As desperation rises so does production of mud cakes, an unofficial misery index. Now even bakers are struggling. Trucked in from a clay-rich area outside the capital, Port-au-Prince, the mud is costlier but cakes still sell for 1.3p each, about the only item immune from inflation. "We need to raise our prices but it's their last resort and people won't tolerate it," lamented Baptiste, the Cité Soleil baker.How did it come to this?
Vendors of other foods who have increased prices have been left with unsold stock...
Haiti's woes stem from global economic trends of higher oil and food prices, plus reduced remittances from migrant relatives affected by the US downturn. What makes the country especially vulnerable, however, is its almost total reliance on food imports.So what's the alternative?
Domestic agriculture is a disaster. The slashing and burning of forests for farming and charcoal has degraded the soil and chronic under-investment has rendered rural infrastructure at best rickety, at worst non-existent.
The woes were compounded by a decision in the 1980s to lift tariffs, when international prices were lower, and flood the country with cheap imported rice and vegetables. Consumers gained and the IMF applauded but domestic farmers went bankrupt and the Artibonite valley, the country's breadbasket, atrophied.
Now that imports are rocketing in price the government has vowed to rebuild the withered agriculture but that is a herculean task given scant resources, degraded soil and land ownership disputes.
Walk along a beach in the morning and you find Haitians gazing at the azure ocean horizon, dreaming of escape. They are fiercely proud of their history in overthrowing slavery and colonialism but these days the US, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic - anywhere but home - seems the best option.More here.
The only thing stopping an exodus are US coastguard patrols, said Herman Janvier, 30, a fishermen on Cap Haitian, a smuggling point. "People want out of here. It's like we're almost dead people."
UPDATE: And of course, let's not forget why Bush dumped Aristide. From Common Dreams: