Saturday, April 5, 2008

Food Riots in Haiti

When the price of flour doubles in NYC, the price of bagels doubles at Dunkin Donuts and the morning news does a human interest story on it. In Haiti, the people riot and call out the name of Guy Phillippe who lead the uprising that overthrew President Aristide. Phillippe is under indictment as a drug dealer by the US government and is being searched for in Haiti by DEA agents.

But drug money, corrupt money, makes for plenty of money on the streets. Under the last government here in the DR, the peso was at 50 to one but there were lots of tourists, lots of money on the streets.

Haiti has lived for years on charity, on remittances, on imported food. Its staples are imported rice, and spaghetti.

Because there is a low pathogen strain of bird flu in the DR, the Haitian government placed an embargo on the importation of all poultry and eggs, all chicken salami and soup from the DR. While this was technically correct - in that the bird flu could infect the Haitian chickens, it will anyway - since it is the fighting cocks which are transmitting the flu and -- I suspect that those cockfights are taking place anyway. There are chickens and eggs that are being passed as well - just not legally. And eggs are one of the cheapest forms of protein available. There was also no reason whatsover to ban the salami, the soup, since the bird flu is never transmitted via cooked food, only through bird to bird contact. Nor is this the highly contagious H5n1 strain but the low pathogen form.

Now there is a down turn in the US economy and the Haitians in the US will have even less money to send home to Haiti. More Haitians will have less money to spend on food. I do not wish to sound cruel hearted about this. But one cannot continue to have four and five children with no means to feed them. And one cannot continue to despoil ones environment and expect it to sustain one. One cannot simply blame the rest of the world for one's own predicament. One must take responsability for one's own predicament.

I love Haiti. I respect the Haitian people beyond any that I have ever met. But sometimes,,,,,,,

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