Karnaval explained- episode 4 - Kochon Kreyol (Creole Pigs)
For today's post I am going to copy and paste the story as told by Grassroots International's PIG PARTY page. They have a great short documentary (25 minutes) on their page and I'd encourage you to head over there and watch it if this is an issue that interests you. There are even ways to help out their cause to introduce a new Creole pig into Haiti. Read on...
For generations, the Haitian Creole pig had been a poor Haitian family’s most important economic asset. Rugged foragers that coped well in Haiti’s tropical climate, Creole pigs were cheap and easy for peasant families to raise. Beyond meat, the pigs' real significance lay in their role as a “peasants’ savings bank”— an asset that could easily be tapped into when cash was needed.
The eradication of the pig
In 1983, swine flu broke out in the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbor on the island of Hispaniola. When a few cases of the disease were found in Haiti, the US became fearful that the epidemic might penetrate its own important pork industry.
The US government cited the interests of the US pork industry when it pressured the Duvalier dictatorship to eradicate the Haitian Creole pig. Peasants were forced, often at gunpoint, to bring their pigs to eradication centers to be destroyed.
The failure of the quick-fix
Soon after the eradication, a shipment of US-bred pigs arrived from Iowa to replace the lost Creole pigs. The pigs were not cheap for Haitians, who had to pay $50 or more for the offspring - an enormous sum in Haiti. On the other hand, the sale generated millions in revenue for US pig farmers.
Unlike the Creole pigs, the US breeds required expensive feed which Haitian farmers could ill afford. The new pigs required housing with cement floors—even as most peasants lived in homes with dirt floors. Many pigs fell sick in the new climate, and few Haitian peasants could pay for their expensive medical treatment. Within a short time, most of the US pigs had died.