Dr. Paul Farmer on Haiti After the Earthquake: “How Can We Do a Better Job of Cleaning Up This Mess?”
from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by firstname.lastname@example.org (Democracy Now!)
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Two US Congress members, Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AR) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), are seeking signatures from their colleagues on a letter to US president Barack Obama about a proposed natural gas pipeline in Puerto Rico. “At a time when we should be promoting renewable, clean energy throughout the country, a 92-mile pipeline—nearly as long as the entire island—is a step in the wrong direction,” the representatives wrote in the letter, which has been endorsed by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). The project (“Gasoducto” in Spanish) shouldn’t proceed without an environmental impact statement conducted by the US Corps of Engineers, according to Grijalva and Gutiérrez. (El Nuevo Día, Guaynabo, July 12)
Backed up by the National Police of Haiti (PNH) and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), on July 15 Port-au-Prince authorities began evicting some 400-450 families from the parking lot of the Sylvio Cator soccer stadium, where they had been living after being displaced by a January 2010 earthquake. The authorities said the eviction was necessary so that workers could get the stadium ready for an Aug. 4 match between two teams in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
Dr. Paul Farmer addresses a new report in The Nation magazine that alleges shelters funded by the Clinton Foundation 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, that is currently being sued in U.S. for providing formaldehyde-laced trailers for residents displaced after Hurricane Katrina. Democracy Now! recently spoke to the authors of the investigation, Isabel Macdonald and Isabeau Doucet, who called on the Clinton Foundation to respond to their findings. [includes rush transcript]
Shortly after becoming the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton publicly apologized for forcing Haiti to drop tariffs on imported subsidized U.S. rice during his time in office. The policy wiped out Haitian rice farming, seriously damaged Haiti’s ability to be self-sufficient, and contributed to Haiti’s forced urbanization that likely increased the earthquake toll. Dr. Paul Farmer, who serves as Clinton’s deputy in Haiti, says, “I felt a sense of great relief just at hearing him say that. I feel grateful for it as an American.” [includes rush transcript]
Dr. Paul Farmer, who was worked in Haiti for nearly three decades and now serves as the the U.N. deputy special envoy for Haiti, discusses how U.S.-backed coups and neoliberal programs have not only subverted Haiti’s democracy, but also seriously weakened its public health. Dr. Farmer addresses the U.S. influence in Haiti in the context of recent WikiLeaks disclosures of classified U.S. diplomatic cables that documented the United States supported recent elections, despite the exclusion of Haiti’s most popular political group, the Famni Lavalas. The cables also documented that the United States advocated behind the scenes to block an effort to raise the minimum wage in Haiti. [includes rush transcript]
Dr. Paul Farmer on Haiti After the Earthquake: “How Can We Do a Better Job of Cleaning Up This Mess?”
Eighteen months ago this week, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people, injured hundreds of thousands, and left more than one million homeless. At the time of the earthquake, Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, and now it is still struggling to recover. We spend the hour with Dr. Paul Farmer, who has been working in Haiti for nearly three decades, and since 2009 has served as the U.N. deputy special envoy for Haiti working under former President Bill Clinton. More than 20 years ago, Dr. Farmer helped found the charity Partners in Health to provide free medical care in central Haiti, and now provides aid to nine additional countries around the world. He is the author of several books on Haiti and just published a new book titled “Haiti After the Earthquake.” [includes rush transcript]
A 24-hour national general strike on July 11 against the economic policies of Dominican president Leonel Fernández was “95 to 100%” effective, according to the organizers. After the first 12 hours, Fidel Santana, a spokesperson for the National Strike Committee, congratulated the Dominican people, calling them “the basic protagonist of this day’s success.” He claimed that an important element in the strike was the absence of efforts to force the productive sectors, commercial enterprises and transportation companies to observe the strike call; he said protesters were showing respect for people who chose not to honor the work stoppage.
from World War 4 Report blogs by Jurist
Following Mexican attorney general Arturo Chávez‘s resignation in April, the attorney general’s office (Prosecutor General of the Republic—PGR) charged 111 officials who served under him with corruption on July 21. Sixty-seven were charged with fraud while others were charged with varying offenses including falsifying documents, theft, interfering with administration of justice, misusing public service, abuse of power, lying in court, bribery, embezzlement and forgery. Twenty-six were issued arrest warrants. On July 22, new attorney general Marisela Morales also fired 140 police officers and released that 280 more under investigation within the organization. Of those fired, several were charged with having connections to organized crime, murder, robbery and extortion, while seven were fired due to convictions on kidnapping, murder and extortion charges, all stemming from Mexico’s rampant drug trade problem.
