Bahamas Blog International
The shameful history of the OAS (III and Final)
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• End of the ministry of colonies of the USA
On September 2, 1960, after the OAS conspiracy against Cuba was established in San José, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro convened the Cuban people in a Great General Assembly in the José Martí Plaza de la Revolución, and read out the historical proclamation known as the First Declaration of Havana, whose eighth and final paragraph defined:
"…The National General Assembly of the People of Cuba reaffirms its faith in that Latin America will soon be marching, united and triumphant, free from the bindings that are turning its economies into wealth relinquished to U.S. imperialism and preventing its true voice from being heard at the meetings where domesticated foreign ministers form an infamous chorus led by their despotic masters.
Therefore, it ratifies its decision of working for that common Latin American destiny that will enable our countries to build a genuine solidarity, based upon the free will of each of them and the joint aspirations of all. In the struggle for such a Latin America, facing the obedient voices of those who usurp its official representation, there now arises, with invincible power, the genuine voice of the people, a voice that forges ahead from the heart of its tin and coal mines, from its factories and sugar mills, from its feudalized lands, where "rotos," "Cholos," "Gauchos," "Jibaros," the heirs of Zapata and Sandino, grip the weapons for their freedom, a voice that resounds in its poets and novelists, in its students, in its wives and children, in its vigilant elderly people. To that friendly voice, the Assembly of the People of Cuba responds: Present! Cuba will not fail. Cuba is here today to ratify, before Latin America and before the world, as a historical commitment, its irrevocable dilemma: Homeland or Death!"
In the midst of the applause and approval of more than one million hands, Fidel stated, "…Now, one thing is missing. And with the Declaration of San José, what do we do?" The people chanted, "We rip it up! We rip it up!" He took picked up that shameful declaration and ripped it up in front of the multitude. Things between Cuba and the OAS were clear. The final words of the declaration were the premonition of what was to happen almost half a century later, when the Cuban Revolution witnessed the death throes of the organization that lent itself to the dirty work of the imperialist gravedigger.
THERAPY FOR DISCREDIT
Discredited and devalued, in the midst of the fall of the empire, the OAS found its salvation in an initiative of President William Clinton who, in 1994, proposed summit meetings with all the heads of state and government in the hemisphere, whose organization, management and follow-up was entrusted to the Organization of American States, with the goal of rescuing it from the state of destitution into which it had fallen.
After the 4th Summit of the Americas (Mar del Plata-2004), where the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement was buried, the OAS was dealt another resounding blow to add to its disastrous legacy. Its silence following Colombia’s raid into Ecuador on March 1, 2008, was a further blow while, like on so many other occasions, the yanki government protected the deed, while the Rio Group responded in place of the debilitated old body, leaving it forever without a voice.
During the 5th Summit in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad &Tobago, last April, the OAS equally failed to rise to the height of the circumstances surrounding events that led to the massacre of campesinos in Pando, Bolivia, in September 2008. It was the young Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) that made itself heard as the new vigorous voice defending the rights of the perpetually ignored. Once again, there was silence on the part of the bloc that the "Foreign Minister of Dignity" Raúl Roa described as the U.S. Ministry of Colonies.
Facing a reality already removed from it, the OAS found itself facing the solid position taken by countries in the region against Cuba’s exclusion from the Summit. Neither the OAS nor its general secretary Chilean José Miguel Insulza were able to prevent the questioning of U.S. policy on Cuba from being the central issue. As Fidel had predicted, Insulza had no awareness of the fact that "…the train passed a while back, and he still doesn’t know it…."
What happened there demonstrated to the yankis (accustomed to learn nothing from their failures) that the reality of Latin America and the Caribbean today is a very different one from that of 1960 and 1962, when the region functioned as a docile scenario. The OAS and its mouthpiece, Insulza, had not grasped that, and repeated the old practice of speaking on behalf of their master: The United States is willing to talk to them (Venezuela and Bolivia). However, it must be an unconditional dialogue. Many of the problems emerged because the conditions were heightened. And that is as true in the case of Cuba as of the others. And thus, it backtracked to what has been at the heart of the troubled relationship between the United States and the region, Cuba included: a dialogue with conditions, imposed by Washington.
