Monday, April 14, 2008

Deck chairs

"That history is one that is erased. The fact that Haiti produced more rice in 1984 than it does now isn’t an accident. The fact that the bags of rice to be found in Haiti have US flags stamped on them is no accident. As former secretary of state for Agriculture, Earl Butz, put it: ‘Hungry men listen only to those who have a piece of bread. Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the US negotiating kit.’

And that’s also one of the ironies behind the complaints of institutions like the IMF and World Bank. At the same time as they bemoan the food crisis, they are its architects. They have aggressively prohibited the kinds of policy that might have mitigated the price shock. No grain reserves. No support for domestic agriculture. No tariff barriers. All so that weapon in the US toolkit could be honed a little sharper.

These are also the options open to almost every government in the Global South that wants to do something to tackle the food crisis. The policies that could help have been prohibited by the international financial institutions. They have the options of rearranging the deck chairs, but they’ve already hit the iceberg." (Thanks Leila)

More on Haiti from the excellent Stuffed and Starved blog.

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