Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. His latest article is about the situation in Haiti. It's called "The US Role in Haiti's Food Riots."....
The problem really is, is that the United States and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, all of which we, the United States, dominate, have for the last twenty-five, thirty years have insisted that in order to get the loans, which Haiti and these other countries, agricultural countries, need, in order to get those loans, Haiti had to change their economic system so that their country was open to competition from other countries on agriculture, trade, a number of other things.
It's so clear in the case of rice. As you said, thirty years ago, Haiti imported almost no rice, was an exporter of sugar and other things. Today, Haiti imports nearly all of its rice. It even imports sugar, even though it was the sugar-growing capital of the Caribbean. And the reason is, is that the powers that be said, in order to get these loans, which they need desperately to be able to survive, that they had to open up their markets to competition.
Well, it turns out that the competition doesn't do the same thing. And the main competition is the United States. So at this point, the United States exports over 200 million metric tons of rice every year to Haiti. And they're actually like our third biggest customer. And the reason is that our rice is cheaper than the rice that they could grow there themselves, because our rice is so heavily subsidized. A billion dollars a year of taxpayer money goes to rice farmers in the United States, plus we have a tariff. We have three different subsidies, three different programs that do that, plus we have a tariff that adds between three and 24 percent protection for our rice farmers. And as a result, the rich and powerful country of the United States, along with other rich and powerful countries in the world, have just really bullied these small countries into accepting our rice. [Emphasis added] And as the rice from the United States came in—they even called it "Miami rice" and some call it the invasion of Miami rice—that the rice flooded in at low or below cost—free or below cost and destroyed the ability of farmers in Haiti to be able to grow rice. And as a consequence, the country now depends totally on imported rice. Cost of import—cost of rice around the world has gone up over 100 percent since January.
New Orleans is being treated actually by the United States a similar way that Haiti is. It's just a very top-down "we'll make the decisions." Public housing has been demolished in three of the four major housing developments and is on the way in the fourth. So, at this point, it is a struggle for these 4,500 families that has been lost. We're going to continue to seek one-for-one replacement, but that's quite an uphill battle.
Look at that utter hypocrisy by the U.S. government. Americans should be ashamed of themselves. Shame, shame, shame on the American people! Evil!
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