France to pay 'moral debt' to Haiti

France President Francois Hollande promises Haitians to pay 'moral debt' for past wrongdoings in former colony

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

French President Francois Hollande promised to compensate for past misconducts in Haiti on Tuesday, as he became the first French president to make a formal state visit to the island.  

Haiti's President Michel Martelly welcomed his French counterpart at the airport as small demonstrations arose to demand payment for historical wrongdoings.

"We cannot change the past, but we can change the future," Hollande said in his speech during an event with Haitian president on Port au Prince's Champ de Mars.

"There is a moral debt that exists," Hollande also added in response to the demands of the protesters.   

Hollande emphasised the necessity of progress on democracy in Haiti and added that $145 million will be spent totally for development projects and education in Haiti.

"You're not asking for aid, you want development," he told Haitians. "You're not asking for welfare, you want investment." Hollande said.   

But some Haitians were not satisfied after Hollande’s speech and one of them shouted "It's the money we need!" from behind the police line during the commemoration of Haitian independence hero Toussaint Louverture, who died in a French jail in 1803.

Martelly said during his speech to invited audience of dignitaries in the capital Port-au-Prince that neither negotiation, nor compensation could repair the wounds of history.

"Haiti has not forgotten, but Haiti is not stubborn," he added.

"The time of resentment has long passed. France has a place in the hearts of all Haitians."

In 1804, Republic of Haiti was founded as the first black republic which liberated from slavery after defeating Napoleon's army at the Battle of Vertières.

TRTWorld and agencies