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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 1 Summary This chapter explains how the author came to meet Dr. Paul Edward Farmer. Two weeks before Christmas 1994, in a market town in the central plateau of Haiti called Mirebalais, the author is sitting with an American Special Forces captain named Jon Carroll at a Haitian army outpost. He is in Haiti to report on American soldiers, 20,000 of which had been sent to reinstate the country’s democratically elected government and to strip away power from the military junta that had deposed it and ruled cruelly for three years. With only eight men, Captain Carroll is temporarily in charge of approximately 150,000 Haitians spread across one thousand square miles. Political violence has all but disappeared except for one particularly grisly murder: a few weeks back, American soldiers had fished the headless corpse of the assistant mayor of the town from the river. A rural sheriff named Nerva Juste, a frightening figure to most of the people of the area, had been arrested by Captain Carroll, but was released for lack of evidence or witnesses. The release of Juste was a source of great frustration to Captain Carroll, but because the US government had determined that they would not be in the business of “nation building,” he was given no tools to properly govern the area he now controlled. As the chapter begins, Captain Carroll is advised that he has five visitors: four Haitians with one American friend. The American steps forward to explain that his name is Paul Farmer, and he is a doctor working in a local hospital. Captain Carroll asks Farmer if he has any medical needs and that he himself has even bought medicines when needed. However, Farmer’s concern is who cut off the head of the assistant mayor. Carroll answers that he doesn’t know for sure, but Farmer says that in that small area it is very hard not to know the answer. The two men then have a somewhat circuitous conversation with Farmer expressing his concern that the American government’s plans for fixing Haiti would aid business interests but do nothing to relieve the suffering of the poor. He says he is on the side of the poor but it is still unclear which side the American soldiers are on, especially in light of Nerva Juste’s release. The author realizes that Farmer knows Haiti better than Carroll does, and he’s trying to impart the fact that the Haitians are losing confidence in the Captain. However, Carroll becomes riled at Farmer’s criticisms and raises his voice to say that when he has enough evidence he’ll slam the man, but until he...
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- Spring '09
- The Bible, Farmer, Dr. Paul Farmer