The OAS imposed double standards and political and administrative corruption; it made democracies ungovernable, turned them into dictatorships, and when they were no longer useful, reconverted them into even more diminished and servile democracies, because in the new, neoliberal era, with transnationalized oligarchical capital, they were part of a much more sophisticated power structure, whose bases were not necessarily located in the presidential palaces or parliaments, but in continental corporations.
BLOOD OOZING FROM ITS PORES
Washington and the OAS were consistent with their sinister past when they perceived the initial threats.
The organization that backed the 1952 coup d’état in Cuba; that was so inert in the face of the military action against the constitutionally-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala; that backed the satrap Anastasio Somoza, and in 1961 failed to condemn the mercenary invasion of Cuba, just as it avoided any criticism of the coup d’état against Velazco Ibarra, the elected president of Ecuador, remained the same as the one that had indulgently sponsored the military invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, the shipment of Green Berets and weapons to Guatemala in 1966, and to Bolivia in 1967, while it applauded the graduation of hundreds of torturers and repressors from the Panama Canal School of the Americas.
It contemplated U.S. government-sponsored coups in Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. It was silent in the face of the death of Salvador Allende, in the face of the murder and forced disappearance of tens of thousands of South Americans during the sinister Operation Condor. It failed to promote peace in Central America during the 1980s, in a conflict that cost nearly 100,000 human lives. It did not back any investigation into the suspicious death of General Torrijos in Panama, nor did its ambassadors stop drinking their coffee during the inglorious invasions of Grenada in 1983, and of Panama itself in 1989.
It gave support to Pedro "El Breve" during the difficult days of April 2002 in Venezuela after the attempted coup, defeated by the exemplary response of the people who rescued their president. That attitude demonstrated how far the OAS could go in its hypocrisy and alignment with the imperialist power, by not accepting the genuine nature of Venezuela’s Bolivarian process, which had given it a just lesson right where it hurt the most, submitting itself like no other government to the scrutiny of its voters and emerging victorious.
When the OAS set out to question the democratic legitimacy of those elections in the interest of the U.S. policy of overthrowing the Bolivarian revolution, it exposed all of the immorality of its famous Democratic Charter.
All that was missing from this rotten record was the particular case of Bolivia, with abundant and clear evidence of U.S. involvement in a dirty war to overthrow Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of the Americas. The OAS and Mr. Insulza had (more than) sufficient prudery in terms of not calling things by their name (coup d’état, for example) but preferred to note, with ridiculous language, that…in Bolivia, things have reached the point where either an agreement is reached on immediately halting hostilities and moving to negotiations, or the situation will become very difficult…. In its complicity by omission, the OAS ignored the sufficient evidence that the DEA and CIA were behind plots to assassinate the president of Bolivia.
BURYING THE STINKING CORPSE
Throughout this long history, there is too much involvement with death, genocide and lies for the OAS to survive these times. It is a political corpse and should be buried as soon as possible. However, there is no lack of those who, in their zeal to bring back the dead, are seeking to rectify matters by "allowing Cuba to live," restoring to it the place that never should have been taken from it within the OAS. All sorts of technicalities have been brought into play, such as the argument that it was the Cuban government, not the country, which was excluded, as if the legal entity of the state were separable from its very existence. The reality is, without the OAS, the United States would lose one of its principle political/legal instruments of hegemonic control over the Western Hemisphere.
Dismantling it and founding a new organization of Latin American and Caribbean countries, without the United States, would be the only way for Latin America and the Caribbean to decide their destiny without endangering their identity and making real progress toward a great united homeland, which Martí and Bolívar indicated as a historic goal.
As for Cuba, it does not need the OAS. It does not want it, reformed or not. Blood and infamy ooze out of every one of its pores. We will never return to that old run-down old house of Washington, witness to so much selling-out and so many humiliations. Raúl expressed it with the words of Martí: Before we enter the OAS, the North Sea would have to unite with the South Sea and a snake will be born from an eagle’s egg. •
Translated by Granma International
- The shameful history of the OAS (Part I)
- The shameful history of the OAS (II)
Bahamas: The church and crime
Related to country: Bahamas
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By CHAKARA BENNETT ~ Guardian Summer Intern:
Is the church at fault for crime in The Bahamas? Rev. Cleveland D.X.
