12
Feb
10

On air: Should Haiti’s debt be cancelled?


Gordon Brown. The decision by G7 countries to eradicate the debt of the ravaged country has been welcomed by charities and humanitarian groups.
…a nation buried in rubble must not also be buried in debt…

But is debt forgiveness the answer? David Roodman argues against it, saying the amount Haiti has to pay out on its total outstanding foreign debt only amounts to $25million over the next 3 years. And he goes on: I fear that calls to cancel Haiti’s debt are the old shoes of political activism. They make superficial sense. They feel good. But they will hardly help Haiti recover from the quake.

So is it misguided to cancel debts of poor nations on a small scale? Maybe it’s better to rework aid in the form on grants on a larger scale?

Naomi Klein, however, says rich nations should bear more responsibility for the plight of Haiti. And there’s no shortage of people calling for debts to be cancelled.

So what’s the best thing for Haiti? If David Roodman is right and the debt only amounts to a few million dollars, is the G7 misguided in it’s approach? And with news that the IMF has loaned Haiti over a $100 million, does that make the G7’s debt ‘forgiveness’ redundant?


63 Responses to “On air: Should Haiti’s debt be cancelled?”


  1. 1 JanB
    February 12, 2010 at 11:28

    “And with news that the IMF has loaned Haiti over a $100 million, does that make the G7’s debt ‘forgiveness’ redundant?”

    No, like many third world countries, Haiti has gotten used to aid, become dependent on it. They expect that $100 million debt to be, eventually, cancelled as well. They’re probably right, because the hurricane season is only a few months away, giving them fresh opportunity to show crying people on the news and thus reel in more aid and sympathy. In this world it pays off for governments to neglect their countries’ infrastructure and building codes, while the people suffer.

  2. February 12, 2010 at 11:46

    If a countrys debt is written off any country with the chance of flood famine plauge or such the like will not get invesment, No country is wealthy enough to loose on this scale.Least of all the UK.

  3. February 12, 2010 at 11:56

    Haiti is in no position to repay debts now or in the conceivable future. The quake pulverized the country. Haitians will have to recover and rebuild with the support of the international community. Fortunately the United Nations, the United States and other governments have not left Haiti in the lurch. Prominent world figures like Bill Clinton have worked tirelessly to focus world attention on the plight of the impoverished Haitians. This is definitely not the time to make Haiti bleed further by insisting on debt repayment. Have a heart!! Flogging a nearly dead horse with further debt repayments is no way to get a country back on its feet. Rather the World Bank will have to step in and inject critical financial support to rebuild the vital basic infrastructure of the country. Security has to be stepped up so that the growing lawless elements do not loot and plunder.

  4. 4 Nigel
    February 12, 2010 at 12:15

    First of all the debt did not accrue due to the earthquake. It came about due to years of corruption and mismanagement prior to the big shake. If the rest of the world played a part in that situation then they must forgive the debt. If they did not, then debt forgiveness could easily be seen as an endorsement of the things they did that took them up to the point of the earthquake.

    • 5 James Ian
      February 12, 2010 at 12:40

      I agree Nigel and I would just like to add that I do not believe any contry is in a position to forgive debt at this juncture> How can we here in the U.S. when we are ourselves so far in dept. I would venture a guess that if and/or when the U.S. economy totally collapse because of the same type of “mismanagement and corruption” that China and others will be so willing to cancel our dept. And if we did get any handouts from any other country in a time of need I’m sure our government officials will act in the same way as our CEO’s have and stuff their pockets and keep their standard of living up while the rest of us tighten our belts.

  5. 6 Cabe Searle UK
    February 12, 2010 at 13:01

    Before the quake, the majority lived below the breadline so they couldn’t pay the debt back anyway – whatever amount it was. Something has to be done, firstly in aid to lift them out of the rubble and then some other sustainable process to get them back to being self sufficient.
    I think the debt should be written off but it should be made clear that once they are back on track, that Aid will no longer be a continuous commodity!
    Maybe there could be a temporary coalition ‘Overseer’ /Government/ Panel – call it what you will – from the UN to work along-side the present Government there (useless as it is!) and whatever profits Haiti makes over say – the next 5/10 years or so – a portion of that will go back into rebuilding and jobs etc etc.. There could be lots of positive things to come from this and ultimately – whatever anyone decides, Haiti will be the winner.

