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Bill Clinton & famine in Haiti

by Jerome a Paris Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 05:01:19 PM EST

BILL CLINTON: Since 1981, the United States has followed a policy, until the last year or so when we started rethinking it, that we rich countries that produce a lot of food should sell it to poor countries and relieve them of the burden of producing their own food, so, thank goodness, they can leap directly into the industrial era. It has not worked. It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake. It was a mistake that I was a party to. I am not pointing the finger at anybody. I did that. I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did. Nobody else.


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Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 05:02:31 PM EST
Wow. great to see that acknowledged.  
by paving on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 05:25:06 PM EST
From the referenced article:
That's a remarkable statement. He later referred to the destruction of Haiti's rice farmers as a "devil's bargain. He added this:

   And it's [the old ag policy] failed everywhere it's been tried. And you just can't take the food chain out of production. And it also undermines a lot of the culture, the fabric of life, the sense of self-determination.

But then in later remarks, Clinton called into questions the lessons he had actually learned. Speaking of Haiti specifically, he said this:

   And we--that's a lot of what we're doing now. We're thinking about how can we get the coffee production up, how can we get other kinds of-the mango production up--we had an announcement on that yesterday--the avocados, lots of other things.


I think Clinton's heart is in the right place on this, but his education and forty years of experience make it hard to accept how far the roots of a disastrous policy stretch. I have hopes that he will finally go the full distance here. Mangos, coffee and avocados don't use the same type of terrain as does rice and vegetables. There is no good reason that Hati should not be self sufficient in all foods but, perhaps, rice. They will certainly need exports to pay for oil.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 05:38:29 PM EST
They might be better off without the oil.
by njh on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 07:19:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially if the remedy offered is pushing in on the petro-based farming button. Countries like Haïti need indigenous and sustainable agriculture, not higher energy inputs from outside to boost yields.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 02:03:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed on sustainable agriculture and energy. But the "international charitable donors" are also self-interested, as are the local Haitian elites. so how likely is it that the "donations" will be directed towards windmills, solar-thermal and sustainable ag?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 12:30:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the "international charitable donors" are also self-interested

Ah, but they are also enlightened, and enlightened self interest makes everything good again.

by njh on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 07:36:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the Dutch, the Germans and the Danes could all make their donations in the form of windmills from their own domestic manufacturers, and German specialty glass manufacturers were heavily involved in supplying specialty products to a solar-thermal project that has just gone on line in Las Vegas. That would assure that the work generated by the donation would go to domestic industries in the donor countries. That would be truly enlightened self interest and in the interest of the Haitians as well.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 08:04:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In principle, yes.

In practise, it depends a lot on how the O&M contracts look - whether they're going to be building their own cadre of service technicians, or enter into a dependency relationship with the original suppliers.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 10:34:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even contracting with the supplier for maintenance and operation would be superior to continuing to purchase imported oil and gas.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 14th, 2010 at 02:19:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a remarkable statement - alas, coming from a Democratic Party elder statesman, it has just about zero weight in influencing the establishment.

It does in theory overturn the trade consensus - some things are too important to be subject to exchange rate manipulation, foreign priorities and all the other potential downsides of importing.

Next stop - energy?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 06:03:47 PM EST
It does in theory overturn the trade consensus

I hope it gets coverage in the MSM and I hope Clinton keeps hammering away at this. Policies that make agriculture in Haiti uncompetitive in years of US abundance and make importing food unaffordable during years of high prices need to change and a transition policy needs to be adopted. Either ramp up tariffs on selected products as domestic produces become available, set a floor price that is feasible for Haitian agriculture or provide subsidies to compensate. The challenge will be executing a suitable policy effectively in a country with a deeply ingrained culture of official corruption and with a local elite that has repeatedly show utter contempt for the lives of the poor among their society.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 07:28:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
His conscience is whipping his ass. He is dying, yet can't speak of Haiti, sovereign nation, even now. From DemocracyNow! broadcast linked:

WJC: So we genuinely thought we were helping Haiti when we restored President Aristide...