Wells surely thinks so. Wells, the Sr. Pastor of Restoration Kingdom Ministries, feels that the underlying problem with the national escalation of crime can be found within the church. "It is the duty of the Christian Church to teach individuals what the word of God points to as it relates to crime, as it relates to violence in a nation," said Wells.
"It is our duty to teach the people as best we can and once they are aware of what they should or should not be doing we can say that we have fulfilled the mandate of God."
It is clear from comparing the crime statistics from 2007 and 2008 that there is something wrong with some social mechanism in this country. In 2008 there was a 12 percent increase in crime against property from 2007. Also, there were 78 murders in 2007.
This year, the country has already recorded its 30th murder and is likely to record more unless something significant is done. Many Bahamian people are asking what is happening to this country and they are turning to religious leaders for the answers.
Meanwhile, Wells feels that a major reason that people are not making the right decisions is because the traditional keeping of Sunday School has been abolished in many churches and young children are not being taught in the right ways at home. As a youth pastor for 15 years he feels that many churches do not cater to the youth at all. They only focus on the adults because they can pay tithes while young people normally cannot. Therefore all the budgeting and new program ideas go to the older folk who make up the church of today.
"We can not forget the church of tomorrow. We say that the young people are the future but we really are not doing all we can to make them all that they can be."
Wells also said that, for the most part, religious leaders are not doing their jobs to the fullest. Religious leaders have locked themselves away from the world. They build big buildings and cathedrals and people come but they also leave. Leaders do not go to their members and to the suffering as often as they should. Church leaders and members themselves are quicker to shun, ostracize and criticize the drunken sinner, the adulterer or the teenage mother than to help them and care for them. They lock the people out of the church and they have nowhere to go but down often times.
Rev. Diana Francis, pastor-elect of First Baptist Church, similarly feels that it is important for religious leaders to go to the people when they can't or won't come to the church.
"People won't care how much you know until they know how much you care," she said. "If I could use a metaphor to describe what the church needs to be I would say that it needs to be a clinic. It needs to restore and give medication to its members and whoever else comes through its doors."
However Francis does feel that the majority of the blame should be placed in the home since it is the initial training ground. Parents should be held responsible for their children's upbringing and because there are so many young parents today who do not have good morals themselves there is no questioning the growing immorality of the country.
Francis admitted that even so, the church also has some responsibility in the increase of crime.
"The church is a moral structure," she said. "It brings light and hope to the world. I do not feel that the church has failed even though there is so much crime. We are working and there are certain things that may need to be changed in order to make our work more effective. But it is all a process. For the most part, if the wheel is working, don't readjust it. But if it is a square and not doing its job then there is a need for major changes to occur."
But even though things do look bleak in this country there is always hope.
Said Wells, "There is a whole that we can do. There are churches that are doing something but I feel that there is always more that can be done. In this nation we are too divided. We do not try to understand that we are all serving the same Lord and heading to the same place, therefore we are leaving ourselves weak for the enemy to conquer us.
"We all have our own personal agendas and that is why it seems like the enemy is winning now in this nation."
May 28, 2009
The shameful history of the OAS (II)
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• The OAS against Cuba • Inter-American complicity in and legitimization of U.S. aggression against the Cuban people • Raúl Roa’s battle for dignity
ON March 18, 1959, just two and a half months after the popular victory of January 1st, Raúl Roa García, the new Cuban ambassador to the Organization of American States, was setting out the position that would define the relationship between the triumphant Revolution and the hemispheric organization from then on: "…For long years, Cuba’s genuine voice had not been raised or heard in the OAS Council…. It is worth recalling, because of its historical novelty and obvious encouragement for those peoples who are still oppressed. The overthrow of dictatorships through armed action is not an unusual event in our America; the one that overthrew Fulgencio Batista’s in Cuba, however, is."
This position taken by Cuba was based on its revolutionary leadership’s knowledge of what was then the brief and sad history of the OAS in the service of the United States which, since 1959, had drawn up a plan to utilize the organization against the Revolution and our people. Up until then, no multilateral or regional mechanism had inflicted or had attempted to inflict more damage on a country than the OAS in relation to Cuba.
