The Dark Night of my saddest Thought:
Jan. 14, 2010.
Puedo escribir los versos mas tristes esta noche
Escribir por ejemplo: “La noche está estrellada (
Pablo Neruda. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. Penguin Twentieth Century Classic. The Museum of Modern Art, N.Y. English language translation copyright W. S. Merwin 1992. P: 50-51.
These verses have been repeated countless times by all the romantic youths of my generation, when the separation from a loved one, squashed our chests with pangs of anguish.
I of course can’t write poetry, but I feel like repeating them again and again as I write my sadness of now.
The anguish in my chest is like the summation of all the separation anxiety I ever had, because the loss is the biggest I could possible imagine, even if I am not sure what loss is worse: the many lives in the earthquake in Haiti plus thousands in other countries, or the lose of humanity by the society in which we live.
How else but lack of human feelings can one call the hateful statements on TV made by Pat Roberson and Rush Limbaugh blaming the tragedy to the victims in the name of their deranged convictions, or the wise guys blaming the destruction to the lack of construction codes in the city of one of the poorest country in earth, or the news reporters which, with the usual exception of the ones at Democracy Now (for sure there are others from whom I haven’t heard), who are using the devastation and dead bodies as photo op and very conveniently avoid to include in their reports the history of foreign powers contributing, if not causing the disaster in Haiti. These last ones would go some place else, as soon as the horror scenes are no longer sellable, even if the worse in that country, is yet to come.
Worse even, The Heritage Foundation considering the destruction of a Nation as a “good opportunity” to which the clever question of Naomi Klein is: opportunity for what? reparation or more business? Then the declaration of the US President: “We have ordered $100 million Investment” gives a ominous clue.
Is there any one who doubts what the opportunity consists of? A safe bet is opportunity for profit.
To add insult to injury, two hangmen who have torture Haiti for the last 15 years, are appointed to control the “rescue” and reconstruction of that devastated nation: Bill Clinton especial envoy from UN who according to him self, 15 years ago brought back President Aristides with conditions so askew that Aristides presidency was promptly topeled down by a second coup de’état and exiled to South Africa. Bill Clinton also has been working very diligently to establish more and more sweat shops, where the dispossessed Haitian workers make the lowest salary possible and who with the help of George W Bush, responsible for thousands of Haitian immigrants perishing in ICE prisons, would arrange further exploitation of the last resources, cheap human labors to be sure, because everything else is already extracted from what Columbus called a “Paradise on Earth“.
I am not a historian and have no instructions in sociology, economy or politics, so I only depend of my experience to talk about what is likely to happen in Haiti in the next few days, months and years.
On December 23, 1972, the center of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua was devastated in the middle of the night, the number of casualties relative to both cities population is comparable, but if the numbers don’t keep the proportionality, that should be irrelevant, both are enormous human tragedies.
In Managua the families were split apart that night, and there was as much difficulties reuniting their members as must be happening already in Port au Prince.
All communications infrastructure were down and many people who were out of their houses because Holyday celebrations, were unable to relax wanting to know where their love one could be, hoping for the best but fearing the worse.
The next day people thirty, hungry and disoriented sow beverages and food plus other items in the broken-down and abandoned warehouses and supermarkets, they start using those supplies to help themselves, reasoning – no every one of course, there were opportunist as usual- that the owners have insurance and the food if not used on time might spoil. That was the moment when claiming the need for security, the advocators of Law and Order cry that there was looting on the stores. The military came in with their guns, repressed the people wounding, arresting and even killing an unknown number and taking away the merchandise to where? To their commanders homes not doubt. From security forces they went to be the actual looters. Is that to happen in Haiti? Maybe, with the benefit of the doubt given to the self nominated rescuers, actually rapacious buzzers, now arriving to the island.
