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8235: Re: 8225: AIDS, Haitians and Reparations (fwd)
Bob, My apolgies for hitting the "reply" button, but I am in Anguilla, BWI, and get thrown off-line quite a bit. Want to get this in.
In the early !980's, when the fear and plague of AIDS first hit Haiti, it was obviously devastating to the tourist industry, and to the country. The unfairness was overwhelming. In one Newsweek article, it said that aids could come "from a glass of water in Haiti".
(forgive me if I am repeating anything, as again have not been able to read all posts).
Wow. It was so incredible, and absolutely so untrue. We had, at the time, Aids researchers staying with us on a regular basis who absolutely confirmed the virus did not originate from Haiti.
What to do. I wanted to scream to the press, have seminars, bring travel groups down, make a huge scene. BUT. The PR Company and Tourist Department at the time stopped me, and positively wanted to hush the whole matter up. To ignore the scare until it went away. Everyone entered into this silent state of denial that was typical in the country at that time.
I even remember a close, wonderful friend of ours, Antoine Herard, being refused admission to a hotel in NY, relating to this awful stigma. Should he have sued? Yes, but he did not. Antoine & I then conducted many meetings in PAP, trying to rile people up, but we were unsuccessful.
Then, yes, years later Haiti was finally cleared. Did it yell and scream, "I told you so" ? No, it quietly accepted that it was cleared. Would it ever be OK? Too late, I think.
It's hard to say what to do at this point with so many years passed, but a good article written by a wonderful Haitian writer who will express with all the indignation and dignity required, the harm this accusation did to a society should be considered timeless. It would again emphasize that the Haitian people should never become used to the injustices they are so consistently forced to endure.