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We Are Hungry! A Summary Report of Food Riots, Government Responses, and States of Democracy in 2008

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“We are Hungry!”
A Summary Report of Food Riots, Government
Responses, and States of Democracy in 2008
Mindi Schneider
December, 2008
Contact Information:
Mindi Schneider
Development Sociology
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
mindi.l.schneider@gmail.com
Photo credits and locations:
Figure 1: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aDZej7GJjpjM&refer=home
Figure 2: http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/416328 ARIANA CUBILLOS/AP PHOTO
Figure 3: http://www.treehugger.com/food%20protest%20mexico.jpg
Figure 4: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/12/17/business/18ethanol-600.jpg, New York Times
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Contents
Introduction 3
Part I. 2008 Food Riot Information Resources
1. Government Responses to the 2008 Food Riots 4
2. Analysis of the 2008 Food Riots 4
3. Mapping the 2008 Food Riots 4
4. General Sources of Information on the 2008 Food Riots 4
Part II. A Geography of 2008 Food Riots by Region
1. Africa 8
Burkina Faso………. 8
Cameroon…………. 9
Côte d'Ivoire………. 11
Egypt………………. 13
Guinea……………... 15
Madagascar………… 17
Mauritania…………. 18
Morocco…………… 19
Mozambique………. 20
Senegal……………. 21
Somalia…………… 23
Tunisia……………. 25
Zimbabwe………… 26
2. Asia 28
Bangladesh……….. 28
India………………. 30
Indonesia…………. 32
Philippines………... 34
3. The Americas and the Caribbean 36
Argentina………… 36
El Salvador………. 38
Haiti……………… 39
Mexico…………… 41
Nicaragua………... 44
Peru………………. 46
4. Middle East 48
Jordan……………. 48
Yemen …………… 50
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Introduction
rising food prices, falling grain reserves, commodity speculation, crop failure, biofuels, dirt
cookies, corporate profit, rising fuel prices, erratic weather, market deregulation, starvation,
disaster capitalism, subsidies, bread queues, export restrictions, hunger, rising meat and dairy
consumption, food riots…
The so-called “world food crisis” that coalesced across the globe in 2007 and early 2008 when
the price of rice, corn, wheat, soybeans, cooking oils, and food more generally skyrocketed
illustrates many of the crises and contradictions of the contemporary global food economy. The
food riots that erupted on virtually every continent demonstrate both the global integration of
food and agricultural systems, and the severity of the problems inherent within them. Triggers
such as commodity speculation, grain hoarding, the diversion of food crops for use as fuel crops,
the growth of industrial methods of livestock production and meat consumption, and falling grain
reserves contributed to the rapid increase of food prices. The world’s poor suffered the greatest
blow as food prices rose to unattainable levels, rations decreased or disappeared, and as a result,
hungry people took to the streets in protest.
The catastrophe of high food prices earlier this year was no doubt a food crisis in and of itself.
But it is a mistake to tie the idea of the food crisis only to the events and circumstances of a few
months. Indeed it is the contemporary global food economy that is itself in crisis. While the
price of foodstuffs has decreased, the food crisis is far from over. Already, agribusiness firms
are profiting from the crisis (for example see GRAIN’s excellent report, “Making a Killing from
Hunger”), and proposals for deeper market liberalization and “Green Revolution” technologies
are being touted as the silver bullets for addressing food security as a narrowly defined concept.
At the same time, calls for food sovereignty, market regulation, and sustainable or agroecological
methods of farming are gaining attention and momentum through organizations such as La Via
Campesina and the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty.
This report is a summary of news reports and analyses of the food riots that erupted across the
globe in 2008. It outlines state responses to the food riots, and sketches the state of democracy in
countries where riots occurred. The first section provides references and links to general articles
and sources of information that I found useful when compiling the report. It is by no means
comprehensive, but outlines some of the major sources of information available on the topic.
The second section is an attempt at mapping the food riots across world regions. For each
country, information is provided on the demands of protesters, measures taken by governments
in response, and the state of democracy. I used country profiles from the U.S. State Department
and the BBC to convey the most basic aspects of state governments, but supplemented these
perspectives with those of citizens and protesters whenever possible. Research for this report
was conducted from May to September of 2008.
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Part I
2008 Food Riot Information Resources
The following list represents information sources that I found useful when compiling this report.
It is by no means comprehensive.
1. Government Responses to the 2008 Food Riots
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm. **
VERY COMPREHENSIVE
**
2. Analysis of the 2008 Food Riots
Harsch, Ernest. 2008. “Price protests expose state faults: Rioting and repression reflect problems
of African governance,” African Renewal, Vol. 22, No. 2, July. Available at
http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol22no2/222-price-protests.html.
Patel, Raj. 2008. Commentary: The hungry of the earth. Radical Philosophy 151. Available at
http://www.radicalphilosophy.com/default.asp?channel_id=2187&editorial_id=26743.
Patel, Raj. Stuffed and Starved blog. Available at http://stuffedandstarved.org/drupal/frontpage.
3. Mapping the 2008 Food Riots
Stratton, Allegra. 2008. “Who is fighting over food? A map of where there have been food riots,”
The Guardian, April 9. Available at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2008/apr/09/foodriots.
4. General Sources of Information on the 2008 Food Riots
Reuters. 2008. Agflation: The real costs of rising food prices. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/agflation. **Archive of food crisis related
articles in 2008 **
Earth Policy Institute. 2008. Food price unrest around the world, September 2007 – April 2008.
Copied from http://www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2008/Update72_data.htm#table1.
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Food Price Unrest Around the World, September 2007- April 2008
Location Date Description
Haiti April 2008
Days of rioting left five people dead, including a U.N.
peacekeeper, and forced the resignation of Haiti's Prime Minister.
Food prices in the country, the poorest in the western hemisphere,
have increased by between 50 and 100 percent in the last year.
Thailand April 2008 Rice is now so valuable that thieves have taken to stealing it out of
fields at night; the army is now being used to prevent food theft.
Bangladesh April 2008
Twenty eight people were injured after ten thousand workers
rioted in the capital, Dhaka, demanding higher pay to cover fast-
increasing food costs. Rice prices in Bangladesh have doubled in
the last year.
Trinidad and
Tobago April 2008 Bandits hijacked and looted two vans carrying flour, milk and
juice as prices rose in supermarkets across the country.
Egypt March-April
2008
Rice prices in Egypt have more than doubled in the last few
months. Many people now depend on state-
subsidized bread which
is sold for 20 percent of market price. Fights in the long bread
lines have left at least six people dead and the government has
called in the army to bake bread for the public.
Côte d'Ivoire
March-April
2008
Protests against high food prices left one person dead and 20
wounded and prompted the government to temporarily suspend
taxes on staple goods.
Ethiopia March-April
2008
Prices of basic foods in Addis Ababa have jumped between 30-70
percent since last summer. The government has banned cereal
exports and is subsidizing wheat for low-income city dwellers.
United Arab
Emirates March 2008 Soaring food prices caused hundreds of workers to protest for
higher wages in Sharjah, where cars and offices were set on fire.
Senegal
March 2008 &
November
2007
Senegal's 18 unions marched last November to protest the
spiraling cost of basic food. Further unrest in March led to clashes
with police and at least 24 arrests.
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Philippines February-
April 2008
In February, the Philippines, the world's largest rice importer,
made a direct appeal to Vietnam asking it to guarantee rice
supplies. In April, the government deployed troops to deliver grain
to poor areas in the capital. Amid growing fears of shortages, the
government has also asked fast-food restaurants to serve half
portions of rice.
Afghanistan February-
March 2008
Wheat export restrictions by Pakistan have caused prices to double
over much of the country, leading to an increase in smuggling over
the border. Continued high prices could contribute to spreading
social unrest.
Burkina Faso
February-
March 2008
Three hundred protestors were arrested in food price riots. Unions
marched demanding further cuts in taxes and prices. The
government responded by suspending import duties on staple food
imports for three months.
Morocco
February 2008
and
September
2007
In February, 34 people were sentenced to jail for taking part in
food price riots. This followed rioting in September 2007 when
protestors clashed with police after the government raised the price
of bread 30 percent.
Cameroon February 2008
At least 24 people were killed and over 1,500 arrested over riots
caused by rising food and fuel costs in the worst unrest seen in
over 15 years.
Yemen February 2008
The prices of bread and other staple foods nearly doubled in four
months, provoking demonstrations and riots that killed at least a
dozen people.
Pakistan January-
February 2008
Thousands demonstrated in January after the price of wheat flour
doubled in less than a week. The army is being used to guard grain
supplies and to crack down on hoarding and smuggling into
Afghanistan, and the government has introduced ration cards for
the first time since the 1980s.
Indonesia January 2008
More than 10,000 people took to the streets in Jakarta on January
14 to protest soybean prices that more than doubled in a year,
increasing the cost of the Indonesian soy-based staple, tempeh.
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China November
2007
Inflation in China is the worst it has been in more than a decade
and food inflation has reached 18.2 percent. Cooking oil is now so
expensive that 3 people were trampled to death in November in a
stampede to grab bottles at a reduced price.
Mauritania November
2007
A sudden rise in the price of staple foods triggered demonstrations
across the country that left at least 2 people dead and 10 wounded.
The government plans to respond by raising civil service salaries
by 10% and eliminating tariffs on rice.
Uzbekistan September
2007
Protests took place in the heavily-populated Ferghana Valley
region after local bread prices rose 50 to 100 percent.
Source: Compiled by Frances C. Moore, Earth Policy Institute, www.earthpolicy.org, 16 April
2008 using "Clashes Over Food Prices Trouble Political Leaders," Reuters, 2 April 2008, Julian
Borger, "Feed the World? We Are Fighting a Loosing Battle, UN Admits," The Guardian
(U.K.), 26 February 2008, and other press reports.
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Part II
A Geography of 2008 Food Riots by Region
1. AFRICA
Burkina Faso
Rioting
Food riots in three major cities in Burkina Faso erupted in
February. On February 20, protesters in Bobo-Dioulasso took to
the streets and reportedly attacked government offices and
burned shops, cars, and petro stations. One hundred people were
arrested the next day for stoning government officials. Riots in
the cities of Ouhigouya and Banfora followed on February 21
(UN IRIN, 2008). Rioters included merchants and traders who
protested taxes and the increasing costs of goods.
Government Response
A government official stated that the riots were “expected” in the
wake of consistently increasing prices for basic food stuffs, cloth and petrol. Two weeks prior to
the outbreak of food riots, the government announced that it was taking “strong measures” to
control prices, including the release of emergency stocks onto the market and lowering taxes on
basic goods (UN IRIN, 2008). After the riots, the Burkina Faso government agreed to a 3 month
suspension of import duties on staple foods. In April, the government extended this suspension
to 6 months, and decreased electricity and water bills to help poor households (Bonkoungou,
2008).
Despite these measures, unions called a general strike in early April demanding further price cuts
for food and a 25% increase in public sector salaries and pensions (Bonkoungou, 2008).
State of Democracy
A democratic constitution was approved in Burkina Faso in 1991. Current president, Blaise
Compaore, was elected in December 1991 following the assassination of previous president,
Thomas Sankara. Compaore ran unopposed, as the opposition boycotted the 1991 election.
