Condemned to Repetition
Beatrice E Rangel
This was the title given by Robert Pastor to his work on the US intervention in Nicaragua where he justified intervention in favor of democracy and human rights. Two decades thereafter we are still wondering whether it was a good idea to remove Somoza on the grounds of democratic suffocation and human rights annihilation to now accept the same policies from a head of state that was freely elected many moons ago and has ever since practiced every possible electoral fraud to keep power.
And this in spite of the Democratic Charter adopted by the region in 2001. The Charter which was Collin Powell’s legacy slept on file up and until Luis Almagro arrived at OAS and began its application first to Venezuela and more recently to Nicaragua and Bolivia. But as the situation deteriorates in Nicaragua and Venezuela in terms of democracy and human rights with and added property which is the unholy alliance of these regimes with Transnational Organized Crime the US has been forced into intervention through sanctions.
These together with unsealing of indictments and awards on the head of those indicted seem to be the vehicles of intervention which need to prove their effectiveness with time. Thus even in this moment when the US public sentiment is in favor of isolationism, the US had to intervene in the region to enforce rule of law or the land of the free will soon be surrounded by a collection of territories that could be described as modern Port Royals or safe havens for bandits.
For the Americas as a whole repetition comes wrapped in unpreparedness for crisis be it a natural disaster; a self-induced economic catastrophe or a pandemic. To be sure, for too long a time the US has postponed an integral review of its health care infrastructure and system. The result is a patchwork od myriad private providers linked through services or fraud to the public system. This broken system accounts for the fact that in spite of being the United States the cradle of innovation in telemedicine hardware and software it is a backward country when it comes to full deployment and exploitation of these advances.
Test of the pudding comes to any American citizen when he or she changes primary care physician. The transfer of records is slow; fractured and full of disturbances. In terms of infrastructure hospitals and clinics have not seen innovation enter their halls since WWII. As a result there was not a system in place to deal with a pandemic let alone the facilities or the staff for treatment of patients. In terms of quenching the pandemic curve, to this day the only countries that have succeeded are those that opportunely identified those people carrying contagion and isolated them sternly.
As a result the virus did not spread and the economy suffered the least damage. In the US to this day there are not enough tests to deploy such policies in areas were the contagion has failed to reach pandemic proportions, sadly what we are seeing both in the US and in Latin America is a policy of throwing money into these broken system au lieu of innovating in the areas of prevention and treatment. Resorting to mobile phones to establish the presence or lack of contagion and to quarantine people while providing treatment would be the way to best approach this catastrophe while setting the pillars for a modernization of health care in the hemisphere.
Fortunately enough it seems like many states in the US and countries in Latin America are seeking the advise of Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland ad New Zealand to face this catastrophic turn of events. These nations will most probably explain the United States how to better deploy the software and hardware it created in modernizing health care and effectively battle this 21st century nemesis. These nations will also teach Latin America what not to do in this crisis and how to extract the best value of their limited infrastructure.