[Marxism] Gemma C Araneta - Cuba to the rescue (Manila Bulletin)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 26 23:09:29 MDT 2006

(Great story from a mainstream daily in the Philippines which
just came to my attention this afternoon. Googling the author
you find a lot of blunt, plain-spoken and strongly feminist
commentary on a range of topics. She has a series of TV shows
as well. Gee, we have nothing like her in the United States!)

Cuba to the rescue

Gemma C Araneta

THE world has probably forgotten that Haiti, now one of the most
politically precarious countries in the Caribbean, was once upon a
time the first republic ever to be proclaimed in that region. St.
Domingue, as it was called during French colonial days declared its
independence on 1 January 1884, and reverted to Haiti, its original
name in Taino. Independence did not come easily, there were fierce
and bloody encounters of slaves against French colonizers and
plantation owners, the most decisive of which was the Bataille de
Vertiere on 18 November 1803. Haitians have their share of heroes and
the most beloved liberators are JeanJacques Dessalines and Toussaint
Louverture, both exslaves, who are revered as fathers of the nation
and of independence.

Haiti's history seems more star-crossed than ours. They were also
invaded by the USA, but much later, in July 1915 and the occupation
ended in 1934, when the blueprints of the Philippine Commonwealth
were almost done. From 1957 to 1986, Haiti was ruled by the Duvalier
dynasty. Francois (Papa Doc) and son Jean Claude (Baby Doc), both
presidents-for-life, reigned with terror using zombies and the
dreaded Tonton Macoute. In February 1991, Jean Aristide, ex-priest
and victim of Duvalier's incredible cruelty, became the first
popularly-elected president of Haiti. There were no public services
to speak of in that first republic of the Caribbean.

Today, there is a presidentelect in the person of Rene Preval and his
initial move was to visit Cuba. That will probably provoke the ire of
a powerful neighbor but Mr. Preval believes it is important to
reestablish links with a country that has remained at Haiti's side,
through thick and thin. Mr. Preval is aware that health is Haiti's
most urgent problem and that Cuba is an affordable and reliable
source of assistance. After all, in the past six years, Cuban doctors
remained steadfast and were tirelessly working in Haiti's remotest
and most depressed areas, where even locals dared not go.

During his visit to Cuba, Mr. Preval was accompanied by a
multi-disciplinary delegation that included agronomists, physicians
and healthcare workers, artists and advocates of culture. As
expected, he received a red carpet reception after which he had
several "fraternal and intense talks" with President Fidel Castro.
That is the beauty of South-South relations; these usually go beyond
diplomatic rituals and motherhood statements and are in-depth
discussions about how the two countries, Cuba and Haiti, should face
local and global challenges. Upon his return, .President-elect Preval
affirmed that the encounter with the Cuban leader resulted in very
concrete measures which will be set in place by joint committees in
June and July of this year. Mr. Preval reiterated his commitment to
the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular,
the promotion and strengthening of relations with Cuba.

Since the outstanding breakthrough in medical science and
biochemistry, Cuba has been offering and sending aid to many Third
World countries. In Haiti, Cuban doctors are also training students
and practitioners gravely affected by decades of political turmoil
and economic deterioration. To date, Cuban doctors have performed a
hundred thousand operations and have attended to eight million
consultations in Haiti. Over and above that, Haitian patients have
also been sent to Cuba, in particular to the eastern province of
Santiago, for more sophisticated medical treatments. "Operation
Miracle" a joint Cuban-Venezuelan project has offered free
ophthalmologic attention to indigents in Latin America and the
Caribbean. In Haiti, some six hundred afflicted persons have
undergone sight-saving surgery. (source: PhilippineCuban

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the first ever republic in Asia,
doctors are transforming themselves to nurses and caregivers, hoping
to get lucrative jobs in the USA and Canada where 'baby boomers' are
now coming of age. There is news about Indian doctors coming over to
fill that vacuum. Could their Cuban colleagues be far behind?
(gemma601 at yahoo.com) Tune in "Krus na daan," DZRJ, 810 khz,
Monday-Friday, 5 -6 pm.

Watch "Only Gemma!" RJTV, Mondays, 7-8 pm. Sky 19 (Mla.&Baguio), Sky
44 (Dagupan) Destiny 6 (Cebu) & 79 (Mla), Palompon 23 (Leyte),
Colorview 40 (Zambales), Caceres 6, Comsatel 44, Quezon 29, Mananap
18, Mariveles Space 27, La Union 38, Albay 6, Isabela 18.

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