Chomsky Recap:"When Clinton restored Aristide --Clinton of course supported the military junta, another little hidden story... he strongly supported it in fact. He even allowed the Texaco Oil Company to send oil to the junta in violation of presidential directives; Bush Sr. did so as well-- well, he finally allowed the president to return, but on condition that he accept the programs of Marc Bazin, the US candidate that he had defeated in the 1990 election. And that meant a harsh neoliberal program, no import barriers. That means that Haiti has to import rice and other agricultural commodities from the US from US agribusiness, which is getting a huge part of its profits from state subsidies. So you get highly subsidized US agribusiness pouring commodities into Haiti; I mean, Haitian rice farmers are efficient but nobody can compete with that, so that accelerated the flight into the cities. And it wasn't that they didn't know it was going to happen. USAID was publishing reports in 1995 saying, yes this is going to destroy Haitian agriculture and that's a good thing. And you get the flight into the cities and you get food riots in 2008, because they can't produce their own food. And now you get this class-based catastrophe. After this history --it's only a tiny piece of it-- the United States should be paying massive reparations, not just aid. And France as well. The French role is grotesque. "

Cue Bill Mitchell's MMT of hyperinflation, disinterested and ignorant small-scale farmers displacing industrial plantations.

WJC:... made a commitment to help rebuild the infrastructure through the Army Corps of Engineers there, and do a lot of other things. And we made this devil's bargain on rice. And it wasn't the right thing to do. We should have continued to work to help them be self-sufficient in agriculture. And we--that's a lot of what we're doing now. We're thinking about how can we get the coffee production up, how can we get other kinds of--the mango production up--we had an announcement on that yesterday--the avocados, lots of other things. And so--

KIM IVES [reporter, Haiti Liberté]: What about the return of Aristide, which has been asked for by demonstrations even right across the street today?

BILL CLINTON: Well, that's not in my purview. That's up to the Haitians, including those that aren't demonstrating.

Possibly related news:
Haiti Liberté, 12 April 2010: "In counterpoint, the only voice Aristide's popular base had at the conference was in the street outside the UN, where about 50 Haitians picketed from noon to 6 p.m. in Ralph Bunche park to call for an end to the UN and US military occupation of Haiti, now over six years old, and to protest the Haitian people's exclusion from reconstruction deliberations. (New York's December 12th Movement also had a picket at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on 47th Street)." Read more...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 11:12:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chomsky right on as usual.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 02:06:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
His conscience is whipping his ass
----------
Great said!

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 07:34:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton was severely pressured by Republican Senators, including Jesse Helms, on the subject of Aristide. That could be another casualty of the Lewinski Affair, at least in part.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 08:07:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Clinton keeps this up, he'll end up becoming the next Jimmy Carter - an OK President and an even better ex-President in my view - but a symbol for American weakness to the neo-cons.

The problem with his new perspective, from a neo-con point of view, is that it acknowledges there are legitimate interests outside of America which are different from US interests.  That's what makes him a commie!  A Commie is someone who doesn't serve US National interests in every respect imaginable.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 07:05:44 PM EST
"The problem with his new perspective, from a neo-con point of view, is that it acknowledges there are legitimate interests outside of America the Beltway which are different from US the Villagers' interests.  That's what makes him a commie! A Commie is someone who doesn't serve US National the Villagers' interests in every respect imaginable."

There, fixed it for you.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 08:46:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From a neo-con point of view, "THE NATIONAL INTEREST" is defined by what their beltway bellowers and village idiots say it is

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 06:44:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good to see this recognized by someone who still has a voice.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 02:12:57 AM EST
There is a glimmer here, maybe even a flash, but something less than real illumination.

When I was 14, I understood that any and every culture needed to have the ability to sustain itself, to produce it's own food, clothing, shelter and energy needs.  If it could not do this, it was vulnerable and dependent, not a good thing.

For many years thereafter, I thought I needed to learn why this was not so,  since I seemed to be the only one who thought so, I had to learn what everyone else understood that I did not.