The so-called "Cuban question" was a priority on the OAS agenda, and, in line with U.S. interests, it began to lay the foundations for Cuba’s political/diplomatic isolation and the activation of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) in order to "legitimize" direct military aggression against Cuba.
In August 1959, the governments of Brazil, Chile, the United States and Peru asked for a Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs to address the situation in the Caribbean. The Revolution had passed the first Agrarian Reform Act, which eliminated large landholdings, including that owned by United Fruit; those who held interests in this company included the Dulles brother: Allan Dulles, who was U.S. secretary of state, and Foster Dulles, director of the CIA.
The 5th Foreign Ministers Consultation Meeting in Santiago de Chile did not adopt any document condemning our country, but created a "conceptual framework" that would serve the purposes of yanki policy toward our nation; it established the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, while the Inter-American Peace Commission was given new powers, as part of a strategy for creating or perfecting the tools that would be key to applying yanki directives against Cuba within the OAS.
The meetings took place one after the other, and Roa, forewarned of the objectives of those meetings in terms of the Caribbean, stated, first in Washington: The Cuban government is convinced that all of those accusations are an attempt…to creation a hostile international environment for Cuba, and to organize in Cuba an international interventionist-type conspiracy, with the aim of interfering in, blocking, or wrecking the development of the Cuban Revolution. He later rounded off his remarks in San José with a revealing charge: If this is about doing justice, then Trujillo and the United States government, jointly, should be punished.
CONSPIRACY AND VINDICATION IN SAN JOSE
The 7th Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs took place in San José, Costa Rica from August 22-29, 1960. One of the points on the agenda was the strengthening of continental solidarity and the Inter-American System, particularly in response to threats of extra-continental aggression and taking into account international tensions in the Caribbean region, so as to ensure the harmony, unity and peace of the Americas, among others.
The meeting adopted a declaration whose operative paragraphs 4 and 5 stated, "…The Inter-American System is incompatible with all forms of totalitarianism and democracy will only achieve the height of its objectives on the continent when all of the American republics adjust their conduct to the principles expressed in the Declaration of Santiago de Chile and all member states of the regional Organization have the obligation of submitting to the discipline of the Inter-American System, voluntarily and freely agreed upon and that the firmest guarantee of its political independence comes from obedience to the stipulations of the Charter of the Organization of American States."
In San José, the necessary conditions were established, on yanki terms, to impose the exclusion of the Cuban government. In protest, on announcing his decision to withdraw from that shameful cabal, Foreign Minister Roa declared, in a memorable and resounding statement, Cuba’s definitive break with the OAS: "…The Latin American governments have left Cuba on its one. I am going with my people, and with my people, the peoples of our America are likewise leaving here."
In response to the outcome of the San José meeting, more than one million Cubans came together in the Plaza de la Revolución in a historic General Assembly of the People of Cuba and adopted the First Declaration of Havana, in which they rejected the hegemonic intentions of the United States toward Cuba, its policy of isolating our nation and the servility of the OAS in the face of those lies.
THE EXPULSION AND ATTEMPT AT ISOLATION
In December 1961, at Colombia’s request, the OAS Permanent Council decided to call the 8th Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs for January 1962 (from the 22nd to the 31st), in Punta del Este, where new resolutions were passed, four of them against Cuba. The fourth however, was an OAS "jewel", titled Exclusion of the Present Government of Cuba from Participation in the Inter-American System,
the maximum yanki aspiration for de-legitimizing our Revolution politically and diplomatically. The resolution passed with 14 for (the United States had to buy Haiti’s vote to get a minimum majority), one against — Cuba — and six abstentions: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico. The latter two nations stated that expelling a member state could not proceed, because the organization’s Charter had not been previously modified.