Since that time, multiparty elections were held in 1995, 2000 and 2006, and legislative elections
Bureau of African Affairs, 2008
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were held in 1997, 2002 and 2007. Although balloting for these elections has been considered
free and fair, the degree of the ruling party’s dominance suggests a less than equal situation for
political parties. In 2000, the Constitution was amended such that presidential terms were
reduced from 7 years to 5 years, only renewable once. These terms, however, were not applied
to Compaore who was reelected for a third term in 2005 (Bureau of African Affairs, 2008).
References
Bonkoungou, Mathieu. 2008. “Burkina general strike starts over cost of living,” Reuters, April 8.
Available at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L08851567.htm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note: Burkina
Faso. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2834.htm.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks. 2008. “Food Riots Shut Down Main Towns,” All
Africa Global Media, February 22. Available at
http://allafrica.com/stories/200802221172.html.
Cameroon
Rioting
On February 27, riots reportedly “paralyzed” the Cameroon
capital of Yaounde, following four days of rioting in several
western towns and in the wake of a taxi drivers’ strike from
February 25-28 (Reuters, 2008). The taxi drivers’ protest of
fuel price hikes escalated into more general rioting against the
high cost of living – including food and fuel prices – and
attempts by President Paul Biya to extend his 25-year rule by
amending the country’s constitution. Protesters’ demands
included immediate cuts in gasoline and fuel prices. The
Cameroon government put the death toll from the riots at 24
(police shot into the crowds), while human rights activists said
it was over 100. The government also stated that 1,671 people
were arrested (Reuters, 2008).
Government Response
In response to the demands of demonstrators, the government agreed to cut the price of a liter of
gasoline from 600 to 594 (about $1.36) CFA francs (Reuters, 2008). Additionally, Biya
announced he would increase salaries of civil servants by 15 percent and suspended customs
Bureau of African Affairs, 2008
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duties on cement and basic foodstuffs including fish, rice and cooking oil (FAO, 2008; Musa,
2008).
State of Democracy
As feared by protesters in February, the Cameroon National Assembly on April 10 adopted a
proposal to amend six of the 70 articles that make up the country’s Constitution, introducing
three major changes. First, the presidential two-term limit was removed, which will enable Biya
to run for office indefinitely. He has been in power since 1982 as Cameroon’s second president,
and his second seven-year term is scheduled to end in 2011. Second, the president now cannot
be prosecuted for any act performed in the exercise of his/her duties. Third, if the president is
unable to perform his/her duties, the president of the senate will serve as interim president until
elections are organized. Senate elections, however, have not been held in the 12 years since its
creation, meaning that Cameroon continues to function essentially as a unicameral state with the
National Assembly as the country’s only legislative body (Wongibe, 2008).
An article published by African Press International states that “the constitutional changes were
rammed through the national assembly by the government, which has a big majority in the
assembly” (Wongibe, 2008: 1). Representatives of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), the main
opposition party, staged a walkout from Parliament in protest, and called the adoption of these
Constitutional amendments “the death of democracy in Cameroon” (Wongibe, 2008: 1).
References
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Cameroon. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/26431.htm.
FAO GIEWS. 2008. Crop Prospects and Food Situation. No.2, April. Available at
ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/ah881e/ah881e00.pdf.
Musa, Tansa. 2008. “Cameroon Ups State Wages, Cuts Prices after Riots,” Reuters Africa,
March 8. Available at http://africa.reuters.com/business/news/usnBAN849502.html.
Reuters. 2008. “Anti-government Rioting Spreads in Cameroon,” International Herald Tribune,
February 27. Available at
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/27/africa/27cameroon.php.
Wongibe, Emmanuel. 2008. “Cameroon: Biya Clings On,” African Press International, April
30. Available at http://africanpress.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/varsel-om-stevning-til-
tingretten/.
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Côte d'Ivoire
Rioting
On March 31, protestors took to the streets in and around
Abidjan, the economic center of Côte d'Ivoire, demanding that
the government take action to curb food prices (UN IRIN,
2008a). About 1,500 demonstrators, most of whom were
women (United States Embassy, 2 008), chanted “we are
hungry” and “life is too expensive, you are going to kill us”
(UN IRIN, 2008a). A demonstrator is quoted as saying, “We
only eat once during the day now. If food prices increase more,
what will we give our children to eat and how will they go to
school?” Food and oil prices have increased dramatically in
Côte d'Ivoire, with one kilo of beef going from 700 CFA (US
$1.68) to 900 CFA (US $2.16) and one liter of oil going from
600 CFA (US $1.44) to 850 CFA (US $2.04) over the course of three days in March. One
person was killed and at least 10 were injured when police fired into the air and used tear gas to
disperse protestors (BBC, 2008b).
In response to these demonstrations, Ouattara Ahmed, president of an Ivorian consumers’
movement said,
Today Ivorians are suffering and that is the reason why they took to the streets. We
therefore support them because we have already called the attention of government
officials to the increasing inflation in the country (from L'inter, quoted in United States
Embassy, 2008).
Another consumer association leader said, "What happens today [March 31] is a strong signal
ahead of a nationwide popular movement" (Ibid).
In addition to the aforementioned triggers of global food price increases, the situation in Côte
d'Ivoire is exacerbated by local-level racketeering. An
article from the UN Integrated Regional Information
Networks reports that police and military forces collect
“fees” from trucks traveling along most of the country’s
main transportation routes on top of the taxes already
paid legally to the state (UN IRIN, 2008b). A
government official said that this is contributing to high
market prices, as trucks bringing produce from fields to
markets might encounter as many as 15 roadblocks in
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7325733
.stm
Bureau of African Affairs, 2008
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one trip, being forced to pay as much as US $71.
Government Response
Following two days of rioting, President Laurent Gbagbo cancelled customs duties and cut taxes
on basic household products (BBC, 2008b).
State of Democracy
Côte d'Ivoire became divided along ethnic and religious lines in 2002 into the government-
controlled (Christian) south and the rebel “New Forces”-held (Islamic) north. The Ouagadougou
Peace Agreement, signed in 2007, is seen as a vital step to reunification. It includes a provision
calling for free and fair elections, aimed in part at addressing the extended mandate of current
president Laurent Gbagbo (UN News Service, 2008). Gbagbo claimed the presidency after
Robert Guei was deposed in a popular uprising in 2000. Gbagbo was given a 5-year mandate,
but under a UN Security Council resolution, his mandate was extended by 2 years in order to
“find peace” (BBC, 2008a). The presidential election was to be held in 2007, but has been
repeatedly pushed back. In April of 2008, the Ivorian government announced that an election
date had been set for November 30, 2008 (UN News Service, 2008).
References
BBC. 2008a. “Country Profile: Ivory Coast.” Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1043014.stm.
BBC. 2008b. “Riots prompt Ivory Coast tax cuts,” BBC, April 2. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7325733.stm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note: Côte
d'Ivoire. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2846.htm.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). 2008a. “Food Price Hikes Spark Riots,”
All Africa Global Media, March 31. Available at
http://allafrica.com/stories/200803311850.html.
-----. 2008b. “Côte d'Ivoire: Racketeering at Roadblocks Raises Food Prices,” All Africa Global
Media, June 5. Available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200806051080.html.
UN News Service. 2008. “Côte d'Ivoire: Security Council Welcomes Steps Toward Holding
Presidential Polls,” All Africa Global Media, April 29. Available at
http://allafrica.com/stories/200804300013.html. .
United States Embassy. 2008. “Côte d'Ivoire: American Embassy's National Daily Press
Review,” All Africa Global Media, April 1. Available at
http://allafrica.com/stories/200804010656.html.
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Egypt
Rioting
Violent protests began in Egypt on April 6, two days ahead of
nationwide local council elections (Cairo News, 2008). The Nile
Delta textile town of Mahalla el-Kobra was the center of the action.
According to el-Hamalawy (2008), this incident is being referred to
as “The Mahalla intifada”.
On April 6, security officers thwarted a strike planned by workers
at the Misr Spinning and Weaving plant to protest increased prices
of food, mostly bread, and to demand a rise in the minimum wage.
Though the strike was called off, some workers took to the streets
in peaceful protest. Security officers fired tear gas into the crowd
and beat protestors with batons. Protestors responded by burning
banners of ruling National Democratic Party candidates for the upcoming municipal elections
(Beinin, 2008).
The next day, several thousand people protested.
A large poster of President Mubarak was defaced
during the day. 331 people were arrested,
hundreds were beaten, and 9 were critically
wounded. A 15-year old boy was killed by two
gunshots to the head while standing on the
balcony of his family’s flat. He was not
involved in the demonstrations (Beinin, 2008).
On April 8, a 45-year old man also died after
being shot in the head by security officers
(Gamal, 2008).
The call for a general strike following the Mahalla intifada was endorsed by the Egyptian
Movement for Change - Kifaya, the Islamist Labour Party, the Nasserist Karama Party, and the
Bar Association. But on the eve of April 6, almost 100 political activists were arrested, and the
plan was abandoned (Beinin, 2008).
**See Beinin, 2008 for a description and analysis of the strike and riots. See also el-Hamalawy,
2008 for a look at the riots in the context of the Egyptian opposition movement and increasing
militancy in the country.
Government Response
On April 8, Prime Minister Nazif and a delegation of officials came to Mahalla el-Kobra . They
promised bonuses for textile workers; increased investment in the Misr plant; and more
http://observers.france24.com/en/content/20080408-mahalla-tjpg
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs,
2008
14
subsidized bread, rice, oil, sugar, and flour (Beinin, 2008; Gamal, 2008).
In March, President Mubarak ordered the army to increase bread production and distribution in
an effort to put an end to bread queues that had people waiting in long lines for subsidized bread.
He authorized the government to use foreign reserves and to buy wheat from the international
market (BBC, 2008b). In May, the government opened its ration card system until June 30 and
doubled the amount of rice card holders could receive (FAO, 2008). In June, a rice export ban
was extended until April 2009 (FAO, 2008).
State of Democracy
According to Joel Beinin (2008), Director of Middle East Studies at the American University in
Cairo, the actions of the Egyptian government around the riots in Mahalla suggest that:
the Mubarak regime is escalating repressive measures against its secular opponents
besides repressing the Muslim Brothers.
Religious political parties, of which the Muslim Brotherhood is the most popular in Egypt, are
banned from participating in presidential elections. The election in September of 2005 was the
first to allow more than one candidate, but the only opposition party with broad public support,
the Muslim Brotherhood, could not participate. In previous years, voters could select “yes” or
“no” for a single parliament-appointed candidate (BBC, 2008a).
Muhammed Hosni Mubarak is currently serving his fifth consecutive term as president. His son,
Gamal Mubarak is expected to be the next president (BBC, 2008a).
**See Beinin and el-Hamalawy.
References
Beinin, Joel. 2008. “Egypt: bread riots and mill strikes,” Le Monde diplomatique, May.
Available at http://intellibriefs.blogspot.com/2008/05/egypt-bread-riots-and-mill-
strikes.html.
BBC News. 2008a. “Country Profile: Egypt,” April 16. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/737642.stm.
BBC News, 2008b. “Egypt army to tackle bread crisis,” March 17. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7300899.stm.
