Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1989

The Dominican Republic is a constitutional democracy with a
popularly elected president and a bicameral congress. The
Supreme Court heads an independent judiciary whose members are
appointed by the Senate. Political parties representing the
ideological spectrum from left to right freely and actively
participated in the May 1986 national elections, the sixth to
be held since 1966. In the elections of 1978 and 1986, the
reins of government were peacefully transferred from one
ruling party to the opposition. The current President,
Joaquin Balaguer, was inaugurated in August 1986 and will
serve until August 1990.
The National Police (PN), the National Department of
Investigation (DNI), and the military serve as the security
services. The PN has general investigative and principal
arrest authority. The military has investigative and general
arrest authority for armed forces personnel and can arrest
suspects apprehended by military patrols. The DNI is the
principal national investigative body for national security
concerns and generally does not have arrest authority. In
1988 the Government created the National Executive Council for
the Control of Drugs to coordinate domestic and international
narcotics programs, bringing under a single authority elements
of the National Police, military, and DNI. All branches of
the security services are responsive to civilian authority.
The Dominican Republic has a mixed economy based primarily on
agriculture (approximately 15 percent of the gross domestic
product) and services. The Government accounts for nearly 25
percent of the gross domestic product and controls several
major industries (sugar, the national airline, electricity,
etc.). Historically, sugar has been the principal export,
although tourism, free trade zones, and remittances from
Dominicans living abroad now generate more foreign exchange.
The country continues to face the burdens of a $4-billion
external debt, a 45-percent inflation rate (estimate for
1989), a rapidly growing population (2.3 percent annually),
and concomitant high levels of unemployment (some 25 percent)
and underemployment (20-25 percent). During 1989, discontent
over the continued deterioration of basic public services,
inflation, and low wage levels generated a series of
demonstrations (some of which became violent), serious
sectoral strikes (including extended teachers' and public
doctors' strikes), and a national general strike in June.
Dominicans generally continued to exercise the broad range of
human rights provided by the Constitution. The political
environment remained unrestricted, and individuals and
political groups freely debated and criticized the
Government's policies and programs. The major human rights
problem which has continued to generate criticism within the
Dominican Republic and abroad was the abuse of human and
worker rights of Haitians residing in the Dominican Republic.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no known cases of political killings in 1989.
Daniel Mirambeaux, an ex-member of an extremist, leftist party
who was accused of murdering a New York City policeman during
a drug-related crime in October 1988, died on June 30 as a
result of a fall from a third story landing in the national
police headquarters as he was on his way to be transported
back to the United States to stand trial. The official
autopsy stated that the death "was highly compatible with
homicide," fueling charges that the Dominican Government
engineered the death. The four Dominican police officers who
had custody of Mirambeaux at the time of his death all
testified that Mirambeaux jumped from the landing. The
official report and an independent investigation by the United
States Federal Bureau of Investigation, (done at the Dominican
Government's invitation), both determined the probable cause
of death as suicide. The four police officers involved were
suspended from active duty for "gross negligence" in allowing
Mirambeaux to escape physical custody. They were themselves
placed in custody, and a court-martial recommended that they
be separated from the police. On December 22, however.
President Balaguer announced that, as an act of Christmas
clemency, he was ordering their release and reinstatement,
explaining that they had already been punished enough for
their act of negligence.
In two additional cases, the police have been accused of abuse
of prisoners leading to death. In August, Montero Mondesi
died of blows allegedly received while in police custody at
the National Police Headquarters. The officials in charge
were arrested, and the police chief ordered an autopsy and
complete investigation. In September, relatives charged that
Armando Moya Salazar died in custody after being tortured by
the police.
Members of the military were implicated by relatives in the
alleged beating and death of Geovanny Cuello Sencion.
According to press accounts, Cuello and some friends were
picked up by a military patrol following a bar fight he had
with an off-duty soldier. The press reported that Cuello was
held at a military base and beaten for several days, and he
subsequently died on September 16. The military alleges that
Cuello and his friends were involved with illegal drugs. The
police chief led a high-level investigation into the
incident. The military court tried four enlisted men who made
up the patrol. In December their case was still under final
review. No officers have been brought to trial in the
      b. Disappearance
There were no credible reports of politically motivated
disappearances in 1989.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution prohibits torture, but several cases of
mistreatment of prisoners or detainees by law enforcement
officials and military personnel were reported by the press.
