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#2029: This Week in Haiti 17:45 1/26/2000 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For information on other news in French and Creole,
please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax)
718-434-5551 or e-mail at <email@example.com>.
Also visit our website at <www.haiti-progres.com>.
"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
January 26 - February 1, 2000
Vol. 17, No. 45
WHY HAVE THE CUBAN DOCTORS LEFT?
Two weekends ago, the 38 Cuban doctors who were working at the
Justinien Hospital in the northern city of Cap Haïtien returned
home. Their departure occurred three days after the deployment of
over 150 U.S. soldiers just outside the city as part of the
Pentagon's "Operation New Horizons."
The departure of the Cubans from Cap Haïtien has set off rumors
throughout the city that they left because of the arrival of the
U.S. troops. Not so, says Jean Mithaud Julien, the Haitian
government's regional director of Public Health. "It all depends
on which month the Cuban doctors entered the country," he said.
"They take their vacation about one year after they come in. Our
brigade [of Cuban doctors] arrived last February, so they took
the month of January for vacation."
About 540 Cuban doctors are presently working at provincial
hospitals and rural clinics throughout the Haitian countryside
under a Nov. 1998 agreement signed between the two neighboring
nations. That number will be increased to 800 doctors over the
next two months, according to a second agreement signed two weeks
Despite the assurances of government officials, many residents of
Cap Haïtien view the apparent displacement of the highly popular
Cuban doctors by U.S. troops with dismay and resentment. "Why did
the U.S. soldiers come to the north when there are so many other
places which don't have any doctors?" a Creole columnist in Haïti
Progrès asked. "The way this happened it looks more like the U.S.
soldiers came to harass the Cubans in Cap. They are taking care
of their own business, they're not coming to help us."
On their arrival on Jan. 15, a spokesman for the U.S. troops said
that they would be carrying out repairs on Justinien Hospital,
among other projects. However Dr. Jacques Henry, a hospital
administrator, said that the hospital has made no arrangements
for repairs with the U.S. military.
In fact, no authorities in town know what the U.S. troops are up
to. The assistant mayor of Cap Haïtien has asked the authorities
in Port-au-Prince to give him some explanation of the troop
presence. Meanwhile, the mayor of the nearby town of Milot, a
Moïse Jean Charles declared that "if the soldiers come here, even
though we don't have the physical forces to do battle with them,
we will mobilize the population and national public opinion to
"Operation New Horizons" is a program which the Pentagon has used
over the past 15 years to train U.S. troops in other countries,
mainly around Central America (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 17, No.
24, 9/1/99). Medics set up makeshift clinics and engineers fix
roads and school buildings, all in an effort to burnish the image
of the U.S. military and create "goodwill." It is almost exactly
the same mission which U.S. troops carried out from "Camp
Fairwinds" in Port-au-Prince over the past four years. That base
officially closed last week.
"Haiti doesn't need an invasion of soldiers, but an invasion of
doctors," said Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1998. The
subsequent deployment of Cuban doctors, who provide their
services at no cost to the Haitian government, has been
enthusiastically embraced by the Haitian people.
Under a new accord signed Jan. 12, Cuba also plans to seed
Haiti's over-fished waters with 30 million young fish, 7 millon
of them provided free by Cuba. Furthermore, Cuba will provide
Haiti with four boats and 11 experts to help teach and train
Haitian fishermen, provide scholarships to teach Haitian students
in Spanish and medicine, help renovate the sugar processing plant
in Darbonne, promote Haitian tourism, and help produce joint
Meanwhile, the accord which allows the presence of U.S. troops on
Haitian soil, in violation of Haitian law, has never been made
public by either the Haitian or the U.S. government.
A HAITI ANTHOLOGY: LIBÈTE
This compilation of writings is not light reading. It is a dense
and rich selection of texts from novels and newspapers, academics
and activists, poets and historians, all chosen to explore "long-
standing themes and their interpretation in the hope of providing
the keys to an understanding of present-day Haiti for some time
to come," according to the introduction by Charles Arthur, who
edited the book along with Michael Dash.
The editors have culled an eclectic assortment of mostly
extracts, none more than a page or two long, which will leave the
browsing reader feeling as though they had eaten too much at a
smorgasbord of Haitian hor d'oeuvres.
To counteract such indiscipline, Arthur and Dash have grouped the
writings in ten chapters, around themes such as "The Status Quo:
Elites, Soldiers, and Dictators", "Rural Haiti: Peasants, Land,
and the Environment", "Refugees and the Diaspora", and "Foreign
The result is very satisfying when one takes the time to read the
carefully numbered selections in their thematic groupings.
Clearly, the texts have been chosen with care, and each chapter
begins with a well-written synopsis of the arguments and analysis
to be presented.
The reader who knows nothing of Haiti will discover an incisive
anthology which offers a challenging but well-paved introduction
to the country. For Haiti "experts" and English-speaking
Haitians, for whom the book will likely be more appealing, it
provides a useful occasion to revisit history, debates, places
and culture, through writings both familiar and new. Edited
skillfully and conscientiously, "Libète" is a resource which
merits being consulted regularly.
A Haiti Anthology: Libète, Latin America Bureau, Ltd. (UK),
Markus Wiener Publishers Inc. (US) and Ian Ranle Publishers
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.