  6. 7 Kenneth Ingle
    February 12, 2010 at 13:10

    Britain has a habit of lending money to other countries, most of which is written off years later. Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia and far too many to mention here, have taken advantage of British governments who believe they can do what they like with taxpayers money.
    Haiti needs help and should get it.!
    We too needed help during the 2nd World War and got it. Our debts however were not cancelled! For more than fifty years after the war had ended, we were still paying the USA for the help given.
    What would Mr. Brown say if it was his money? It is always easy to give away something which does not belong to the person giving.

  7. 8 gary indiana
    February 12, 2010 at 13:18

    No, Haiti’s debt must not be forgiven. Debt is nature’s way of pointing out one should have more closely matched expenditures to income. As the preciousness of sight is highlighted by the pain of a bit of dust in the eye, so the pain of debt reminds us to husband resources in case of unexpected needs. This country certainly needs help! However, when “Woe is Me.” can be more honestly stated “Unwise is Me.” reinforcing the lack of fiscal responsibility isn’t a help.
    g

  8. 9 patti in cape coral
    February 12, 2010 at 13:59

    My first instict was to say yes, the debt should be forgiven, but as most have pointed out, it’s more complicated than that. I’m wondering how they were paying back this debt. Is it a yearly sum over how many years? Maybe the debt can be reduced and the amount of the payment decreased.

    But if Haiti is in such dire straits now, won’t it just need to borrow again and end up the same way? Also, does aid given add to the debt? I think aid should be a separate thing altogether.

  9. 10 Idris Dangalan
    February 12, 2010 at 14:13

    Nope, because Haiti disaster was’nt an economic problem. So Haiti and Haitians needs only nation rebuilding which I knew they are going receive assistant from so many countries and individuals. Please Haitian leaders focus on nation fixation not to engage to new issue.

  10. 11 Elizabeth Kuranchie
    February 12, 2010 at 14:40

    I don’t think it should be cancelled!There are able-bodied people living there.In case of anything they can work or seek for grants to make their payments. That does not erase their debt.Or should it be treated as bad debt?

  11. February 12, 2010 at 15:43

    Debt cancellation isn’t the answer to Haiti’s economic and social problems. Prior to the earthquake it was one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world. Haiti, like any other country, needs to scrap its level of corruption and mismanagement. It can have zero dollar international debt, but how many dollars per capita can it produce and how can it be fairly shared?

    The international community should help it have standard infrastructure for permanent economic growth. At the same time people in Haiti shouldn’t get used to the current humanitarian international aid. It should start to produce its basic needs as quickly aSpossible and not turn into a nation of beggars inciting both sympathy and contempt.

  12. 13 Clamdip
    February 12, 2010 at 16:20

    Yes. If the IMF is corrupt then any money they lend is dirty so it should be given away to Haiti. What kind of world are we that we could allow such impoverished conditions to exist for children? It’s inexcusable for the world’s citizens to allow career politicians to keep governments in a perpetual state of incompetence and mismanagement.

  13. 14 Dennis Junior
    February 12, 2010 at 16:27

    Cancelling the debt of Haiti sounds wonderful in theory but, it is not going to solved the long-term economic and social ills of the country….

    (Dennis Junior)

  14. 15 Elias
    February 12, 2010 at 16:30

    To be practical, defer Haiti’s debt without interest for 10 years, so that it does not create a precedent which would not be in anyone’s interests. After all you cant get any blood out of a stone!. In the meantime help to recreate Haiti’s infrastructure so that they can get back on its feet. Help them anyway thats needed for them to survive this disaster.

  15. February 12, 2010 at 16:31

    Forgiving the debts of Haiti is not a question the G7 needs to ask. It should be impulsive! It is commonplace, obvious, and dire that these countries erase all debts owed by the Haitian Government. On the other hand, forgiving the debt and pumping money into the country to rebuild infrastructure does not solve the Haiti’s problems. A proper revamp and restructuring of the government would be of best interest. This is where the French, and other countries, step in and assist by providing interim officials to officiate proper aid distribution and proper monitoring of crime and the enforcement of the law. Additionally, the united presence of the united nation is highly appreciated, but an increase in numbers would also assist greatly in the rehabilitative efforts. Finally, since the G7 are concertedly agreeing to erase debts, they should remember JAMAICA!!!! Mind you, Jamaica’s geographic and financial debt propinquity are quite close, so amnesty should be provided for both. Thank you.