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Egypt. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5309.htm.
Cairo News. 2008. “Egyptians protest against rising cost of living,” August 4. Available at
http://cairo.wantedinafrica.com/news/news.php?id_n=4334.
el-Hamalawy, Hossam. 2008. “Egyptian Strikes: More than bread and butter,” Socialist Review,
15
May. Available at http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=10388.
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm.
Gamal, Wael. 2008. “Two die after clashes in Egypt industrial town,” Reuters, April 8.
Available at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L08810639.htm.
Libcom.org. 2008. “Ghazl el-Mahalla riots, Egypt, April 6-7, 2008,” libcom.org Photo Gallery,
April 16. Available at http://libcom.org/gallery/ghazl-el-mahalla-riots-egypt-april-6-7th-
2008.
Guinea
Rioting
In January and February 2007, there were food riots in Guinea
that included workers and the public demanding affordable food.
A general strike ensued, with youth taking to the street and
dozens of people being killed (Sy, 2008). Food riots took place
again in 2008, though specific information is difficult to pin
down. According to IRIN (2008b):
Political instability and riots over cost of living and
governance issues have been rife in the capital, Conakry
in recent years. Most recently in May and June 2008
clashes between military factions, and between the
military and police lead to hundreds of injuries and several
deaths. Both groups counted among their demands a call for
higher rice subsidies.
See also IRIN, 2008c.
Government Response
The government of Guinea issued an export ban on all agricultural products as of December 31,
2007. Additionally, the agriculture ministry cut taxes on staple foods, is trying to set up
emergency rice stocks, and is developing a growth plan to reduce the country’s import
dependence (IRIN, 2008b).
Bureau of African Affairs, 2008
16
State of Democracy
Guinea is a constitutional democracy with power concentrated in a strong presidency (U.S.
Department of State, 2008). Lansana Conte seized power in a bloodless coup in 1984. He has
ruled ever since “with an iron fist” (BBC News, 2008). Analysts warn that Guinea is in danger
of becoming a “failed state” (BBC News, 2008). According to one source:
Guinea Conakry is deemed among the most unstable countries in the world by conflict
analysts, in large part because of five successive nationwide anti-government riots over
the last 18 months sparked by mass discontent over the rising cost of living (IRIN, 2008a).
References
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: Guinea. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1032311.stm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note: Guinea.
Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2824.htm.
IRIN. 2008a. “Burkina Faso: Food riots shut down main towns,” Humanitarian News and
Analysis: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Rights, February 22.
Available at http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=76905.
IRIN. 2008b. “Guinea: Food prices some of highest in region,” Humanitarian News and Analysis:
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Rights, June 27. Available at
http://www.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=78994.
IRIN. 2008c. “Guinea: Police strikes turn bloody,” Humanitarian News and Analysis: UN Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Rights, June 17. Available at
http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=78784.
Sy, Hamadou Tidiane. 2008. “Country Faces Stability Threat After Sacking of Premier,” The
Nation (Nairobi), May 31. Available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200805301148.html.
17
Madagascar
Rioting
Food riots reportedly took place in Madagascar in April (Mineguruji,
2008; UN News Centre, 2008), though specific information is difficult
to track down.
Government Response
In May, the Madagascar government banned rice exports (IRIN, 2008)
in an effort to preserve domestic food supplies.
State of Democracy
Madagascar is a Republic with a presidency, a parliament, a prime
minister and cabinet, and an independent judiciary. The president is
elected for a 5-year term with the possibility for two renewals (U.S.
Department of State, 2008). Marc Ravalomanana, a free-market
reformer and wealthy businessperson, is the current president. He was
elected to a second term in 2006. He is considered to have authoritarian
tendencies (BBC News, 2008).
References
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: Madagascar. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1063208.stm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Madagascar. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5460.htm.
IRIN. 2008. “Madagascar: Rice exports banned to keep home market supplied,” Humanitarian
News and Analysis: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Rights, May 14.
Available at http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=78198.
Mineguruji. 2008. “Soaring cereal prices leading to food riots,” merinews, April 13. Available at
http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=132407.
UN News Centre. 2008. “Soaring cereal tab continues to afflict poorest countries, UN agency
warns,” April 11. Available at
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26289&Cr=food&Cr1=prices.
Bureau of African
Affairs, 2008
Madagascar
18
Mauritania
Rioting
Violent demonstrations against the high cost of staple foods
erupted in several towns in southeast Mauritania in November
of 2007 (Reuters, 2007). At the time, annual inflation on some
locally-grown foodstuffs had reportedly reached 28%, and the
price of wheat products had gone up even more, from US$200 a
ton to US$356 a ton (Gambia News Community, 2007). An 18
year old was killed in Kankossa near the border with Mali when
protestors tried to raid the regional prefect’s house. The
demonstrations spread to the capital city of Nouakchott, where
police tried to disperse about 1,000 protestors (Reuters, 2008).
Government Response
In May the government implemented a “Special Plan of Intervention” for the subsequent six
months, including credits and distribution of inputs for farmers. Also in May, import taxes on
cereals were reduced (FAO, 2008).
State of Democracy
In March 2007, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania held its first democratic elections since
independence from France in 1960. President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi came to power in
what was judged to be a fair election by EU and US observers. Prior to 2007, the country was
controlled by a military junta that took power in a 2005 coup, one of 10 coups since 1960 (BBC,
2008).
References
BBC. 2008. “Country Profile: Mauritania.” Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/791083.stm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Mauritania. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5467.htm.
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm.
Gambia News Community. 2007. “Mauritania: High food prices spark protests,” November 14.
Available at http://wow.gm/africa/mauritania/nouakchott/article/2007/11/14/mauritania-
high-food-prices-spark-protests.
Bureau of African
Affairs, 2008
Mauritania
19
Reuters. 2007. “Price protests grip southeast Mauritania, one dead,” November 9. Available at
http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN923633.html.
-----. 2008. “FACTBOX – Clashes over food prices trouble political leaders,” April 1. Available
at http://www.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=USL26932235.
Morocco
Rioting
In March and September 2007, sit-ins to protest rising food prices
took place in Morocco. In April of that year, another protest took
place in Rabat in front of Morocco’s parliament (Harsch, 2008).
In February 2008, 34 rioters were sentenced to prison after
participating in riots over food prices (Worth, 2008).
Government Response
I found no information about the government response to food
riots in Morocco.
State of Democracy
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with a monarch, a parliament, and an independent
judiciary (U.S. Department of State, 2007). Ultimate power resides with the king, and elections
are held for parliament. King Mohammed VI took over the thrown in 1999 (BBC News, 2008).
References
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: Morocco. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/791867.stm.
Brown, Lester. 2008. “World Facing Huge New Challenge on Food Front: Business-as-Usual
Not a Viable Option,” Earth Policy Institute, April 16. Available at
http://www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2008/Update72.htm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2007. Background Note: Morocco.
Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5431.htm.
Harsch, Ernest. 2008. “Price protests expose state faults: Rioting and repression reflect problems
of African governance,” African Renewal, Vol. 22, No. 2, July. Available at
http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol22no2/222-price-protests.html.
Bureau of African Affairs,
2008
20
Worth, Robert F. 2008 “Rising Inflation Creates Unease in Middle East,” New York Times,
February 25. Available at
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/world/middleeast/25economy.html.
Mozambique
Rioting: On February 5, riots broke out in the capital city of Maputo over
rising bus fares and bread prices (Howden, 2008; Mangwiro, 2008). These
food and fuel riots started a series of violent clashes in the country, leaving
six dead and more than 100 injured (Harsch, 2008).
It is interesting to note that the Biofuels Digest is upset about the language
used in reporting these protests as “food riots” instead of “fuel riots”. In
an article posted immediately following the riots in Mozambique, Jim Lane
(2008) writes that the use of the term “food riot” adds to anti-biofuels
sentiment.
Government Response: The government cut the price of diesel for mini-
buses to end the wave of protests over the high costs of transportation and
rising cost of living in general (Reuters, 2008).
State of Democracy: Mozambique is a multi-party democracy under the 1990 constitution (U.S.
Department of State, 2008). The first democratic election took place in 1994, followed by other
general elections in 1999 and 2004. Armando Guebuza, a wealthy businessperson, won the most
recent election and claimed the presidency for his Frelimo party. The results of the election were
disputed by Renamo, the main opposition party, but were declared “fair” by international
observers (BBC News, 2008).
References
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: Mozambique. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1063120.stm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Mozambique. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/7035.htm.
Harsch, Ernest. 2008. “Price protests expose state faults: Rioting and repression reflect problems
of African governance,” African Renewal, Vol. 22, No. 2, July. Available at
http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol22no2/222-price-protests.html.
Bureau of African
Affairs, 2008
21
Howden, Daniel. 2008. “Africans unite in calling for immediate moratorium on switch from food
to fuel,” The Independent, February 16. Available at
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/africans-unite-in-calling-for-immediate-
moratorium-on-switch-from-food-to-fuel-783011.html?r=RSS.
Jim Lane. 2008. “Mozambique diesel riots reported in Western media as “food riots”, fanning
anti-biofuels sentiment,” Biofuels Digest, February 19. Available at
http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/blog2/2008/02/19/mozambique-diesel-riots-reported-in-
western-media-as-food-riots-fanning-anti-biofuels-sentiment/.
Mangwiro, Charles. 2008. “Mozambique president warns of food crisis,” Reuters, April 29.
Available at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L29564626.htm.
Reuters. 2008. “FACTBOX – Clashes over food prices trouble political leaders,” April 1.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=USL26932235.
Senegal
Rioting
In late March, police in Dakar used tear gas to disperse a crowd
gathered to protest the rising costs of living in the country.
Organized by consumer associations, people wore t-shirts that
said “we are hungry” and wore red pieces of cloth either as
headscarves or on their arms in protest (ironically, this method
was promoted by President Abdoulaye Wade several years
earlier as an alternative to violence). The demonstration was
largely contained, with police confining people to the
headquarters of a local political party, locking some inside of a
building (Sy, 2008b).
Later, on April 26, more than 1,000 people in Dakar were successful in protesting against high
food prices. They carried empty rice bags, tomato tins and other items during the peaceful
demonstration in which they called for more food and a lasting solution to the food crisis (Sy,
2008a). In addition to illustrating the country’s massive hunger problems, the carrying of these
items also reportedly served as a “red card”, symbolizing the protestors’ desire for President
Wade to leave office (Sy, 2008a). This demonstration was organized by opposition parties
united under an umbrella organization called the Front to Save Senegal (FSS), or Front Siggil
Senegal.
Senegal
Bureau of African
Affairs, 2008
22
Government Response
These protests follow riots in Dakar last November over rising prices and unemployment
(Reuters, 2008). In response, President Wade announced plans to increase rice production five-
fold to 5000,000 tons in a season, thus lessening the country’s dependence on rice imports that
currently account for 80% of its rice needs. To that end, he inaugurated a modern farm pilot
project at the end of April that he intends to have replicated throughout the country (Sy, 2008a).
A Reuters article states that many protestors believe that President Wade’s plans are unrealistic,
and that he is “focusing on glamorous infrastructure projects to the detriment of his people’s
more basic needs” (Ba, 2008). They fear that rice, the daily staple, will become a luxury in the
near future.
