Sunday, March 8, 2009

(Warning, Graphic Content: Image of Political Violencee in Haiti) Those unflappable Cuban doctors

Talk of the "Haitianization" of Cuba got me thinking about the sharp contrasts between Haiti and Cuba. I remember the murder and mayhem in Port-au-Prince when Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled the country in February 2004.
Gunmen rushed through the streets, murdering people and invading homes, businesses and hotels. Hospitals shut down and Haitian doctors ducked for cover. Gunshot victims bled in the streets. But there was one place where the wounded could go: The Cuban medical clinic in Port-au-Prince.
Cuban doctors and nurses were the only ones who kept tending to patients at the height of the violence.

Guns everywhere
Anti-Aristide forces
Growing up fast
Gunshot victim at a hotel
Gunshot victim sprawled at a building entrance
Gunshot victim made it to the Cuban clinic under her own power
Cuban doctor examines the Haitian patient
Cuban doctors tend to gunshot victim shot in the torso

Cuban doctors bandage wounded foot
Cuban flag hangs outside the Cuban doctors' living quarters
It's hard to escape Cuban politics even in Haiti. This display was near the doctors' clinic.
The Haitianization of Cuba would be tragic. For now, Cuba is nothing like Haiti.


thisisnowhere said...

What a coinkydink - I was in Port-A-Potty for 35 days in March 2004 right after Aristede stepped down.

I've always used that country as a good comparison to Cuba. Whenever people ask what Cuba's like, I say it's kind of like Haiti, but without all the garbage in the streets.

In fairness, Cuba is also a million times safer. You don't have to travel around Cuba with a M-4. Being a police state does have its benefits.

However, I will say this: At least in Haiti you could go into a convenience store (armed, of course) and buy a bag of Dorritos, or even order a Dominos pizza.

No can do aquí.

Tracey Eaton said...

Wow, that's wild. So you know what a mess it was at that time. I got in to Port-au-Prince on the very last flight before the airport was closed. I believe I flew in on a Copa flight from Panama.
I went to Aristide's residence right after it was sacked. Documents marked "Classified" were scattered around on the floor. It was quite a sight.
You're right about the Doritos. If you have money in Haiti, you can lead a relatively comfy life and chomp on Doritos, you know, just in case mud cookies aren't your thing.

thisisnowhere said...

I saw the condition of Aristide's residence up close for the majority of my stay...

The airport was closed when they wanted us to go in, so they had to bus us from the DR. That was quite an experience - crossing the border.

Like going over the fence and into zombie-land...

Tracey Eaton said...

I'll bet that was intense.