Economic Collapse Watch: Riots in Haiti over Food Prices

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In The Crash is past. Comes now Inflation, on March 2 (it seems so long ago), I warned that the official response to the financial crises so far was to save Wall Street and the financial system at all costs; that inflation was being unleashed; and this would mean a severe decline in our standard of living over the next few years. I alluded to a rise in food prices being one immediate cause of pain, and intimated that social unrest would be the result.

It’s happening much faster than I thought possible.

From the BBC:

Hungry mob attacks Haiti palace
Crowds of demonstrators in Haiti have tried to storm the presidential palace in the capital Port-au-Prince as protests continue over food prices.

I learned of this just a few minutes ago, from this diary from someone who has a friend in the U.S. Embassy to Haiti: Haiti Riots - StateDept trapped. DAILY KOS FIRST

Tomorrow, the Guardian of London will be reporting Food price rises threaten global security - UN:

Sir John Holmes, undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and the UN's emergency relief coordinator, told a conference in Dubai that escalating prices would trigger protests and riots in vulnerable nations. He said food scarcity and soaring fuel prices would compound the damaging effects of global warming. Prices have risen 40% on average globally since last summer.

"The security implications [of the food crisis] should also not be underestimated as food riots are already being reported across the globe," Holmes said. "Current food price trends are likely to increase sharply both the incidence and depth of food insecurity."

He added that the biggest challenge to humanitarian work is climate change, which has doubled the number of disasters from an average of 200 a year to 400 a year in the past two decades.

As well as this week's violence in Egypt, the rising cost and scarcity of food has been blamed for:

· Riots in Haiti last week that killed four people

· Violent protests in Ivory Coast

· Price riots in Cameroon in February that left 40 people dead

· Heated demonstrations in Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal

· Protests in Uzbekistan, Yemen, Bolivia and Indonesia

UN staff in Jordan also went on strike for a day this week to demand a pay rise in the face of a 50% hike in prices, while Asian countries such as Cambodia, China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan have curbed rice exports to ensure supplies for their own residents.

Officials in the Philippines have warned that people hoarding rice could face economic sabotage charges. A moratorium is being considered on converting agricultural land for housing or golf courses, while fast-food outlets are being pressed to offer half-portions of rice.


The impact of climate is one factor I definitely overlooked.

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Price escalation of grains which effects egg, poultry and meat prices as well, is partly attributable to the policy of encouraging farmers to produce ethanol as a substitute for petroleum. A number of the comments to my post discuss this point. It would be useful to track how US "free-trade" policy was used as a weapon against local farm producers in countries like Mexico.

Stage 1) Cheap American grains etc. were dummped on their market undercutting the price and driving Mexican farmers out of production. The same kind of scenario as happens when a food chain drives local grocers out of business in the US.

Stage 2) US-produced farm products take over the market and then the prices begin to go up. Now with US farmers being incentivized to produce grains for the production of ethanol rather than as food, the price escalation takes off.

Food reserves globally are at an all-time low. If we see some serious climate disruptions famine will again become a serious problem world wide.

And yes we comoplain about the influx of "illegal" immigrants into the US to try to get money to send back to feed their starving families.

carol