The Cuban president at the time, Osvaldo Dorticós, raised the same banner that Foreign Minister Roa had raised before in that same scenario: "…If what is being attempted here is for Cuba to submit to the decisions of a powerful country; if what is being sought is for Cuba to capitulate, renounce the aspirations of well-being, progress and peace that motivate its socialist revolution and give up its sovereignty; if what is being attempted is for Cuba to turn its back on countries that have demonstrated sincere friendship and total respect to it; if, in a word, the idea is to enslave a country that has achieved its full freedom after a century and a half of sacrifices, then let it be known once and for all: ‘Cuba will not capitulate.’… We came convinced that a decision would be made against Cuba, but that will not affect the development of our Revolution. We came to move from being the accused to being the accuser, to accuse the guilty one here, which is none other than the imperialist government of the United States…. The OAS is becoming incompatible with the elimination of the latifundia, with the nationalization of imperialist monopolies, with social equality, with the right to education, with the elimination of illiteracy… and in that case, Cuba should not be in the OAS…. We might not be in the OAS, but Socialist Cuba will be in America; we might not be in the OAS, but the imperialist government of the United States will continue to have, 90 miles from its coast, a revolutionary and socialist Cuba…."
With the Bay of Pigs defeat of 1961, with the failure of Operation Mongoose plans that led to the October (Missile) Crisis of 1962, with the economic, commercial and financial blockade proclaimed, and with terrorist gangs fighting in the Escambray Mountains, all that was left for the United States was to internationalize its despicable policies. For that, it used the 9th Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, in Washington, in July of 1964, via a resolution based on the TIAR, which had replaced the OAS Charter, stipulating that the governments of the American States should break off their diplomatic and consular relations with the Cuban government.
Only Mexico maintained a dignified position and did not bow down to the empire’s plans.
THE DEMOCRATIC CHARTER AND THE FAILURE OF A BAD POLICY
September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers were collapsing in New York, was the very date for approving the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the most recent and underhanded yanki maneuver against Cuba in the OAS, and which established the rules that countries are obliged to follow in order to belong to the hemispheric bloc. Previously, member countries could not be Marxist-Leninist; now, they are required to adopt bourgeois representative democracy and the "Market as God." In the background, Cuba’s exclusion was being promoted in a similar manner.
But the Revolution entered the 21st century as the victor in the longest and cruelest siege that any nation has known in the history of humanity. It is a symbol that the imperialist powers are not absolute or eternal. The nobility and determination of our people is recognized all over the planet. The OAS had resoundingly failed.
Cuba has fluid diplomatic relations with every nation in the hemisphere and was acclaimed in the Rio Group, because no nation on the continent ever excluded us. Our country was not frightened, did not give in, did not change its sovereign decision one iota, and did not negotiate its freedom, independence or self-determination. It is not a fanatical position but a principle, one established by the "Foreign Minister of Dignity," Raúl Roa, in August of 1959, when he said, "…The Cuban Revolution is not to the right or to the left of anybody: it is in front of everyone, with its own and unmistakable position. It is not third, or fourth, or fifth position. It is our own position."
To be continued…
Translated by Granma International
- The shameful history of the OAS (Part 1)
- The shameful history of the OAS (III and Final)
Drinking from Plastic Bottles 'Increases Exposure to Gender-Bending Chemical'
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By Murray Wardrop, The Telegraph (UK):
Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that polycarbonate containers release the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) into liquid stored in them.
BPA has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans.
New research by Harvard School of Public Health found that participants who drank for a week from polycarbonate bottles showed a two-thirds increase of BPA in their urine. Experts warned that babies are at greater risk, because heating baby bottles increases the amount of BPA released, and the chemical is potentially more harmful to infants.
Study author Karin B. Michels, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH and Harvard Medical School, said: "We found that drinking cold liquids from polycarbonate bottles for just one week increased urinary BPA levels by more than two-thirds.
"If you heat those bottles, as is the case with baby bottles, we would expect the levels to be considerably higher.
"This would be of concern since infants may be particularly susceptible to BPA's endocrine-disrupting potential."
Altogether 77 students took part in the study after a seven-day "washout" phase in which they drank all cold beverages from stainless steel bottles in order to minimise BPA exposure.
They were then given two polycarbonate bottles and asked to drink all cold beverages from the bottles during the next week.
The results showed the volunteers' urinary BPA concentrations increased 69 per cent after drinking from the polycarbonate bottles.
Previous studies had found that BPA can be transferred from polycarbonate bottles into their contents, but this study is the first to show a corresponding increase in urinary BPA concentrations in humans.
