Conversations with the Living: The Haitian AIDS Crisis

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Archive for the ‘Economic Stimulation’ Category

January 12th – 1 Year Later

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So, it’s been almost one full year since the cataclysmic earthquake that devastated Port Au Prince and it’s outlying areas. Haiti’s already unstable infrastructure and volatile political structure took a violent  hit; one that may potentially take another century to fully recover from.

In the quake’s aftermath we saw the international community stand up in a show of solidarity; vowing to help this unfortunate island state to rebuild. Countries all over the world pledged billions of dollars and endless amounts of manpower to assist in recovery.

Out of the spotlight celebrities and politicos worldwide dusted off their camouflage and khakis, without a doubt tweaking their press conference speeches on chartered Gulf stream jet rides to the Dominican Republic, as they prepped for the cameras documenting their forays across the St. Domingue/Ayiti border.

Hell, we even had Haitian politicians finally fessing up and promising to put aside their petty banana republic ideological differences and do what’s best for the country.

In the US, Haitian Americans and ex-pats united in a way that hadn’t been seen since the days of the 4 H’s in the 1980’s. Haitian groups were organizing, planning, plotting, and pontificating at an insane rate; guided by the simple premise of rebuilding this once proud nation into the land that L’Ouverture and Dessalines would have envisioned. There were fund raisers, records, and conversations with the UN. We even united Bubba and Dubya!

Haiti was finally on the map, and for those of us that lost family and possessions on January 12, 2011, there was hope. Then a funny thing happened over the next year.

Absolutely nothing.

Gede Greg Cee

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The market women of Haiti sell everything under the sun

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Proof that the women of Haiti have always worked hard and played a central role in the country’s economy. They still do.

Written by conversationswiththeliving

December 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Constant State of Emergency

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Photo Courtesy of Bryan Fletchall

The people of Haiti are fighters. A glimpse into the history of this proud and spirited nation will reveal that even amongst the most intense suffering; Haitian people are proud of and embrace their heritage, their culture, and their country.

There are so many incredibly beautiful things about Haiti; there is so much good lost and forgotten amidst the tragedy. As so rightly stated by Haitian-American author, Edwidge Danticat, “I think Haiti is a place that suffers so much from neglect that people only want to hear about it when it’s at its extreme. And that’s what they end up knowing about it. “

The people of Haiti are beautiful, their roots run deep, and their telling story of strength and resilience is one that has been written out of the history books. Even as they exist is a constant state of emergency, historically underserved and under acknowledged, they continue to fight and hope for a better future for Haiti and her people. Haiti’s historical suffering bleeds into the present, an ever-gaping wound of injustice, making the inaction of both Haitian and foreign governments to the continued crisis unsurprising, as it is nothing short of dismal, if not criminal.

Amongst the flooded tent cities surrounded by rubble, the cholera crisis deepens, killing hundreds and infecting thousands. Haiti has long struggled with poverty and disease, both directly linked to the nation’s history of exploitation by foreign powers with sinister agendas; agendas that have claimed millions of lives for the sake of international interests.

Curable and Manageable Disease

Curable and manageable disease has killed millions of people in Haiti and other developing countries for decades, even while the medicines to treat the affected population are available. The affected populations’ inability to access these medications is a human rights violation of the most basic and harmful kind. International government policy has long dictated access to these medications and a major component in facilitating their effective use – proper nourishment, i.e. food and water.

Impoverished governments unable to afford medications and trade agreements that have controlled the production, distribution and affordability of food and medicine have put Haiti and other developing countries in a constant state of emergency, because they have not had the opportunity to even build, let alone maintain a proper health care, industrial or agricultural infrastructure.

The current cholera epidemic in Haiti is another hurdle amongst a series of obstacles in a nation of fighters. The struggle to combat cholera is all too familiar, as Haiti has battled high infection rates of malaria, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS in the past and continues to in the present. Money and bureaucracy have always managed to hinder access to life-saving medicine, and as a result lives continue to be lost.

With limited access the major factor in determining the welfare of millions in mind, the following section discusses a pending trade agreement between the European Union and India that threatens to even further decrease access to medications in developing countries.

Pending Trade Agreement Possible Threat to HIV Sufferers

Patent laws have created a system where pharmaceutical companies stand to gain enormous profits from obtaining rights to create and distribute drugs at a price they see fit to gain profit with little regard for those who need access them. High demand equals expensive medicine and healthy profits for developers, while those who need the medications the most can’t acquire them. Simply, the pharmaceutical industry, without argument, control’s the fate of the world’s sick.

A possible international trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and India has medical professionals, activists, and patients concerned that millions of HIV sufferers in the developing world will be without the drugs they need to survive.

