Haiti After the Earthquake by Paul Farmer – thestar.com - by Jennifer Wells
An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:
Seven months after the Haiti earthquake of January 2010, Paul Farmer took a 20-minute chopper flight from Port-au-Prince to Léogâne in the company of former U.S. president Bill Clinton.
The observed aerial view of the quake’s epicenter — “pancaked buildings and slab roofs angled downward like wet cardboard” — reinforced what we tragically knew: After all those months, only a teacup full of rubble had been cleared from the earthquake zone. There were few notes of optimism amid the misery…
Farmer started a two-room clinic nearby at Cange, which grew into a full-fledged hospital with branches and roots extending into social and long-term health supports…
He has big billing to live up to. When Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder was moved to write Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003) about the good doctor, who holds a PhD in anthropology, he acknowledged that his subject inspired “moral envy” among its readers. The book dubbed Farmer “a man who would cure the world,” which set the bar rather high…
The summer before the quake, Clinton named Farmer as his deputy special envoy at the UN. “He knows the country. He loves the people. They love him,” Clinton said then.
Reading Haiti After the Earthquake makes me wish Farmer had declined the offer.
I read the report, somewhere, by Isabel Macdonald and Isabeau Doucet, about Clinton’s sorry ‘hurricane’ shelters in Haiti and was startled, to say the least, by the mention of Paul Farmer’s enlistment by Haiti’s powerful enemy, Bill Clinton, who pretends to be Haiti’s powerful friend. I didn’t know what to make of that. I have also finally started my third important book on Haiti’s rape by imperial powers, namely Paul Farmer’s “The Uses Of Haiti.” Reading Jennifer Wells’s account of the doctor’s seeming slide from caring and interested (he lives and practices in Haiti) observer to docile legitimizer of imperial America’s designs on Haiti after reading Farmer’s own introduction (in the “Acknowledgments”) to “The Uses Of Haiti,” is jarring. Farmer there explicitly refers to his tone as “indignant” precisely because of the commonplace “crimes committed, with utter impunity, against the sick and the poor.” He then adds, after reflecting on the influence such a state of mind might have on his book, that “surely indignation should not be absent from a consideration of such events.” He is there also referring to the way Haitians with guns – let lose by imperial powers and their tools so that their carnage can bring ‘stability’, in the technical sense used by the corporatocracy, to Haiti – hunted down and murdered an escaped victim of their earlier murderous rampage, just because.
Like many other young Haitian men and women, Jean-Sony Philogène was just a poor, unimportant male who could serve, if murdered in a horrible manner, as an example of the power, not to be challenged, of Haiti’s true rulers, who are not members of Fanmi Lavalas who the majority of poor Haitians looked to, and still look to to help them get their country back on track and working for everyone and not just the Haitian elite.
Peter Hallward, in his book “Damming The Flood – Haiti, Aristide, And The Politics Of Containment,” states that “For the time being, at least, Fanmi Lavalas remains the single most important organized political force in the country. Its leaders may decide to adopt a different name and formal configuration, but as things stand it remains Haiti’s central political actor. Fanmi Lavalas is the main obstacle to the elite’s political agenda. More than any other political organization or institution, it stands in the way of elite attempts to turn the clock back, to undo the revolution of 1990. Rather than Aristide per se it was this organization’s enduring strength in the poorer neighborhoods that was the real target of pro-coup forces in and after 2004.” -pg 140
For which reason the U.S., the owner of the world, will not allow Fanmi Lavalas to run candidates in Haiti’s elections. I’m not making this up. You should know it, really. It’s not been a secret, even if major media is happy that you shouldn’t notice this one injustice and example of corporatocracy barbarism among the many that occur in this world regularly as you self-tranquilize with hockey or clubbing or whatever.
“Most English-language news media reported on the serious problems that plagued Haiti’s November 28 presidential and legislative elections—long lines, incomplete voter registries, record low voter turnout, violence, and chaos. But they barely mentioned the election’s biggest flaw: the arbitrary banning of more than a dozen political parties from the ballot—most notably Fanmi Lavalas, the country’s most popular party, which has won every election in which it has been allowed to participate,” writes Dan Beeton in his article titled “Parties Banned, Media Yawns,” which can be seen for a fee on NACLA’s website or for free on the, thankfully, very useful Center For Economic And Policy Research (CEPR) website, here: “Parties Banned, Media Yawns.”
Mark Weisbrot, of the CEPR, notes, in his piece titled “The International Community Should Recognize Reality in Haiti,” that:
“So far, the international community does not appear to be much concerned about establishing a legitimate government. Fanmi Lavalas was arbitrarily excluded from the first round (Nov. 28) of Haiti’s presidential election, in which a record three-quarters of the electorate did not vote. Then Washington and its allies forced the government to change the results of the first round of the election, eliminating the government candidate and leaving only two right-wing candidates in the race.