  16. 17 Gary Paudler
    February 12, 2010 at 16:33

    You don’t really mean that the G7 decided to eradicate the impoverished country. Haiti’s foreign debt is around a billion dollars which is about what the US vaporizes in Afghanistan every week. The US gives Israel about $3 billion every year. British members of Parliament spend nearly as much on their moats (I made that up). Many comments seem focused on the moralistic aspect of debt forgiveness as if lazy individual Haitians accepted personal loans and are not repaying them; loan forgiveness is just enabling their profligate behavior, how can they ever learn to be responsible adults? The reality is that debt has been accrued by successive corrupt governments with the knowing complicity of the donor institutions like the IMF. What we call “aid” is often in the form of money earmarked to pay foreign companies to undertake projects that have little, if any, positive effect on the lives of common Haitians. Most aid money that doesn’t bounce back to the well-connected contractors in the IMF constituent countries winds up in the hands of the elite few in Haiti who have no personal obligation to repay the loans. That obligation falls to the nominal government which has no ability, or inclination, to create the surplus necessary to service debt. So yes, forgive the debt and reform the mechanisms by which money is loaned to Haiti and how it is used.

  17. February 12, 2010 at 16:38

    This is a golden opportunity for Haiti to climb out of the mire.But,it is up to the people to insist on decent government,if that is possible.I believe a lot of African countries had their debt cancelled,so whats wrong with Haiti? Incidentally,the IMF will want their pound of flesh! Suspend the debt for two decades and cancel the interest.Would that be too much to ask from a generous world?

  18. 19 Iain
    February 12, 2010 at 16:38

    No, canceling debt can never be the answer. Donating funds to help pay off the debt, maybe, but just canceling it ends out the wrong message to all debtors and debtor nations.

  19. 20 Jaime Saldarriaga
    February 12, 2010 at 16:39

    Of course, no question about it. It is a basic issue of compassion.

  20. 21 Ndirangu (Nairobi, Kenya)
    February 12, 2010 at 16:55

    It is not the right decision. The best method is to try to reduce tariffs to increase Haiti’s exports, and by reducing barriers to immigration from Haiti to boost remittances from the diaspora. Concentrating on debt relief is a distraction. Haiti had most of its debt wiped out in 2009, and most of the rest is being paid on Haiti’s behalf by the US. What remains is mainly debt to Taiwan and Venezuela. Efforts to enable Haiti to pay its modest foreign debt are sure to be much more effective than efforts to simply eradicate it.

  21. 22 Carbo
    February 12, 2010 at 17:03

    Good day.

    There would be no need to forgive Haiti’s debt if France and the USA agree to payback Haiti the U$21 Billion (today equivalent of the Gold franc sucked from Haiti) they took from Haiti at “gun point”. As you maybe aware, after Haitian gained its independence militarily, France and the USA force the Haiti government to reimburse France for the lost of “its slaves and property” in Haiti.

    This is the most brazen act of bullyism ever perpetrated in History. Now you know why Haiti is so poor.

    Carbo,
    Haitian Lover
    Kingston- Jamaica

  22. 23 DOLAPO AINA
    February 12, 2010 at 17:10

    While debt cancellation would be laudable if no covert strings aren’t attached, we must not forget that Haiti was and is still one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere due to some salient factors like corruption and maladministration which have been entrenched in the national fabric of the nation

    What should be done is a detailed economic plan infused transparency because no one would help the Haiti government manage the internal affairs of the country. If the proper steps, machinery politically, economically had been put in place decades ago, the country should have been like her neighbour-the Dominican Republic.

    The debt is good but the funds given must be well spent.

    Dolapo Aina,

    Lagos, Nigeria

  23. 24 subra
    February 12, 2010 at 17:18

    I think talking about debt cancellation now when Haiti badly needs financial aids is a diversion, unnecessary one. What is important is providing substantial aid now so that the Haitians can improve their living conditions and reduce their horrible suffering. They must be given food, building materials, clothes etc. After that donor countries may argue about what can be done to alleviate their debt burden.

  24. 25 Jack
    February 12, 2010 at 17:21

    Is debt cancellation the answer? Maybe, maybe not, but imagine New York being hit by a similar tragedy. The U.S. not only needs money to rebuild, it needs its primary creditor, China, to allow us some slack on paying back the trillions we owe to them.

    How much does Haiti even owe? Billions? Certainly not the trillions the U.S. owes to China. I think the “people in glass houses” cliche is appropriate.

