[Marxism] The Uses and Abuses of Haiti (excerpts)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Mar 14 14:55:45 MST 2004

THIRD WORLD TRAVELER is a great website. This article which
cam out a year ago is one which makes all the conceptual
links between Haiti and Cuba which the US media and even
some on the political left as yet haven't made. For
example, with all of the outstanding coverage on Haiti on
Pacifica Radio's DEMOCRACY NOW, not a word has been said
about the large Cuban medical team on the island at this
time. Haiti today is on the receiving end of a giagantic
terrorist attack. Those who don't go along with the US
invasion and occupation are being dealt with using what
they call "heavy manners" in the Caribbean. This is a good
interview. Paul Farmer doesn't share the International
Socialist Organization's hostility toward Cuba.

The Uses and Abuses of Haiti (excerpts)

Helen Scott interviews Paul Farmer Internationalist
Socialist Review, April 2003

Paul Farmer has worked for two decades as medical director
of a hospital in the village of Cange in Haiti that serves
the rural poor. He helped establish two organizations-Zanmi
Lasante in Haiti and Partners in Health in
Massachusetts-that aim to redress inequalities in access to
health care. Farmer used a 1993 MacArthur "genius grant" to
establish the Institute for Health and Social Justice,
which has supported important research on the link between
sickness and social and economic inequality. Farmer has
published several books that expose the connections between
poverty, inequality and infectious diseases, especially
AIDS. His work rejects the brutal logic of a for-profit
system of health care that reserves cutting edge research
and technology for the wealthy while denying the poor the
most basic provisions necessary for survival.

In 1994 he wrote The Uses of Haiti, a sweeping history that
reveals the consistent role of foreign powers, especially
the United States, in the exploitation and oppression of
the Haitian people. After several years out of print, an
updated version of The Uses of Haiti has now been reissued.


Can you explain the work of the Zanmi Lasante Clinic and
the role it plays in Haiti?

Part of me is tempted to say that we don't really have a
national role per se, that ours is a regional effort, a
community-based effort. That would all be true. At the same
time, what I've seen over the past 20 years leads me to
believe that Zanmi Lasante may well be playing an important
role in other parts of Haiti and beyond its borders. Allow
me to give some specific examples, and then link them to a
general contribution to the struggle of the poor.

Zanmi Lasante has pioneered a number of interventions
around complex health problems including hard-to-treat
tuberculosis, AIDS prevention and care and maternal
mortality. We've done these projects from the middle of a
squatter settlement inhabited almost exclusively by
landless peasants. We've even performed open-heart surgery
here. We've done this with an all-Haitian
staff-non-Haitians like me have been volunteers. We have
recently welcomed our first Cuban staff, a very experienced
surgeon and a pediatrician, but we don't have to pay them
either. It's part of Cuba's aid program to Haiti.

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