In April 2000, Radio Haiti activist Jean Leopold Dominique was gunned down on his way to the radio station. His murder is not yet solved, yet the timing of his murder after his coverage of a farmer led boycott of imported sugar and ethanol from the US can lead to questions about US sugar's involvement in Haitian politics..
"* Despite a dramatic decrease in production, sugar was still Haiti's second leading cash crop in the mid 1980s. In 1987 the Haitian government was compelled to privatize its sugar processing facilities. The new owners, realizing there was more money to be made from importing sugar, immediately closed the plant and laid off all the workers. The imported sugar was sold at a higher price than local sugar, resulting in higher prices for all sugar-based commodities. For example, citrus farmers found it difficult to sell citrus juice drops due to the increased price of sweetener. U.S. sugar producers are heavily subsidized by the government, which also places a hefty tariff on sugar imports."
"Let Them eat Gruel" by Justin Felux; http://www.dissidentvoice.org/May2004/Felux0527.htm
Jean Dominique was an agronomist and Radio Haiti journalist who frequently visited with the Haitian rice farmers of the Artibonite Valley and other peasant farmer organizations like KOZEPEP. The Haitian farmers who grew indigenous sorghum sweetener crops were being driven out of business by the US sugar imports (who also use Haitian immigrants as near slave labor in South Florida) that flooded the market after Arisitide's return post 1991 coup. Since Aristide's return was conditional upon accepting the WTO free trade agreements signed into law by William Clinton, there was little Aristide could do to prevent the US sugar imports from flooding the Haitian economy. Activists like Jean Dominique supported and provided media coverage to the roadblocks organized by indigenous Haitian farmers to prevent the US sugar and ethanol imports from entering further into Haiti and destroying their local economy. Ethanol imports from the US contributed to suppressing the Haitian version of alcohol called clairin made from sugarcane by local Haitian farmers..
more info on Jean Dominique;
"Aristide also agreed to decree April 3 as the new "National Day of the Haitian Press," another journalist demand. Nothing more than these symbolic gestures came out of the meeting. In his remarks, the president emphasized that Jean Dominique, in the days before his murder, was focusing his investigations on and editorials against a foreign-instigated "electoral coup d'état." "
"Justice Still Sluggish in Dominique Murder Case" http://www.haitiprogres.com/2001/sm010404/xeng0404.htm
National Coalition for Haitian Rights; http://www.nchr.org/
"Sound of Silence: Killing the Hope in Haiti: http://www.nchr.org/hrp/jando/sound_of_silence.htm
Agonomist; Movie about Jean Leopold Dominique http://www.theagronomist.com/
Sorghum history; http://sandhillfarm.org/sorghum_FAQs.html
Imported Ethanol vs. Haitian Clairin http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti-archive/msg00384.html
" Ethanol alcohol was buried yesterday amidst flags, trumpets, tubas, and t-shirts (that read "Men nan men Pwodiksyon Nasyonal ap vanse" on the front
and "President Preval = National Production" on the back) and a sign at the grave that read "Adieu Ethanol." No ordinary burial this, it was preceded by a rally in Leogane, Haiti where local farmers have been actively enraged about the imported ethanol alcohol (presumably purchased for hospital use)
which has been competing with Haitian made clarin (Haitian rum--moonshine, if you will--produced for local consumption), a major source of income from the sugar cane harvests.
I believe the point was best made by Jean Dominique, the director of Radio Haiti Inter. He said that when he was approached by a peasant organization about the problem of ethanol being sold as clarin [in competition with?], he deemed it worthy of radio air time. "Let it be understood," the announcer says, "Ethanol is not clarin. Ethanol is ethanol.
Clairin is clairin.""
"Why Kill Jean Dominique?" http://www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org/Pierre-Louis.htm
"Just as he took on a media mogul whom he accused of plotting against the rise of Lavalas to power; a Lavalas former military man who in October 1999, had seemingly organized a demonstration in front of Radio Haïti Inter and in the process revived the old color conflict; a local pharmaceutical firm for having produced medication with toxic products that caused the death and infirmity of close to one hundred kids; the importers of ethanol whom he accused of falsifying the manufacture of clairin (white rum) using that product; foreign embassies and their untimely intervention in the internal affairs of the country."
Clairin (Kleren in kreyol) article; http://www.lambifund.org/projects-current.htm
"Peasant Organization of Tach-7th Moulen Sugar Cane Mill
The Community of Tach/ 7èm Moulin is pleased with the services provided by the new sugar cane mill run by the OPT7M peasant organization. Now community members no longer have to walk miles to get their cane milled. Nor do they have to pay exorbitant prices charged by rich landowners who operate the other mill. Even better, residents of Tach-7th Moulen say the cane syrup or "siwo" produced by the OPT7M mill tastes good, is clean and of good quality.
The Mill has two kinds of "Siwo" depending on how long the cane juice is cooked:
Industrial "Siwo" cooked for 4 hours (used by the local residents as an ingredient to create a drink called Clairin in French, Kleren in kreyòl.) "Siwo Mache" (market syrup which is sold at the local market and is used as a sweetener by the peasantry instead of refined sugar).
The users of the mill, pay the organization in "nature" not money. For every eight buckets (1 bucket = 5 gallons) the organization is paid two buckets. OPT7M stores the "Siwo "and sells it. The proceeds are then used to pay the operators of the mill, to buy gas and use for all other expenses.
Tidjo, our field monitor in the Artibonite, asked OPG (another organization with a sugar cane mill financed by Lambi Fund six years ago) to help train the operator of the OPT7M mill. Another example of Lambi Fund collaboration! Thanks to World Venture Partners for helping make this project happen!"