If you travel down to the Miami River in Florida, you might come across a micro-economy that centers around “break-bulk” shipping, a labor-intensive system where cargo is moved piece by piece, by people, instead of in giant metal crates and automated equipment.
It’s also a system that runs on orderly chaos — there are no set quotas; people who use the break-bulk system are usually sending thrift store junk; and prices for shipping said junk can be haggled over as they would at a flea market.
But despite its lack of order, it works. It’s also a shipping system that many people in the local Haitian diaspora rely on to send goods to their families and businesses back in Haiti.
Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour spoke to journalist and author Rowan Moore Gerety about his recent reporting dive into the Miami River break-bulk shipping system. They discuss how it worked, how it ties into the Haitian economy and the role cocaine smuggling plays in the system.
Click on the player above to hear their conversation