Farmer, Paul. The Uses of Haiti, 3rd Edition. 2006. Common Courage Press. Maine, USA.

Canada is totally committed to a state of oppression in Haiti where a democratically elected government was overthrown with our support because it would not obey the edicts of international financial oppression. The USA has a long history of ensuring that the independent country, founded by freed slaves in 1804, never gets to be truly independent.

This is an authoritative work that details a history that Noam Chomsky in his introduction fears may be slated for oblivion. But The Uses of Haiti has sold well and is in its third edition, one rare time when it’s good that Chomsky is wrong!

The Uses of Haiti by Paul Farmer: Book Review

Farmer is a medical doctor working among the poor of this, the poorest country in the hemisphere. He sees ever day the results of the miserable conditions his patients live in. He writes: “More guns and more military may well be the time–honoured prescription for policing poverty, but violence and chaos will not go away if the Haitian people’s hunger, illness, poverty and disenfranchisement are not addressed.”

Some of the ‘uses’ of Haiti have been economic – sugar plantations & corporate sweat shops for example – and as an important symbol for racist USA to use as an example of a black ruled nation, described in that paragon of USA propaganda, The National Geographic, as inhabited by “unthinking black animals”. Real economic measures were taken to maintain this symbolism. Pro–USA politicians are funded by the CIA and other agencies, aid is blocked and embargos are enforced. Haitians have a difficult, almost impossible task, to overcome their own corrupt elites and the constant meddling of the USA aided now by Canada, France and the UN. This is an important well-documented history of how a nation of people is never permitted to create its own destiny with social justice for the poor. Read it – it’s instructive and important that we know Farmer’s story of a country we are helping to oppress.

Filed under Book Reviews, Paul Farmer