In its 1989 report covering 1988, Amnesty International (AI)
expressed concern over the reported beating of several people
in detention following their arrest in mass demonstrations.
The Government states that it has investigated reports of
alleged police abuses, but any results of such investigations
have not been made public.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
There were no credible reports of arbitrary arrest or exile of
citizens for expressing views contrary to or critical of the
Government. However, in mid-December 1988, the Government
summarily deported Dr. Paul Etienne, a Haitian who worked for
a nongovernmental center providing health and social services
to Haitian sugar plantation workers. Human rights groups,
including AI, observed there was no apparent reason for the
expulsion other than his criticisms of the Government's
treatment of Haitians.
There have also been frequent assertions that security forces
forcibly detain Haitians and require them to cut sugar cane on
state-owned plantations (see Section 2.d.)
The Constitution stipulates that suspects may be detained for .
a maximum of 48 hours for investigation before arraignment,
after which they must be charged or released. In 1989 there
were procedural complaints that people were being held in
prison improperly. In response, the Attorney General began to
review prison records in June. She subsequently ordered the
release of 56 prisoners being held without timely trial or
without legal cause, faulting the District Attorney's office
for issuing "irregular" holding orders.
In the last half of 1989, the judiciary, some elements of the
executive branch, and various human rights groups complained
that prisoners were being improperly held, often after court
release orders had been issued in their behalf. Police and
prison officials, on their part, complained that courts were
releasing dangerous criminals or letting them off with light
sentences. After evaluations by the Attorney General and the
Santo Domingo District Attorney, over 50 prisoners were
subsequently released. In late November, President Balaguer
responded to the demands that the Government ensure that courtordered
releases be obeyed by announcing that the executive
branch was preparing legislation to reform the habeas corpus
Large numbers of people were detained during the year as a
result of protest activities. Many hundreds were reportedly
detained as a measure to prevent violence on the eve of the
June general strike; the strike was peaceful, and those
detained were released shortly thereafter. Also in late June,
a number of teachers were arrested during a confrontation
between striking Dominican teachers' association members and
police; the teachers were released within a few days.
With regard to forced or compulsory labor, see Section 6.c.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
There are no known political prisoners. The Constitution
provides for a public trial. No special court for political
or national security cases exists, and civilians may not be
tried by a military court. Members of the armed forces are
tried by military courts, except under specific circumstances
and only after review by a military board. The appeals
procedure, which includes appellate courts and the Supreme
Court, is widely utilized. Court-appointed lawyers normally
are provided at public expense to indigents only in criminal
cases; they are seldom provided in criminal misdemeanor cases
in which their provision is at the court's discretion.
Prosecuting attorneys are appointed by the executive branch.
Judges at all levels are appointed and approved by the
Senate. They are nominally independent of the executive
branch and are subject to removal or transfer by a majority
vote in the Senate. Their terms of office correspond roughly
to that of the President and other elected officials. The
newly elected Senate can either designate their replacements
or reconfirm them.
Judges earn a relatively low salary, and there have been
allegations that the fairness and timeliness of some trials
have been subject to influence and manipulation. There is
widespread public belief that a number of judges and
prosecutors accept bribes. To increase the professionalism of
the judiciary, the Government, in cooperation with the U.S.
Department of Justice, began in 1988 and continued in 1989 a
program which provides judges and court attorneys with
professional training in the legal aspects of criminal
The slowness of the judicial system, a problem for many years,
continues to come under criticism. In an effort to attack the
backlog of cases in the courts, the Supreme Court, with
technical assistance from the U.S. Government, has
computerized the Dominican central files and court docket.
Although the right to judicial determination of the legality
of detention exists, preventive detention of those awaiting
trial is legal and commonly employed, and many of those
accused remain in prison for lengthy periods.
