US State Dept. Lobbied Against Min. Wage Increases for Haiti on Behalf of Textile Corporations

Wikileaks exposing how people are kept starving so we can have cheap jeans.

Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.

The factory owners told the Haitian Parliament that they were willing to give workers a 9-cents-per-hour pay increase to 31 cents per hour to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants like Dockers and Nautica.

But the factory owners refused to pay 62 cents per hour, or $5 per day, as a measure unanimously passed by the Haitian Parliament in June 2009 would have mandated. And they had the vigorous backing of the US Agency for International Development and the US Embassy when they took that stand.

To resolve the impasse between the factory owners and Parliament, the State Department urged quick intervention by then Haitian President René Préval.

“A more visible and active engagement by Préval may be critical to resolving the issue of the minimum wage and its protest ‘spin-off’—or risk the political environment spiraling out of control,” argued US Ambassador Janet Sanderson in a June 10, 2009, cable back to Washington.

Two months later Préval negotiated a deal with Parliament to create a two-tiered minimum wage increase—one for the textile industry at about $3 per day and one for all other industrial and commercial sectors at about $5 per day.

Still the US Embassy wasn’t pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

(via Poor Mojo)


  1. It remembers me Tariq Ali and his account of the hatred demonstrations happening all over the world, not only in arab countries, after 9/11. It’s a worthy read.

  2. Stands to reason, this decision does. Cheap jeans and tighty whities are part of my American dream, just like 11 cent bananas, coffee grown by peasants, and sure, the occaisional relaxing toke off a pipe full of readily available low cost and easy to smoke crack muthafuggin cocaine. Thanks Uncle Sam! And with all the additional profits our corporate masters milk from their desperate and starving employees by paying wages below what prison laborers get state side, our noble union will benefit with additional tax revenues. Which should be more than adequate to cover the traditional field trip down there with an aircraft carrier and bunch of marines to oust a dictator, deliver food, or whatever the hell those delta guys do down in Port au Prince. Perfectly reasonable.

  3. Ever wonder why bananas are so inexpensive? Similar reprehensible activities are taking place all over the third world at the behest of corporations. A worldwide free market is the last thing the rich and powerful want. The fix is in.

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