In America—especially in white America—we take food abundance for granted. From sushi to steak to salad and smoothies, countless food choices are part of our daily routine and a key component of our leisure and fun. One hundred and thirty-four million of us—75 percent of the adult U.S. population—are obese or overweight. (http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/index.htm#preval)
Even the choice to be slim and fit based on a healthy diet is an option not available to most of humanity. For the majority of us hunger is no more than a momentary pang endured until the next refrigerator, restaurant, deli or grocery presents itself.
For 3 billion people around the world who are facing starvation, the chance for something edible has little to do with nutrition or leisure or fun. Anything to eat is a fleeting panacea for the pain of a chronically empty stomach, a pain that has been compared to battery acid in the abdomen. Thirty people a minute are dying of starvation (http://www.starvation.net/) in a world where half the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day.
In the news these days are reports of massive food rebellions in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Haiti 80 percent of the population no longer have the resources to eat food. Millions in Haiti are forced to subsist on mud mixed with sugar and shortening. YouTube videos show UN and government police forces firing on crowds of angry people in Haiti, Egypt, Mexico and El Salvador.
For most of us in North America such realities may seem sad but very far removed for our lives. Ultimately, we believe, world starvation has nothing to do with us.
Living in a country built on the enslavement of African people, the genocide against the Indigenous people, and the spoils of colonial domination the world over, global hunger has, however, everything to do with us.
The reality is that every aspect of this world food crisis is made in white America, by Americans, for America’s economic benefit. Today’s skyrocketing rice and grain prices are not the result of shortages! We are seeing record rice crops globally this year! As an Asia Times article, “Rice, death and the dollar” states, “The global food crisis is a monetary phenomenon, a … consequence of America’s attempt to inflate its way out of a market failure…” (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/JD22Dj01.html)
Here are some of the real factors contributing to the current rapid rise in food costs and starvation worldwide.
Wall Street speculation. With the dollar tanking and banks and corporations going bankrupt (and being bailed out by the government and the Fed), commodities, such as grains and agriculture are the hottest Wall Street investment sector today! For investors they are a “safe haven” against “the falling dollar and the loss of faith in stock markets.” (Energyandcapital.com)
As a last ditch effort to save the U.S. economy with the bursting of the housing bubble, investors are now creating a grains bubble, driving prices off the charts, regardless of the cost of suffering for the majority of the world.
Average prices for rice have reached a 20-year high this month, with Thai rice going up from $360 a ton in December 2007 to $850 this week. Investors are working overtime trying to get a piece of these profits, while those living on a dollar or two a day can’t afford even a plate of rice.
Billionaire Jim Rogers is on TV constantly advising people to “buy agriculture!” Tellingly the blog Energy and Capital describes the brutal conditions of starvation for most of the world’s impoverished people, talks about the grain price hikes, says there is “no relief in sight,” and then ends with the statement: “…enough of the doom and gloom. How can I profit from this? Well, I'm gonna tell you…” (http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/grain-food+prices-commodities/663)
You can be sure that now all the bad subprime mortgage bonds in your money market or retirement funds have been replaced with commodities investments. How many children must die for our baby boomers to enjoy a “secure” retirement?
Biofuels are genocide. Wall Street investors are creating an ethanol bubble too, driving up the prices of grain grown for fuel rather than for food. Farmers around the world can no longer afford to grow grain for food when the earnings for fuel are far greater!
Former Cuban president Fidel Castro has been campaigning for the past couple of years against biofuels. He has called ethanol “genocide,” saying that biofuels will “cost the lives of 3 billion people.”
Castro’s article, “The Internationalization of Genocide,” states, “The five top producers of the corn, barley, sorghum, rye, millet and oats that Bush wants to turn into raw materials for producing ethanol supply 679 million tons of the world market…In turn, the five top consumers, some of which are also producers of these grains, currently need 604 million tons annually. The available surplus comes down to less than 80 million tons.”
Castro adds, “This colossal waste of cereals for producing fuel…would serve only to save the rich countries less than 15 percent of what is annually consumed by their voracious automobiles.” (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/castro050407.html)
Forced deregulation of world agricultural markets. Historically countries around the world produced food for themselves and their governments kept restrictions on the price of food to prevent speculation and price gouging. Haiti, where the people are today forced to subsist on a steady diet of mud, is a perfect example. Twenty-five years ago Haitian farmers grew and exported their own rice.
