Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the world's poorest countries. After Haitian slaves rose up and won their independence in 1804, France demanded billions in reparations -- launching a spiral of poverty and unjust debt that has lasted two centuries.
In recent years, the tremendous worldwide campaign for debt relief has awoken the world's conscience. And in the last few days, under mounting public pressure, lenders have begun to say the right things about erasing Haiti's still-devastating debt burden.
But the devil is in the details. After the 2004 tsunami, the IMF announced relief from debt payments for stricken countries -- but the underlying debt went right on growing. Once public attention had faded, the debt payments were bigger than ever.
It's time to cancel Haiti's debt fully and without conditions, and ensure that earthquake aid is made with grants, not loans. A victory now will change lives in Haiti even after the world's attention has moved on. Join the call for debt relief, and pass this message to those who feel the same: