Iowa Pigs in Haiti

05 Iowa Pigs in Haiti

I made this collage and wrote these words in early 2019. The canvas is a typical Haitian street painting. I bought of few of these when I visited Haiti – one of them has hung in every apartment and house I’ve lived in. The collage and poem are based on the excerpted passage from liberation theologian turned Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

prince a quatre pieds

are not good for Haiti

or anywhere else

In Eyes of the Heart, former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide wrote:

In 1982 international agencies assured Haiti’s peasants their pigs were sick and had to be killed. Promises were made that better pigs would replace the sick pigs. With an efficiency not since seen among development projects, all of the Creole pigs were killed over period of a thirteen months.

Two years later the new, better pigs came from lowa. 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. Haitian peasants quickly dubbed them “prince a quatre pieds,” (four-footed princes). 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 Haitian peasants lost $600 million dollars. There was a 30% drop in enrollment in rural schools, there was a dramatic decline in the 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.

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