  25. 26 Jack
    February 12, 2010 at 17:28

    I see a lot of comments on here about how much the UK will lose if it forgives Haiti’s debt.

    Does anyone know approximately (within a hundred million or so) just how much that is?

  26. 27 Leonel Contreras
    February 12, 2010 at 17:55

    Venezuela already wrote of HAITI debt (278 mill US$),why then other countries do not follow suite,any other arguments are just excuses.Deeds are the best example

  27. 28 Anthony
    February 12, 2010 at 18:11

    Of course everyone is going to say “cancel” the debt, because HAITI CAN’T PAY IT. If we cancel it, we’ll look like the good guys. It’s the best choice at this point.

    I really don’t understand why American investors haven’t taken advantage of Haiti’s cheap labor. If you were to just feed and give them shelter, that would greatly help Haitians and everyone would win.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  28. 29 TomK in Mpls
    February 12, 2010 at 18:15

    Never. We must all, always face the consequences of our choices. Anything less rewards the careless and stupid. Plus cancellation is very damaging to the economies of those holding the debt. I can agree that sometimes it is better for everyone if debt can be postponed at a genuinely reasonable cost.

  29. 30 reed smith
    February 12, 2010 at 18:37

    No. Why should it. Could you cancel my debts too?

  30. 31 ben in indy
    February 12, 2010 at 18:46

    25 Million? Seriously? Thats all? If any of you that find that to be “so much money” would look at some line items in your own nations’ budgets the amount wouldn’t seem so wildly unacceptable to cancel.

    In the mean time a little bit of heart and an attempt at understanding that some now have even less than nothing might be a step in the right direction.

  31. 32 Lisa from Pennsylvania, US
    February 12, 2010 at 19:03

    NO, Haiti should not be forgiven of its debt. I don’t think any country should ever be forgiven of debt no matter what, but especially in the case of Haiti. Haiti is getting massive amounts of aid and having that debt encourages them to use it in a way that will be effective in the long-term.

  32. 33 sheila
    February 12, 2010 at 19:05

    Haiti has been devastated long before this earthquake hit by colonial powers and yes the likes of the United States- It is time to restore Haiti to what it tried to become long ago a free country which is has never been allowed to become. They have been economic slaves to the capitalist nations. Enuf – What the hell is the U.S.military occupation doing there now except making sure Haiti stays a dependent nation. Bring back Aristide!

  33. 34 koye
    February 12, 2010 at 19:05

    This should not be a question at all! The world owes Haiti for all the centuries of slavery, economic blockade, occupation and the support of the western world for Papa and Baby Doc. They both stole from Haiti and the West gladly recieved the loot. It is payback time!

  34. 35 CJ McAuley
    February 12, 2010 at 19:11

    Haiti has been a basket-case of a nation for decades! So; NO! The Duvalier family ran roughshod over it for, also, decades. The “new” bunch have not seemed any better. A better question would be why, after a month, are conditions for the blameless people who are homeless not improved? What is the true purpose of the UN? For it increasingly appears to be nothing but a talking shop and unable to help anyone but those in its myriad of agencies!

  35. 36 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    February 12, 2010 at 19:16

    This is the most difficult subject to have ever come from this blog. I kneew so little about Haiti before t he quake until the horrors exposed the rot burried in there. My first reaction was – how on earth did things go so bad for so long? Are the Haitian leaders reacting as we do? How do you return humans reduced to animal state existence back to form? It is not enough to say that this is an eyesore and sore to our collective conscious.
    I am afraid to go no further than this in my comment save for saying that all help should be given with my hope that not another day I will I have to revist seeing such squalor. What will busines as usual be for the governmen or any other authority from this point hence?

  36. 37 Alan in Arizona
    February 12, 2010 at 19:18

    Some people will say anything to get their name in the news regarding a meaningful problem.

    Getting rid of Haiti’s debt would not be the right course of action. Putting it off for a couple of years might make since. But giving them a free out of their obligations is not the way to go.

    Haiti will never feel responsible and productive in this world if all we do is give them free money.

    Once this horrible situation is over, we need to help them improve the living, educational and self sustaining conditions that the people deal with. Lets give them help improving their lives. Not lining their pockets with free funds.

  37. 38 Cabe Searle UK
    February 12, 2010 at 19:21

    I think if a Country is willing to wipe a debt owed to them by another Country through incredible AND literally Earth=shattering circumstances – then who are we to complain?
    We ALL do it on a smaller scale within our own family and social boundaries through our own choices of forgiveness and compassion – so why ever not???

