When the crisis in Haiti began, we were glad to know we could count on you to join in raising the resources to help those in immediate need. Going forward, we're going to need your voice to make sure that our government and the international community take the necessary steps to support Haiti as it begins the long road to recovery. Please start with this urgent action from our friend Hayley Hathaway at the Jubilee USA Network:
In the wake of Haiti's unimaginable tragedy, one obvious and simple step toward a just recovery is for the international community to cancel Haiti's $1 billion debt.
Please take an extra moment to click here and sign Jubilee USA's petition "Drop Haiti's Debt Now and No More Debt for Disaster."
Even before the earthquake, Haiti suffered from an extreme poverty exacerbated by the combined effects of the food, fuel and economic crises, a series of natural disasters, and legacy of unjust debt. For decades the country was forced to divert tens of millions of dollars in debt payments from investments in hospitals, schools, or other infrastructure—resources that could have helped in the aftermath of the earthquake.
This cycle begins with Haiti's independence and continues through their history. Shortly after Haiti won independence from France and abolished slavery, France threatened to reinvade and re-establish slavery unless Haiti paid "reparations" for the loss of the "property", including slaves, forcing Haiti to pay the equivalent of $21 billion today. More recently their debts increased under the brutal dictatorships of the Duvaliers, who spent aid money on lavish parties and brutal militias.
Jubilee USA Network, a coalition that includes many of LAWG's partners, has worked for the cancellation of Haiti's unjust debt for many years. We celebrated last June, when Haiti finally received cancellation of $1.2 billion of its debts owed to the IMF, World Bank, and the US and other governments.
Now, we must continue our work and ensure that Haiti's $1 billion remaining debt is canceled swiftly and without conditions. We must also work to make sure that Haiti doesn't get back into the chains of debt—aid should be in the form of grants, not loans.
Yesterday, however, the International Monetary Fund approved an additional $102 million loan to Haiti. While the IMF Managing Director has stated his intention to work for Haiti's debt to be canceled, we clearly must keep up the pressure. It seems obvious that Haiti's resources be used for reconstruction and recovery, not debt repayments.
Click here to sign the petition to Treasury Secretary Geithner today!
Thank you for your ongoing support and focus at this critical time. If you haven't donated already, click here to take a look at our list of organizations providing relief and please give as generously as you can.