Who is the Real Paul Farmer?

From A View From The Cave Fri Jan 18 2013, 09:28:00

An article by freelance journalist Ansel Herz in Counterpunch recounts his meetings with the PIH co-founder over the past few years to tell of a Farmer who has become the "useful idiot" for Bill Clinton and the UN.

"Oh, he adores Clinton," a senior member of Partner in Health, told me as our plane approached the Haitian coastline. "I don't get it." It was March 2012. By chance, our seats on the flight to Port-au-Prince happened to be next to each other. We'd struck up a conversation. She said Paul had changed over the years and that now she represents the "left-wing of PIH." But the organization had taken a decidedly non-political turn. I told her how disappointing it was when PIH had refused to sign on to a petition to protect Haiti's displaced from forced evictions not long after the quake. She wasn't surprised. The petition was addressed to Bill Clinton, the UN Envoy to Haiti, among other authorities. And Clinton is "close to Paul," the petitioners were told by Donna Barry, PIH's Advocacy and Policy Director. Herz cites examples of Farmer softening prior stances. Farmer opposed plans to provide low-paying textile jobs and was critical of the growth of NGOs in Haiti. However, he now is more silent on the labor issue and Herz describes attending a fundraiser for the start up NGO Students of the World where Farmer delivered remarks.

Sources within the PIH circle and other observers are not named, but they offer critical reflections on Farmer. In the final section, Herz recounts confronting Farmer on the charges of being silenced and used.

Farmer eventually disclaimed any leadership role, saying, "I'm really not a UN official. I don't have any obligations." "On the second year anniversary [of the quake] I wrote what I had to say and I don't really have any more to say." When I said he had lost the razor-sharp critical voice from Uses of ...

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