Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Guardian hides Cuba's mission in Haiti

by Ann Eliot for RATB,

The Latin American correspondent of the Guardian newspaper, Rory Carroll, is infamous for his hostility to progressive movements in the region, particularly Cuba and Venezuela, and frequently writes articles that are not only factually incorrect but contemptuous and personally insulting about leaders such as Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro as well. On 16 November 2010, he reported in a full page article in G2 about a visit he had made to Haiti and expressed his disgust with the inefficiencies and waste of the over 4,000 NGOs and organisations on the island. A letter (not published [-was published in shortened form Friday 19 November 2010 - Ed]) was sent to the Guardian newspaper, complaining about the complete absence of any information or news about the presence of the Cuban Mission in Haiti. As far as Carroll's article was concerned it was as if the Cubans did not exist.

The letter is as follows:

What a shame that your Latin American correspondent Rory Carroll left readers with such a dismal impression of overseas aid to Haiti. While it is true that 'aid tourism' has turned Haiti into a 'republic of NGOs' it is not the whole story. There is also what has been called 'One of the World's Best kept Secrets' , Cuban Medical aid to Haiti. Two academics, Emily and John Kirk who have worked on a project to monitor Cuban medical internationalism sponsored by Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council have concluded that Cuba's significant contribution to this impoverished nation since Hurricane Georges in 1998 is the subject of media censorship.It was estimated that by 2007 Cuban medical personnel were estimated to be caring for 75% of the population. Moreover following the process of 'brain gain' rather than 'brain drain' Cuba seeks to train Haitian doctors both on the island and at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana. This truly inspiring example of regional interchange and support alters the prospect for Haiti from the victim scenario to the possibilities of a dignified future. It is in all our interests to recognise that global survival will be dependant not just on on donor handouts from the industrialised nations, but on solidarity and sharing expertise and material aid.

The next day the Guardian newspaper carried a front page article from Carroll about unrest and protest in Haiti following more than 1,000 deaths from cholera and the infection of tens of thousands of others. The United Nations mission, known as Minustah, has been accused of bringing the disease into the country which, devastated as it is from the earthquake, suffers from a lack of clean water access and sanitation combined with overcrowding in shanty towns and refugee camps. Carroll, as always, frames his report in terms of gangs and a reckless population. His basic hostility to progressive movements continues to distort his understanding of the struggles in underdeveloped countries and his readers must continue to regard him as an untrustworthy commentator.

For those who would like to follow-up information about Cuban Medical Aid to Haiti, you can access the excellent and well-researched information from Emily and John Kirk also available on this RATB blog.