Haiti’s small, black, Creole pigs were at the heart of the peasant economy. An extremely hearty breed, well adapted to Haiti’s climate and conditions, they ate readily-available waste products, and could survive for three days without food. Eighty to 85% of rural households raised pigs; they played a key role in maintaining the fertility of the soil and constituted the primary savings bank of the peasant population. Traditionally a pig was sold to pay for emergencies and special occasions (funerals, marriages, baptisms, illnesses and, critically, to pay school fees and buy books for the children when school opened…)
In 1982 international agencies assured Haiti’s peasants their pigs were sick and had to be killed (so that the illness would not spread to countries to the North). Promises were made that better pigs would replace sick pigs. With an efficiency not since seen among development projects, all of the Creole pigs were killed over a period of thirteen months.
Two years later the new, better pigs came from Iowa. They were so much better that they required clean drinking water (unavailable to 80% of the Haitian population), imported feed (costing $90 a year when the per capita income was about $130), and special roofed pigpens.… Adding insult to injury, the meat did not taste as good. Needless to say, the repopulation program was a complete failure. One observer of the process estimated that in monetary terms peasants lost $600 million dollars. There was a 30% drop in enrollment in rural schools, there was a dramatic decline in protein consumption in rural Haiti, a devastating decapitalization of the peasant economy and an incalculable negative impact on Haiti’s soil and agricultural productivity. The Haitian peasantry has not recovered to this day.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Eyes of the Heart; Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, (Common Courage Press, 2000), pp. 13-15
^ FYI, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was a popular democratically elected president of Haiti who was then overthrown, alledgedy with the help of the CIA.
(another quote about how Haiti was fucked over by international financial agencies can be found here)
One could probably drop the “allegedly”
One of my relatives was one of the first to sign up for peace corps, they sent him, a white 22 year old boy who had studied literature or some shit, to nepal to improve the agricultural practices of people who have been doing it for how many generations. First thing he did was suggest this village use this imported strain of rice which was supposedly flood-resistant. That year was an unusually dry year, and the entire crop failed. He managed to not get executed and went back to pennsylvania where he started a moderately successful greeting card business.
People in the third world are so completely infantilized in the mindsets of the white West that it’s assumed that any well-meaning Westerner can simply show up in a country and show the people the way out of poverty. In Canada we have highschools that organize aid trips to Africa, and university undergrads are pummeled with offers to go on adventure-vacations in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia that combine conscience-easing “aid” work with white water rafting and sight-seeing.
The mindset behind the Western approach to “aid” is driven on the one hand by a patronizing view of non-Western peoples that gives rise to the belief that any given Westerner must understand a country’s economic and ecological situation better than the people who actually live in it, and on the other hand by a drive to find solutions to the problems caused by Western imperialism in any way possible except through the abolition of that imperialism. So the third world remains the playground of the West, somewhere the upper and middle classes can go for escape, excitement, personal growth, “finding themselves”, etc. as well as a place from which they—through charities and aid missions—can purchase respite from the guilt of leading a life that benefits from and in fact necessitates the exploitation of these countries.