    What is the big deal in trying to get a completely broken-down country to repay something gained on their behalf but which they have never had the benefit of, Or that they will never ever be able to repay???
    = If you want Haiti to learn lessons then it’s a bit like closing the door after the horse has gone? Maybe get all those greedy countries who wanted to make extra interest money on Haiti learn the lesson instead? A loan only exists if you keep the knowledge of it alive – You and the money that has left your pocket – have both already learned to live without it a long time ago…

  38. 39 Olu in Canada
    February 12, 2010 at 19:21

    I agree that cancelling Haiti’s debt will go a long way to relieving what it has gone through; however, the Haitian government should be open to these countries intending to forgive their debts and be more transparent as well even to its people. We have to be careful that this will not create an avenue for more corruption as obtained in most African countries that receives financial supports on regular basis without the less priviledge ones feeling the effects; while its people still languish in sufferings. It’s just like the saying “he who comes to equity must come with a clean hand”, that goes for the Haitian government and those who intend to benefit from this debt forgiveness directly! if we can inquire about what previous founds have been used for!

  39. 40 ebenezer hammond
    February 12, 2010 at 19:23

    there are other ways of helping and assisting Haiti, cancelling their debts isnt the best. what about the other countries who have also suffered similar fate? will it be fair? what is good for the goose is good for the gander

  40. 41 mike
    February 12, 2010 at 19:26

    There are historical reasons behind this issue. For many, many years Haiti was on the other end of the equation; they were forced to pay “reparations often at the point of an American or French rifle. The reasons for Haiti’s debt is not entirely of their making. The fact is the rich nations of the world did more than their share to impoverish Haiti. Forgiveness of their debt is the least amount they can do by way of remuneration.

  41. February 12, 2010 at 19:30

    The man who said mostof Haiti’s debt has been wiped out is incorrect.

    Haiti repaid the 150 million franc debt owed to France to recompense for lost slaves.

    The debt incurred by the Duvaliers still exists. Baby Doc has the money in his exile.

  42. 43 Todd in Atlanta
    February 12, 2010 at 19:32

    A lot of you commenting on here, saying that Haiti’s debt should not be forgiven are not taking the overall history of the country into consideration at all. You are only looking at things from the myopic lens of recent history (the last 30-50 years).

    The French slapped an artificial indemnity onto the country after Haiti WON their independence from French Slavery, and was supported by the international community from back in the 1700s! That in combination with wars, coups, international sabotage and more have crippled Haiti beyond repair… and now we are all paying for it in some way.

    Haiti’s $25 million debt should ABSOLUTELY be forgiven (or at least deferred), and they should be built-up into a fully functional nation so that they can contribute way more than $25 million to the global community.

    ***The quote and the link below will fully illustrate the full spectrum of Haiti’s troubled existence.***

    Article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiti

    QUOTE:
    “The Haiti indemnity controversy refers to events surrounding the 1825 demand by France for a FR₣150 million indemnity (later FR₣90 million, comparable to US$12.7 billion as of 2009 with consideration to inflation) to be paid by the Republic of Haiti in claims over property lost through the Haitian Revolution in return for diplomatic recognition. The demand was allegedly delivered to the country by 12 French warships armed with 500 cannons.

    Diplomatic recognition by France of Haiti only came in 1834, a full thirty years after the latter country’s declaration of independence. The indemnity was not fully paid until 1947.”

  43. 44 Big Bill
    February 12, 2010 at 19:36

    The rich super rich were too ” big to fail” ,demanded and received billions in aid to do maintain their status and even financially benefit from gambling with the aid.. The situation of the most poor has to be debated, amounts far less ? ?

    Why the irritating music in the background, is this the BBC method to hype what doesn’t need hyping ? Drama ! Stick to a good debate.

  44. 45 Olatoye Baiyewu
    February 12, 2010 at 19:39

    The issue of bringing Haiti to a semblance of nationhood must not be lost at this opportune time. The people of Haiti with their resilience should now consider Trusteeship of the Organization of American States, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) or the United Nations. This Trusteeship should be transparent so that a renaissance rises from this earthquake. Universal primary and secondary education is provided to all irrespective of age and sex. Coupled with this an economic development program should be instituted given the resources of the country and the monies collected on behalf of victims of the earthquake. This Trusteeship should run the country for at least 20 years. It must not be centered in the capital city but spread all over the island.

