But debt is not just victor’s justice; it can also be a way of punishing winners who weren’t supposed to win. The most spectacular example of this is the history of the Republic of Haiti-the first poor country to be placed in permanent debt peonage. Haiti was a nation founded by former plantation slaves who had the temerity not only to– David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years (via le-kif-kif)
rise up in rebellion, amidst grand declarations of universal rights and freedoms, but to defeat Napoleon’s armies sent to return them to bondage. France immediately insisted that the new republic owed it 150 million francs in damages for the expropriated plantations, as well as the expenses of outfi tting the failed military expeditions, and all other nations, including the United States, agreed to impose an embargo on the country until it was paid. The sum was intentionally impossible (equivalent to about 18 billion dollars), and the resultant embargo ensured that the name “Haiti” has been a synonym for debt, poverty, and human misery ever since.