India’s generic pharmaceutical industry competes with these profit driven drug producers. Having been coined the “developing world’s pharmacy”, India, under its patent laws produces generic drugs that are distributed around the world, “bypassing a system designed to ensure drug developers are rewarded with a period of exclusive sales rights for new medicines.” As a result India has become the source of medicine for many of the world’s developing countries in order to treat the critically ill.

With access to generic drugs, the cost of treating patients with HIV has fallen from around $10,000 dollars a year in 2000 to just $70 a year today.

Not only has India’s generic production of medicines meant that its own population has benefitted from access to life-saving drugs, but as stated by Hans V. Hogerzeil, Director of Medicines Policy and Standards at the World Health Organization, “at least half of the five million Aids patients in Africa already on treatment rely on Indian generic medicines for their treatment.”

Although the European Union denies that the agreement will negatively impact India’s generic medicine industry, until a draft of the agreement is made available criticism and concern over its contents will continue from medical professionals, HIV/AIDS activists and patients.

Individuals infected with HIV/AIDS and other diseases can live long and productive lives if provided adequate nutrition and medicine. If treatment for the critically ill is made available and lives can been saved in developing countries where food, clean water and medical supplies are difficult to come by, a diagnosis once tantamount to a death sentence can be regarded as a manageable disease.

A link to the full article regarding the pending trade agreement is below.

Link: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/2010/10/2010102920031160477.html

– LC

Question of the Day

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Is it good enough for the people of Haiti for it to be “built back better” as the Western Hemisphere’s center of cheap, underpaid and overworked labor?

Forget political will. How can Haiti stand up to multi-national corporations?

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Last Friday Reuters published an interview with Edmond Mulet, who is Special Representative in Haiti for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, about the sputtering rebuilding efforts in Haiti. (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N30131620.htm) Citing the now-slightly-annoying-and-growing-meaningless mantra of “build back better,” Mulet pointed out that “the international community, wary of chronic corruption, mismanagement and instability in Haiti, had actually contributed to weakening the government by often sidelining it from essential tasks.” At the heart of the international community’s misguided efforts was the fact that for decades, Haiti has been a “Republic of NGOs.” No argument there. He then went on to say that the earthquake and subsequent pledges (not so many people have paid up apparently) must be used to break the cycle of dependency on NGOs and to also break the cycle of corruption and inept governing. Still no argument there. Central to breaking the cycle is implementing “the rule of law.” He concludes: “You can bring money to rebuild the city, reconstruct, you can have infrastructure, build roads, airports, you can build all that, but that will not be sustainable in the mid-and long-term, if you don’t have rule of law here,” he said.

That is all well and good and very true. However, what he fails to mention is how difficult it is to implement all of the suggested reforms when very few parties – countries, NGOs, politicians – deal in good faith when it comes to Haiti. Where is the mention of the multi-national corporations jockeying for position in what is essentially a virgin market? You can see partial proof of them in the industrial tax-free zone factories, the newest of which is right by the airport and funded by George Soros. Where is the mention of governments needing to essentially “clear the field” and make Haiti safe for cheap slave labor? Where is the mention of the fact that Venezuela and the United States have the biggest international presence in Haiti (as can be seen by their embassies) and that for all of Hugo Chavez’s big socialist bluster and Washington’s bankrupt capitalist babble, all they want is for Haiti to fall under their sphere of influence so she can be a mini-factory for them.

Mulet says building back Haiti is a question of political will. Bah! How can Haiti stand up to self-interested countries and corporations?

You Be The Judge

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Below find the link to the U.N. Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti.

http://haitispecialenvoy.org/

It will be interesting to monitor the messaging on this site as the Haitian elections near.

Gede Greg C.

Show Us The Money, Don’t Show Us The Way

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Washington Post reporter Mary Beth Sheridan wrote an interesting piece on how a fraction of aid pledged to Haiti for disaster relief and the rebuild of Port Au Prince has actually been distributed. To blame are the usual suspects, Rene Preval and the rest of the Haitian leadership, for hampering progress. Either they are not making decisions fast enough, or in Preval’s case, not warming up to the US backed Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) which would monitor fraud and be co-chaired by Jean Max Bellerive and Bill Clinton, as primary reasons why things are currently a mess in PAP.

The seeds are being sown for  a full scale takeover of Haiti at this point. We all know that the only time a disaster is really a disaster is when you miss a chance to implement policies that you couldn’t have previously. What the UN, US, and EU are calling procrastination on Haitian leaders’ parts is probably a nation’s realization that it’s hard fought sovereignty is slipping away. You be the judge.

Show Us The Money, Don’t Show Us The Way

Gede Greg C.