Ex-president Salvador Jorge Blanco (of the opposition
Dominican Revolutionary Party) returned to the Dominican
Republic after an absence of 18 months in November 1988 and
remains involved in a lengthy trial on charges of corruption
during his presidency (1982-86). He maintains that his
prosecution is politically motivated.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
There were no credible reports of arbitrary governmental
interference with the private lives of persons or families.
Constitutional safeguards against invasion of the home are
generally observed. A residence may not be searched except in
the presence of a prosecutor or an assistant prosecutor,
excluding cases of "hot pursuit" or instances where there is
probable cause to believe that a crime is actually being
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
These liberties are provided for by law and are respected in
practice. Dominicans of all political persuasions enjoy
freedom of speech and regularly exercise it. The numerous
privately owned radio and television stations air all
political points of view. Dominican newspapers are privately
owned and freely reflect independent and opposition points of
view. There is no government censorship on political grounds.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
These freedoms are provided for by the Constitution and are
respected in practice. Outdoor public marches and meetings
require government permits, which are routinely granted.
Indoor gatherings of political parties, labor unions, and
other associations are unrestricted.
Professional organizations of lawyers, doctors, and others
function freely and can maintain relations with counterpart
international bodies of diverse political philosophies.
Although formed as professional associations, many of these
organizations take on roles similar to those of labor unions,
including protest activities and strikes.
For a discussion of freedom of association as it applies to
labor unions, see Section 6. a.
      c. Freedom of Religion
Discrimination on religious grounds is prohibited by the
Constitution. There are no religious requirements to hold
public office, no restrictions on the practice of religious
faiths, and no social discrimination based on religion.
Approximately 95 percent of the population is Roman Catholic,
and the Church's preeminent position is recognized in the
Concordat between the Dominican Republic and the Holy See.
There have been no credible reports of government interference
with the free practice of religion.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
There are no unusual legal restrictions on travel within or
outside the country for citizens. However, the status and
treatment of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic and of
persons of Haitian descent have generated criticism by the
press and private groups, both in the Dominican Republic and
abroad. The Haitian community of perhaps 1,000,000 is
composed mainly of illegal immigrants seeking improved
economic conditions. Over the years, many have remained after
the end of seasonal agricultural contracts and others have
slipped over the border. In February 1989, Haiti created the
Commission for Haitians Overseas to try to induce these
Haitians to return.
In early January, a truck carrying some 73 Haitians overturned
killing 47 Haitians. Several survivors told the press that
they had been captured at the border, kept in military
barracks for several days, and then put on the truck guarded
by Dominican soldiers destined for a sugar plantation. This
incident focused national and international attention on the
situation of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. More
attention arose when the 1989 International Labor Organization
(ILO) Committee of Experts (COE) again faulted the Dominican
Government for its failure to address problems pointed out in
a 1983 ILO study of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. In
addition, the ILO General Assembly made specific criticisms of
the Government for failure to protect worker rights of
Haitians working in the Dominican Republic.
A May 1989 report issued by the private U.S. human rights
group, Americas Watch (AW), charged that the Government and
the state-owned sugar corporation (CEA) did not allow the free
travel of Haitian seasonal agricultural workers during the
sugar harvest, restricting them to the sugar plantations which
had their contract and not permitting them to return to
Haiti. It has also charged that security forces paid
recruiters to lure Haitians into the Dominican Republic who
were then forcibly taken to the state-owned sugar company
plantations. The Dominican Government denied these charges
(see Section 6 .c. )
For the most part, the Government does not deport illegal
Haitian immigrants, although it may do so under Dominican
immigration law. The Government claimed that this policy is
motivated by humanitarian considerations, noting the problems
the new Haitian Government would have in reassimi lating
hundreds of thousands of its poorer citizens. As a result of
ILO and other criticism of Dominican Government treatment of
Haitian residents, and calls for the Government to legalize
undocumented persons of Haitian descent born in and living in
the Dominican Republic, many economic and political leaders
are publicly calling for the enforcement of immigration laws
and the deportation of large numbers of Haitians.
