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#4765: Slavin: Comments on Grand Marnier & #4578 (fwd)

From: Patrick Slavin <pslavin@unicefusa.org>

       Like nearly everyone ?? with the exception of Grand Marnier
       shareholders -- I share Bebe Pierre-Louis's outrage over labor
       conditions at the Grand Marnier operations in Haiti. But as
       with any international development, bilateral, or human rights
       action taken in Haiti, you have to consider the long-term
       implications of an action and answer the question, are you in
       it for the long haul?

       That's why I am glad to see that the organizers of this action
       in London are not calling for a boycott, even though initial
       outrage calls for such a step. You only have to turn back to
       the Pax Christi Rawlings protest to learn this lesson. In 1990
       & 1991, heady days in the movement for majority rule in Haiti,
       I thought the campaign against the pitiful labor conditions in
       the Rawlings baseball factory in Port-au-Prince was great. It
       was also an incredible PR opportunity to dramatize the
       conditions of sweatshop factories in developing countries:
       workers doing the arduous job of making baseballs for
       millionaire ballplayers. But when Rawlings reacted by closing
       the factory and moving operations to Costa Rica, I interviewed
       some of the factory workers who lived near the disgraceful
       factory and a common statement was: "We believed in this
       project, we listened to your advise, but now what do I do?" I
       am not arguing in favor of low wages, but the fact is those
       workers depended on their terrible salaries and put up with
       awful working conditions to earn it. And they lost out during
       that well-meaning protest.

       I'm glad to see that at least one international effort to make
       things better in Haiti has learned a lesson from the many
       disastrous actions the international community has taken since
       1986 (a three-year embargo & 6-month police training just to
       name two).