“Haiti today is an occupied country, with almost no legitimate authority. United Nations troops police the country, and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide most basic services, which are severely inadequate. More than a year after the earthquake, there has been little progress in removing rubble, or providing adequate shelter or sanitation for more than one million people displaced.”
Noam Chomsky, who was one of a handful of persons who encouraged Paul Farmer to take advantage of his unique position as a privileged doctor and longtime resident of Haiti to write his badly needed firsthand account of Haiti’s woes, didn’t think Paul Farmer was a docile tool of imperial powers attacking Haiti when he penned his knowledgeable introduction to “The Uses Of Haiti.” Consider:
“This is a book that I fear is fated for oblivion. The reason is that it tells the truth about uncomfortable matters – uncomfortable, that is, for the structures of power and the doctrinal framework that protects them from critical scrutiny. It tells the truth about what has been happening in Haiti, and the U.S. role in its bitter fate.” -pg 15
Wells’s is dismayed by the way becoming an assistant of Clinton’s has so completely and suddenly emasculated this former force for good in Haiti. She is disappointed at Farmer’s failure to achieve the goals he claims his book, “Haiti After The Earthquake,” sets out to achieve, as when he sets out to provide clarity on discussions about reconstruction in Haiti post quake. And she adds that whatever Paul might have done as a free man when the quake struck at 4:53pm, January 12, 2010, it isn’t what he did as Clinton’s assistant, for “his first obligation was to head to New York for an emergency UN session, where he found himself sitting on a dais, behind Clinton…” She also refers to his tepid account of the horrendous cholera outbreak, brought in by UN blue helmets, as if they haven’t caused enough death and mayhem in Haiti. (See Stephen Lendman’s report “UN Peacekeeping Paramilitarism [in Haiti].”).
Amy Goodman confronted, gently, Paul Farmer with the accusations against Clinton’s contribution to the reconstruction effort made by the authors of “The Shelters That Clinton Built,” and he sort of danced around it all, sticking to the facts but not fully acknowledging in any way his own compromised position in all of this, other than to note that he is not comfortable acting as a translator for Clinton, which happens accidentally on occasion. Take a look:
In the meantime, It seems that Clinton et al feels a need to respond, positively (at least in words), to this reportage in The Nation and Democracy Now! You’ll find this blurb, “Clinton Foundation to Review Haiti Trailers Following Exposé,” on Democracy Now’s website. It says: “Former President Bill Clinton’s foundation has pledged to address shoddy and potentially toxic trailers it had sent to Haiti following an exposé in The Nation magazine. In a story covered on Democracy Now!, The Nation reported Clinton Foundation-funded shelters turned out to be a series of trailers beset with problems including mold, shoddy construction and, in one case, worrying levels of formaldehyde. The trailers were built by the same company, Clayton Homes, currently being sued for providing formaldehyde-laced trailers for residents displaced after Hurricane Katrina. The Clinton Foundation says it will now send in a team of experts to address the article’s findings.”
Paul Farmer promised to look into the revelations made by Isabel and Isabeau in their Nation piece. (Perhaps that forced Clinton’s hand? Who knows.) I just don’t feel good about this. Paul’s words are welcome, but I’m not sure we are hearing exactly what we need to hear or as much as we need to hear from him. Maybe he was never the hero that we thought he was. Maybe it’s unfair, therefore, to condemn him for his willingness to work with Clinton et al. I have a feeling that once I’m finished reading The Uses Of Haiti, I’ll not be in a position to give him the benefit of doubt that I might like to if I knew nothing. We’ll see.
Hopefully, Farmer has just stumbled and will become reunited with his passion for justice, something that can’t happen if he chooses to ignore the corporatocracy which is imposing fascism on the entire world as I type this. One wonders; What pressures might have been brought to bear on Paul by the corporatocracy, if it’s the case that he unwillingly signed on to Bill Clinton’s fake humanitarian assistance and democracy promotion in Haiti? For that’s how the corporatocracy works, as John Perkins clearly laid out for us in “Confession Of An Economic Hit Man” and his subsequent books. It will deal with it’s ‘enemies’ (anyone who doesn’t agree with or who actively opposes it’s evil existence), not in a principled fashion, but in any manner that’s effective. It therefore might use a combination of threats (using information about you that it dredges up) and inducements (determined by what it sees you like and don’t like), as it did with John in enlisting him into it’s country-jacking program and in trying to scare him off ever writing about his time with MAIN (now defunct).
See “Corporatocracy,” in which Dan McLeod interviews John Perkins, the author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” which is a Z Net article I found on The Third Traveler website.
Has Paul Farmer gone over to the dark side? Does he realize that working with Clinton is, without exaggeration – such as you see in official pronouncements by American spokespeople about enemies like Hugo Chavez – the same as working with the Devil? Give yourself a shake Paul. Or will you surprise us all and influence the corporatocracy, which is the global network of criminal states led by the U.S., to suddenly treat Haiti properly and induce other states, like France, to treat Haiti properly?