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#4054: Re: Chabon and Cachon (fwd)

From: katherine sheetz <kathysheetz@hotmail.com>

I'm responding to Tom Driver's post on the strides made in the Fondwa 
mountain area, and his statement  --
"These projects give the lie to people such as we met among the staff at the 
USAID office in Port au Prince who say that Haitians cannot or will not do 
anything to improve their situation."           The very obvious terracing 
and reforestation all along the road to the APF center and the watershed of 
the Grande River there, has been managed by PADF  with the funding coming 
from USAID. Maybe USAID should examine where their money went!
   Also, the deforestation in Fondwa, from photos of the area in 1985 is not 
different from today.  My point being, I'm sure the pigs were very 
important, and trees were lost as a result, but the effects of poverty, 
overpopulation, etc. were there even before the loss of their pig 

There have been many layers of events and situations that resulted in the
devestation one sees today in Haiti.  I certainly am not trying to get 
anybody off the hook, but I think it is impossible to diagnose the erosion 
and present difficulties that have resulted on one event. There are other 
valuable lessons to be learned.

>From: Robert Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
>To: Haiti mailing list <haiti@lists.webster.edu>
>Subject: #4008:  Re: Chabon and Cachon (fwd)
>Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 07:21:55 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Tom F. Driver <tfd3@columbia.edu>
>True words recently posted here:
>     The increase in chabon production and selling was not a reflection on 
>     increased cooking activities of everyday Haitians who rarely have meat 
>     eat in the best of times. Producing chabon and selling it at market
>     became a poor substitute for tapping into the emergency cash flow once
>     provided by the timely sale of the prized Haitian pig.
>With a Witness for Peace delegation, I recently visited the Peasant
>Association of Fondwa in the southern mountains.  Most of the terrain there
>is denuded of trees, badly eroded, and subject to scorching heat.  We 
>with men now in their forties who remember the tree-cover that used to
>shelter them when they were growing up.  On footpaths and roadways where
>we sweltered and panted in the merciless sun while trudging up and down
>steep hills, they had walked in the shade of trees.  On a very few farms,
>whose owners had been fortunate enough not to have to cut their wood for
>cash, we saw trees still standing in lush groves, fruits of all kinds on 
>boughs, and the land rich in topsoil.  Most of the area's trees, however,
>disappeared in the 1980's following the slaughter of the pigs.  It breaks 
>heart to see the devastation and realize how stupid, if not malicious, was 
>Today the Peasant Association of Fondwa is making huge strides in turning
>this area into a model of sustainable peasant agriculture.  Projects of re-
>forestation, improved methods of mountainside farming, community water
>systems, and innovative ways of serving local markets are being carried 
>These projects give the lie to people such as we met among the staff at the
>USAID office in Port-au-Prince who say that Haitians cannot or will not do
>anything to improve their situation.
>There's been discussion on this list about whether the slaughter of the 
>pigs in the early 1980s was an example of globalization.  I've never heard 
>it was done in the name of an economic theory of globalized markets,
>although some have suggeted that it was partly motivated by a desire to
>export pig stock from the U.S. to Haiti (to replace the exterminated Kreyol
>stock).  The official reason given was to stop the spread of swine fever.  
>that as it may, it was a case of a local enomony being forced into the 
>orbit of
>a much broader, bigger, and vastly different one, with tragic results for 
>of the local people, their economic resources, and the ecology on which 
>lives depended.  Poverty descended into misery.
>Without respect for local customs, culture, and accumulated wisdom,
>"improvements" can often be ruinous.
>Tom F. Driver
>New York City

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