Elie Lescot and the SHADA Project

During WWII when the Axis Powers managed to cut off the Eastern rubber supply, the then Haitian President, Elie Lescot proposed an ambitious to USA. He proposed to rapidly increase the rubber production during the war period in the countryside of Haiti. $5 million was granted by Washington's Export-Import Bank in 1941 so that rubber plantation can be developed in Haiti. This ambitious program was named at Société Haïtiano-Américane de Développement Agricole or SHADA. Thomas Fennell, an American agronomist managed the SHADA program.


Using US military support, Lescot administration cleared 47,177 acres of land by 1943 with the purpose of planting high latex-yielding cryptostegia vine. Over time, 100,000 hectares of land were claimed by the SHADA project. During this period, Elie Lescot campaigned and sold people the idea that SHADA will only improve and modernize agriculture in Haiti. However, Haitian families were forcibly removed from arable lands and nearly a million trees capable of bearing fruit were cut down.

The SHADA program failed as the yield was not up to the expectations. The amount of rubber generated was not sufficient enough for export. Harvests were poor because of droughts. The truth remained that SHADA wasted the money of American taxpayers and did not pay any respect to the Haitian population. Eventually, with the failure of SHADA, the US government offered a compensation of $175,000 to the Haitian peasants who were displaced from their lands. The SHADA project under Lescot administration is looked upon as the sole reason why today only 1% of Haiti is covered by forests and the project alone was responsible for destruction of agriculture in Haiti. University researcher and professor, Myrtha Gilbert, wrote a book called 'SHADA, a chronicle of extravagant scam'. She also calls the SHADA episode to be the Specter of American Domination.

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Read more: United States, Agriculture, Elie Lescot, Land, Peasant, SHADA, People

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