I entered Managua on Dec 28, I had a hard time crossing the city center, we were stop by armed patrols where bulldozer were “cleaning” the rubbles, “this is an area out of limits” was the explanation given to us. The stench was nauseating, the smell of charred meat permeate the air, dead bodies were piled up and burned before buried in massive graves. I remember my self asking the tax driver to hurry alone; as is well known, in all cities tax drivers always know an alternative way and eventually he took me to my destination the El Retiro Hospital. Once there, I found that it was in shambles and totally abandoned by the medical personal, no one was there to give health care. Like most people, physicians and nurses, having some economical means, had already gone to other cities, “to look how to start again” as was told later. I walked the field where El Retiro, the major general hospital of Nicaragua had been before I came to US for further training. For a moment I thought I was the victim of a practical joke, which we used to play to each others on the 28th of Dec. day of the Innocents Saints, and which were ended by the remark: “cogé por Inocente” (probably translation: I got you”). I found in those field a provisional hospital, where I went to offer my medical services joining the staff of that tent hospital which has been flow from Panama and staffed by US military personal. I worked there a couple of days, then, noticing that what we were doing was to care for stable patients, I decide to move to León looking for my colleagues (former coworkers and classmates), to see if I could accomplish what I had in mind since I decide to go with medical assistance: to establish a “follow up” free clinic, where the people hastily seen at the time of been injured, could come to be sure their wound were healing and to receive further care.
For this purpose, I had arrange for a lot of Tetanus vaccine, to be sent from Santa Fe NM to Managua. These supplies never get to their destination, because I was told by an old professor of ours, at that point appointed Minister of Health, that it had to go first, to an especial place under the direction of Tachito (Anastacio Somoza Debayle), nominated by himself “coordinator for all assistance entering into Nicaragua” and me been stubborn and wanting nothing to do with the dictator, stop further actions, which I now regret. Next thing I knew, was that the vaccine had been returned to Santa Fe.
It was then and there in León, where I was to suffer the biggest psychological trauma of my life. I went to see the President of UNAN the National University (my alma mater), my former boss as they are called here, actually a classmate from high school. He then informed me that my appointment as Professor of Microbiology was terminated because I had abandoned my post by coming to get training to US, he suggested though, for me to go and talk to the Dean and other physicians of the Medical School (some of them my former coworkers and classmates), who still were “attending” in the regional Hospital of León.
I was “received” by those colleagues with expressions like these: “are you and idiot, go back to your secure job in the US, if you comeback to Nicaragua at this point you will increase the competition, we are now having from the Managua physicians moving into our towns“.
That was the moment I decide to return to my job in the little mountain hospital in the North of New Mexico and took, forced by the circumstances, another one of the wrong turns in my life: to have to practice medicine selling my service for a salary and to stop dreaming being a professor.
I realize at this point that I am talking of my life instead, then I better change back to my original intent in writing these thoughts.
Soon after the earthquake, Somoza became director of the reconstruction of Managua. His family and his cronies made a “kill” as is said here, obtaining by any means and reselling with hefty profits, the devaluated real state where the city was to be rebuild. They “organized funny companies” for selling construction material and wan invariable the bid for contracts to rebuild.
Is something like these is to happen in Haiti? Probably.
Already the airport is control by US marines armed to the teeth and trained for combat. The other bad news is that the international assistance coming in the airport is being taken to “warehouses” located some place not yet disclosed and from there no one knows when, in what amount and how would reach the casualties of the earthquake or if ever the rest of the tortured people of Haiti, would be remunerate for the years of exploitation, which has bring down to near total collapse, that once beautiful country.
I don’t want to be a pessimistic, but cynically one could say: portions of humanity is dead and would continued to die in large numbers, the other portion is inhuman or blinded by greed: then, if something is not done soon to change the situation, which does not appear happening so far, during the rest of this century all lives in planet earth are to perish.
Tonight I must fight with myself for having such demoralizing thought.
I wish I could be more brave and optimistic as normal human beings are suppose to be, but paraphrasing Pablo Neruda I have to say: I can write my saddest thought tonight.
In the other hand, age teach that the wise thing to do, is to move ahead. Luckily, it’s time for me going to reunite with my friends the landless campesinos working in rehabilitating our deserted land. I shall go then, in another of my strategic retreat.
Write for example, The night is starry) . (Tonight I can write the saddest lines.)