In addition to proposing agricultural modernization projects within the country, the Senegalese
government secured a deal with India to meet Senegal’s annual rice need of 600,000 tons for the
next six years (Associated Press, 2008). A private newspaper in Senegal reportedly picked up on
this contradiction, asking: “Under such circumstances [importing rice from India] why would a
farmer in the Valley [a region in the north] see the need to boost his production?” (Sy, 2008a).
**President Wade has called for the UN to eliminate the FAO, as it is an “ineffective money-
eater that failed to help avert the global food crisis” (Associated Press, 2008). He has reportedly
long been critical of the FAO, calling for it to be transferred to Africa “near the ‘sick ones’ it
pretends to care for” (Associated Press, 2008), but his current stance is that it be dismantled and
its assets transferred to the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development.
State of Democracy
The Republic of Senegal is “held up as one of Africa’s model democracies” (BBC, 2008), and
has never experienced a coup d’état. The government consists of executive, legislative, and
judicial branches, and adult suffrage is universal (over 18). Under the 2001 Constitution, the
president is elected every five years, and is limited to two terms in office. The election of current
president, Abdoulaye Wade, ended 40 years of rule by the Senegalese Socialist Party in 2001.
Wade founded the Senegalese Democratic Party, which now holds the majority of seats in the
national assembly. After serving a 7-year term, he was re-elected in February 2007 for his
second term in office (U.S. Department of State, 2008).
There are 72 political parties registered in Senegal, though only 8 are considered to be true
opposition parties (U.S. Department of State, 2008). Of note is that parliamentary elections were
held in June 2007 after being twice postponed. Most opposition party members boycotted the
elections, so Democratic Party members won 131 of 150 seats.
References
Ba, Diadie. 2008. “Hundreds protest against food prices in Senegal,” Reuters, April 26.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/gc08/idUSL2614965820080426.
23
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note: Senegal.
Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2862.htm.
BBC. 2008. “Country Profile: Senegal.” Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1064496.stm.
Reuters. 2008. “FACTBOX: Food price anger sparks protests,” April 21. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/economicNews/idUSL2163154220080421?pageNumber=
1&virtualBrandChannel=0. .
Sy, Hamadou Tidiane. 2008a. “Debate Rages Over Whether Country Faces Famine,”
AllAfrica.com, April 30. Available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200804300061.html.
Sy, Hamadou Tidiane. 2008b. “High Cost of Living Causes Protests in Dakar,” AllAfrica.com,
March 31. Available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200803311996.html.
Somalia
Rioting
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Mogadishu on
May 5. They were protesting the refusal of both traders and
shopkeepers to accept old 1,000-shilling notes, blaming this
for rising food prices. In May, the Somali shilling was
valued at 34,000 to the dollar, more than double what it was
the previous year. The preponderance of currency
counterfeiting is blamed for the dramatic decline in value
(Sheikh and Mohamed, 2008). Additionally, food prices
increased dramatically. In January, the cost of 2.2 pounds of
cornmeal was $0.12; in May it had risen to $0.25. In the
same period, the cost of a 110 pound sack of rice rose from
$26.00 to $47.50 (AP, 2008). Protesters reportedly shouted,
“Down with traders” and “We want to buy food” (Sheikh and Mohamed, 2008). Protestor
Hussein Abdikadir is quoted as saying:
Traders have refused to take old notes. Food prices are high and we have nothing to eat.
We will protest until the traders agree to take the notes and sell us food.
Protestors were met with military intervention and rebuttals from shopkeepers. Troops opened
fire into the crowd, killing at least two people (AP, 2008), and a shopkeeper shot and killed a
Bureau of African Affairs, 2008
Somalia
24
man involved in the demonstrations (Sheikh and Mohamed, 2008).
Government Response
I didn’t find information about government responses to the food riots.
State of Democracy
The authors of a Reuters (Sheikh and Mohamed, 2008) article state that:
Somalia has been without any kind of real government since the 1991 ouster of dictator
Mohamed Siad Barre by a coalition of warlords. Since then, the country’s agricultural
bounty has withered to the point where Somalis rely on imports.
Somalia’s government is currently referred to as the Transitional Federal Government (U.S.
Department of State, 2008). It was established in 2004 when the interim parliament appointed
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as president. According the BBC (2008), the current administration is
the 14
th
attempt to establish a government in Somalia since 1991. It has been unsuccessful in
reconciling and rebuilding following the events of 1991 that mark the start of the current state of
anarchy in the country. In 2006, a rival administration – the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) –
seized Mogadishu and imposed Islamic law. By the end of the same year, forces loyal to the
interim administration and with the backing of Ethiopian troops, seized control of the capital
back from the UIC.
Since 1991, the north-west part of Somalia declared itself the independent Republic of
Somaliland (BBC, 2008).
References
Associated Press. 2008. “Two killed as Somalis riot over high food prices: Soldiers reportedly
open fire as tens of thousands protest in Mogadishu,” May 5. Available at
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24463508/.
BBC. 2008. “Country Profile: Somalia.” Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1072592.stm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note: Somalia.
Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2863.htm.
Sheikh, Abdi and Abdi Mohamed. 2008. “Mogadishu rocked by food demonstrations,” Reuters,
May 5. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUSL05113432._CH_.2400.
25
Tunisia
Rioting
Demonstrations took place on June 13 in Redeyef to protest high
inflation and unemployment. One demonstrator was shot and killed,
and at least 18 others were wounded. The government imposed a
curfew for the following weekend (NowPublic, 2008).
Government Response
In June, the leader of the Tunisian social protest movement was
arrested. The movement was responsible for staging demonstrations
against unemployment and the rising cost of living throughout 2008
(Tunis Carthage Times, 2008).
State of Democracy
Tunisia is a republic with a strong presidency and is dominated by one
political party. Presidents are elected for 5-year terms, and run
essentially unopposed. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been in
power since 1987 when he replaced Habib Bourguiba who had ruled since
independence from France in 1956 (U.S. Department of State, 2008).
References
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Tunisia. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5439.htm.
NowPublic. 2008. “One Protester Killed, 18 Wounded at Tunisian Food Price Demo,” June 15.
Available at http://www.nowpublic.com/world/one-protester-killed-18-wounded-
tunisian-food-price-demo.
Tunis Carthage Times. 2008. “Protest leader arrested in Tunisia,” June 23. Available at
http://www.tuniscarthage.com/index.php/tunisia-news/special-coverage-redeyef-
2008/protest-leader-arrested-in-tunisia.html.
Bureau of Near
Eastern Affairs, 2008
26
Zimbabwe
Rioting
Several sources report that food riots occurred in Zimbabwe this
spring, but specific information proved difficult to find.
On a related note, in late July, about 300 members of Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) protested in the city of Bulawayo to
pique the attention of “preoccupied politicians” to issues of food
needs and “lasting dignity” for people in Zimbabwe. Members of
the group have been arrested and charged in the past for staging
demonstrations. The July protests were also an attempt to test the
recently signed “Memorandum of Understanding” to determine if
freedom of expression and assembly were in fact more open. No
arrests were reported (PANA, 2008).
Government Response
The official annual inflation rate in Zimbabwe is 2,200,000%. In an effort to offset inflation, the
government introduced new $100 billion bank notes in July. These notes, called “agro cheques”,
barely cover the cost of bread for one day (BBC News, 2008b).
State of Democracy
Following the hotly contested election this year in which Robert Mugabe is accused of using
violence against opposition activists, a Zimbabwean is quoted as saying:
People still can't express themselves freely. Others are missing. It's not clear if they are
dead or alive (BBC News, 2008a).
Zimbabwe is governed by a president and a bicameral parliament, all of whom are elected (U.S.
Department of State, 2008).
References
BBC News. 2008a. “Gloomy mood in post-poll Zimbabwe,” July 15. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7507335.stm.
BBC News. 2008b. “Zimbabwe introduces Z$100 billion note,” July 19. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7515823.stm.
Bureau of African Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Zimbabwe. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5479.htm.
Bureau of African Affairs, 2008
27
PANA. 2008. “Zimbabwe women protest over food,” Afrique en Ligne, July 31. Available at
http://www.afriquenligne.fr/zimbabwe-women-protest-over-food-200807319899.html. .
28
2. ASIA
Bangladesh
Rioting
On April 12, about 20,000 Bangladeshi garment workers went on
strike in Dhaka to protest rising food prices and demand higher
wages (Ahmed, 2008a; Aljazeera, 2008; Ramesh, 2008). At least
20 people were injured when police fired into the air and used
batons and tear gas to disperse the crowd (Chaube, 2008).
Government Response
In May, the Bangladesh government banned exports of non-
aromatic rice to increase domestic stocks (Karim, 2008). The
export ban is for six months (FAO, 2008).
In June, the government announced they would raise emergency food stocks by 300% to 3.2
million tons in 2008-2009 (FAO, 2008). Then in July, they announced that they would build
new grain storage warehouses to hold emergency stocks, including the 500,000 tons of rice India
pledged to export to them in 2008 (Reuters, 2008).
In August, the government announced they would distribute 220,000 tons of rice to the poor
through hundreds of cut-price shops across the country. These shops are set to begin selling rice
on August 20 and will continue for two months (Ahmed, 2008b).
Business leaders in Bangladesh said in August that they would not raise prices for basic
foodstuffs during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, at least one cut-
price shop will open in each district, and several will open in metropolitan areas (Quadir, 2008).
State of Democracy
Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy with a president, parliament, and prime minister. The
president is elected every five years by the parliament, and is said to hold a “ceremonial post”.
The prime minister, holder of real power in Bangladesh, is appointed by the president.
According to the U.S. Department of State (2008), Bangladesh’s democracy is quite shallow.
The current government has banned all political activities, and there are no elections.
References
Ahmed, Nizam. 2008a. “Bangladeshi workers rampage over high food prices,” Reuters, April 12.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL12462947.
Bureau of South and
Central Asian Affairs, 2008
29
Ahmed, Nizam. 2008b. “Poor to get cut-rate rice in Bangladesh,” Reuters, August 5. Available
at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSDHA10979220080805.
Aljazeera. 2008. “Bangladesh hit by food price riots,” April 12. Available at
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2008/04/200861422821207204.html.
Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. 2008. Background Note: Bangladesh. Available at
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3452.htm.
Chaube, Kiran. 2008. “Food riots in Bangladesh, Egypt and Philippines many other nations
ready to explode,” India Daily, April 12. Available at
http://www.indiadaily.com/editorial/19343.asp.
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm.
Karim, Masud. 2008. “Bangladesh bans non-aromatic rice exports,” Reuters, May 1. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSHO13372420080501.
Quadir, Serajul Islam. 2008. “Bangladesh business to cap food prices during Ramadan,” Reuters,
August 7. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-
Agflation/idUSDHA12062220080807.
Ramesh, Randeep. 2008. “Bangladeshi garment workers strike over food prices,” The Guardian,
April 15. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/15/bangladesh.
Reuters. 2008. “Bangladesh eyes new warehouses to boost food stocks,” July 27. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSDHA5253920080727.
