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Manifest Haiti: U.S. Food Aid and Monsanto
By Salena Tramel
January 27th, 2011
Make no mistake: Haiti needs seeds and food. Following last January’s devastating earthquake, it’s been all hands on deck in the small island nation—but decision-making on rebuilding is very often in all hands but Haitian hands.
Since long before the earthquake, Haiti has been known as the Republic of NGOs and is bound by more free trade agreements than any other country in the hemisphere. And this kind of outside intervention has failed Haiti time and again—especially since last year’s unprecedented disaster.
It’s a case of “despite good intentions”, where donor countries and corporations profit and Haitians suffer. Sak Vid Pa Kanpe: The Impact of U.S. Food Aid on Human Rights in Haiti, a new report produced by the RFK Center for Human Rights and Justice, Partners in Health, and others outlines just how serious of a problem control of local resources has become for Haitians.
Perhaps the starkest example of this in Haiti is Monsanto’s Caribbean descent in the form of seed donation. These toxic seeds are bad for Haiti’s economy, environment, and children’s health—so much so that peasant leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste from the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP), a Grassroots International partner, went so far as to say that the so-called gift amounted to a “new earthquake”.
But the people of Haiti fought back. Hard. More than 10,000 Haitians protested Monsanto in Papaye where MPP has been engaged in working for food sovereignty and on agroecology for nearly 40 years. Truthout recently published an article, Manifest Haiti: Monsanto’s Destiny, telling the story.
It is rural movements like MPP that have the capability to move Haiti forward—seeds and all. But it is up to us whether or not we choose to support them or continue to serve corporate interests.