Western powers contributed to Haiti’s economic instability

By loquitur
November 20, 2010

The earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010 was not the only force adding trauma to Haiti’s current demise. Countries like the U.S. and France have also played a serious role in its epic downfall.

This was the part of the message brought forth by Johanna Berrigan and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton as they spoke to several Engagements in the Common Good classes at Cabrini College.

“Haiti has been subject to the destructive forces from outside and that has to change. Then Haiti will have a chance,” Gumbleton, auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detriot, said.

Berrigan and Gumbleton work directly with the Kay Lasante Project, which is operating in St. Claire’s Parish in Port-au- Prince.

Recently, President Bill Clinton publicly apologized for forcing Haiti to drop tariffs on imported and subsidized U.S. rice during his time in office. Subsidies were given to U.S. farmers so they could his slowly destroyed the agriculture of Haiti.

“Haiti has been, in a sense, abused by other countries who never wanted Haiti to survive as an independent, black democracy or republic,” Gumbleton said.

Gumbleton went on to explain that in 1986 Haiti was producing most of their own rice, importing only 7,000 tons into the country. By 1996, those numbers skyrocketed to 196,000 tons of rice, which were being imported from outside sources.

Haiti was also forced to pay interest on $500 million worth of loans that they did not even receive due to its corrupt government. In 1825, France forced Haiti to repay $21 billion to slave owners whose African slaves were liberated. Haiti paid interest on this debt for more than 100 years.

Along with working on the Kay Lasante Project, Berrigan is also a member of the House of Grace Catholic Worker Community and a physician’s assistant. Berrigan spoke about the Monsanto Company Project, which donated seeds to the people of Haiti so they could grow crops.

“It seemed like it was a great thing but it was not,” Berrigan said.

The Monsanto Company wanted control of all the crops that were being grown along with all the profits. Each farmer would also be forced to purchase new seeds for each new season. Haitian farmers were enraged and protested immediately.

“What it’s coming back to is the concern of the profit of the company that is moving forward to help Haiti,” Berrigan said.

Now crippled and weak due to the destruction of the economy, Haiti is reliant on outside sources.

“Whenever aid becomes a serious component of the economy in any country, then it is a problem,” Todd Kaderabek, a Mission MANNA employee, said.

Mission MANNA is an organization that works to provide malnutrition relief, medical care and education to improve the overall health in the small village of Montrouis and the areas that surround it.

“Our focus is on making Haitians self sufficient so that they in fact do not need us,” Kaderabek said.

After the earthquake non-governmental organizations, aid organizations and humanitarian groups raced to the shores of Haiti to help. Berrigan agreed that in emergency situations that is necessary, but Berrigan feels that these organizations may be hindering the country rather than helping it in the long run.

“They become a band aid to the underlying problems that have never been addressed in Haiti and which I see as a critical time in Haiti’s history where they could be addressed,” Berrigan said.

Gumbleton went on to explain that these organizations are providing humanitarian contributions to Haiti but it does not boost the Haitian economy, only the economy of other countries.

“The farmers make the rice. Then there are those who package it and those who transport it and they are all making money and Haiti gets nothing,”  Gumbleton said. “It keeps Haiti poor, while countries that are supposedly helping Haiti are being enriched.”

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