30
India
Rioting
Riots over food shortages and corruption in the food
distribution system erupted in West Bengal last fall. A
government investigation found that most rural poor in
northern and eastern India were not getting their regular
rations of food, and that food distributors were hoarding grain
and selling it for premium prices. Three food distributors
killed themselves during this time after being told to pay fines
for their actions (Majumdar, 2007). In Burdwan district in
October, the house of a ration dealer and the office of the
local ruling party were set on fire by protesters. Eight were
arrested. “Ration riots” also took place in Murshidabad,
Bankura, and Birbhum districts (Samachaar.in, 2007). Two
protesters were killed by police fire, and at least 300 were injured (Majumdar, 2007).
In August of 2008, food riots took place in the wake of massive flooding. In eastern Bihar,
villagers reportedly rioted for food and attacked officials and local politicians on August 22
(Pradhan, 2008). More riots erupted on August 27 when people displaced by the floods fought
over limited supplies of food. More than 2 million people have been forced from their homes
and about 250,000 homes have been destroyed. The Indian government insists that grain stocks
are ample, but that transportation is the key challenge to getting food to people who need it
(Mukherjee, 2008).
Government Response
During the spring of 2008, India banned exports of non-basmati rice and got rid of import duties
on crude edible oils. It also imposed an export tax on basmati rice exports (de La Hamaide, 2008;
Ramakrishnan and Gupta, 2008). It also, however, removed a ban on export of non-basmati rice,
edible oil, and pulses to Bhutan (FAO, 2008).
In July, the Indian government increased wheat price supports, and in July, it banned maize
exports until October 15 (FAO, 2008).
In Bihar, authorities have encouraged people to switch from eating rice to eating rats in an effort
to decrease the country’s rice dependence (Lee, 2008).
West Bengal: A survey conducted by SC-appointed special commissioners on food security said
that the food riots in West Bengal during the fall of 2007 were the result of a corrupt and
privatized public distribution system. They found that 34.9% of rice and 86.6% of wheat meant
for PDS was diverted. Further 83% of wheat and 60% of rice meant for people below the
poverty line was stolen (Sethi, 2007). In response, the state government suspended 113 dealers
Bureau of South and
Central Asian Affairs, 2008
31
and served show-cause notices to 37 food inspectors. They also instituted new policies for more
transparency, including requiring dealers to give cash memos to customers and to prominently
display grain quotas (Central Chronicle, 2007).
State of Democracy
India, the world’s “largest democracy” (BBC News, 2008) is a “sovereign, socialist, secular,
democratic republic” (U.S Department of State, 2008). The central government is a British-style
parliamentary system. The president’s duties are largely ceremonial, as real power is centered in
the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) led by the Prime Minister. Following the 2004 elections,
Congress leads a coalition government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Pratibha Patil
was voted in as India’s first female president in July, 2007. The “Left Front”, a group of four
communist and Marxist parties, controls 57 parliamentary seats and rules the states of West
Bengal and Kerala (U.S. Department of State, 2008).
References
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: India. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/country_profiles/1154019.stm.
Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
India. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3454.htm.
Central Chronicle. 2007. “State Pulse: West Bengal: Food Riots,” December 5. Available at
http://www.centralchronicle.com/20071205/0512303.htm.
de La Hamaide, Sybille. 2008. “FACTBOX: Countries curb food exports to secure supplies,
Reuters, April 29. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL2915039620080429.
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm.
Lee, Melanie. 2008. “Food crisis? Try rats, says Indian state government,” Reuters, August 18.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSSIN344701.
Majumdar, Bappa. 2007. “Food riots expose how corruption hurts India’s poor,” Reuters,
October 12. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSSP318536.
Mukherjee, Krittivas. 2008. “Food riots as Indian floods destroy 250,000 homes,” Reuters,
August 27. Available at
32
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSDEL14385520080827?sp=true.
Pradhan, Sharat. 2008. “Food riots as floods swamp South Asia,” Reuters, August 22. Available
at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSDEL87720080822.
Ramakrishnan, V. and Surojit Gupta. 2008. “India acts to quash inflation, guard food supplies,”
Reuters, April 29. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSBOM9549520080429.
Samachaar.in. 2007. “Food riots continue in south Bengal,” October 7. Available at
http://www.samachaar.in/West_Bengal/Food_riots_continue_in_south_Bengal_5670/.
Sethi, Nitin. 2007. “Panel blames corrupt PDS for Bengal food riots,” The Times of India,
December 21. Available at
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Panel_blames_corrupt_PDS_for_Bengal_food_r
iots/rssarticleshow/2639176.cms.
Indonesia
Rioting
On January 15, about 10,000 people took to the streets
in Jakarta to protest record high prices for soybeans
(Aglionby, 2008). A staple food, soybeans are used to
make tempeh which is a source of livelihood for
millions (Reuters, 2008a). Farmers, vendors, and
consumers of soybeans were among the protesters.
In mid-March, 500 people from the Muslim group
Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia protested in Jakarta to demand
that the government reduce food prices. This protest
came after media reports of starvation in Indonesia (Reuters, 2008a).
Government Response
Immediately following the January riots, the government was forced to take measures to boost
local soybean supplies. Having already lifted import controls, the government announced it
would give free seeds to farmers in an effort to increase domestic production to 900,000 this year
(Aglionby, 2008). The government later revised its 2008 budget, increasing food subsidies by
about $280 million (Lacey, 2008).
Bureau of East Asian and
Pacific Affairs, 2008
33
Another measure taken by the Indonesian government was providing farmers with high-yielding
hybrid rice seeds. They will reportedly spend $651 million this year on this program (Reuters,
2008b). In June the government announced it would also increase the fertilizer subsidy by 240
percent (FAO, 2008).
State of Democracy
Indonesia is an independent republic based on its 1945 constitution which separated executive,
legislative, and judicial power. Presidents are elected by popular vote for 5-year terms (U.S.
Department of State, 2008). Susuilo Bambang Yudhoyono was elected as president in 2004, the
first election by popular vote. Previously, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) selected
Indonesia’s president. The 2004 election has been hailed as “the first peaceful transition of
power in Indonesia’s history” (BBC News, 2008).
References
Aglionby, John. 2008. “Indonesia takes action over soybeans,” Financial Times, January 15.
Available at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/566f6e44-c363-11dc-b083-
0000779fd2ac,noOfParas=2,emailFormat=html,storyType=ultralight,dwp_uuid=a955630
e-3603-11dc-ad42-0000779fd2ac,print=no.html?nclick_check=1.
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: Indonesia. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-
pacific/country_profiles/1260544.stm.
Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background
Note: Indonesia. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2748.htm.
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm.
Lacey, Marc. 2008. “Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger,” New York Times, April
18. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/world/americas/18food.html.
Reuters. 2008a. “FACTBOX – Clashes over food prices trouble political leaders,” April 1.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=USL26932235.
Reuters. 2008b. “Indonesia to triple rice seed budget to lift output,” April 26. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/gc08/idUSJAK15088120080426.
34
Philippines
Rioting
Although the Philippines is consistently mentioned in summary
reports of food riots across the globe, officials there insist that
food riots have not occurred, and that they are not anticipating
them to occur in the future (AP, 2008; Gopalakrishnan, 2008).
An Associated Press article (2008) states:
So far there has been no unrest, only sporadic left-wing
protests blaming President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's
administration for mismanaging the food situation.
Bloggers claim that CNN, the BBC, and other media outlets have
been erroneously reporting that food riots have taken place in the
Philippines (Philippine-American Commentary, 2008). They
insist that there have been none.
Even so, activists reportedly warned of the possibility of riots
(Beaumont, 2008).
Government Response
While denying that food riots have occurred, the Philippine
government has taken measures to address the rising cost of rice.
They have purchased grain from Asian neighbors and from the
US in an effort to increase domestic stocks. Also, the
government purchased more than 2 million metric tones of rice from the international market to
be sold to the poorest countries at a subsidized price (AP, 2008). Additionally, the National
Bureau of Investigation reports that it is cracking down on traders suspected of hoarding grain
(Beaumont, 2008; AP, 2008).
The Philippine government has also called on its Asian neighbors, including China and Japan, to
convene an emergency meeting to address the food crisis and to end export curbs. Philippine
Agriculture Secretary, Arthur Yap, said “Free trade should be flowing” (The Standard, 2008).
The Philippines have also called on the World Bank to use "moral persuasion" in urging
countries to lift their export bans (Aljazeera, 2008).
State of Democracy
The Philippines is a representative democracy, modeled on the US system (U.S. Department of
State, 2008), however, President Gloria Arroyo advocates replacing this system with a
parliamentary government (BBC News, 2008).
Bureau of East Asian and
Pacific Affairs, 2008
35
References
Aljazeera. 2008. “Manila urges end to rice export ban,” May 2. Available at
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2008/04/200861502112455999.html.
Associated Press. 2008. “Philippine officials allay fears of food riots due to rising prices,”
International Herald Tribune, April 14. Available at
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/04/14/asia/AS-GEN-Philippines-Rice.php.
Beaumont, Peter. 2008. “Food riots fear after rice price hits a high,” The Observer, April 6.
Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/06/food.foodanddrink.
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: The Philippines. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-
pacific/country_profiles/1262783.stm.
Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background
Note: Philippines. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2794.htm.
Gopalakrishnan, Raju. 2008. “Philippines says does not expect food riots,” Reuters, April 14.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSSP234768.
Philippine-American Commentary. 2008. “Hey, CNN! There Are No Food Riots in the
Philippines (Not Yet Anyway),” May 3. Available at
http://philippinecommentary.blogspot.com/2008/05/hey-cnn-there-are-no-food-riots-
in.html.
The Standard. 2008. “Manila calls for Asian food summit over food crisis,” April 15. Available
at
http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=17&art_id=64446&sid=184925
23&con_type=1.
36
4. THE AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN
Argentina
Rioting
Four months of disputes and protests were kicked-off in Argentina
when President Cristina Fernandez put in place a sliding-scale tax
system for soy exports in March 2008. During this time, the
country’s four largest farm groups carried out four separate strikes,
refusing to sell grains and livestock (Gray, 2008). These strikes
disrupted soy and corn shipments and forced soy processing plants to
shut down (Popper, 2008a,b). The strikes also worsened food
shortages in the country as roadblocks stopped cargo traffic from
delivering food to grocery stores (Illiano, 2008b).
Several pot-and-pan-banging protests against the government took
place in Palermo, a middle class Buenos Aires neighborhood,
beginning in March. On March 31, the government announced
measures to protect small farmers from export taxes, but agriculture
groups said these were not enough and continued a 19-day protest
(Ortiz, 2008). Then in July, the President asked Congress to vote on
the new export tax system, which was defeated when the Vice
President voted against the bill after 18 hours of debate (Illiano,
2008a). On the day of the vote, 300,000 people marched in Buenos
Aires on both sides of the issue: those in support of the government
and in favor of the continuation of export taxes, and those in support of farm leaders and in
opposition of the taxes (Popper, 2008a).
Government Response
See above. The government also set monthly export quotas for wheat in June (FAO, 2008).
State of Democracy
Argentina is a democratic republic with both presidential and senatorial elections. Considerable
power is held by the president who is elected for 4-year terms with the possibility for 2
consecutive terms. Presidents may be re-elected following an interval of at least one term. The
judiciary is independent with president-appointed and Senate-approved Supreme Court members
(U.S. Department of State, 2008). In 2007, Cristina Fernandez became the first woman to be
elected president. She is the wife of Nestor Kirchner, the president immediately preceding her.
