The Family

The Family
Justice, Logan, Jacy Klaire, Joy, Josie Kate, Luke, Megan, Judah, Kerry, Jaxon

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why Can't Haitians Grow Enough Rice to Feed Themselves?

Why Can't Haitians Grow Enough Rice to Feed Themselves? I get asked that type of question a lot.  I am going to defer the question to the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton.  In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2010 Bill said:
“Since 1981, the United States has followed a policy, until the last year or so when we started rethinking it, that we rich countries that produce a lot of food should sell it to poor countries and relieve them of the burden of producing their own food, so, thank goodness, they can leap directly into the industrial era. It has not worked. It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake. . . I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did. Nobody else.”
The deal was that Haiti could not charge a tariff for imported U.S. rice that got the nickname "diri Miami" or Miami rice.  On top of that, the Haitian government could not use U.S. aid money to subsidize Haitian farmers for their rice in order for their price to be competitive with the imported U.S. rice.  In a matter of 4 years the Haitian grown rice market was essentially demolished.  In the deal we were going to help them develop a mango export market so they could join the international trade community.  It hasn't happened.  This was not a new approach.  We did the same thing to the Haitian and Dominican sugar cane crops. We took a team over to the DR to work in the sugar cane fields providing medical care to the Haitians living in the middle of 1,000,000 acres of sugar cane that can't be cut and sold because of subsidy deals with the U.S. and Canada.

Did you know that Hillary and Bill got a trip to Haiti as a wedding present from a friend.  They spent some time in the little country while Baby Doc was the dictator.  Maybe that's why Bill is so distraught over the repercussions of his policies in Haiti.  It's not a political party issue though.  It is standard U.S. domestic policy for the last 40 years.

Anyone that has been to Haiti with us on trips have seen the trucks loaded to the gills with rice coming in from the U.S.  In a funny side note, the rice is vitamin fortified but I have never met a single Haitian that cooked the rice without washing it twice even though the bags say NOT to wash it or you remove all of the vitamins.

American rice buying and selling has become a major part of the Haitian economy.  We try to send money to buy rice there instead of filling the boxes here to send down.  At least the money is going into the economy, unlike the aid money from the earthquake relief.  Did you know that out of the $360 million the U.S. allocated for Haiti after the earthquake that $120 million was reimbursed to the U.S. for military support we sent down?  $151 million went to U.S. based aid organizations.  A piece of the rest maybe somehow actually helped the people that we know.  There was a soccer stadium built and a bunch of hotels for the tourist industry that is supposedly going to start booming.

I say all of that to say that we as Christians can't rely on the government, foreign or domestic, to do the job of the church.  The church's job is to love people and help the oppressed.

Isaiah says the purpose of religion and commitment to God is this:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Are we doing that as the church?  Are we doing all we can to break the bonds of wickedness or do we get too caught up in complaining about government not doing things our way?

Do we share our bread with the hungry or do we complain that we already pay too much in taxes so we don't have to share with the needy because that's welfare's job.

When's the last time that you or I got personally involved in helping a person being set free from oppression or bondage?

If Isaiah says that's the job of religion, what are we doing?  Somebody else's problem?  Send $10 to the Red Cross by
text so I can forget about it?

We share in the responsibility of the oppression.  We also share in the opportunity of the liberation.  We can work together to be the hands and feet of Christ loosening bonds and giving bread to the hungry.  We just have to allow God to use us.  We have to slow down enough to know He is trying to use us.

Don't blame the Haitians for their lack of rice or the homeless man downtown for his homelessness.  Instead consider your opportunity to pour yourself out for someone else.  Don't fall for the fool's trap of being distracted by an argument or apathy.

I just don't think "It was against my party's policy position, Jesus, so I really shouldn't be held accountable" is going to fly when we stand before our God.