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Haiti: Anse d'Hainault (Part 2)

posted by Nik Barry-Shaw Geography: Latin America Haiti Topics: haiti

June 12, 2007

Haiti: Anse d'Hainault (Part 2)

Anse d’Hainault’s isolation, however, did not save it from an earlier agricultural catastrophe: the eradication of the kreyol pig. In the early 80s, while the dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was still in power, there was a rumored outbreak of African swine fever among Haiti’s pigs. At the behest of the US government, ever mindful of the interests of its pork industry, the Haitian government wiped out nearly the entire pig population.

Owning a pig had served as a form of economic security for the Haitian peasant, an asset which could be sold in hard times, so the eradication program represented an enormous loss. Malnutrition in the countryside skyrocketed while school attendance rates dropped. One author described the impact as a “Great Depression” for the peasant.

Guy Monlouis, an elementary school teacher in Anse d’Hainault, is part of a cooperative that was formed specifically to respond to the plight of the peasants in the area following the pig eradication. Monlouis said that his group started a pig repopulation project in the late 80s and obtained funding from CIDA to build a pig shelter. Peasants who had lost their pigs would be provided with new ones and the cooperative would take back a few of the female pigs of subsequent litters to in order to extend the project to other people.

Nearly 20 years later, the concrete structure stands empty. Monlouis says the group is considering converting the building into a place to raise chickens, but vows they will never try pork production again. What went wrong?

One problem was that when the pigs were replaced, American-bred pigs were used to replace the indigenous kreyol pigs that had been killed off. The kreyol pigs were hearty animals that required little upkeep and survived by eating the garbage produced by the household. The American pigs, on the other hand, needed shelter from the sun (hence the CIDA-funded building) and refused to eat anything but grain.

When the price of grain rose sharply, the pigs ended up costing more than they were worth. People stopped breeding the pigs and started killing them off for meat, and by 2003 the project had collapsed.

"Every year [since 1986] things have gotten worse here," laments Monlouis, reflecting on the heady times of the struggle against the dictatorship. With hardships increasing in the town, many residents have left for Port-au-Prince in search of work.

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wow, I was a kid and I was there.

During that Time, Guy Montlouis was my 3rd grade teacher everyone in my class used to help feed those damn pigs almost every day after school.

Many of the poor peasants of our hometown were crying foul since the very beginning of that project.