Both are members of the center-leftist Peronist party (BBC News, 2007).
Bureau of Western
Hemisphere Affairs, 2008
Argentina
37
References
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: Argentina. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1192478.stm.
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Argentina. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/26516.htm.
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm.
Gray, Kevin. 2008. “FACTBOX: Argentine agriculture and the farm conflict,” Reuters, July 17.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/gc08/idUSN1741938620080717.
Illiano, Cesar. 2008a. “Argentine Senate rejects soy export tax hike,” Reuters, July 17. Available
at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSN1530991220080717.
Illiano, Cesar. 2008b. “Food shortages worsen amid Argentine farm strike,” Reuters, June 19.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSN1928165420080619.
Popper, Helen. 2008a. “Argentines hold rival marches in farm conflict,” Reuters, July 15.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSN1530991220080715.
Popper, Helen. 2008b. “Farm strike takes toll on Argentine soy crushers,” Reuters, June 19.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSN1937244320080619.
Ortiz, Fiona. 2008. “FACTBOX: Argentine government offers small-farm package,” Reuters,
March 31. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN3144403420080401.
38
El Salvador
Rioting
In mid-March, about 400 protestors banged pots
and pans and blew whistles outside of the Central
Reserve Bank of El Salvador to protest the rising
price of staple foods. They also distributed
pamphlets calling for the government to
guarantee “food sovereignty and security”
(Gutierrez, 2008a). In 2004, the cost of a basic
food basket for one month was $128.19, and
minimum wage was $151.25. Today, the same
basic food basket costs $159.90, while the monthly minimum wage is $162.00.
Government Response
In May, President Antonio Saca assembled a multidisciplinary commission to make
recommendations for dealing with the food crisis. The recommendations and actions were as
follows:
Continue subsidizing cooking gas and electricity
Promote national production of food, including $115 million in “incentives for small
farmers” such as the distribution of 350,000 bags of free fertilizer and improved maize
seeds to boost yield
El Salvadorians must “tighten their belts” and eat less (Gutierrez, 2008b).
Notably, no farmers were included on the multidisciplinary commission.
State of Democracy
El Salvador is a democratic republic governed by a president and an 84-member unicameral
Legislative Assembly. The government is comprised of executive, legislative, and judicial
branches, and elections are won only by an absolute majority vote (US Department of State,
2008). Antonio Saca was elected to a 5-year term in 2004, the forth consecutive victory for the
right wing ARENA Party (National Republican Alliance Party) which promotes free market
policies (BBC News, 2008).
References
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: El Salvador. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1220684.stm.
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background
Note: El Salvador. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2033.htm.
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, 2008
39
Gutierrez, Raul. 2008. “El Salvador: clamorous protest over food prices,” Inter Press Service
News Agency, March 13. Available at http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41586.
Gutierrez, Raul. 2008b. Poor Eating Less While Food Prices Soar,” Inter Press Service News
Agency, May 21. Available at http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42457.
Haiti
Rioting
More than a week of protests and rioting in Haiti started
on April 2 in the south of the country. People took to the
streets, reportedly throwing stones at U.N. Peacekeepers
and Haitian police to protest the high cost of rice, beans,
cooking oil, and other staples (Delva and Loney, 2008).
Nationwide mobilization followed, with people in many
towns protesting lavi chè a, the high cost of living
(Schuller, 2008a). Some demonstrations turned into riots,
and in Les Cayes and the capitol, Port-au-Prince,
protestors blocked national highways and city streets,
burned tires, smashed windows, set cars on fire, and
engaged in looting (Schuller suggests that looting is over-
emphasized in the press) (Delva and Loney, 2008; Ryan,
2008; Schuller, 2008a). Protestors also attempted to break into the presidential palace in Port-au-
Prince demanding that President Rene Préval step down (Ryan, 2008). A total of 5 protestor
deaths were reported, of which three were the result of U.N. Peacekeepers shooting into the
crowd (BBC News, 2008). A Nigerian U.N. Peacekeeper was also killed (Delva and Loney,
2008). Several others were injured. It should be noted that many protests were peaceful, but
captured less of the media’s attention (Schuller, 2008b).
The protests and riots come following months of rising food prices and subsequent desperate
measures taken to alleviate empty bellies. Comparing their hunger pains to "eating Clorox
[bleach]" because of the burning feeling in their stomachs (Ryan, 2008) many Haitians have
resorted to eating “dirt cookies”, a concoction of mud, salt or sugar, and shortening or oil
(Schuller, 2008a).
Riots broke out again on August 25 when several hundred protested rising food prices in Les
Cayes. They were dispersed by UN Peacekeepers and Haiti Policy firing tear gas (Guyler Delva,
2008).
Bureau of Western
Hemisphere
Affairs, 2008
40
Government Response
Perhaps the most immediate
response came when the
senate voted to fire Prime
Minister Jacques Edouard
Alexis on April 12 ( Delva and
Loney, 2008). According to
Schuller (2008b), Haitians are
divided as to whether or not
this was a positive move.
In the week following the
protests and riots, President
Préval negotiated with local
business leaders and
international aid agencies to
cut the price of a bag of
foreign rice from $51 to $49. This was accomplished because merchants agreed to a $3 cut to
their profit margins (Schuller, 2008b). Préval also reportedly trimmed the salaries of some top
officials (Lacey, 2008).
State of Democracy
I think the best I can do here is to paste a quote from Vilner Chery, a peasant farmer involved in
the food riots:
Our children are hungry and we can't feed them. We know we have a president in this
country. So we're forced to get out on the street and cry for help to the people who have
the capacity to do something for us. That's why we put up the barricades to block the cars.
The president must do something about this (Schuller, 2008b).
There are also links to BBC and State Department profiles in the references section.
References
BBC News. 2008. “Food riots turn deadly in Haiti,” BBC News, April 5. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7331921.stm.
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: Haiti. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1202772.stm.
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background
Note: Haiti. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1982.htm.
ARIANA CUBILLOS/AP PHOTO
Demonstrator eats grass in front of a U.N. peacekeeper at a food riot April 8, 2008 in
Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/416328
41
Delva, Joseph Guyler and Jim Loney. 2008. “Haiti’s government falls after food riots,” Reuters,
April 12. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUSN12217781._CH_.2400.
Guyler Delva, Joseph. 2008. “Haiti hit with new protests over food costs,” August 25. Available
at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSN2525843120080825.
Lacey, Marc. 2008. “Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger,” New York Times, April
18. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/world/americas/18food.html.
Ryan, Orla. 2008. “Food riots grip Haiti,” The Guardian, April 9. Available at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/09/11.
Schuller, Mark. 2008a. “Haiti’s food riots: an early-warning sign of the world food crisis,”
International Socialist Review, Issue 59, May-June. Available at
http://www.isreview.org/issues/59/rep-haiti.shtml.
Schuller, Mark. 2008b. “Haitian Food Riots Unnerving but Not Surprising,” America’s Program
Special Report, April 25. Available at http://americas.irc-online.org/am/5186.
Mexico
Rioting
The “tortilla riots” that brought tens of
thousands of workers and farmers to the
streets in Mexico City in January of 2007
are well documented (for example,
Carlsen, 2008; Malkin, 2007; Taylor,
2007). Laura Carlsen (2008) states that
“What many people don’t know is that the
tortilla crisis of January 2007 is not over.”
On January 1 and 2, 2008, scattered
protests took place in Mexico in the wake of the end
of import protections for the country’s corn and beans. On New Year’s Day, the final trade
barriers on U.S. corn, beans, sugar, and milk fell as the final stages of NAFTA were
implemented. About 100 Mexican farmers partially blocked a border crossing, carrying signs
that read “Without Corn There Is No Country.” Protesters also blocked other lanes of traffic
entering Mexico (Tobar, 2008).
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, 2008
Mexico
42
Then again on January 31, 2008, thousands of Mexican farmers
protested in Mexico City. They demanded that Mexico renegotiate
the treaty with the United States to maintain protection for domestic
corn and beans. Farmers drove tractors to block several main
highways into the city, and set one tractor on fire. A corral for dairy
cows was built in front of the Mexican stock exchange, and some
protestors marched with a black coffin that said “rural Mexico”.
Victor Suarez, the head of a local peasant group said:
The free trade agreement is like an open wound for the
Mexican countryside. You can give the patient medical
attention but if you don’t stop the hemorrhaging first, the
patient dies (Rosenberg, 2008b).
The protest in Mexico City was accompanied by smaller protests in other states (Rodriguez,
2008).
Teresa Gutierrez’s article (2008) nicely links these protests to forced migration under NAFTA.
Government Response
In response to the 2007 protests, President Calderon announced a pact to freeze prices on January
18 (Malkin, 2007). He capped the price of flour at 78 cents per kilogram, but made the scheme
voluntary for businesses (Taylor, 2007). Fewer than 10 percent of tortilla producers signed on to
the agreement (Malkin, 2007).
In response to the farmer protest on January 31, 2008, Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas
announced an expansion of cash supports for meat and egg producers to buy corn for animal feed
(Rosenberg, 2008b).
In May 2008, President Calderon eliminated import barriers on wheat, maize, rice and fertilizers
(FAO, 2008). He got rice farmers to agree to sell their crop at 10% below international market
prices, and allowed 100,000 tones of beans to be imported without tariff. He also announced
small monthly cash subsidies of about 120 pesos to 26 million poor Mexicans. Then in June, the
president announced that the prices of cooking oil, flour, canned tuna, fruit juices, coffee,
ketchup, and canned tomatoes would remain fixed until December 31 (Associated Press, 2008).
On a more positive note, the government of Mexico City has begun promoting urban vegetable
gardens “as a way to ease the burden of soaring food prices faced by poor families” (Rosenberg,
2008a). The city government provides seeds, tools, and technical assistance from agronomists
for neighborhoods that identify suitable spaces, often former trash dumps.
State of Democracy
Mexico is a federal republic with most power concentrated in the president who is elected by
Rosenberg, 2008
43
universal suffrage. Felipe Calderon of the conservative National Action Party won the 2006
election by an extremely tight margin. His opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the
Democratic Revolution Party, contested the results, calling for an investigation into election
fraud. His accusation was rejected (U.S. Department of State, 2008).
References
Associated Press. 2008. “Mexican president announces fixed food prices for six months,” The
Guardian, June 18. Available at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/18/mexico.food.
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Mexico. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749.htm.
Carlsen, Laura. 2008. “Behind Latin America’s Food Crisis,” Americas Program Special Report,
May 19. Available at http://americas.irc-online.org/am/5236.
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm.
Gutierrez, Teresa. 2008. “Masses protest NAFTA in Mexico,” Workers World, February 10.
Available at http://www.workers.org/2008/world/mexico_0214/.
Malkin, Elisabeth. 2007. “Thousands in Mexico City Protest Rising Food Prices,” New York
Times, February 1. Available at
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/01/world/americas/01mexico.html.
Rodriguez, Angie. 2008. “Thousands of People Protest NAFTA and defend Food Sovereignty in
Mexico,” Food First, February 18. Available at http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/2050.
