The rising cost of food is one reason that Haitians are going hungry. The other is a lack of land to grow crops.
Deforestation has destroyed much of the farming land once used by Haiti’s rural communities.
Al Jazeera’s Mike Kirsch looks at an environmental problem that’s further fuelling Haiti’s food crisis.
The Black Hole of Debt
By Nick Dearden
April 25, 2008
Haiti is in Crisis Because It Can’t Feed Itself. Meanwhile, It is Sending Millions Abraod in Loan Payments
In recent weeks, Haiti has been gripped by violent protest yet again. And yet again the inhabitants of this impoverished country are suffering the most brutal consequences of the fallout of the global economic crisis. This time it is the rise in global food prices, which has sparked riots in Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital, where UN peacekeepers used rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters attempting to storm the presidential palace. Days later the prime minister was fired.
It is therefore particularly appropriate that on Tuesday this week -the anniversary of the death of Haiti’s dictator, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier – hundreds of debt campaigners fasted for Haiti’s debt to be cancelled. Haiti’s fate has been tied up with the issue of international debt more than any other country. Despite the fact that it’s debt is illegitimate by any standards and despite Haiti’s sorry position as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, it still owes $1.3bn. Every year debt repayments flow from Haiti to multilateral banks, just as its resources once enriched the French empire.
Haiti became the world’s first republic to outlaw slavery, after the slave population led a struggle for independence which they won in 1804. However, in 1825, in return for recognition, the new state promised to pay its former French overlords compensation amounting to $21bn in today’s money. It did not finish paying this debt until 1947. Calls for restitution have been consistently rejected by French governments.