One of the study's strengths, said the research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, is that the students drank from the bottles in a normal way.
Additionally, the students did not wash their bottles in dishwashers or put hot liquids in them, as heating has already been shown to increase the leaching of BPA from polycarbonate.
Canada banned the use of BPA in polycarbonate baby bottles in 2008 and some manufacturers have voluntarily eliminated BPA from their products.
With increasing evidence of the potential harmful effects of BPA in humans, the study's authors believe further research is needed into BPA's impact on babies, and on reproductive disorders and breast cancer in adults.
Most adults carry BPA in their bodies, but expert opinion on the risks is divided.
The European Food Safety Authority believes that people naturally convert the chemical into less harmful substances into the body.
Harvard researcher Jenny Carwile said: "While previous studies have demonstrated that BPA is linked to adverse health effects, this study fills in a missing piece of the puzzle – whether or not polycarbonate plastic bottles are an important contributor to the amount of BPA in the body."
BPA is also found in dentistry composites and sealants and in the lining of aluminium food and beverage cans.
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2009
May 23, 2009
Nothing can be improvised in Haiti
Related to country: Haiti
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Reflections of Fidel
(Taken from CubaDebate)
FIVE days ago I read a press report stating that Ban Ki-moon is to appoint Bill Clinton as his special envoy for Haiti.
According to the report, Clinton accompanied the secretary general on a two-day official visit to Haiti last March in order to support the development program drawn up by the government of Port-au-Prince, which seeks to arouse the lethargic Haitian economy.
The report stated that the former president had maintained a remarkable philanthropic commitment to the Caribbean nation through the Clinton Global Initiative.
It likewise stated that the ex-president had said he was honored to accept the secretary general’s invitation to become the special envoy for Haiti.
Clinton reportedly stated that the people and the government of Haiti had the capacity to recover from the serious damage caused by the four tropical storms that devastated that country last year.
The following day, the same news agency reported that Mrs. Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, had jubilantly declared that "Bill was an outstanding envoy." For his part, the UN secretary general confirmed that he had appointed Clinton as his new special envoy for Haiti. He said they both had been together in that country and that Clinton’s presence had helped to raise awareness within the international community of the problems facing that Caribbean nation.
He added that, after a period of several years of relative calm shored up by the MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti), the UN fears that political instability will once again return to the country.
The new press report reiterates the story of the four hurricanes and storms that caused 900 fatalities, left 800,000 victims, and destroyed the scant civil infrastructure that existed in that country.
The history of Haiti and its tragedy is far more complex.
Haiti was the second country in this hemisphere after the United States – which proclaimed its sovereignty in 1776 – to win its independence in 1804. In the former case, the white descendants of the settlers who founded the 13 British Colonies, who were fervent, austere and cultured religious believers and owned land and slaves, shook off the British colonial yoke and enjoyed their national independence. But this was not the case for the indigenous population, the African slaves or their descendants, who were denied every right, despite the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Philadelphia.
In Haiti, where more than 400,000 slaves worked for 30,000 white owners, for the first time in the history of humankind, the men and women submitted to that heinous system were capable of abolishing slavery, maintaining and defending an independent state, fighting against soldiers who had brought the European monarchies to their knees.
That era coincided with the boom of capitalism and the emergence of powerful colonial empires who dominated the lands and oceans of the planet for centuries.
The Haitians were not to blame for their current poverty; they were rather the victims of a system that was imposed on the world. They did not invent colonialism, capitalism, imperialism, unequal exchange, neoliberalism or any of the forms of exploitation and plundering that have prevailed on this planet for the last 200 years.
Haiti has an area of 27,750 square kilometers and, according to reliable estimates, in the year 2009 the population reached the total of 9 million inhabitants. The number of inhabitants per square kilometer of arable land has increased to 885, one of the highest in the world, without the existence of any industrial development or resources that would allow them to acquire a minimal amount of material goods indispensable for life.
Fifty three per cent of the population lives in the rural areas; firewood and charcoal are the only household fuels available to most Haitian families, which hinders reforestation. The absence of forests within which leaves, twigs and roots create a soft surface that retains water, facilitates the human and economic damage that heavy rains cause to neighborhoods, roads and crops. As is known, hurricanes cause significant additional damage which will be even greater if the climate continues changing at the same rapid rate. This is no secret to anyone.
