Chapter 2: The Food Crisis

There is no doubt that there is a recent and genuine Central American food crisis which began in 2007 and continued throughout 2008 and into 2009. After the 2008 ‘food riots’ hit the international media headlines for a short time, the issue dropped from general view. But even after the worst of the crisis had disappeared from view and various measures had been taken to patch over the seriousness of the situation, in late 2009 came the news from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that global hunger had just reached over a billion people on the planet[i].

Despite falling off the media radar, the crisis did not disappear; and it would be a mistake to believe that the crisis was new in any case. Perhaps it reached new depths, but for many of the Central American population the crisis of food has existed as long as they can remember. Headlines from 2001 testify to the fact that hunger and famine are common visitors to Central America – ‘Hunger punishes Honduras and Nicaragua’[ii]; ‘Central America faces ‘biblical’ famine’[iii]; and ‘A harsh harvest for Honduras’[iv].

With this in mind, I should particularly like to draw to the reader’s attention the article by Grahame Russell of Rights Action entitled ‘Famine and Hunger Devastate Guatemala …., Again the Pathological Interdependence of Feast and Famine in the Global ‘Free Trade’ Economic Order’. This appears under the chapter sub-heading (on the right hand side of this page) of ‘The long term origins of the food crisis’. If crises like these are ever to be removed in the future, it is important for us all to realise the role of the globalised neoliberal economic order in creating such crises.

The second chapter of ‘the Violence of Development’ discusses the system of food production in Central America.

Keywords: Hunger | Malnutrition | Oil price | Biofuels | Monoculture | Campesino | Agro-export economy | Agribusiness | Climate change | Neoliberal economic development | Food security | Food sovereignty | Colonial plantations | Solidarismo | The Green Revolution | Chemical pesticides and fertilisers | Control over seeds | Organic production | La Finca Humana | Fair trade production


[i]   United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) (2010) ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World’,FAO.
[ii]   El Diario de Hoy (2001) ‘El hambre castiga a Honduras y Nicaragua’, El Salvador, 18 July.
[iii]   Mike Lanchin (2001) ‘Central America faces ‘biblical’ famine’, The Guardian, London, 28 July.
[iv]   Mike Lanchin (2001) ‘A harsh harvest for Honduras’, The Guardian, London, 14 August.