In 2003 a Latin launderess in New York worked more than 80 hours per week, earned US$3 per hour, far less than the legal minimum, received no payment for extra hours, had no vacations and no healthcare (González 2003). The migrant population accepts these working conditions because their situation would be even worse in their own countries. Haiti was once self-reliant in rice, a fundamental component of the national diet, but now a large share of the rice consumed in the country needs to be imported. This is one of the consequences of the implementation of neoliberal policies in the country. Rice imports in Haiti resulted in the destruction of local production capacity and generated none of the promised jobs in alternative industries. For some time now, Haiti has been undergoing an economic and social crisis, which is worsened by the rise in the cost of raw materials and food staples:
The Haitian crisis is so extreme it forces people to eat (non-food) mud cookies (called ‘pica’) to relieve hunger. It’s a desperate Haitian remedy made from dried yellow dirt from the country’s central plateau for those who can afford it. It’s not free. In Cite Soleil’s crowded slums, people use a combination of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening for a typical meal when it’s all they can afford.