Persons seeking political refuge (virtually all are Haitian)
are not repatriated if the Government determines that they
have a legitimate fear of persecution. Both Haitian
ex-President Henri Namphy and ex-Port-au-Prince Mayor Franck
Romain were among Haitians from fallen governments who fled to
the Dominican Republic and safety in 1988 and remained through
1989. A group of Haitian military officers who led an aborted
coup attempt in April were allowed into the Dominican Republic
in transit to the United States. Six members of the Basque
separatist organization "ETA" received political asylum in the
Dominican Republic in April. Despite subsequent requests from
Spain, the Dominican Government stated that it would not
extradite or return the six men.
The Constitution requires that all foreigners abstain from
political activities while in the Dominican Republic. During
1989, the Avril Government in Haiti repeatedly complained that
the Dominican Republic was being used by Haitian dissidents,
especially those from the Duvalier regime, as a safehaven for
antigovernment activity. However, the Dominican Government
has insisted that it will enforce its prohibition, especially
in asylum cases, of political activity by foreigners.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
The Dominican Republic is a functioning multiparty democracy
in which governments are freely elected by the citizenry every
4 years by secret ballot. Opposition groups of the left,
right, and center operate openly and participated in the 1986
elections in which nearly three-quarters of the registered
electorate voted, selecting national, provincial, and
municipal office holders. All major parties and a large
number of smaller parties are involved in open and free
campaigning for the next general election, scheduled for May
Although the bicameral Congress is similar in structure and
representation to that of the United States, it exerts limited
power in practice. The President uses the veto, broad
discretion to act by decree, and his influence as the head of
his party (which currently has an overwhelming majority in the
Senate and a near majority in the Chamber of Deputies) to
exercise principal influence in enacting laws and
regulations. However, in its enactment of bills, the Congress
does provide an open forum for the free exchange of views and
debate. On rare occasions, the Congress successfully
challenges the President.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The access of international human rights organizations is
unrestricted. During 1989, AW visited the Dominican Republic
twice to study the issue of Haitian seasonal workers. AW
representatives freely met with a wide variety of people,
including a number of government officials, and traveled
throughout the country.
Private organizations which freely report and comment on human
rights include the Dominican Human Rights Committee, the
Dominican Union for the Defense of Human Rights, and the
National Committee of Human and Labor Rights. The major labor
confederations (which represent the principal regional and
international labor organizations) also have offices and
internal organizations which work with and for worker rights
and on the Haitian agricultural workers' issue. There have
been no credible reports that the Government has restricted
entry to, or activities within, the Dominican Republic of
these organizations.
The Dominican Republic participates actively in international
and regional human rights bodies and supports efforts to
promote human rights in international forums.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
Discrimination based on sex and race is prohibited by law.
Divorce is easily obtainable by either spouse, and women can
hold property in their own names apart from their husbands.
Nonetheless, women traditionally have not shared equal social
and economic status or opportunity with men.
There is no officially sanctioned violence against women,
although such violence, including domestic violence such as
wife beating, does occur. However, a lack of statistical data
makes it difficult to determine its actual extent. Human
rights and women's rights groups do not consider violence
agsinst women to be one of their major concerns, and
government policy generally reflects this attitude. During
1989, the Government did take several positive steps to
protect women. For example, during the summer the police
mounted an effective campaign to combat kidnap-f or-rape crimes
in Santo Domingo.
