Rene Preval and relationship with Fidel Castro of Cuba

Against the wishes of many, Haiti, led by then president René Préval, began dealings with Cuba and Fidel Castro. As part of a trilateral cooperate between the two countries and Venezuela, Castro facilitated an aid package to Haiti that would include oil and energy solutions, medical and disaster support, education, etc.

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During Préval's first turn as president, after the September 1998 hurricane Georges had ravaged the country and left a cholera outbreak, 500 Cuban doctors were sent to give aid. Described by Préval as second only to God in their healing abilities, the gift was looked on suspiciously by others claiming the intention was to either steal jobs or spread the 'communist influence'. Following Rene Preval's personal experience of the Cuban health system and a second visit of the doctors in the wake of 2010's cholera outbreak, Préval awarded the Cuban Medical Brigade, and by extension Castro, with the country's highest honor, the National Order of Honor and Merit in the grade of Grand Officer. Hundreds of thousands had been infected; the death toll nearly 5000, but the efforts of the Cuban doctors had saved the lives of over 73,000 Haitians.

Cuba is responsible for the training of hundreds of Haitian doctors as part of a major program. They also facilitated the initiation of the PetroCaribe deal through Transalba, a transport company earmarked to ship the oil from Venezuela to Haiti. But perhaps Castro's biggest influence has been on Préval himself. Though ailing, and having relinquished rule to his younger brother Raul, Castro is cited as having provided the impetus to Rene Preval's much criticized accusations against the Haitian elite and foreign powers who take under the guise of giving aid and charity, avoid paying taxes and make no investment into Haiti's future.

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Read more: rene preval, doctors, Cholera, Haiti Cholera, hurricane, Disaster, Education, Cuba, Cuban Medical Brigade, elite, award, Fidel Castro, Venezuela, Oil, Communism, Cooperation, International

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