To the Editor:
Jan. 12 marked the first anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake, when about 300,000 people died, and some 300,000 were injured. About a million and a half lost their homes, and since then thousands have died from cholera.
As is generally assessed, little has been done in one year since the quake to alleviate the hardships of working class Haitians. Port-au-Prince, the capital, is still mountains of rubble, and hundreds of thousands of people are living without sanitation in its ruins, many sick with cholera. Haitian workers with no equipment but shovels and bare hands, have removed about five per cent of concrete debris.
President Obama pledged monumental aid, but delivered little; regarding critically needed healthcare, even Cuba put the U.S. to shame. A medical brigade of 1,200 Cubans is operating all over earthquake-torn and cholera infected Haiti, as part of Fidel Castro’s international medical mission which has won the socialist state many friends, but little international recognition. Castro’s doctors and nurses are the backbone of the fight against cholera in Haiti.
“Cuban medical personnel, working in 40 centres across Haiti, have treated more than 30,000 cholera patients since October ,” said journalist Nina Lakhani. “They are the largest foreign contingent, treating around 40 per cent of all cholera patients. … Since 1998, Cuba has trained 550 Haitian doctors for free at the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina en Cuba. … Another 400 are currently being trained at the school, which offers free education — including free books and a little spending money — to anyone sufficiently qualified who cannot afford to study medicine in their own country.”
“Cuba’s contribution in Haiti is like the world’s greatest secret,” said John Kirk, professor of Latin American studies at Dalhousie University, researching Cuba’s international medical teams. “They are barely mentioned, even though they are doing much of the heavy lifting. Most countries were gone within two months, leaving the Cubans and Doctors Without Borders as the principal healthcare providers for the impoverished Caribbean island.” (www.independent.co.uk)
The other important news circling the globe now is WikiLeaks. In the Jan. 17 issue of Maclean’s, one reader wrote, “Julian Assange and others like him should be thrown in jail and disgraced, rather than be worshipped as heroes.” In my view, Assange and Manning and others who at their own peril report government wrongdoing certainly are heroes. They are like Daniel Ellsberg, who back in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, exposing the criminality of the war in Vietnam and neighbouring countries, and totally discrediting American activities in that part of the world.
Warmongers and related criminals should be exposed and discredited everywhere. We had enough killing, enough destruction, enough plundering of resources. The U.S. has been lying about their wars, but thanks to WikiLeaks, their brutality and criminality are now exposed and documented. The U.S. and its friends imagine themselves as “democracies,” but this is just a fantasy, a delusion. Plutocracy is the correct name for a society where only the rich and their stooges make decisions, while working class citizens count for nothing.
The upper layers of Western society certainly hate WikiLeaks. Bob Beckel, campaign manager for Walter Mondale in 1984, recently said on Fox News about Assange, “We’ve got special ops forces. I mean, a dead man can’t leak stuff. This guy’s a traitor. … He has broken every law of the United States. The guy ought to be — and I’m not for the death penalty, so if I’m not for the death penalty, there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a [bleep].”
On Dec. 31, the Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was interviewed on Democracy Now, he said among others, “I am sure, that if I released the Pentagon Papers today, the same rhetoric and the same calls would be made about me at this time. I would be called not only a traitor, which I was then, which was false and slanderous, but I would be called a terrorist. … Assange and Bradley Manning are no more terrorists than I am, and I am not.” (www.democracynow.org)
Instead of hounding and torturing those who expose government wrongdoing, the government and their handlers should be investigated. They are after all the source of corruption and wrongdoing.