Frustrated by slow progress in determining the fates of missing loved ones, relatives of ten men from southern Mexico who vanished on the Mexico-US border have embarked on a hunger strike and public protest. The action was initiated five days ago in the capital of Oaxaca by family members of a group of men who disappeared on July 14, 2010, after traveling to the Tamaulipas border city of Matamoros to purchase two trucks and vehicle parts for an eco-tourism enterprise.
The average income of Mexican households fell by 12.3% between 2008 and 2010, the government’s National Statistics and Geography Institute (INEGI) reported on July 15. The richest households generally lost the most in percentages, but poorer households suffered more because their income was already so low, according to the National Survey of Household Income and Expenditure, which the INEGI conducts every two years. The decline in income reflects a 6.1% contraction of the Mexican economy in 2009 in the midst of a world economic crisis that started in the US; the Mexican economy recovered partially in 2010 with a 5.4% expansion. (La Jornada, Mexico, July 16)
All 44 teachers at the public high school in Las Delicias, a village in Tierralta municipality in the northern Colombian department of Córdoba, sought refuge in Montería, the department’s capital, on July 22 after being threatened by a paramilitary group. According to Domingo Ayala Espitia, president of the Córdoba Teachers Association (Ademacor), the paramilitaries sent the teachers text messages demanding 15 million pesos (about $8,535). More than 1,100 students attended the abandoned school.
Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales has reportedly reached a deal with striking workers following a month of labor unrest in Puerto Gaitan, Colombia, that culminated this week in a blockade of the oilfields and riots in which several vehicles were destroyed, both protesters and National Police officers were injured, and by some reports one striker was killed. The dispute was triggered by the firing of 1,100 contractors by Cepcolsa, the Colombian subsidiary of Spanish multinational CEPSA, which partners in the region with state-controlled Ecopetrol and private companies such as Pacific Rubiales.
from World War 4 Report blogs by Bill Weinberg
Peru’s populist president-elect is scheduled to take office in just one week, and ominous signs are mounting that (campaign promises aside) he will continue his predecessor’s trajectory towards breakneck resource extraction, plunder of the environment, pauperization of the peasantry—and attendant bloody social conflicts. Or, as The Economist puts it, “Ollanta Humala has given strong signals that he will keep Peru’s successful economic policies.”
More than 20,000 local Aymara residents filled the public square in Desaguadero, in Peru’s southern region of Puno, to hear Walter Aduviri, leader of the Natural Resources Defense Front of the Southern Zone of Puno, announce a formal end to the civil strike that the organization has maintained for more than 40 days. Aduviri said the decision was taken after consultation with the Front’s base communities along the shores of Lake Titicaca. In his address, he detailed accords reached in recent negotiations with the government in Lima for the suspension of a controversial mining concession in Puno. (Radio Onda Azul, Puno, June 26)
Days before a new administration in Lima is to take power, Peru’s indigenous affairs agency INDEPA proposed new regulations that would allow oil and gas exploitation within Amazon rainforest reserves that have been established to protect indigenous groups that are considered “uncontacted,” or in “voluntary isolation.” Opening these reserves to industrial exploitation was a longtime goal of the outgoing administration of President Alan García. The proposed “Supervisory Regulation on Exploratory and Extractive Activities within State Territorial and Indigenous Reserves,” was presented by INDEPA to the Ministry of Culture, the agency’s parent body, on July 8, and immediately sparked an outcry from indigenous rights advocates. Peru’s Amazonian indigenous federation, AIDESEP, charged that the proposed regulation violates Law 28736, which established the reserves, the Law for the Protection of Indigenous and Original Peoples in Situations of Isolation or Initial Contact. AIDESEP noted that the move coincides with plans to expand the massive Camisea gas fields in the rainforest of Cusco region, where exploration Block 88 overlaps the Nahua-Kugapakori Reserve, which is believed to protect several uncontacted bands. On July 15, INDEPA announced that the new regulation would be suspended pending “consultation” with indigenous and social organizations.
In a report published on July 19, the Argentine branch of the environmental group Greenpeace charged that operations by the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation in the Andes at the border with Chile had already significantly damaged three small glaciers. Citing a 2005 technical study, Greenpeace said the surface of the Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza glaciers “diminished by between about 56% and 70% because of the activities carried out by Barrick” even before mining operations had begun. The regions on either side of the border are arid, and farmers in the valleys largely depend on Andean glaciers as a source of water.
Tens of thousands of Chilean students and supporters marched through downtown Santiago on the central Alameda avenue on July 14 in their fourth massive demonstration demanding a reversal of the system of privatized education instituted under the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. As in previous days of action, there were also large marches in other major cities.