    Haiti’s debt problem is the result of a dysfunctional government which has never been ready for prime time. The president and prime minister were nowhere to be found after the quake. A political and economic culture needs to be established from the Diaspora to assist in the rebuilding of the country with assistance from the many generous foundations, churches and the non-profit sector.

  45. 46 Tom D Ford
    February 12, 2010 at 19:40

    “Should Haiti’s foreign debt be cancelled?”

    Yes.

    And in addition, I think that we ought to define two new areas of Crimes Against Humanity. We have Geneva Conventions on Torture, Nuremberg and other definitions on War, International agreements on slavery, etc. Now we need to define Economic Terrorism and Financial Terrorism.

    We ought to create rules such that people like the Duvaliers cannot transfer money out of their country and into secret bank accounts. Create strict and enforceable Regulations on Derivatives and the financial instruments related to them. Create regulations on how money is loaned to countries like Haiti for infrastructure projects and who can contract those projects and how to inspect them for the work and the workers.

    Create limits on how much debt burden can be placed on the people of nations like Haiti.

    Remember, money lenders don’t create anything of value, they only siphon off the monetary nutrients from our political bodies like some tapeworm or malignant cancer.

  46. 47 Nico (Oakland, CA)
    February 12, 2010 at 19:41

    In considering the question of debt cancellation surely one must take into account ALL of the outside meddling and manipulation that’s been done to Haiti over the centuries. Instead of focusing on “debt cancellation”, the discussion should be about economic reparation! International exploiters of Haiti (e.g. France, US) owe a debt to Haiti….they ought to commit to building a viable and sustainable economic infrastructure in Haiti. This is a moral obligation that also could be beneficial to the entire region!!!

    Nico,
    Oakland, CA

  47. 48 Shannon in Ohio
    February 12, 2010 at 19:43

    If Haiti’s debt is forgiven why shouldn’t other countries get in line and ask for the same courtesy?

  48. 49 Patrick Nicolas
    February 12, 2010 at 19:45

    “Who ever has the big stick has the power” Thats how they work. The truth is that’s how all industrialized nations wrok.

  49. 50 Cabe Searle UK
    February 12, 2010 at 20:11

    Its a bit daft to keep saying – ‘well if we let Haiti off, then what about other countries’?
    Haiti is in the unfortunate position of not only being one of the absolute poorest countries in the world but the half of the Island that Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic has been totally wiped out? My 88 year old pops keeps saying = “well surely they have some food somewhere? or they can do this or that…???”…. well, Look at the TV coverage – No they haven’t and cannot and if rich and powerful Aid=bringers are having a hard time just trying to get into the country – then how do you think the Haitians are coping with nothing?! – Has any other country in the world after having a volcano or earthquake been absolutely and completely wiped out? NO! Bits of countries have sure, but not a Whole country, so that’s why the question of their debt has arisen.

  50. 51 BajanBoy
    February 12, 2010 at 20:15

    Shortly after Haiti’s independence from France they were forced to pay millions of dollars (to france) for its recognition as an independent country & indemnity for profits lost to the slave trade. Haiti’s “debts” should have clear long time ago!!

  51. 52 Thomas Murray
    February 12, 2010 at 22:15

    I honestly don’t know how to answer this one, as I’m about as far from being an economist as you can get.

    What I do know is that we shouldn’t stop mailing donations for Haitian relief. Though the medical crisis is nearly over, the island is just now experiencing their monsoon season, and Hurricane season begins June 1st … and many of those people are still living under bed sheets.

    If Haiti doesn’t provide permanent (and storm proof) shelter for their people, come this summer we’re going to be treated to another tragedy on an epic scale.

    –Louisville, Kentucky, US.

    PS: Even in Kentucky we got a piece of Hurricane Ike (Sept. ’08) that knocked down trees and killed electrical power for half the city for weeks. To allow people to sit under the full brunt of that kind of force is tantamount to mass murder.

  52. 53 Bert
    February 12, 2010 at 23:46

    Haitians obviously can’t repay any debt NOW, but as others have said, the debt did not happen one month ago.

    The biggest problem with cancelling debt is that investors in the future will “know better” than to invest over there again. So it’s not a panacea.

  53. February 13, 2010 at 05:28

    Should Haiti’s debt be canceled?

