The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the “velvet glove” of U.S. foreign policy. The political bias of its operations in Haiti goes back decades. Here are ten things to know about USAID in Haiti.
1.) USAID paid millions to Haiti’s dictator, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, to boost U.S. influence in the region after the Cuban Revolution.
2.) USAID backed Duvalier’s son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc,” with plans to promote Haiti as the “Taiwan of the Caribbean.”
3.) USAID sabotaged Haiti’s domestic food production.
4.) USAID enforced trade liberalization policies that undercut Haiti’s rice industry.
5.) USAID “food aid” is good for U.S. agribusiness, not for Haitian farmers. Haiti’s domestic rice production was undermined even more by the vast amounts of “free” U.S. rice that USAID dumps on Haiti every year in the from of “food aid.”
6.) USAID destroyed the Haitian Creole pig. The 1982 swine flue outbreak in the Dominican Republic provided the justification for USAID to condemn Haiti’s 1.3 million pig population.
7.) USAID has consistently opposed minimum wage increases in Haiti. In 1991, USAID opposed a minimum wage increase from $.33 to $.50 per hour proposed by the Aristide government, claiming it was bad for business.
8.) USAID promoted and funded the 2004 overthrow of democratically elected president Aristide. While millions of American dollars have propped up Haiti’s dictators, aid shifted abruptly away from Haiti’s first democratically elected government.
9.) USAID extends its influences by funding NGOs which receive 70% of their budgets from the agency.
10.) USAID boasts that 84 cents of every dollar of its funding in Haiti returns to the U.S. in the form of salaries, supplies, consulting fees, and services.
“How USAID Undermines Democracy in Haiti”, Leslie Mullin, Pambazuka News, February 1, 2012. http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/77988
“How USAID Undermines Democracy in Haiti”, Leslie Mullin, Haiti Action Committee, February 201. http://www.haitisolidarity.net/article.php?id=538
Student Researcher: Lindsay Lytle, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Sheila Katz, Sonoma State University