The lingering scandal of the 'independence debt' Haiti was forced to pay France

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Haiti has been in the news recently after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse by foreign mercenaries in early July 2021. Away from the headlines, however, there remains an unresolved issue between France and its former Caribbean slave colony. For more than a century, from 1825 to the 1950s, Haiti paid France a colossal sum in exchange for recognising its freedom and independence. As Mediapart's co-founder François Bonnet reports, some prominent figures are asking whether the French authorities should now pay this money back.

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It is a little-known story in France, one tucked away in history books and avoided by politicians. Though it remains a core part of Haiti's collective memory, the episode has virtually vanished as an issue here.