Home > Miguel Iturria Savón > Help and Manipulation

Help and Manipulation

February 4, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


Cuba and Haiti are linked by geography and history.  Thousands of French colonists who fled the slave rebellions in Haiti created coffee plantations starting in 1791 in the mountains of Oriente and Pinar del Rio, where they influenced music and dance.  A century later, the Haitian immigrants labored in our cane fields.  Dozens of names, words and ethnic associations bear witness to these human migrations.

It is logical, then, that in the face of the disaster caused by the earthquake in Haiti, the Cuban nation has to lend a hand of solidarity. It was already being done with health workers on the basis of governmental agreements.  The Island’s press confirms that 200 of the 500 Haitian doctors who qualified in Cuba are in their own country, where they work now in 447 clinics.

No one denies the performance of our professionals in Haiti.  But solidarity is one thing and political manipulation of such aid through the media is another.  The champion of media intrigue is the former leader Fidel Castro who, from his bunker, “reflects” on the guilt of the United States and the developed nations “who submerge Haiti in poverty,” as if nature were complicit with such “monsters” and that nation, 200 years after its independence, has no responsibility for its own destiny.

We are accustomed to the apocalyptic predictions of the Cuban despot, but the tragedy counseled restraint.  Like it or not, the United States is a nation that brings more now to Haiti: tons of food and medicines, millions of dollars, helicopters, marines for internal order, tracking equipment and aircraft carriers with clinics, drinking water, electricity, etc.  To this force add France, Germany, Spain and other nations in Europe, Asia and American who offer their resources and we’re not talking peanuts.

Our media politicize the debacle in Haiti, exaggerate the contribution of Cuba and denigrate what other countries and institutions bring, while photographers and reporters poke their fingers in the wounds of abandonment and evoke the military interventions and exploitation of the country’s resources.  Do they understand anything about Mother Nature?

The official chroniclers season the Haitian cloth with nostalgic portraits.  On Sunday, January 17, Arleen Rodríguez Derivet published in the newspaper Rebel Youth, “The Songs of Port au Prince,” with the memories of “those people who went from the sugar harvest to the coffee harvest, without managing to escape poverty, but still singing.”  On the same page José Alejandro Rodríguez — “The Old Quake of Haiti” — revives Mackandal and Toussaint Louverture, wondering what geographic or historic determinism had to do with the suffering of this “weakest link,” to which now they are sending aid and specialized forces, “the solemn powers… as if to wash the guilt of centuries over a bleeding Haiti.”

That is the tone, the partisan press does not change the levels of appreciation for the Haitian reality.  The National News on television went to the extreme of accusing the United States of “taking advantage of the disaster to appropriate Haiti.”

In the midst of the catastrophe, the lens of suspicion falls once more on the eternal enemy.  The former commander-in-chief and his amanuenses are now fighting form the rubble of Haiti.  What will be the next stage of hatred and manipulation?

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