‘La historia es nuestra y la hacen los pueblos’ (History is ours and it is made by the people) – Salvador Allende (1908 – 1973)
Last year a company named ‘ECA International’ generously upgraded Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city from a 3 to a 2 in terms of safety and lifestyle. These types of grading are requested at top dollar by charities, foreign offices and high fly consultancy firms such as BCG to justify hefty billable and advantages allocated to themselves and their overseas ‘expatriates’ while ‘advising Africans and Latin Americans’.
The same expatriates constitute key ‘informants’ for the grading exercise, as ‘locals’ wouldn’t be trusted to offer dispassionate testimonies. In the unlikely event that the assessment recommends an upgrade, in spite of the self-preserving testimonies, the findings are kept secret – to prevent free publicity for the third world city and a potential salary cut to all aid workers and diplomats in the said city: a real humanitarian crisis.
On a scale of 0-5 then, Rwanda’s capital is now graded better than some European cities. Sadly, when companies like ECA increase the quality of life in a country by one grade, ‘expatriates’ and diplomats deployed in said country lose up to a third of their income and benefits. Luckily, not all charities and embassies were ‘informed’ of the upgrade, salaries and benefits were thus preserved.
The Boston College of Social Work however, didn’t get the memo. In a recent job advertisement, the research program describes the posting as follows: ‘Applicant should be aware of the following conditions in Rwanda: Hot, humid, tropical climate with extremely limited medical facilities, potentially contaminated water, high incidence of HIV/AIDS; prevalence of common diseases that include rabies, Lassa fever, water-borne diseases, malaria and other tropical diseases. Obviously this dystopian novella says more about the Boston College research program than it does about Rwanda, a country with a robust public health system, a ‘free healthcare for all’ policy, an HIV prevalence maintained at 3%, no recorded outbreaks in over a decade, where it is normal and safe to drink tap water, and one of the rare countries to have registered zero deaths related to COVID-19.
It is not new for American universities to manipulate data for other ends; in the 70s the University of Chicago was used by the American establishment to decimate South American economies. PhD programs were created and scholarships dished out to Chilean and other South American young economists. Soon enough an ecosystem of brainwashed operatives, planted in governments, charities and consulting firms – not dissimilar to our ECA International – to implement structural adjustments and other pernicious economic policies that would prove devastating for Latin American economies while enriching American multinationals.
When Chilean Marxist president Salvator Allende resisted the structural adjustments and wanted to nationalize key sectors of the economy and initiate agricultural reform for food sufficiency, the ‘Chicago Boys’ conspired to depose and kill him and installed a military junta led by Agusto Pinochet in a coup immediately supported by the United States. Those are the golden years of the Chicago boys and American multinationals.
‘Ranked 37th nationally with an operating budget of $1 billion and an endowment of $2.2 billion’ – all according to their website, the Boston College of Social Work is supposed to be conducting scientific research in Rwanda. However, the College, sadly has failed the first test of its credibility for a rather ridiculous goal; to inflate stipends of staff. As a senior research fellow in a think tank for many years, I am worried of the American institution’s capability to manipulate findings, which brings me to the purpose this article:
These are the types of research programs that I fear might not be driven by scientific ethics. I would have been indulgent had the program been on fields that did not touch human life; this is an epidemiology research program. So I have contacted the Rwanda Biomedical Center and the National Institute of Statistics warning them to keep an eye on the Boston boys, because I am not confident they mean well.
In 1953 the University of Chicago requested a partnership with Universidad de Chile, the most prestigious in the country, the Chilean university turned them down. They then targeted the Catholic University of Chile, where they taught economics under the funding and supervision of American professors. Some students were sent directly to the main campus in Chicago. Between the 60s and 70s, the Chicago boys bankrolled right wing media to criticize Allende’s nationalization policies. After the coup, during their 16 years honeymoon with dictator Augusto Pinochet, tens of thousands of Chileans were tortured and more than 3,000 killed or went missing.
The UCLA team is still out in Indonesia and apparently the Boston school is in Rwanda…