Without Violence, Without Drugs

Yesterday I analyzed the atrocious act of violence against U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in which 18 people were shot, six died and another 12 were wounded, several seriously, among them the Congresswoman with a shot to the head, leaving the medical team with no alternative other than to try to save her life and minimize, as much as possible, the consequences of the criminal act.

The nine-year-old girl who died was born on the same day the Twin Towers were destroyed and was an outstanding student. Her mother declared that there has to be a stop to such hatred.

A painful reality came to my mind, which surely would concern many honest U.S. citizens who have not been poisoned by lies and hatred. How many of them know that Latin America is the region with the greatest inequality in the distribution of wealth in the world? How many have been informed of the rates of infant and maternal mortality, life expectancy, medical services, child labor, education and poverty prevalent in other countries of the hemisphere?

I will confine myself to merely noting the level of violence, starting with the detestable event which took place yesterday in Arizona as a starting point.

I have already indicated that every year hundreds of thousands of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants, driven by underdevelopment and poverty, make their way to the United States and are arrested, often even separated from their close family members, and returned to their countries of origin.

Money and merchandise can cross the border freely, but, I repeat, not human beings, no. Drugs and weapons, on the contrary, cross unceasingly in one direction or the other. The United States is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and, at the same time, the largest supplier of weapons, symbolized by the gunsight cross-hairs published on Sarah Palin’s website and the M-16 on ex- marine Jesse Kelly’s election posters with the subliminal message to fire the full barrel.

Is U.S. public opinion aware of the level of violence in Latin America associated with inequality and poverty?

Why is the relevant information not released?

An article by Spanish journalist and author Xavier Caño Tamayo, published on the ALAI website, offers some facts that U.S, citizens should know.

Although the author is skeptical about the methods currently being used to defeat the power gained by the big drug traffickers, his article provides information of unquestionable value which I will try to summarize within a few lines.

“… 27% of violent deaths in the world occur in Latin America, although its population represents less than 9% of the planet’s total. Over the last 10 years, 1.2 million people have died violently in the region.

“Violent slums occupied by military police, murders in Mexico, disappearances, assassinations and massacres in Colombia […] the highest murder rate in the world is in Latin America.

“How can such a terrible reality be explained?

“The answer is provided in a recent study by the Latin American Social Science Foundation. The report shows how poverty, inequality and lack of opportunity are the fundamental sources of violence, although trafficking in drugs and handguns act as accelerators of murder crimes.

“According to the Ibero-American Organization of Youth, half of Latin American young people aged 15 to 24 are without work and have little chance of finding any. […] According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the region has one of the highest rates of informal employment among youth and one in four Latin American youths is not working or studying.

“According to ECLAC, in the last few years, poverty and extreme poverty in Latin America has affected and is affecting 35% of the population, almost 190 million Latin Americans. And, according to the OECD [Cooperation and Economic Development Organization], some 40 million more citizens have succumbed or will succumb to poverty in Latin America before the end of this 2010.

“According to the United Nations, poverty exists when people cannot satisfy basic needs in order to live with dignity: adequate nutrition, potable water, decent housing, essential medical care, basic education… the World Bank quantifies this poverty, adding that those facing extreme poverty survive on less than $1.25 a day.

“According to a report on world wealth in 2010 published by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch, the fortunes of the Latin America rich […] grew 15% in 2009 […] in the last two years, the fortunes of the Latin America rich grew more than in any other region of the world. There are 500,000 rich, according to the report by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch. Half a million, as opposed to 190 […] if so few have so much, many are in need of everything.

“… There are other ways to explain violence in Latin America […] poverty and inequality are always related to death and pain. […] Is it an accident that […] 64% of the eight million who died as a result of cancer in the world lived in regions with the lowest income, where only 5% of the funds dedicated to cancer are spent?

“In your heart and looking us in our eyes, could you live on $1.25 a day?” Xavier Caño concludes his article.

The news of the massacre in Arizona is filling today’s pages of the main U.S. media today.

Specialists at the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson are cautiously optimistic. They have praised the work of emergency personnel who saw to it that the Congresswoman was treated within 38 minutes of the shooting. Such information was available on the Internet between 6:00 and 700pm this afternoon.

According to these reports, “The bullet entered the forehead, very close to the brain, on the left side of the head.”

“She can follow simple directions, but we know that inflammation of the brain could cause a turn for the worse,” they stated.

They explain the details of every one of the steps taken to control her respiration and reduce pressure on the brain. They add that her recovery could take weeks or months. Neurosurgeons in general and experts in the field, will follow with interest the information released by the medical team.

Cubans follow health issues closely, are usually well informed and are will also be pleased by the success of those doctors.

On the other side of the border, we know the extremes to which violence has escalated in the adjoining Mexican states, where there are also excellent doctors. Nevertheless, it is not unusual for drug traffickers, equipped with the most sophisticated weapons produced by the U.S. war industry, to enter operating rooms to finish off their victims.

The infant mortality rate in Cuba is less than 5 for every 1,000 live births; and the victims of violent acts, less than 5 for every 100,000 residents.

Although it belies our modesty, it is our bitter responsibility to indicate for the record that our blockaded, threatened and slandered country has demonstrated that Latin American peoples can live without violence and without drugs. They can even live, as has transpired for more than half a century, without relations with the United States. The latter, we have not demonstrated; they have done so.
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Fidel Castro Ruz
January 9, 2011
7: 56 p.m.