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#3463: Haitian pigs meet globalization (fwd)
From: radman <email@example.com>
Common Courage Political Literacy Course - http://www.commoncouragepress.com
"The history of the eradication of the Haitian Creole pig population in
the 1980's is a classic parable of globalization. Haiti's small, black,
Creole pigs were at the heart of the peasant economy. An extremely hearty
breed, well adapted to Haiti's climate and conditions, they ate readily
available waste products, and could survive for three days without food.
Eighty to 85% of rural households raised pigs; they played a key role in
maintaining the fertility of the soil and constituted the primary savings
bank of the peasant population. Traditionally a pig was sold to pay for
emergencies and special occasions (funerals, marriages, baptisms,
illnesses and, critically, to pay school fees and buy books for the
children when school opened each year in October.)
"In 1982 international agencies assured Haiti's peasants their pigs were
sick and had to be killed (so that the illness would not spread to
countries to the North). Promises were made that better pigs would replace
the sick pigs. With an efficiency not since seen among development
projects, all of the Creole pigs were killed over a period of thirteen
"Two years later the new, better pigs came from Iowa. They were so much
better that they required clean drinking water (unavailable to 80% of the
Haitian population), imported feed (costing $90 a year when the per capita
income was about $130), and special roofed pigpens. haitian peasants
quickly dubbed them "prince a quatre pieds," (four-footed princes). adding
insult to injury, the meat did not taste as good. Needless to say, the
repopulation program was a complete failure. one observer of the process
estimated that in monetary terms Haitian peasants lost $600 million
dollars. There was a 30% drop in enrollment in rural schools, there was a
dramatic decline in the protein consumption in rural Haiti, a devastating
decapitalization of the peasant economy and an incalculable negative
impact on Haiti's soil and agricultural productivity. The Haitian
peasantry has not recovered to this day.
"Most of rural Haiti is still isolated from global markets, so for many
peasants the extermination of the Creole pigs was their first experience
of globalization. The experience looms large in the collective memory.
Today, when the peasants are told that "economic reform" and privatization
will benefit them they are understandably wary. The state-owned
enterprises are sick, we are told, and they must be privatized. the
peasants shake their heads and remember the Creole pigs."
- --From "Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of
Globalization," by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, http://www.eyesoftheheart.org .
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