But in the late 1980s the U.S. backed IMF forced Haiti, as a condition for a desperately needed loan, to deregulate their markets and open them up to competition from the outside. The U.S. then dumped its government-subsidized rice onto Haiti (and many other countries around the world), selling the American rice cheaper than Haiti farmers could sell theirs for. The U.S. rice dumping brought to an abrupt halt Haiti’s own self-sufficient agricultural infrastructure and forced millions of people into desperate poverty.
U.S. Agribusiness. According to Gretchen Gordon in, “The Food Crisis: Global Markets and Deregulation Strike Again,” three major corporations, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Bunge, “control the vast majority of global grain trading, while Monsanto controls more than one-fifth of the global market in seeds.”
While billions of human beings are starving, Cargill’s third quarter 2007 profits increased more than 86 percent and Monsanto’s were up 45 percent. In fact they are using the current crisis to further impose their genetically modified seeds on the peoples of the world.
The U.S. will not be immune from this crisis. Almost 22 percent of African families in the U.S. experience food insecurity—not knowing where their next meal will come from. One out of twelve Indigenous families forced onto reservations on their own land experience food insecurity with hunger. (http://www.wole.org/hunger.htm)
Throughout the U.S. the African community has been hit hard by the collapse of the subprime mortgage scam, which again made Wall Street bankers and investors billions of dollars. Cities with high African populations, such as Cleveland, Baltimore, Detroit and Atlanta are seeing tens of thousands of families facing foreclosure and homelessness as a result of this. When the full weight of this crisis hits over the next couple of years millions of African people in America will be plunged even more deeply into poverty.
What can we do?
The United Nations, the U.S. government and the websites of countless organizations are calling for donations of money for food for some of these countries. Charity, however, will never solve this problem, any more than Bush’s little tax refund will prevent the downturn of the U.S. economy.
The only thing that will really change this crisis is the end of a system that acts as a parasite sucking the blood of the peoples of the world. Let’s face it: the prosperity of the white world is directly dependent on slavery, genocide and theft of the resources of just about everyone else. For us to live, they can’t! World peace and cooperation is, of course, forever impossible under such a system.
Going “green” in and of itself is no solution! Environmentalism inside of a system sitting on a pedestal of slavery and colonialism will do nothing but make us feel good for recycling bottles or saving the ozone, while the majority of people continue to suffer and die. Environmental destruction is simply a byproduct of a system that wipes out whole peoples and civilizations to maintain our life style!
What will end hunger and starvation is when the earth’s oppressed peoples finally have control over their land, resources, lives and destinies again. The people of Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, along with African, Mexican and Indigenous people colonized inside this country are struggling for this. This is the struggle for national liberation.
The Uhuru Movement has built the African Socialist International (ASI), made up of African individuals and organizations in Africa, the U.S., the Caribbean, South America, Europe—wherever African people have been dispersed around the world.
The ASI is based on the premise that Africans are one people everywhere and that the food, diamonds, oil, coltan, bauxite, uranium and all the resources of Africa are the birthright of African people the world over, not corporations and Western imperial nations.
The Uhuru Movement, led by the African People’s Socialist Party has built the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in the U.S. and Africa. InPDUM is a people’s organization that defends the democratic rights of the African community that has been massively imprisoned, placed under martial law and subjected to oppressive educational systems worldwide.
Other dynamic fronts of the Uhuru Movement include the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Program (AAPDEP), organizing African scientists, engineers and health care workers from the U.S. to participate in sustainable electrification, rain water harvesting and heath care projects in West Africa.
There is the African Internationalist Student Organization (AISO) for African students from middle school through graduate school. Uhuru News features the on-line radio station Uhuru Radio, Burning Spear Records and The Burning Spear newspaper. Another front, the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), is an organization of white people working in white communities under the leadership of the Uhuru Movement
White people who find that living at the expense of the suffering of the vast majority of humanity is intolerable can join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement led by APSC. You and I can make a difference, not as mere consumers of information, but by taking a real stand in solidarity for the future of the planet in the hands of African and oppressed people. (http://www.uhurunews.com/)
A stand in solidarity with African and oppressed people everywhere allows us to be part of a great movement to end the system of starvation, of slaves and slave masters and participate in building a system of justice and peace. As the source of most of the problems in today’s world, imperialism must go. In its place must be a system built on justice, equity and human needs, not profit, greed and exploitation. This is the vision of the movement for African liberation.
Let’s get to work. There is so much to do.