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#2119: Jean Jean-Pierre comments on Mark Gill's post #2097 (fwd)

From: Jean Jean-Pierre <jean@acd-pc.com>

As it is the case in most places around the globe, Mark Gill  (post
#2097) is  right
when he says “the little man is completely left out”.  But in Haiti's
Valley of Artibonite
(Michael Heinl’s post #2099) this adage has special meaning for the rice
growers.  While doing a reportage in May of 1996, I found out that for
FY 1995 Haitians imported rice from Miami and Texas to the tune of
$100,000.000.00 (my source worked for USAID).  I'm certain  those
numbers have been, since then, surpassed.  So with so much money that
can be made by importers (middlemen), even landowners have  found  it
more profitable to import.  This is pure  dumping.
And it is done with the connivance and even the active participation of
Haitian government officials.
(It must be noted that those American companies are subsidized by the US
government). This situation is exacerbated by the literal dumping of
products of all kinds by us Diapos.  The tons of garbage sent to Haiti
daily will in less than five years turn  the place into a real dump

Many  of the peasants to whom I spoke told me that most landowners have
not shown up in months.    The peasants could not even afford to buy
fertilizers. The little bit they could grow was not enough to eat, let
alone to sell.
- ODVA (Organization pour le Development de la Vallée de l’Artibonite)
–the very body designed by the State to help rice growers has been -and
I bet  still is - suffering from willful  neglect.  Its equipment, in an
advance state of disrepair, sat idly in a dusty field adjacent to the
main decrepitated building.  Its director (who then lived in Les Cayes
–miles away in the South of Haiti-) had not shown up  for days.
- A modern damn built in 1989 –under the military dictatorship of
strongman Prosper Avril- (I could not find out where the financing came
from) was not even attended until I and two other visitors sent for the
watchman.  The unarmed man told me that he had not gotten paid since the
American soldiers left the area at the beginning of the year (the damn
was closely guarded by US forces  as they know full well that the whole
Artibonite Valley can easily be flooded either by malfunction or
deliberate act of sabotage).  The man’s radio –which he needs to
communicate with people down the valley in case of flood- was
inoperative: he could not afford a pair of batteries.  Back in Port au
Prince  the following day,  I related the story to a very high official
of the government; he  shook his head and shrugged.
Why would Fritz Mevs  keep HASCO going when he can make so much money
importing sugar from abroad?  Why would Haitian government officials
implement real agrarian reform when they can share the wealth with  all
those "great" Haitian  “entrepreneurs” who, by the way, do not TOLERATE
Until these officials can learn to live within  their means and stop
reacting like a bunch of pusillanimous peepsqueaks   who cave in to the
first threat made by the State Department and the so-called Haitian
elite,  all the talks about Haiti producing enough to feed itself will
be just that.  And until we  Diapos (who send hundreds of millions to
prop up Haiti's economy) realize that we can exert enough pressure (like
we did from 1991 to 1994) on  Haitian government officials to do their
jobs, we will continue to cogitate, speculate and theorize about Haiti's