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a735: Re: a 718: Re: a689: Family Monopoly & Rice Scandal (fwd)

From: kevin pina <kpinbox@hotmail.com>

Before I start giving specific details I have uncovered regarding the recent
"rice scandal" I think a little background is in order. Let's start with the
Rice Corporation of Haiti whose US and Haitian partners fled the country
under the pretext of threats by the Preval administration. They were
actually arrears to the tune of more $100,000 US in imports duties after it
was discovered they were underreporting weight.   One of the most intensive
backgrounders to this issue can be found at:


Once you see the length and depth of the document you will appreciate why I
did not copy and paste it here. By the way, I usually find it quite easy to
get background on most subjects related to Haiti by simply doing a search at
google.com and entering the term or subject within quotation marks. Bon

The U.S. owned Rice Corporation of Haiti (RCH) is Graham Greene's scenario
revisited more than thirty years later. According to a special Washington
Office on Haiti report, RCH began operations in September 1992 when former
World Bank official and post 1991 coup leader Marc Bazin's regime signed a
nine year development aid contract with RCH. RCH's corporate parent is Comet
Rice. Comet Rice has been the largest importer of rice in Haiti for many
years. The flood of its imported "Miami rice" in the 1980s, much of it
supported by U.S. tax dollars through various AID and USDA programs, drove
thousands of small scale Haitian rice farmers out of business. Corn and
other grain production also declined due to the importer's marketing

Both RCH and Comet Rice are owned by a powerful U.S. company with a history
of what the New York Times called "tainted trade". They are both owned by
Erly, Inc., an international agribusiness and consulting conglomerate with a
history of repeated legal irregularities and close ties to political power

Under the terms of the contract signed with the de facto government, RCH was
supposed to improve Haiti's rice production create jobs, and assure an ample
supply of affordable rice to Haitian consumers. It was supposed to increase
Haitian rice production. In addition to importing a minimum of 5,500 metric
tons of bulk processed rice. RCH was supposed to accomplish these objectives
by establishing a rice processing plant in Haiti, providing technical
assistance, technicians, and the transfer of technology at the level of
national rice production and improvement of the distribution system. The
Washington Office on Haiti report concludes that three years after the
contact was signed, the agreement does not appear to have resulted in its
intended objectives of making Haitian rice plentiful and of high quality or
increasing Haitian rice production for sell to RCH for export.
o RCH for export. RCH and Comet Rice's roles in undermining food security in
Haiti do not, in this day of globalization, leave U.S. citizens untouched.
The plight of Haitian and U.S. rice farmers are intertwined. In December
1991, for example, "Comet Rice 'set the California rice industry on its ear
when it 'shocked growers with returns that fell painfully below competitors
prices' "(Sacramento Bee, Feb. 17, 1992). While other California rice buyers
that year paid $1.70 to $1.80 per hundred pounds above what the U.S.
government was paying for rice, Comet - with no advance warning -paid 25
cents. The growers' loss amounted to approximately $120 per acre. Not only
did Comet fail to warn the rice growers what was coming, but that same year
its parent company Erly, reported a net income of $3.2 million-a sharp
increase over the net earnings of $455,000 it reported the year before. Over
150 growers resigned from their contracts with Comet and formed a new
marketing pool.


How much of RCH's activity-either directly or through its chain of corporate
parents and siblings-has been funded by U.S. tax dollars? Various Erly
company activities have been subsidized by AID, USDA and possibly other
publicly funded agencies. Projects like RCH are typically championed as
promoting the privatization and free trade needed to 'develop' Third World
economies. Since the U.S. agribusiness system is enormously subsidized by
the taxpayer it does not itself constitute either 'free trade' or
'privatized' industry.

Institute for Food and Development Policy Backgrounder
Fall 1996, Vol. 3, No. 3

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