Yet another loan
The second half of the 19th century was supposed to offer Haiti a great opportunity. Global demand for coffee was high, and Haiti’s economy was built around it.
Beyond the Caribbean, the Costa Ricans spent their wealth of coffee building the first municipal electrified lighting and school and sewerage systems in Latin America. In contrast, Haiti mandated much of the coffee tax to pay to France — first to the former slave owner and then to Creddy Industriel.
Nevertheless, Haiti was a middle-class Caribbean economy, thanks to the high prices of coffee. However, when the market plunged in the 1890s, Haiti’s coffee tax exceeded the price of coffee itself. The entire economic model was on the verge of collapse.
It was time to receive a loan of CHF50 million (today about $ 310 million) from the National Bank of Haiti in 1896. This was also guaranteed by the coffee tax, the country’s most reliable source of funding.
Haitians have been poor for generations. However, according to data compiled by British economist Victor Ballmer Thomas, who studies the history of the Caribbean, Haiti will be in other parts of the world at this moment, when the country is detained by coffee, CIC and the National Bank. It started to decline sharply compared to. ..
“Haiti has made many of its own mistakes,” he said, failing to diversify its economy, for example, by taking on new debt. “But arguably, many of the problems since the late 19th century can be attributed to the power of these empires.”
Collapse of national banks
Durrieu died in 1890, before the national bank he created was dismantled.
Haitian authorities began accusing banks of fraudulent overbilling, double billing, and acts against the country’s best interests in 1903. But the banks reminded them of important details: it was chartered in France and considered such a dispute out of the reach of Haitian courts.
Unexpectedly, Marcelin persuaded Congress to regain control of the government’s finances. Haiti will print his money and pay his bills.
However, according to the records of the French Diplomatic Archive, the National Bank still had a strong ally, the French government.
In January 1908, Pierre Carteron, a French envoy to Haiti, met Marcelin and urged him to restore his normal relationship with the bank. Marcelin refused. He said the Haiti National Bank, if it survived, would actually need to work towards Haiti’s economic development.
That might be possible, Carteron replied. Of course, he added that Haiti would first have to return its finances to French rule. In addition to that, “you need money,” Carteron said, according to his own memo. “Where do you find it?”
As his handwritten message shows, Carteron suspected that Marcelin would never agree with it. So he encouraged his colleagues in Paris to come up with a new plan.
“It is of utmost importance to study how to establish a new French credit institution in Port-au-Prince,” Carteron wrote. “There is no close relationship with the Haitian government.”
The new institution opened in 1910 with minor adjustments to the name of the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti.France still had a stake, but 30 years later For years, the Crédit Industrylet Commercial was out.
By that time, the financial world had a new center of gravity. A group of bankers on Wall Street and the New York National City Bank, which eventually became Citigroup...
The American financier continued to operate from Durrieu’s playbook, becoming the dominant power, with results that lasted even longer than the debt he helped organize.
After all, Wall Street wielded more powerful weapons than French diplomats and posed a diagonal threat. American bankers called their friends in Washington, and 35 years after the birth of Durrieu’s bank, U.S. forces invade Haiti..
It was one of the longest military occupations in American history, allowing the United States to seize Haiti’s finances and shape its future over the coming decades.
Once again, the country was undermined by an institution that President Salomon proudly blessed at the palace, Haiti’s national bank, that night.