The Road to Peace

Stopping the Silent Wars

[Source: Clarin, 11/14/02. Buenos Aires]

It's About Starving to Death in Paradise



In the province of Tucuman where unemployment is at 50%, and
health and sanitation services have collapsed, thanks to the
International Monetary Fund's austerity dictates, which are still
being demanded as a conditionality for any new agreement. The
four children, who were between the ages of 2 and 4, died from
diseases related to malnutrition, and their deaths have sparked
mutual recriminations between Federal and provincial authorities
as to who is to blame.

The person who got it right was Jose Manuel de la Sota,
 a Presidential candidate and Governor of Cordoba.

He charged that "IMF prescriptions brought us to this
crisis which kills children.... Today all Argentines should feel
shame, and political leaders more so," for the death of these
four children. "The goal of any politician must be to improve
people's lives, not [following] market indicators."

There are currently 260,000 children in Argentina suffering
from malnutrition, and those are the official statistics. Tucuman
got into the news a few months back, because so many children
were fainting in schools due to hunger.

The reality behind these deaths is hideous. Juan Masaguer,
the head of Tucuman's Provincial Health System, described the
conditions of misery in which the families of the children lived,
lacking access to any kind of sanitation services, jobs, food, or
decent shelter. The children died "over two or three successive
days," Masaguer said, in their homes without having received
medical attention. Although they were officially diagnosed with
polyparasitosis, he said, "we can't ignore the fact that what
really killed them was hunger."

The statistics are gruesome. One of the victims, 6-year-old
Maria Rosa Gomez, weighed only 9 kilograms (19 lbs). "She died in
her mother's arms." Two of her siblings are currently
hospitalized for malnutrition, suffering from cerebral paralysis.
The four-year-old weighs 7 kilograms (15 lbs), but should weigh
16. Doctors at the hospital told Clarin "the hospital is totally
overwhelmed. We do all we can, but we have serious limitations in
terms of resources.... We're astounded, moreover, by the high
degree of malnutrition seen in some cases."

Masaguer told Clarin "It's incredible that we produce food
to feed 300 million people; there are only 37 million of us, and
people are dying of starvation."

The above tragedy is but on of thousands that occur every day, quietly, unseen and unheard of. It is not a story from life in a far away galaxy. It is our own. It is the story of our humanity, or how little there is left of it.

Such stories are not even news items anymore, of course, since they have been common for years throughout Africa, and no one has cared to address the situation. Now we find the same stories in countries that once had achieved some the highest living standards on earth, which are still among the chief food exporting nations on the planet. And since no one cares to address that situation in any meaningful way, one needs to ask oneself, how close is the day when those stories are the stories of our own country, and our own community?

Who protests those wars that are waged in silence in our name, and as we are told, for our benefit. Ironically, the world that we destroy is our own, because we all live on this planet together.

Ironically, the world that we destroy is our own, because we all live on this planet together. We are literally engaged in a war against ourselves, by the policies that we pursue. Shouldn't we rather stop those wars? The sooner we stop, and replace the policies that are destroying us, the better a chance we have to survive.

We should as ourselves why we are sacrificing human life on an ever larger scale to protect an economic and financial system that is so defective to its very core that it is unable to maintain itself much less is able to fulfill its role to provide for the needs of society's living, and its cultural and economic well being?

We also need to ask ourselves:

Why are we in this mess?

How can we get out of it through real economic development?

What is the (real) principle of economics?

That's something to think about, isn't it?

Rolf Witzsche


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