Capitalism and Imperialism Helped Cause the AIDS Pandemic

Published at 11:40 on 1 December 2018

In honor of World AIDS Day, Time magazine recently ran an article on the subject, from which I quote:

Exactly how it spread continues to be studied. A 2014 study said the strain originated in the 1920s in Kinshasa, in the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 2011 book The Origin of AIDS by infectious disease doctor Jacques Pepin argued that one might be able to trace the virus’ spread to bush-meat hunters who handled chimpanzee blood, and a surge in prostitution that took place among the disorder of the decolonization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the ’60s. Many of the bureaucrats sent there to establish order came from Haiti, and one or more of those workers may have brought it back to the island. As for how the virus went from Haiti to the U.S., he theorizes that it may have involved another combination of factors, ranging from an unsanitary handling of samples at a plasma center to Haiti’s reputation at the time as a sex tourism destination.

That sugar-coats some truly ugly culpability. That euphemistically-worded “disorder of the decolonization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo” was in no small part fomented by the the CIA, Belgium, and foreign capitalists, who acted to undermine the rule of the democratically-elected adminsitration of Patrice Lumumba, the first president of that nation (then simply called the Republic of the Congo). And I haven’t yet mentioned the genocidial imperialism there whose death toll is estimated at about ten million. That’s right, ten million.

Haiti, too, is a victim of imperialism. Conditions are so bad there (poverty, environmental degradation) in no small part due to evil done by the imperialist nations of the First World. France refused to acknowledge Haiti’s independence, imposing crippling economic sanctions unless the slaves who rebelled repaid slave-owning French capitalists for the “theft” of the “property” they considered the rebelling slaves to be. The entire rest of the “civilized” First World, including the USA, took France’s side in the matter and refused to trade with Haiti until it capitulated.

That was in 1804, and it was not until one hundred and forty-three years later, in 1947, that the debt was repaid. During that time, Haiti’s progress was horribly stunted by its repaying of those onerous reparations. And it was in the resulting festering cesspool of poverty (the worst in the entire Western Hemisphere) that AIDS was so easily able to spread and grow when it arrived in the 1960s.

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