Rosenberg, Mica. 2008a. “Mexico City poor plant vegetables to lower food costs,” Reuters, July
31. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN2918733120080731.
Rosenberg, Mica. 2008b. “Mexican farmers stage protest over US imports,” Reuters, January 31.
Available at http://www.bilaterals.org/article.php3?id_article=11050.
Taylor, Jerome. 2007. “How the rising price of corn made Mexicans take to streets,” The
Independent, June 23. Available at
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/how-the-rising-price-of-corn-made-
mexicans-take-to-streets-454260.html.
Tobar, Hector. 2008. “Mexican Farmers Protest NAFTA: The last tariffs on U.S. produce end,
raising fears of a glut of cheap corn and beans wiping out local agriculture,” The Los
44
Angeles Times, January 3. Available at
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/01/03/6144/.
Nicaragua
Rioting
Civil and political organizations in Nicaragua organized a
protest march in Managua on June 27 (Overseas Security
Advisory Council, 2008). According to Alfredo Rivas, a
freelance journalist and blogger, thousands marched “to
protest against Daniel Ortega's government policies, against
hunger, the high cost of living and "institutional”
dictatorship” (Rivas, 2008). Organizers say that 20,000
marched, while police report about 10,000.
Less than a month later, protesters marched again in
Managua on July 16. According to a Reuters report (Castro,
2008a), the protesters were a mix of conservatives and
center-leftists fed-up with price increases and Ortega’s banning of two opposition political
parties. The report states that “many joined Wednesday’s protest because of rising food and
energy prices that have hit impoverished Nicaragua hard.” This was reportedly the largest
protest Ortega has faced since his election in 2006 (Castro, 2008b). The protest was followed by
another march of tens of thousands of people four days later to celebrate the country’s 1979
leftist revolution, and presumably to show support for Ortega (Castro, 2008).
Government Response
In May, the government removed import tariffs for beans and reduced import tariffs to zero or
5% for some types of vegetable oils (FAO, 2008).
State of Democracy
Nicaragua is a constitutional democracy with executive, legislative, judicial, and electoral
branches (U.S. Department of State, 2008). The president and vice president are elected on the
same ticket by popular vote for 5-year terms. Second terms are allowed, but cannot be
consecutively held (CIA, 2008). According to the U.S. Department of State:
Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed by Nicaragua's constitution and vigorously
exercised by its people. Diverse viewpoints are freely and openly discussed in the media
Bureau of Western
Hemisphere
Affairs, 2008
45
and in academia. There is no state censorship in Nicaragua. Other constitutional freedoms
include peaceful assembly and association, freedom of religion, and freedom of
movement within the country, as well as foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation.
Despite these stated freedoms, protestors in Nicaragua decry Ortega as a dictator (Castro, 2008a),
and question the state of democracy in the country.
References
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background
Note: Nicaragua. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1850.htm.
Castro, Ivan. 2008a. “Thousands march in Nicaragua against Ortega,” Reuters, July 16.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Agflation/idUSN1646014620080716.
Castro, Ivan. 2008b. “Thousands march for Nicaragua’s Ortega after protest,” Reuters, July 20.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN2032738220080720.
FAO, Economic and Social Department. 2008. “Policy measures taken by governments to reduce
the impact of soaring prices,” Crop Prospects and Food Situation, July, No. 3. Available
at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai470e/ai470e05.htm.
Overseas Security Advisory Council. 2008. “Warden Message: Nicaragua Political Protest,”
Consular Affairs Bulletin, June 27. Available at
https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=86773.
Rivas, Alfredo. 2008. “Nicaraguans Protest Ortega’s Government,” Nicaraguan Report:
Analysis of Nicaraguan Politics and News, June 27. Available at
http://www.nicaraguanreport.com/2008/06/nicaraguans-protest-ortegas-government.html.
46
Peru
Rioting
On April 30, more than 1,000 women protested the
government’s response to rising food prices outside of
Peru’s Congress. The women, who run food kitchens for
the poor, banged pots and pans and chanted “The pot is
empty, Garcia!” (referring to President Garcia) as they
walked through downtown Lima. Meals in the eating halls
are subsidized by the government, but prior to the
demonstrations, the women were struggling to provide
ample food for the poor. They called on the government to
increase financial aid (Arce and Wade, 2008).
On July 9, about 30,000 members of the General
Confederation of Workers heeded the call for a nationwide protest against rising food prices.
This came four days after the third stoppage by miners in Peru in four months (Mapstone, 2008).
In Lima, 6,000 people banged pots in protest in a central plaza. Protesters also set fire to a
government building in Puerto Maldonado. The General Confederation of Workers, the
umbrella union in Peru, argued that food price hikes were the result of free-market policies
adopted by President Alan Garcia. The protest was also aimed at last year’s trade agreement
with the U.S. and pushing for improved working conditions. Authorities report that nine police
officers were injured, and 216 people were arrested nationwide (Salazar, 2008).
The demonstrations come on the heels of a major farmer protest that took place in Peru in
January. The government declared a state of emergency when farmers called for a nationwide
protest to “push for state subsidies as part of a free-trade agreement with the U.S., for lower
prices for fertilizers, and for a halt to farm seizures by banks” (Emery, 2008). Four people were
killed and 700 were arrested. Protest organizer said, “the government has lost all credibility”
(Emery, 2008).
Government Response
In April, the Peruvian government cut taxes on food imports. President Garcia also sent soldiers
to hand food out to the poorest neighborhoods in Lima (Arce and Wade).
State of Democracy
Peru is a constitutional republic. The president is elected by popular vote for one 5-year term
without the opportunity for re-election. The executive body also consists of a president-
appointed Council of Ministers, headed by a Prime Minister. The legislative body consists of a
120- member unicameral Congress, and the judicial consists of a 16-member Supreme Court
Bureau of Western
Hemisphere Affairs, 2008
Peru
47
(U.S. Department of State, 2008). Alan Garcia won the run-off vote in the presidential elections
of 2006. He was President from 1985-1900, when he left office with “rock-bottom” approval
ratings (BBC News, 2008).
References
Arce, Jean Luis and Terry Wade. 2008. “More than 1,000 protest over food prices in Peru,”
Reuters, April 30. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-
Agflation/idUSN3054542920080430.
BBC News. 2008. Country Profile: Peru. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1224656.stm.
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State. 2008. Background Note: Peru.
Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35762.htm.
Emery, Alex. 2008. “Peru declares state of emergency on farm protests,” Bloomberg, February
19. Available at http://www.bilaterals.org/article.php3?id_article=11199.
Mapstone, Naomi. 2008. “Peruvian strike highlights wealth gap,” Financial Times, July 8.
Available at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/937b11ce-4d12-11dd-b527-000077b07658.html.
Salazar, Carla. 2008. “Thousands protest economic policy in Peru,” Associated Press, July 9.
Available at
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=367
x12493.
48
4. MIDDLE EAST
Jordan
Rioting
In February, the government in Jordan removed almost all
fuel subsidies, causing the price of some fuels to increase by
76% overnight (Worth, 2008). Dramatic increases in the cost
of food followed. According to a blog called “Global
Voices,” people trying to organize a general strike in Jordan
on May 4 posted the event on Facebook, and news of it spread
mainly through blogs. The strike was called to protest
increasing prices; to demand better living conditions; and to
show solidarity with the Egyptian strike scheduled for the
same day (al Hussaini, 2008). But the strike was thwarted.
On May 4, members of the leftist group the “Social Jordanian
Movement” distributed pamphlets in Amman calling for the
strike. Three members were arrested, and the strike did not
materialize. Activists said that authorities refused to allow public protest against price hikes in
previous weeks (al-Khalidi, 2008).
U.N. employees in refugee camps in Jordan went on strike for a day in April to demand wage
increases in the face of the rising cost of living (Avni, 2008).
Responses
An article in the Los Angeles Times entitled, “Islamists gain from food crisis” (Daragahi, 2008)
states that Islamist political groups in Jordan and elsewhere are stepping in to fill the void left by
government in meeting people’s food needs. As prices continue to increase, the Islamic Action
Front in Jordan has increased its charity programs to provide food baskets and financial help to
over 32,000 families. Requests and applications from families for assistance have increased by
30-50% in the last year, and the government appears to be doing little to help the situation,
despite a meeting of Arab agricultural ministers in May to discuss solutions to the crisis (Karam,
2008). The LA Times piece states that, “the frustration is potentially more explosive here than in
more democratic parts of the developing world,” and quotes analysts who say that the food crisis
will deepen public support for fundamentalist groups (Daragahi, 2008).
State of Democracy
Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on a constitution promulgated in 1952 (U.S.
Department of State, 2008). King Abdullah came to power in 1999 following the death of his
father, King Hussein who ruled for 46 years (BBC News, 2008).
Bureau of Near Eastern
Affairs, 2008
49
References
al-Hussaini, Amira. 2008. “Jordan: Gearing up for Strike,” Global Voices, May 3. Available at
http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2008/05/03/jordan-gearing-up-for-strike/.
al-Khalidi, Suleiman. 2008. “Jordan detains 3 people over strike-call activists,” Reuters, May 4.
Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL04412589.
Avni, Benny. 2008. “U.N. Employees in Jordan Strike for Higher Wages,” The New York Sun,
April 8. Available at http://www.nysun.com/foreign/un-employees-in-jordan-strike-for-
higher-wages/74327/.
BBC News. 2008. Country profile: Jordan. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/828763.stm.
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, United States Department of State. 2008. Background Note:
Jordan. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3464.htm.
Daragahi, Borzou. 2008. “Islamists gain from food crisis,” Los Angeles Times, May 18.
Available at http://articles.latimes.com/2008/may/18/world/fg-food18.
Karam, Souhail. 2008. “Arabs mull emergency fund to fight food inflation,” Reuters, May 5.
Available at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L05119879.htm.
Worth, Robert F. 2008 “Rising Inflation Creates Unease in Middle East,” New York Times,
February 25. Available at
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/world/middleeast/25economy.html.
50
Yemen
Rioting
Riots broke out in the Radfan region of al-Dalea province on
March 30, 2008 with an estimated 20,000 (mostly young)
protesters taking to the streets (BBC, 2008a). By the next day,
the riots had spread to Lahj province (Weinberg, 2008). Both
areas are in southern Yemen. Protesters reportedly burned police
stations and military tanks, and police fired shots into the air and
used tanks to blockade streets. Residents of al-Dalea claim that
14 people died during the riots, though the state claims no
fatalities (Weinberg, 2008).
The protests were triggered in part by rising food costs,
particularly the price of wheat, rice, and vegetable oil (Reuters, 2008). Additionally, following
the civil war of 1994 in which the south of Yemen lost its independence to the north, southerners
claim they have been kept out of state and military jobs, the main sources of employment in the
country aside from agriculture (Reuters, 2008). Southern veterans claim that they were forced to
retire early, and southern youth claim that army and state bureaucracy hiring practices are
unequal and biased toward northerners (Middle East Research and Information Project, 2008a).
Many southerners view the north as economically privileged (BBC, 2008b), and “disaffection in
southern Yemen has been long-standing following the civil war of 1994” (Weinberg, 2008).
Government Response
Aside from reports of police and military intervention during street protests, I didn’t find
information on government response to the food riots.
