Televangelist Pat Robertson believes that this week's devastating earthquake in Haiti happenend because 200 years ago the island nation, desperate to  free itself from France's colonial grasp, made a pact with the devil. On Tuesday, on his Christian Broadcasting Network he announced: "And you know, Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it, they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince, true story. And so the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free, and ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor ... the Island of Hispaniola is one island cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is, is, prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty, same Islands, uh, they need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come, but right now we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable."

What really happened in 1804, when Haiti changed its name from Saint-Domingue and became the the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world is that Haiti is, in the words of Boing Boing's Maggie Koerth-Baker "caught in a deal with the devil, and the devil is us". To gain independence, Haiti had to pay France a ransom, which they could not afford. So they borrowed money from America and other wealthy nations. By 1900, 80% of their annual budget was going into paying off its "reparation" debt. In 1947, they paid off the last of it, but just ten years later, the excesses of the 30-year Duvalier regime, with the assistance of the West, plunged the country back into debt and murdered tens of thousands of Haitians.

blog2-170110Haiti's bogeyman

When the Duvalier family came into power in 1957, patriarch François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier created the Milice de Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale or Militia of National Security Volunteers, a Haitian paramilitary force that would report directly to him. The Haitians called them Tonton Macoutes which means "Uncle Gunnysack" – a bogey man who would abduct people, usually at night, put them in a sack and carry them off. They were seldom seen again.

PICTURE:
Madame Max Adolphe, warden of the death dungeon Fort Dimanche. Female macoute, right-hand woman of Papa Doc.  (latinamericanstudies.org)