The Dominican populace is predominantly nonwhite (73 percent
mixed and 11 percent black) . For historical reasons and
because of sharp cultural differences, there is a strain of
prejudice against Haitians in Dominican society. This often
translates into discrimination against those with darker skin
(i.e., Haitian appearing) (see Section 2.d.). Dark-skinned
Dominicans, including some of Haitian descent, have been
successful in a variety of fields, including elected political
office. Still, persons of Haitian descent
("Dominico-Haitianos") traditionally fill the lowest economic
and social niches, in part because of concern about possible
illegal status, a lack of skills, and problems with the
language and culture. AW has reported that due to prejudicial
attitudes, children of such persons often cannot obtain
documents to prove their citizenship and therefore are
unable to attend school. There is no evidence that children
of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent have been unable to
obtain such documentation or attend school.nOMTNICAN REPUBLIC
Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
The Constitution provides for the freedom to organize labor
unions, and also for the rights of labor to strike and the
private sector to lock out. However, unions operate under the
handicap of a dated labor code (1951) that gives unions few
rights vis-a-vis management and gives no effective protection
for organizers or union officials. The labor code specifies
in detail the steps required to constitute a legal union,
federation, or confederation, and labor objects that the
Government can use the failure to comply with every minute
detail to withhold official recognition, as AW reports it has
done with the Union of Cane-Cutters of Barahona, which applied
in February 1988 to the Ministry of Labor and has not yet been
The labor code defines the right to strike but also denies the
right to strike to workers in public services and prohibits
general strikes. Nevertheless, professional organizations
representing public service workers have not been deterred
from strikes—including major work stoppages in 1989 by
doctors, nurses, teachers, agronomists, and judges, as well as
participation by many public workers in the June 1989 general
strike. Although these strikes were illegal under the labor
code, the Government negotiated with the striking parties.
The ILO's COE in 1989 noted several deficiencies in the
Dominican labor code, including the prohibition of sympathy
strikes and political strikes.
Organized labor in the Dominican Republic represents about 12
percent of the work force and is divided among 8 competing and
highly politicized confederations and a small number of
independent unions. The confederations exercise only a
limited degree of control or coordination over their
affiliates and receive only minimal financial support from
their members. An umbrella group to coordinate organized
labor was formed in July 1989 as a result of the general
strike, to negotiate on a sector-wide basis with the private
sector on a variety of labor issues.
Labor groups represent the political/ideological spectrum, and
several are associated with regional and international labor
organizations. According to knowledgeable estimates based on
the membership of Dominican organized labor, 32 percent were
affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade
Unions, 16 percent with the World Confederation of Labor, and
25 percent with the Communist-controlled World Federation of
Trade Unions (WFTU) . An additional 22 percent were affiliated
with the Communist regional trade union organization
(CPUSTAL) , apart from the WFTU. There have been no credible
reports of the Government interfering in or
restricting association with international labor organizations
or activities.
Many of the labor groups are affiliated with political parties
and frequently pursue partisan political objectives as much as
workers' economic interests, but are independent of government
control. The ailing economy and high unemployment and
underemployment have hampered the growth of organized labor.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The labor code clearly stipulates that workers cannot be
dismissed because of their trade union membership or
activities. Still, there are complaints that these
protections are ignored and that labor leaders are being
discriminated against. Criticism is often directed at Article
69 of the code which essentially permits an employer to
dismiss a worker without cause. The ILO's COE noted in 1989
that the Government still needed to strengthen measures
protecting workers against antiunion discrimination.
Although the labor movement is growing and collective
bargaining is increasing, both continue to be severely
limited by the competition and fragmentation of labor and
labor's scarce financial and manpower resources in difficult
economic times. One of the fastest growing economic sectors
is the industrial free trade zones which began in the late
1960's and now employ about 112,000 workers (5.5 percent of
available jobs), representing the third largest source of
employment after the Government and the sugar industry. The
free trade zone labor force, over 70 percent female, is
generally nonunionized. Although the labor code applies to
free trade zones, in both 1988 and 1989 there were allegations
that workers identified in applications for union recognition
were dismissed from free trade zone companies shortly after
the presentation of documents to the Secretariat of Labor.
Labor union officials also charged that the Secretariat of
Labor failed to act on formal applications for recognition of
unions in the free trade zones within the required 30-day
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law. There was no
contract between the Governments of Haiti and the Dominican
Republic to bring in Haitian cane cutters for the 1989
harvest. AW reported that in 1989, as in the past, Haitian
laborers in the sugar cane fields, especially those in the
country illegally, were subject to abusive living and working
conditions and in some cases were forced to work against their
will. AW charged that the Government (which controls a major
part of the sugar industry through the parastatal corporation
CEA) used military and police to round up Haitians and then
compelled them to sign a sugar cane cutter contract or be
deported. Some human rights groups report that they have
documented cases of Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitians
residing legally in the country being subjected to this
treatment. The issue has been under review for a number of
years by ILO supervisory bodies. In the 1989 annual meeting,
the Committee on the Application of Conventions and
Recommendations expressed detailed concern about the situation
of Haitians on the CEA plantations, and the ILO Conference
adopted a "special paragraph" in its annual report critical of
the Dominican Republic for violating ILO standards on forced
In response to the AW report alleging that persons of Haitian
origin were coerced to cut sugar cane against their will.
