Some Haitians suspected the announcement was too good to be true: that France would pay their nation $22 billion to make up for forcing the former French colony to pay an equivalent sum in exchange for its independence in the nineteenth century. Well, those who were suspicious were proved right Thursday when an elaborate hoax was revealed.
The French government confirmed on Thursday that the statement, in the form of video and text posted a day earlier on a Web site that was a near replica of its official foreign ministry site, was a prank, Agence France-Presse reported.
The fake site, diplomatiegov.fr — which looks similar to the official site, diplomatie.gouv.fr — includes a video in which someone posing as a ministry spokesperson announced that France had decided to repay “the historic debt of 90 million gold francs Haiti paid to France following the former’s independence at the dawn of the 19th century.” The actor impersonating a French official added, “the 90 million gold francs, which Haiti paid France from 1825 until 1947, will be reimbursed in a yearly budget over the course of 50 years. Economic advisors working with the Ministry have calculated that the total sum amounts to €17 billion including adjustments for inflation and a minimal interest rate of 5 percent per annum.”