The Clintons’ high-profile interest in Haiti dates back almost all the way to their wedding in 1975. Shortly after their honeymoon in Acapulco, Bill and Hillary Clinton received an invitation from David Edwards — a friend and Citibank executive — to accompany him to Haiti.
Edwards’s motivation in getting the Clintons closer to Haiti was neither cultural nor humanitarian. The reason was Citibank’s long-standing financial interests in the country, which now go back over a century.
In 1909, the National City Bank of New York — Citibank — acquired a majority stake in the National Bank of Haiti, an institution that had been under French control and which, since 1880, held the power to issue paper money and to serve as central bank for the Haitian treasury. In 1914, Roger Leslie Farnham — in charge of the Caribbean region at Citibank — pressed Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan for Washington to militarily intervene in Haiti in order to protect U.S. interests. One year later, 19 years of occupation would begin for the country.
It was only the beginning of U.S. meddling in the affairs of its poorer neighbor.