Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Candidates must be honest about harmful U.S. role in fueling refugee crises

Originally published in the Miami Herald

Paul Mondesir and S.G. Sarmiento

March 13, 2020

Excerpt below:

The Democratic candidates for president have an opportunity this week to address an issue that Floridians know well, but both national political parties willfully ignore: Bipartisan U.S. policies regularly force people to leave their homes in Latin America and the Caribbean and head to the United States. If we are to challenge rising bigotry and dehumanizing anti-immigrant policies at home, it’s time that we also have an honest conversation about the U.S. role abroad as well.

After he left office, President Bill Clinton famously admitted to making a “devil’s bargain” in which he forced Haiti to lower tariffs on rice imports. He noted that while the move was “good for some of my farmers in Arkansas,” it forced Haitian rice farmers out of business and reduced the country’s ability to feed itself. Today more than 4 million Haitians — one third of the population — need food assistance, and hunger drives Haitians to flee throughout the hemisphere.

U.S. economic policy did that in Haiti, by design.

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