[News] Fidel - Haiti’s Lesson

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sat Jan 16 13:17:28 EST 2010

Haiti’s Lesson

Two days ago, close to 6 in the evening Cuba 
time, already dark in Haiti due to its 
geographical location, the TV channels started 
carrying news that a violent earthquake, --of 7.3 
intensity in the Richter scale­had severely 
shaken Port au Prince. The seismic phenomenon had 
originated at a tectonic fault in the sea only 
9.4 miles from the Haitian capital, a city where 
80% of the population lives in fragile houses built with clay and adobe.

The news continued almost uninterrupted for 
hours. There were no images but it was said that 
many stouter constructions like public buildings, 
hospitals, schools and other facilities had also 
collapsed. I have read that a 7.3 earthquake 
equals the energy released by the explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT.

The descriptions were dramatic. In the streets, 
the wounded cried for medical help surrounded by 
ruins and their families buried under the debris. 
But, for many hours no one could broadcast any image.

The news took us all by surprise. Rather often we 
had heard news of hurricanes and large floods in 
Haiti but we did not know that our neighbor was 
threatened by a major earthquake. It surfaced now 
that 200 years ago a major earthquake had hit 
that city, which at the time was certainly inhabited by a few thousand people.

At midnight there was still no estimate of the 
number of victims. Senior UN officials and 
various Heads of Government spoke of the 
impressive event and announced that they would be 
sending rescue brigades. Since MINUSTAH -UN 
international forces- are deployed there some 
Defense ministers spoke of the possibility of 
casualties among their personnel.

Actually, it was yesterday morning that sad news 
started flowing in on the high number of human 
casualties in the population and even such 
institutions as the United Nations reported that 
some of their buildings in that country had 
collapsed; a word that usually does not say much 
but that could mean a lot under the circumstances.

For hours increasingly dramatic news of the 
situation in that country continued to flow 
uninterrupted with reports of different numbers 
of deadly victims that depending on which version 
fluctuated between 30 thousand and 100 thousand. 
The images are appalling.  Obviously, the 
catastrophic event has been widely reported all 
over the world and many governments, sincerely 
moved, are making efforts to cooperate to the extent of their capabilities.

A lot of people are sincerely touched by the 
tragedy, especially natural unassuming people but 
perhaps few stop to think on why Haiti is such a 
poor country and why almost 50 percent of its 
population depends of family remittances. And in 
this context, would it not be proper to also 
analyze the reality leading to the current 
situation of Haiti and its huge suffering?

It is amazing that no one says a word on the fact 
that Haiti was the first country where 400 
thousand Africans, enslaved and brought to this 
land by Europeans, rebelled against 30 thousand 
white owners of sugarcane and coffee plantations 
and succeeded in making the first great social 
revolution in our hemisphere. Pages of 
insurmountable glory were then written there 
where Napoleon’s most outstanding general tasted 
defeat. Haiti is a complete product of 
colonialism and imperialism, of more than a 
century of using its human resources in the 
hardest labors, of military interventions and the extraction of its wealth.

Such a historic oblivion would not be so grave if 
it were not because Haiti is an embarrassment in 
our times, in a world where the exploitation and 
plundering of the overwhelming majority of people on the planet prevail.

Billions of people in Latin America, Africa and 
Asia endure similar privation although probably 
not all of them in such high proportion as Haiti.

No place on earth should be affected by such 
situations, even though there are tens of 
thousands of towns and villages in similar and 
sometimes worse conditions resulting from an 
unfair economic and political international order 
imposed worldwide. The world population is not 
only threatened by natural catastrophes like that 
of Haiti that is but a pale example of what can 
happen to the planet with climate change; an 
issue that was the target of mockery, scorn and deception in Copenhagen.

It is fair to say to every country and 
institution that have sustained the loss of 
citizens or members to the natural catastrophe in 
Haiti that we do not doubt that at this point 
they will make the greatest effort to save human 
lives and to alleviate the pain of that 
long-suffering people. They cannot be blamed for 
the natural phenomenon that has taken place there 
even though we disagree with the policy pursued towards Haiti.

But, I must say that I feel it’s high time to 
seek true and real solutions for that fraternal people.

In the area of healthcare and others the Haitian 
people has received the cooperation of Cuba, even 
though this is a small and blockaded country. 
Approximately 400 doctors and healthcare workers 
are helping the Haitian people free of charge. 
Our doctors are working every day at 227 of the 
337 communes of that country. On the other hand, 
no less than 400 young Haitians have been 
graduated as medical doctors in our country. They 
will now work alongside the reinforcement that 
traveled there yesterday to save lives in that 
critical situation. Thus, up to one thousand 
doctors and healthcare personnel can be mobilized 
without any special effort; and most are already 
there willing to cooperate with any other State 
that wishes to save Haitian lives and rehabilitate the injured.

Another high number of Haitian youths are studying medicine in Cuba.

We also cooperate with the Haitian people in 
other areas within our capabilities. However, 
there is no other form of cooperation worthy of 
the definition but that of struggling in the 
field of ideas and political action to put an end 
to the endless tragedy endured by a great number of nations like Haiti.

The head of our medical brigade has informed that 
“the situation is difficult but we are already 
saving lives.” He said this in a brief message 
sent a few hours after arriving in Port au Prince 
yesterday with an additional group of doctors.

Late at night he said that the Cuban doctors and 
the Haitian doctors graduated at the ELAM (Latin 
American Medical School) were being deployed in 
the country. At Port au Prince they had cared for 
over one thousand patients while urgently 
commissioning a hospital that had not collapsed 
and using tents where necessary. They were also 
preparing to rapidly set up other first-aid centers.

We take wholesome pride in the cooperation that 
at this tragic hour the Cuban doctors and the 
young Haitian doctors trained in Cuba are giving 
their brothers and sisters in Haiti!

Fidel Castro Ruz
January 14, 2010
8:25 p.m.

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