Our cooperation with the people of Haiti began10 years ago, precisely when Hurricanes George and Mitch lashed the Caribbean and certain Central American countries.
René Preval was the president of Haiti at the time and Jean-Bertrand Aristide was head of government. The first contingent of 100 Cuban doctors was sent on December 4, 1998. The number of Cuban cooperative healthcare workers in Haiti later rose to over 600.
It was on that occasion that the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) was founded. There are currently more than 12,000 young Latin Americans studying there. Since that time, hundreds of scholarships have been awarded to young Haitians to study at the Faculty of Medicine in Santiago de Cuba, one of the most experienced in the country.
In Haiti, the number of elementary schools had grown and was increasing. Even the poorest families were eager for their children to study, as the only hope of surviving the poverty and working either within or outside of the country. The Cuban medical training program was well received. The young people selected to study in Cuba had a good basic education, possibly the legacy of France’s advances in that field. They had to spend one year on a pre-med course which also included learning the Spanish language. It has constituted a good reserve of quality physicians.
Some 533 Haitian youths have graduated from our medical schools as specialists in General Comprehensive Medicine; 52 of them are currently in Cuba, studying a second specialty that is now required. Another group of 527 are filling the places granted to the Republic of Haiti.
Some 413 Cuban health professionals are currently offering their services, free of charge, to the people of that sister nation. The Cuban doctors are present in all 10 departments of that country and in 127 of the 137 municipalities. More than 400 Haitian doctors who have been trained in Cuba, and the final-year students who are doing their practice in Haiti are also lending their services –side by side with our doctors – making a grand total of 800 young Haitians devoted to offering medical assistance in their homeland. That force will grow ever larger with the new Haitian graduates.
It was a tough challenge; the Cuban doctors had to cope with difficult problems. The infant mortality stood at more than 80 per 1,000 live births; life expectancy was under 60 years of age; the prevalence of AIDS among adults in the year 2007 was 120,000 citizens. Tens of thousands of children and adults of different ages still die every year from infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhea, dengue and malnutrition, just to mention some indicators. The HIV virus itself is now a disease that doctors can combat, thus guaranteeing the life of patients. But this can not be achieved in just one year; it is indispensable to have a culture of health, which the Haitian people are acquiring with greater interest. The progress observed shows that it is possible to improve health indicators in a significant way.
A total of 37,109 patients have undergone eye surgery in three ophthalmologic centers established in Haiti. Those complex cases that can not be operated on there are sent to Cuba, where they are treated completely free of charge.
Thanks to Venezuelan economic cooperation, 10 Comprehensive Diagnosis Centers are being built, equipped with state-of-the-art technology that has already been acquired.
Far more important than the resources that could be mobilized by the international community, are the human beings that make use of those resources.
Our modest support to the people of Haiti has been possible despite the fact that the hurricanes mentioned by Clinton battered us as well. That is a good example of what the world has been lacking: solidarity.
We could likewise mention Cuba’s contribution to literacy programs and other projects, despite our limited economic resources. But I do not want to expand on this; nor is there any desire to do so just to talk about our contribution. I focused on health because it is an unavoidable topic. We are not afraid of others doing what we are doing. The young Haitians who are being trained in Cuba are becoming the priests of health required more and more by that sister nation.
The most important thing is the creation of new forms of cooperation, so much needed in this egocentric world. The UN agencies can attest to the fact that Cuba is contributing what they describe as Comprehensive Healthcare Programs.
Nothing can be improvised in Haiti, and nothing will result from the philanthropic spirit of any institution.
The Latin American School of Medicine project was later joined by the new training program in Cuba for doctors coming from Venezuela, Bolivia, the Caribbean and other countries of the Third World, as long as their respective health programs urgently needed it. Today, there are more than 24,000 young people from the Third World studying Medicine in our homeland. By helping others we have also developed ourselves in that field and we have become a significant force. That, and not the brain drain, is what we practice! Could the rich and super-developed G-7 countries say the same? Others will follow our example! Let nobody doubt that!
Fidel Castro Ruz
May 24, 2009
Translated by Granma International
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