Author Archive

Health and Human Rights


Chapter nine, of Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power deals with health and human rights. The chapter really digs deep into health rights, buy giving many different examples from Haiti, Russia, Chiapas and analyzing it at the local, government, and international level. I used to think that crimes would occur because there were no treaties or policies to stop the exploitation of people. If the laws that prohibit the treatment of, for example, women in Mexico already exist, the real question is what can we really do to make the countries follow the laws and policies. What can we really do to force countries to follow them? Like Paul Farmer mentioned, the U.S. is one of the countries that really pushes for capital punishment yet it does not support the implementation of the International Criminal Court (Pg. 243).

There’s a connection between health and human rights and genocide. If people are not deemed worthy enough to be given health care—such as the Russian prisoners, or not be seen as humans to have any human rights—such as experimentation practices on political prisoners in North Korea), then a dehumanization process occurs, and that dehumanization process can easily turn into genocide or even gendercide.


Article on gendercide (modern day slavery of women):


North Korean Prisoners (Extra Credit Blog)

In this class I’ve been thinking a lot about power structures, genocides, and the vulnerable. Woman and children tend to be the most vulnerable, but in a way prisoners are as well. They are stripped of their rights and isolated from the rest of the population for the crimes they have committed. But what happens when the crimes is that a person isn’t loyal enough to their country. How can we have concrete evidence when all the evidence is hearsay and is similar to that of a modern day witch hunt? In North Korea, there has been much speculation of crimes committed against prisoners. There has even been talk of human experimentation on the prisoners. One of the biggest prisons, is Camp 22 in Haengyong, and is thought to hold about “50,000” political prisoners and their families. One man who worked as head of security at camp 22 was asked in an interview if he felt any remorse for the experimentation and eventual death of the prisoners, and even children; he replied “I had no sympathy at all because I was taught to think that they were all enemies of our country and that all our country’s problems were their fault. So I felt they deserved to die.” Even with testimonies such as this one, and from others who have escaped, North Korea still claims that there is no harmful treatment of its prisoners and that no human experimentation has occurred.


More information on Camp 22:

Genocide in the Dominican Republic (Extra Credit Post)

It’s been years since I’ve read or watched the movie “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez. In it, we see the Mirabel sisters fighting the militaristic government, which resulted in their deaths. I was young when I read the book, and though the book mentioned that people were disappearing, I never considered that what was really happening was genocide. In my young mind, the Holocaust was the only genocide that ever occurred, and that was stopped after WWII.

In 1937, dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the massacre of “15,000 to 20,000 Haitians,” and when news came to light about what he did, he was made to pay  reparations of “$750,000, of which $525,000 were paid… of the 30 dollars per victim, only 2 cents were given to survivors.” The number is absurd, and the reparations are a slap in the face to those that lost family and loved ones. In my opinion, allowing Trujillo or any other person to get away with killing thousands of people with nothing more than a slap on the wrist shows to public that people lives, in this case, Haitian lives are not important, and that no real repercussions will happen if the Haitian population is exploited or exterminated.

More information on Dominican Republic massacre:

Cultural Genocide of Native Americans= Diabetes

Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is a novel about a boy that begins to question his identity when he leave the Spokane reservation to go to Reardan in order to attend a white school because he believes it will be his way out. In the novel Alexis discusses the problems that riddle Native American reservations such as alcoholism, domestic violence, diabetes, etc. To him an Indian is one who lives in poverty, has a vanishing past, a history of diabetes and cancer, and a bone crushing reality (Pg. 57).

In episode four of Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick”, connections are made between water rights, cultural genocide, health and diabetes. The Pima Indians of Southern Arizona depended on the Gila River in order to farm. When the Gila River was diverted, the Pima suffered and “died from starvation not diabetes… in 1902, there was only one case where a Pima died of diabetes, but within 30 years of building the Coolidge dam, there were more than 500 deaths due to diabetes”. The change is lifestyle greatly changed the health of the Pima. After the building of the dam, the U.S. army started delivering commodity foods, which was not part of their regular diet. The food that was given was high in fat and sugar, and canned foods instead of fresh fruits were distributed, so the food that was given was a “diabetic’s nightmare.” The way of life for the Pima Indians changed drastically for the worse, and a cultural genocide occurred because their way of life had to change or they would perish otherwise. Things were forgotten and new things were added, an example of this is frybread. It is part of their diet and culture but it wasn’t always so. Frybread came about after the U.S. began distributing the commodities and so people began making do with what they were given. As Alexie states, “Frybread is the story of our survival.”


