave traders’ loss in profits and to ensure its own economy’s autonomous nature. This compensation, which Tin referred to as a “ransom”, is estimated to amount to the equivalent of £90 billion when it was formerly ended in 1946. Referring to these payments, Tin said Haiti had been the victim of a “double-crime” as a result of the initial slavery and subsequent payments.

The announcement by Hollande comes as a blow to supporters of Haiti, who have been told by Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault in October of 2012 that France would seek a policy of reparations. This decision by Hollande has been seen as a U-Turn by CRAN and its supporters.

Defending the decision, Hollande said, “what’s been has been”, on France’s slavery remembrance day, adding also that, “history cannot be subjected to an accounting process that… would be impossible to complete.”

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