Haitian and French Petrol Protests in the Age of Climate ChangeBreaking News
tags: France, climate change, Haiti, petrol protests
Crystal Eddins is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the 2018-2019 Ruth J. Simmons Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice at Brown University. She holds a Dual Major PhD in African American & African Studies and Sociology from Michigan State University.
For the past several months, major unrest has occurred almost simultaneously in both Haiti and France over rising gas prices, accusations of government corruption, and inflated costs of living. However, national and international media attention has focused more on recent events in France while ignoring the protests in Haiti, which has resulted in the death of several protestors at the hands of police and other state officials.
The two nation’s histories are inextricably linked: the Caribbean country Haiti, known in the nineteenth century as Saint Domingue, was once the wealthiest colony of the French empire. After the formerly enslaved Africans of Saint Domingue wrested freedom from their owners and declared themselves independent from colonialism in 1804, the French army later imposed an indemnity for 150 million francs on Haiti to compensate for their lost “jewel” of sugar and coffee production. To avoid future French incursions, this money was paid with interest – to the tune of 22 billion in today’s dollars and is often cited as a critical cause of Haiti’s underdevelopment, along with the West’s economic and political isolation of Haiti throughout the nineteenth century. Despite ongoing calls for France to repay the indemnity, since it had stolen enough in human life and labor value, no such conversation has been breached by France’s current President Emmanuel Macron.
Now it seems that both are facing crises and a growing protest movement around a different resource: petrol.
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