cover image The Uses of Haiti

The Uses of Haiti

Paul Farmer, Farmer. Common Courage Press, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56751-034-8

In this impassioned, sometimes unwieldly, synthesis of history and report, Harvard-based Farmer, who alternates research with medical practice in rural Haiti, offers an indictment of American policy. He traces Haiti's long standing injustice from the sufferings of the 18th century slave economy, and the post-revolution establishment of a still-persistent feudal economy to the U.S. Marine invasion in 1915 and our subsequent support, based on business interests and anticommunism, for tyrants like Papa Doc Duvalier. The democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed in a 1991 coup shortly after he began to redress Haiti's ugly inequalities; Farmer (AIDS and Accusation) notes how media reports meshed with the Bush administration's line, and criticizes the Clinton administration's inaction. Departing from his historical narrative, Farmer also decries harassing U.S. policy toward Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; describes the torture death of a peasant as an outgrowth of U.S. military training; and suggests that AIDS in Haiti should not be blamed on images of squalor, but more on ``an established political and economic crisis.'' American remorse, he suggests, would be the first step toward a new commitment to justice. (Sept.)