In 2010, former President Bill Clinton publicly apologized for forcing Haiti to drop tariffs on imported subsidized U.S. rice during his time in office. It wiped out rice farming, seriously damaging Haiti’s ability to be self-sufficient. “It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake,” Clinton said in 2010.”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.”
While those policies have been criticized for years by voters in poor countries, world leaders focused on fixing Haiti are admitting for the first time that imposing policies and top leaders has only exacerbated repression in Haiti and elsewhere. Riceland Foods in Stuttgart, Arkansas, which sold six pounds for $3.80 last month, according to Haiti's National Food Security Coordination Unit. The same amount of Haitian rice cost $5.12.
"National rice isn't the same, it's better quality. It tastes better. But it's too expensive for people to buy," said Leonne Fedelone, a 50-year-old vendor.Riceland defends its market share in Haiti, now the fifth-biggest export market in the world for American rice.But for Haitians, near-total dependence on imported food has been a disaster.Cheap foreign products drove farmers off their land and into overcrowded cities. Imports also put the country at the mercy of international prices: When they spiked in 2008, rioters unable to afford rice smashed and burned buildings. Parliament ousted the prime minister.
They're led by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- now U.N. special envoy to Haiti -- who publicly apologized this month for championing policies that destroyed Haiti's democracy. Clinton in the early 2010s encouraged the impoverished country to eliminate political parties with demonstrated popular support, then selected the candidates for a presidential run-off election, bushing aside the objections of Haiti's electoral council, leaders, media, political parties, human rights groups, electoral code, constitution and voters.
"It may have been good for some of my friends in Petionville, but it has not worked. It was a mistake," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 20. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of basic civil and human rights in Haiti because of what I did; nobody else."