I has become increasingly apparent, 60 years later, that I was not the confused person in a sane society.

But Bill Clinton seems to think that the solution to the problem is to develop better cash crops, not to develop independence, to play the same game better, rather than working ones way out of the game.

But then, if you learn this, you get treated like Cuba...

by greatferm (greatferm-at-email.com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 02:30:03 AM EST
I am reminded of Tom Hayden's remark about opponents of the Viet Nam war being possessed of "premature morality"! And that was only a ten to fifteen year gap before the majority view "matured". It can be a lonely journey and it was especially so before the internet.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 12:47:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem can be that when the majority view matures, nobody knows what you're talking about any more. I just happened to read the following on Counterpunch.
In 2005, teaching a history class to university juniors and seniors, I mentioned the Vietnam War. I noticed glazed looks in the eyes of several students. I asked a young woman born about a decade after that war had ended: "You know when the Vietnam War occurred, right?"

She wrinkled her brow, bit her lip and said, hesitatingly: "Wasn't it after the Greco-Roman era?"

Some students knew, but most were unsure. Neither parents nor teachers had taught them recent history. A new film will now help fill that void.

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 03:53:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I recall from my grad school days in History that the least understood historical period for most people was the thirty to forty years before they were born.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 03:56:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He is dying
-------------
What do you mean? Is he sick?

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 03:32:55 AM EST
ABC News: Bill Clinton Released From Hospital, Prognosis 'Excellent' (February 12, 2010)
Clinton, who had a quadruple heart bypass operation in 2004, was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Thursday afternoon after complaining of brief episodes of chest discomfort over the past few days, even while at rest.

His cardiologist, Dr. Allen Schwartz, chief of cardiology at New York City's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, performed an angiography, finding no evidence of a heart attack or damage to Clinton's heart.

Pictures taken of Clinton's arteries and of bypass grafts he received four years ago revealed that one of the grafts was blocked. Because of that problem, doctors placed two stents in his coronary artery. A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery.




The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 04:19:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, sometime in the next twenty years he'll probably be dead.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 04:55:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.
Korean run sweatshops up and running days after quake hit

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti - Garments are central to the economic growth plan commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last year, a 19-page report written by Oxford University economics professor Paul Collier and promoted by former President Bill Clinton as special envoy to the impoverished nation. They say the sector could quickly produce hundreds of thousands of jobs thanks chiefly to two things: an existing preferential trade deal with the nearby United States, and cheap Haitian labour. The deal is the Haiti Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act, or "HOPE II." Passed by the U.S. Congress in 2008, it lets Haiti export textiles duty-free to the U.S. for a decade. Last year, $513 million worth of Haitian-made apparel, the bulk of exports, was shipped with labels including Hanes and New Balance. Factory profit margins average about 22 per cent, according to Washington-based Nathan Associates Inc.

The cheap labour is Jordanie Pinquie Rebeca, and others like her. During a recent shift at the South Korean-owned factory where she works, employees softly sang a Creole hymn beneath the hot fluorescent lights: "Lord, take my hand. Bring me through." [Poverty in Haiti spawns child slavery]

It was HOPE II that persuaded the bosses to move their Dominican plant and rename it DKDR Haiti SA. Nearly all the 1,200 people still working there after the quake make the new "outsourcing" minimum wage of 125 gourdes a day, about $3.09 - just a few cents more than the minimum wage in 1984. Pay was even lower last year when lawmakers raised the country's minimum from $1.72 a day to almost $5 in response to protests. But owners complained, and President Rene Preval refused to enact the law.

A compromise allowed non-garment workers to receive the higher minimum, but stuck factory workers with the "outsourcing" wage. DKDR complied but cut production-based incentives, according to general manager Chun Ho Lee. Producing 600 pieces in a day used to yield a worker a bonus of $2.47. Now it's worth $1.23.

Garment companies in Haiti

How to Fix Haiti's Fixers

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

by Oui on Tue Apr 13th, 2010 at 03:50:52 PM EST


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