State of Democracy
Yemen is a republic with a bicameral legislature. The president and the 301-seat House of
Representatives are elected, while the third branch of power, the 111-seat Shura Council, is
appointed. President Ali Abdallah Saleh has been in power since unification in 1990. He was
most recently re-elected in September 2006 for another 7-year term. Prior to serving as the
President of Yemen, Abdallah Saleh led the Yemen Arab Republic (North) from 1978 (U.S.
Department of State, 2007).
According to the Middle East Research and Information Project at NYU (2008b):
But Yemen’s now dwindling oil reserves have not sufficiently alleviated the country’s
endemic poverty, a condition exacerbated by IMF-recommended austerity measures.
Foreign assistance and remittances from abroad have kept the economy afloat.
Bureau of Near Eastern
Affairs, 2008
51
Economic woes and political stagnation, as well as Salih’s post-September 11 enlistment in the
US-led war on terrorism, have fueled serious unrest. Zaydi rebels in the highlands battle the
army, while Salafi Sunnis engage in more sporadic gunfights. These skirmishes, along with
southern grumbling about state corruption and northern bias, are widely regarded as symptoms of
broad popular discontent.
References
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, United States Department of State. 2007. Background Note:
Yemen. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35836.htm.
BBC. 2008a. “Tanks Deployed after Yemen Riots,” April 1. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7325091.stm.
-----. 2008b. “Country Profile: Yemen,” April 30. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/784383.stm.
Middle East Research and Information Project. 2008. “Riots Continue in South”,
MiddleEastDesk.org (NYU), April 3. Available at
http://middleeastdesk.org/article.php?id=2295.
-----. 2008b. “Yemen,” MiddleEastDesk.org (NYU). Available at
http://middleeastdesk.org/article.php?list=type&type=32.
Reuters. 2008. “Yemen Forces Clash with Protesters for Fifth Day,” April 3. Available at
http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL03668103.
Weinberg, Bill. 2008. “Food Riots Rock Yemen,” Intelligence Daily, April 4. Available at
http://www.inteldaily.com/?c=148&a=5876.
... 31 Ce nouveau régime d'échange, fondé sur le pouvoir de conservation du produit, entraîne une transformation des modalités d'interdépendance internationale. Les multiples mouvements sociaux contre la vie chère qui ont émergé dans certains grands centres urbains des pays du Sud, suite de la flambée des prix des produits agricoles de 2007-2008, en sont une illustration (Schneider 2008, Janin 2010. Une année plus tard, ce sont les producteurs laitiers européens qui en donnent une nouvelle illustration par leur manifestation devant la Commission européenne pour protester contre la baisse des prix de leur production, due en partie à la chute des prix internationaux de la poudre de lait. ...
... The severity of the situation during those years was widely reported. A summary report of food riots that erupted across the globe in 2008 outlined state responses to the food riots and highlighted the state of democracy in countries where the riots occurred [12]. This condition, therefore, caused the perception that the riots happening in 2008 were prolonged and uncontrollable. ...
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In this study, we use restlessness as an input for a rice crisis indicator, since restlessness rather than rice price provides a comparable year-to year context. We outline the significant increase in the use of unprecedented restlessness (UR) as an indicator for rice crises. The UR approach involves a precedence analysis, in contrast with the existing approach, the price shock analysis. We test UR as a new indicator for rice crises at the national level, which can be applied in Asia and other countries around the world where rice is the staple food. Strong indicators point out the effectiveness of strategic government programs and are able to assess solutions and detect rice crises, while weak indicators are only reliable in detecting whether or not there has been a crisis. UR is tested across 43 countries using two new statistics: success probability (SP) and constraint probability (CP). As a consequence of SP and CP calculations, a large number of IMR control charts for UR analysis are constructed to provide evidence that UR is a strong indicator. The optimum validity measurement result is achieved with SP = 8/26 = 0.31 and CP = 8/14 = 0.57. This means that the UR detects and is followed by only 31% of riot events. Since the value of SP is less than 0.6, we can conclude that the UR indicator is not considered valid as an indicator of rice crises at the national level. The values of CP and SP are determined subjectively as equal to 0.6. This is the main cause of the emergence of new problems in the calibration of UR as an indicator of rice crises. The subjective success criteria trigger a question regarding why the value is 0.6, for which there is no scientific justification. Based on this background, we continue to objectively establish success criteria for UR validity. After conducting a risk analysis involving a crisis recovery cost (CRC) to crisis anticipation cost (CAC) ratio, it is found that the probability of the CRC-to-CAC ratio having values greater than 7 is 0.76, which means the CRC-to-CAC ratio tends to be higher than 7. Objectively, it is concluded that UR, which has been defined as rice crisis indicator at the national level, is an important indicator.
... The first episode was when prices of food increased by 3% between January 2007 and December 2008 and increased by 51% between January and December 2008. Such increases in the food prices were trailed by riots which swept through several developing and emerging countries including Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas (Berazneva & Lee, 2013;Paarlberg, 2010;Schneider, 2008), reaching the point of making the former Haitian prime minister to resign (Collier, 2008) and leading to 2009 coup against President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar. The second crisis started at the tail end of the 2010 with the prices of food increased by 40% between January 2010 and February 2011, culminating into famine in the Horn of Africa. ...
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Can inflation or inflation volatility incites terrorism? This question is salient as there is a latent belief that both can actually produce hardships for people, making them to be economically deprived and aggrieved, thereby reducing their opportunity costs of rebellion against the incumbent government. This study answers the above raised question using a negative binomial regression on 38 African economies over the period 1980-2012, in which the following findings are established. Inflation volatility and not inflation per se constitutes a significant predictor of terrorism, particularly, for the domestic terrorist activity over the period of coverage. The prevailing impacts of other confounding variables such as surface areas, ethnicity, physical integrity rights, as well as the lagged value of terrorism are consistently notable across the model specifications. Thus, the paper argues that the non-statistical significance of inflation does not render it less important as it offers the enabling condition that makes inflation volatility to thrive.
... Our joint thinking was initially triggered by the wave of popular unrest during the 2008 commodity price spike. These 'food riots' (more properly also fuel riots) drew our immediate attention because they were so widespread, gave the appearance of spontaneity and often seemed to succeed in sending a message that was both loud and clear, which resulted in some action by government (Berazneva and Lee 2011;Bush 2010;Arora, Swinnen, and Verpoorten 2011;Arezki and Bruckner 2011;Schneider 2008;Brinkman and Hendrix 2011). At the same time, food riots were generally framed (e.g., in the media) as the natural defensive spasms of hungry people, and not as properly political acts (Hossain 2009). ...
... The debates on the British, French and Russian revolutions are based on this fundamental factor (Rudé 1964;Tilly 1971;Wade 2005). More recently, Schneider (2008) has dealt with social uprisings, following the 2008 crisis in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East; and Bush (2010) discusses the impact of pricing policy on social mobilizations particularly in the Middle East. When Morocco's inland cities were shaken by rising prices, it did not escape waves of protests against the high price of the standard of living (Harsch 2008;Brown 2008). ...
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Public or civil protest is deeply rooted in human history as well as in the institutional and political culture of most developed and developing nations. These public demonstrations are enshrined and protected by most states’ constitutions. Public protest most often results in either peaceful or violent revolutions in support of a cause or opposition to a governmental policy or practice. “People power” has therefore been a potent political force and an asset to drastically change the course of the history of most democratic countries giving rise to the core principle of “Vox Populi Vox Dei”: The voice of the people is the voice of God. It is undoubtedly within this framework and logic that the issue of the right to protest peacefully in the context of the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis and socio-political issues arises with relevant questions concerning the nature and practice of democracy, rule of law, and human rights in Cameroon. Hence, the focus study of this research seeks on the one hand to critically identify and examine the nuances and various meanings of the right to protest, including its legality, and importance in the construction as well as the advancement of a democratic society. On the other hand, this study will also investigate the State and Police’s obligations and responsibilities before, during, and after any protests. Finally, this study shall explore and assess the limitations and principles on the protection of human rights in protests. This study will inevitably conclude that any democratic society must always safeguard, promote and regulate the right to protest which is synonymous with the right to freedom of speech and expression, right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and right to freedom of association that basically represent core principles and values of any advanced democracy that protects and promotes human rights because today’s human rights violations are unquestionably the basic causes and reasons for tomorrow’s conflicts and it is in the same vein that Elie Wiesel once said that “there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice but, there must never be a time we fail to protest and John F. Kennedy added that those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable” Key Words: Cameroon, Human rights, Democracy, right to protest, Anglophone crisis
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Correction Appended PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Hunger bashed in the front gate of Haiti's presidential palace. Hunger poured onto the streets, burning tires and taking on soldiers and the police. Hunger sent the country's prime minister packing. Haiti's hunger, that burn in the belly that so many here feel, has become fiercer than ever in recent days as global food prices spiral out of reach, spiking as much as 45 percent since the end of 2006 and turning Haitian staples like beans, corn and rice into closely guarded treasures. Saint Louis Meriska's children ate two spoonfuls of rice apiece as their only meal recently and then went without any food the following day. His eyes downcast, his own stomach empty, the unemployed father said forlornly, "They look at me and say, 'Papa, I'm hungry,' and I have to look away. It's humiliating and it makes you angry." That anger is palpable across the globe. The food crisis is not only being felt among the poor but is also eroding the gains of the working and middle classes, sowing volatile levels of discontent and putting new pressures on fragile governments. In Cairo, the military is being put to work baking bread as rising food prices threaten to become the spark that ignites wider anger at a repressive government. In Burkina Faso and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, food riots are breaking out as never before. In reasonably prosperous Malaysia, the ruling coalition was nearly ousted by voters who cited food and fuel price increases as their main concerns. "It's the worst crisis of its kind in more than 30 years," said Jeffrey D. Sachs, the economist and special adviser to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. "It's a big deal and it's obviously threatening a lot of governments. There are a number of governments on the ropes, and I think there's more political fallout to come." it roils developing nations, the spike in commodity prices — the biggest since the Nixon administration — has pitted the globe's poorer south against the relatively wealthy north, adding to demands for reform of rich nations' farm and environmental policies. But experts say there are few quick fixes to a crisis tied to so many factors, from strong demand for food from emerging economies like China's to rising oil prices to the diversion of food resources to make biofuels.
Food riots expose how corruption hurts India's poor, " Reuters, October 12
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Argentine Senate rejects soy export tax hike Reuters
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Food shortages worsen amid Argentine farm strike Reuters
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Argentines hold rival marches in farm conflict Reuters
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Farm strike takes toll on Argentine soy crushers Reuters
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Thousands in Mexico City Protest Rising Food Prices Available at http://www.nytimes.com Thousands of People Protest NAFTA and defend Food Sovereignty in Mexico Food First
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Malkin, Elisabeth. 2007. " Thousands in Mexico City Protest Rising Food Prices, " New York Times, February 1. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/01/world/americas/01mexico.html. Rodriguez, Angie. 2008. " Thousands of People Protest NAFTA and defend Food Sovereignty in Mexico, " Food First, February 18. Available at http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/2050.
Mexico City poor plant vegetables to lower food costs Reuters
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Mexican farmers stage protest over US imports Reuters
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