    It would one way of helping the country of Haiti to forgive their debts. In that way what treasury is had might be used to help their own people. I wish that this was practiced to a extent individuals as well when everything they own is destroyed.

    I am going through a similar experience. Jan. 23rd., 2010 between 2 and 3 AM my trailer caught on fire. I was asleep and awoke with my home in flames. I lost all my pets, my car, trailer and all my possessions. My trailer was a 1993 Weston 2 bedroom trailer, it was only insured for $11,000 and living on social security disability I am in deep debt.

  54. February 13, 2010 at 09:46

    I don’t think canceling their debt will do much for Haiti. But we better give them roads, and water treatment, and build housing as fast as possible, or the disasters will continue. And if a hurricane crosses Haiti the way it is now, another 300 thousand souls would die. Haiti needs a plan AND action now to save her people. Those unused FEMA houses might be a good start…

  55. February 13, 2010 at 11:16

    Debt Don,t cancel it will repeat itself. Many African states have had this many times. The absurd posturing of the UK around,the world should cease. After what have we to “project” ,a raddled old whore of a country,with inflated views of its own status.In terminal decline.

  56. 57 John Henry
    February 13, 2010 at 14:34

    Should Haiti’s debt be cancelled?

    This question is being asked primarily because the the collective consciousness of some nations has been shaken by a mental earthquake that has unearthed insights and implications relative to this troubled country. The mere fact that the question is being asked suggest that there is a subliminal component which needs to be looked for and considered, The fact that slave uprisings defeated Napolean and his formidable army on two occasions in establishing itself as an independent nation resulted in Haiti’s abandonment by France and the outside world. Haiti was blocked physically and economically from trading with the rest of the world!

    Haiti’s problems – economic, social, governmental, international relationships – did not originate with the earthquake! The plight ot this troubled country, based on empirical historic data and present day insights, should be thoroughly investigated.

    Apart from the physical and other humanitarian efforts being carried out in Haiti today, not only should its foreign debt be cancelled but the French should repatriate all the monies paid by Haiti – in excess of $20 billion – as a charge for its independence and its wanting to trade with the outside world.

  57. 58 radical1
    February 14, 2010 at 12:14

    No. Suspend it. Yes. Cancel it. No. Suspend it. Yes. Cancel it.

    Going forward I think that the IMF may want to consider investing a similar amount of money to that loaned to offset the possibility for non-payment. They’re probably already doing that but one needs to prepare for that possibility.

    On balance leave it but delay it for 10 years would be better.

  58. 59 ABDELKADER EL HAMDAOUI
    February 14, 2010 at 16:56

    Cancelling Haiti’s debt is a logical and realistic move and beneficial to the people only with the proviso that the repayments that are written off are directed towards improving the welfare and well being of the people. Otherwise a charitable expression like that would end up to be counter-productive in the long run.

  59. 60 mramps
    February 14, 2010 at 17:22

    Would debt forgiveness be bundled with conditions of any form? Because to talk about debt forgiveness in isolation would sound great to anyone, and am sure to the people of Haiti. But for those “first world” counties to entertain such a gesture, would they be willing to genuinely forgive this debt and allow Haiti to begin its recovery from decades of hardship, or would they lay down conditions that would further keep this country from becoming anywhere close to a developed state.

  60. 61 Billy
    February 15, 2010 at 11:06

    I certainly think national debt should be written off.
    It’s bad enough we have to pay taxes to a monopolistic government for the services they provide rather than finding cheaper better quality on the free market.
    BUT INSTEAD we have also to pay interest to the banks for our governments borrowing costing us even more than if the government used our taxes to directly fund services.
    My philosophy is to buy what I can afford and not take out loans which cost me even more on the long run.
    For all I care the politicians responsible can file for bankruptcy and not the citizens who had no choice.

  61. 62 TomK in Mpls
    February 15, 2010 at 19:32

    One clear reason for not canceling is the lesson that needs to be learned. Everyone needs to know the cost for not planning for problems as well as for growth. And unfortunately, failure is the best teacher. Not allowing others, on *any* scale, to fail will always lead to reckless practices that will harm others. This applies to everything from driving a car, to running a multi-national corporation or a government. Make ‘em pay for the harm they do or stop them from doing harm again.

  62. February 15, 2010 at 21:07

    not long ago argentina were running to the world bank as no-one would entertain them so why should Haiti who have the U.S. to fall back on get their debt written off.Haiti may be struggling just now but with every country offering to kick-start a building programme


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