Foreign Policy Blogs

Haiti: Often Forgotten, Seldom Fed

In 2004 Haiti took the attention of the world community. With the UN making a home in the poorest country in the Americas and the fall of the leader at the time, refugees from Haiti fled on boats, across the Dominican border and through any means possible to escape the chaos of their home country. Ever since, Haitians have tried to escape a bleak future my any means possible. For those who have not left, starvation has set in to punish the people of Haiti even further.

A phenomenon in 2008 has taken place. With crops that often were staple food for many now being valued as fuel for cars and machines that do not yet exist, the world's poor are losing their ability to be fed because there might be an environmental change. While this change may take place in 10-20 years time, the reaction of the markets are to drive the value of cash crops through the roof and produce another commodity which does more harm than good. In line with tobacco, oil, coffee and sugar, the new gold rush may be corn or sugar cane. The result is the same 9,000 strong UN force which came to help stop political violence and crime, are now shooting rubber bullets at Haitians who protest the high food prices and wish to avoid starvation. With an average wage of $2 a day, the environmental concerns of the Developed world has affected the people who care least about the issue to the greatest degree.

Some aid has come to the Haitian people. The OAS has engaged the problem and is sending food aid to the poor people of Haiti. UNICEF has also stepped in to help ease the pressure of possible starvation in the country. These band-aid solutions may not help in the long run however as the rise in fuel prices in the future may become a constant problem as biofuels start to be used. Starvation is already setting in and the only countries to use biofuels are in South America, which has not had a large effect on the world economy as crops used in Brazil, like Sugar Cane, has met production need for food as well as for fuel production. A measured policy response is required, as a shock to food prices has been created by mere talk of a future biofuel alternative without any plan to create sufficient supply and demand. An ironic turn of events is that the problems with oil and countries associated with oil production may be inherited by biofuel producing states with issues of poverty. The difference is that this does not have to be any country's destiny, as proper planning and a rationalization of environmental and industrial policy should be measured to avoid crisis.

The hyper-reaction and narrow debate surrounding the Global Warming issue often has not had an effect on the world economy, but this first bitter economic shock to the Developing world is a clear disgrace. Countries like Haiti are paying for a theory on Global Warming that is still a very open and debatable issue. Paranoia in the Global Warming debate is driving reactionary policy in the Developed world, and being paid for by the poorest of the poor in the Americas and worldwide. The responsibility of a food shortage crisis should be assumed when creating foreign and local policies for the Developed world in the future, especially if the problems may not exist and the solutions have yet to be implemented.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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