President Balaguer said that the charges were purely political
in nature. The Acting Foreign Secretary admitted that
individual abuses may occur, but he affirmed that this in no
way reflected Dominican Government policy. The CEA denied the
charges, and the CEA director said that CEA does not and will
not tolerate abuses towards Haitian workers.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The Dominican labor code prohibits employment of youths under
14 years of age, and restricts the nighttime employment of
youths aged 14 to 18. The labor code also provides that
employees under age 18 work no more than 8 hours a day, and
specifies that those 18 years and younger may not be employed
in dangerous or unhealthy jobs. In practice, many of the
restrictions in the labor code are ignored. Young people,
including minors younger than 14 years of age, engage in a
variety of work which technically violates the labor
regulations. There are many youths in the informal economy,
selling newspapers, washing car windows, shining shoes, or
begging in the streets. The Dominican Government denied that
it encouraged or deliberately permitted the illegal employment
of youths. During the year, the Secretariat of Labor
investigated the employment of youths in Santo Domingo and
Santiago areas and enforced the law in cases where companies
were found with underage workers or teens without proper
permission. Some young workers obtained work permits and
continued their employment. Those who were unable to obtain
permits were released. Some companies were subjected to small
fines for violating the law. The AW report charged that
Haitian youths were being recruited and used to harvest sugar
cane for CEA. The Episcopal Black Bishops' Conference, held
in Santo Domingo in April, made a similar charge (see Section
6.C.) .
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The labor code establishes that all workers are entitled to 24
hours of rest after 6 days of work; in practice, a typical
workweek is Monday through Friday plus half a day on
Saturday. However, for manual and unskilled labor, longer
hours are not unusual. Safety and health conditions at places
of work do not always meet legal standards. The existing
social security system does not apply to all workers and is
underfunded; as a result benefits are low, payments often
delayed, and medical care is limited and available only in the
major cities.
Conditions among agricultural workers are in general much
worse, with little rest and long hours during harvest and
planting seasons. Some observers alleged that Haitian workers
on CEA plantations are not allowed to eat or rest during the
day at harvest time and are required to work significantly
longer than the legal 48-hour week. The Government has
responded that Haitians live under the same conditions as
Dominicans doing equivalent work and has denied that it
condones or permits mistreatment of workers. The CEA
management has affirmed that it would punish any manager found
mistreating workers.
In 1988 the Government, in response to terms worked out in
church-sponsored talks including the government, labor, and
business sectors to maintain real wages in the face of high
inflation, raised the basic minimum monthly wage from $55 to
$80. Some smaller businesses and agricultural workers were
exempt from the new pay scale. As a result of the June
general strike, the minimum wage for the public sector was
raised in August 1989 from $64 to $80 a month. The general
strike also led to negotiations between organized labor and
business leaders to raise the private sector minimum wage.
Business leaders unilaterally granted a raise from $80 to $104
a month in August, while negotiations continued. In October
the Government's National Salary Committee officially raised
the national private sector minimum wage to $104, the
voluntary level offered by the private sector. However, after
a threat of a national labor strike by seven of the eight
national labor confederations, the Government and labor
negotiated an additional raise of $7 to $111.
According to labor leaders and many private sector
businessmen, the vast majority of workers receive only the
minimum wage. The current $111 a month is not sufficient,
even with high government subsidies on essential goods and
services, to maintain a small family at a minimally acceptable
standard of living. A report published in mid-1989 by a local
economic study center concluded that real salaries had
declined by 50 percent since 1970. A June 1989 study by a
local retail association found that feeding a family of five
at a subsistence level (assuming one meal a day, with
inexpensive canned tuna as the only animal protein) would cost
$137 a month.