Video Clip from Episode 4:

Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us sick:

More Information on Frybread Article:

Health Interventions

In the two articles, “All I eat is ARVs” and “Sterilizing Vaccines or the Politics of the Womb,” I learned that trying to help a population without taking into account other factor, such as the historical past (colonialism), culture/beliefs about medicines, or the social structure of families, can really put a stop everything to everything that you’re working to do, and can even make the situation worse for people.

Giving people in Central Mozambique antiretrovirals yet not addressing structural factors that are making people go hungry created problems, suspicions, tensions, and competition due to the food scarcity that exists. Those that were taking the ARVs became very hungry, and either had to work to get money for food—which made them weaker, or simply starve was a horrible situation that the PLWHA were in. Though the associations tried to plan ahead and provide food, it was simply not enough.

Trying to vaccinate only a female population without really stopping to think of how past vaccinations were carried out, why, and how effective they were, is vital to the success of future vaccination campaign or other health initiative. By not taking into account such factors, young women feared that they were sterilized and engage in unprotected sex which led to a rise in pregnancies, and led to a rise in abortions. In the pursuit of advancing medicine, people have and can be harm if inequalities are not addressed. As we know in the U.S, the Tuskegee Experiment was horrible and a completely pointless experiment since there was already a cure for syphilis. It’s been decades since the experiment ended, but the effects of the experiment have created distrust for African-Americans to participate in any type of testing or research.

Article on Tuskegee aftermath: “Ethical Considerations for Conducting Cancer Medical Studies: The Tuskegee Study Aftermath”



Timothy Mitchell’s “Can the Mosquito Speak?” was a real eye opening article. In it, he describes the “attack on the human” and the catastrophic effects of the malaria outbreak in a time of war. The article really exposes the intersectionality of people’s suffering, and how there are many more factors to consider. Dams were built in order to improve agriculture (though this was not the case), and was a “means to demonstrate the strength of the modern state” (Page 21) yet no real research of the area was done so the temperature, ecosystems were never understood and the end result was the spread of a dangerous malaria, that traveled along the route of the dam construction.

The year is 1942, and there in the midst of these malaria outbreaks is a war, WWII, which means there are shortages everywhere. The shortages affect Egypt greatly, because of their heavy reliance of chemical fertilizers which leads to their food shortage. People are stricken with hunger that lowers their immune systems, which then make them susceptible to death because of the malaria.

Outbreaks and diseases without a doubt harm the social fabric of a society. Outbreaks and genocides can also go hand in hand. Genocide by neglect occurs when the government neglects healthcare, or any type of aid to a group; especially when deaths can be prevented by inexpensive vaccines as in the case of the Matses people in Peru.


More Information on government neglect of Matses people:

Food Politics

In Kristin Phillips’ article, “Hunger, Healing, and Citizenship in Central Tanzania” she discusses the politics of food. The people of Tanzania are being stripped of their agency because of their dependence on food. Food aid is converted into political power in order to acquire the people’s votes. Once the elections are over, the food aid trickles down to nothing until the next elections. By doing this, people do not protest the structures of power that is keeping them in poverty and keeping them dependent on food aid. They are often faced with food shortages, “in the last decade… the Nyturu ethnic group, have faced three severe food shortages. Interestingly enough, hunger and shame go hand in hand. Political figures are criticized when people die from hunger, and it’s so deeply connected with politicians, that regional government medicals officials were deployed to a village in order to counter the claims of deaths from starvation.

Governments have a duty to their people to make sure that its citizens, and what would even be ideal, is that there would be enough jobs so that people would have enough to buy their food and serve the economy. In a way it’s in a country’s best interest to provide for its citizens because when mass starvations occur, people are too weak to really contribute anything to the country.

In North Korean during the 1990s “widespread famine devastated North Korea, killing over 2.5 million, and perhaps upwards of 3.7 million.” It wasn’t the result of a natural disaster, but the result of government diverting its resources. Food is used to control the population, but the result has been many deaths, and by denying food the government participated in genocide by neglect

More on North Korean’s mass starvations: