Skip to comments.Haitians Say Their Hunger Is Real
Posted on 04/10/2008 4:26:24 PM PDT by blam
Haitians say their hunger is real
Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:45pm EDT
By Jim Loney
PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 10 (Reuters) - Elta Petithomme has been scouring the Haitian capital's garbage-strewn main market street for hours, searching for something to feed her four young children. Today, pickings are slim.
Yesterday she sold a cellphone for 50 gourdes, the equivalent of about $1.30, enough to buy some bread, sugar and fried plantains. That's all the children, all under the age of 6, had to eat for the day.
"Some days neighbors will cook and give us some food, as little as it is. Every day is like this," said Petithomme, neatly dressed in a white T-shirt and denim skirt. "I'm not working. I am hungry. But today, I haven't found anything for us to eat."
Petithomme and hundreds of other Haitians flooded the streets of the capital on Thursday after two days of sometimes violent protests against skyrocketing food prices that have Haitians complaining of rising hunger and talking about death by starvation.
"In the last two months, all the prices have doubled or tripled," Oxfam official Yolette Etienne said.
High fuel prices, which have made transportation more expensive, rising demand in Asia, the use of farmland and crops for biofuels, a long drought in Australia and speculation on futures markets have combined to push up food prices worldwide.
The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti is one of three countries in the world that share the largest daily caloric deficit -- 460 calories per day below the daily requirement of 2,100 calories per day, according to the World Food Program.
RICE AND SUGAR RISING
At the Canape Vert Market, where oranges, onions, peppers and rolls of toilet paper are neatly stacked, clouds of flies infest piles of pork and sausages, and stray dogs work furiously against their fleas, vendors seemed to have plenty of supplies, but there were few buyers.
Marie France Presky has been selling staples for 10 years. Her cost for a 55-pound (25-kg) bag of rice has climbed from 530 gourdes ($13.90) to 1,075 gourdes ($28.20) since January.
The same is true for her other necessities: sugar jumped from 1,200 gourdes ($31.50) to 1,700 gourdes ($44.70) for a 110-pound (50 kg) bag; flour from about 1,200 ($31.50) to about 2,000 gourdes ($53.00) for a similar amount.
"The people, they buy tiny amounts now. I am hardly making any profit at all," she said, adding with a broad smile: "I haven't eaten today and you are making me talk too much. I don't have the energy."
Most gas stations were closed on Thursday and some were boarded up against vandals and looters. A worker at one service station said the price of diesel had risen from 134 gourdes ($3.50) to 152 gourdes ($4.00) per gallon (3.8 liters) in 15 days.
It is common for Haitians to scrape by with money from relatives abroad. Remittances are nearly one-quarter of Haiti's GDP and more than double the total of exports, according to World Bank figures.
Often, family and friends in the Caribbean nation help each other out.
"My parents in the provinces sometimes send us some food," said Pierre Rolin, a 35-year-old who lives with his three younger brothers in Port-au-Prince. He was scouting job opportunities Thursday on Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the downtown market street.
"I am not working. I am going around trying to find what I can to survive. Even if I fix something for someone, usually they can't pay, so there is no way to feed my family," he said.
On Wednesday, he said, he managed to buy a bag with four pieces of bread for 30 gourdes ($0.80). "The price has not gone up, but the bread is not even half the size it was before."
International agencies say most Haitians live on less than $2 per day.
"This is a situation of complete desperation," Oxfam's Etienne said. "At this stage, they are hungry. But without strong action, this could become starvation." (Additional reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva; Editing by Tom Brown)
will haiti ever improve ?
Haiti is a small Caribbean nation occupying the western third of the island of Hispaniola, adjacent to the Dominican Republic.
According to the United Nations Human Development Report, Haiti is considered the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and also has the lowest life expectancy rate of 51.5 years; seventy-eight percent of its population of 8.4 million lives on less than US $2 per day.
1 Seventy percent of Haitians lack sustainable access to safe sanitation while 46 percent lack sustainable access to safe water supplies. Haiti has the highest maternal mortality, infant mortality, and HIV prevalence rates in the Western Hemisphere.
2 Primary public health problems include HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, and perinatal conditions, including low birth weight and birth trauma.
We can all thank the greenies for high fuel prices and the ethanol madness. Their sheer lunacy has distorted the markets (including commodity futures).
The effects of Big Government (i.e., the attitude that we know better than you) are so predictable.
Of course, the leftists will probably start yelling about unrestrained population growth, evil capitalism, climate change, the war in Iraq, and so forth. They might even throw in a few cries of "women, children, and minorities hardest hit" or "it's all Bush's fault." But, in the end, any "solutions" that they have to offer will only make things worse.
Nice, the World Bank and IMF works it’s magic once again.
Say, wasn’t Haiti one of those Clinton ‘success’ stories?
I just saw Rep. Roscoe Bartlett talk on C-span about peak oil. One of the fact he noted was quite astonishing to me. People in third world countries spend around 50-60% of their income on food alone. So when food prices double, it really hits those folks very hard. Even if we were to burn all the corn we make to produce biofuel, it would only amount to 2.5% of all oil consumed in this country. The situation for world food prices will only deteriorate from this point, the mandate from congress for % ethanol in fuel is set to increase. Look for more headlines around the world about food riots. The poor people of the world cannot afford a doubling of food prices, it literally means starvation. Our biofuel mandate is probably going to cost a lot of lives before someone with sense step in.
Wouldn’t say that, but not many countries are a success when the UN comes to the rescue.
And meanwhile we and others use food to make more expensive, less efficient and, ultimately, more polluting Ethanol. I guess the Food Lobby is not as powerful as the ADM/Ethanol Lobby.
Agree absolutely. See my post #9
You get it.
Look for crazy stuff to begin happening all over the world. You think there are immigrant problems now, just wait. Everyone in Africa will head for Europe, etc.
I was complaining earlier because my favorite tortilla corn chips went up 17% in price last week.
I don't doubt it, I was shocked to learn today their population is approaching 9 million people. I had assumed it was in the neighborhood of 4 million.
There is a simple solution.
Pretty much Ethanol subsidies is locked in until the next farm bill. Pretty much nothing can be done about it for a year. All the bitching and moaning won’t feed a single person.
So all the people who is so concerned about the poor of the world starving should plow up their front and back yards and plant food crops to send to Haiti and elsewhere.
Does not appear so.
“will haiti ever improve ?”
No. Just look what has been running it for decades? Crooked thugs.
Ever fly over Haiti? if so, you can see the border with the Dominican Republic; it is a straight line down the eastern part of the island the two countries share. This is because the Haitians have cut down all available forests for wood and fuel; the Dominican Republic, on the ohter hand, protects its forests and trees. So, you have a Green Line dividing the barren Haiti and the flora-filled DR. Think of what this means for soil erosion, fuel and a variety of other economic issues.
Years ago, someone said that if you fly over the island of Hispanola you can see where the Domician Republic ends and Haiti begins. The Dom Rep side is all green and forested. The Haiti side has nothing but mud hills and erosion. The people of Haiti have destroyed their own nation’s ability to produce food.
That's why the left so eagerly supports abortion. The left also is big on euthanasia. And we all know how avidly the left pursues genocide.
***Say, wasnt Haiti one of those Clinton success stories?***
If I remember correctly, Clinton held aid money for Haiti hostage to get black congressmen to vote for his assault rifle ban.
There was a work of fiction about that back in the 1970’s. I read a review of the book then and someone on FR mentioned it a few years back. I don't remember the name of the book.
Of those Haitians that I am familiar with, I consider myself fortunate to even know them at all.
I have my own ideas (criticisms) about just how my political representatives should behave, but I have no such criticisms of my Haitian acquaintances.
My friends are workers, and they en masse seem to be completely disinterested in social welfare programs as a lifestyle choice.
Yet, Haiti has much in common with Zimbabwe.
Haiti to the left, DR to the right.
The ethanol mandates have failed miserably. Wait till it reaches 36 billion gallon required by 2022. We are now committed to 9 billion gallons for 2008. It won't be long until consumers begin to put 2 and 2 together. If you think we shouldn't care about global food prices, and let the rest of the world be damn, just wait till these people come knocking on our doorsteps and tell me how you feel then.
H3ll with them. THey should be making their own food anyway. Maybe this will pressure them enough to overthrow their pathetic governments and build a real country of their own.
Haiti is a lost cause. Its folks are uneducated and filled with superstitious voodoo inspired fear.
Killing and lawlessness is the norm.