Cesar Chelala


Cesar Chelala
Cesar Chelala, MD, PhD, is an international public health consultant for several UN agencies, and a writer on human rights, medical and foreign policy issues. He is a winner of an Overseas Press Club of America Award. His articles have been published in more than 70 countries worldwide.
For Cesar Chelala's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Apr 27, 2002
The truth can help set Afghanistan free
NEW YORK -- The coming meeting in June of a "loya jirga," or national council, that will name members of a transitional government to rule the country for the next 18 months, offers hope for a return to normalcy in beleagered Afghanistan. An essential component in this process should be the creation of an independent judiciary, adequate judicial institutions, and a truth commission to deal with past crimes in the country.
Apr 14, 2002
Population-fund cuts come at deadly price
NEW YORK -- The Bush administration's recent decision to cut back funds appropriated by Congress to the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, will have serious repercussions in that agency's support for reproductive health in developing countries. The U.S. decision is aggravated by reduced contributions from Japan and Denmark. UNFPA is accused of condoning forced abortions in China, and of making abortions a general part of its policy. This accusation was originally made by the Population Research Institute, an antiabortion group that has branches worldwide. Officials from the institute alleged that American funds were being used "illegally" by UNFPA to pay for forced abortions, forced contraception and forced sterilization in China.
Mar 20, 2002
Grim outlook for Asia's final frontier of biodiversity
NEW YORK -- Since brutally assuming direct power in 1988, the Myanmar military has been conducting a sustained assault on the environment in one of Asia's richest and least-developed lands. The country's ecosystem, which ranges from tropical reefs along the Bay of Bengal to the mountains of the Himalayas, is home to numerous endangered flora and fauna, making Myanmar one of the richest depositories of natural resources worldwide. Called "the last frontier of biodiversity in Asia," Myanmar has 300 known mammal species, 370 reptile species, 1,000 bird species and 7,000 plant species. All are now imperiled by mining, logging, and pipeline and dam projects carried out by the military.
Mar 3, 2002
Revolting state of affairs under Chavez
NEW YORK -- Recent developments in Venezuela -- work stoppages, increasing public dissatisfaction with government policies, deficiencies in essential services, a weak economy, the beginnings of military resistance -- seem to augur dif ficult times for President Hugo Chavez. He is becoming isolated from most of the people who originally supported him. Unless he substantially changes his policies, Venezuela seems set for a serious confrontation between the people and Chavez's government. This is a sad development for a regime that initially appeared to fulfill the needs and ambitions of the Venezuelan people, particularly the most vulnerable.
Jan 24, 2002
Forget peace if the rules differ for Israel
NEW YORK -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to keep Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat under siege in the West Bank city of Ra- mallah shows an utter disrespect for the Palestinian leader and for the Palestinians. While Sharon insists that Arafat will not leave the city until the assassins of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi are apprehended, those in Israel responsible for assassinating scores of Palestinian leaders in state-sponsored terrorism go free, with no Israeli commitment to capture and punish them.
Jan 6, 2002
Poor politics brought on Argentine crisis
NEW YORK -- Argentina is a country under siege. The attackers, however, are not foreign armies. They are corrupt and incompetent politicians, who are responsible for the dire state the country is in. The resignation of four presidents -- three of them interim caretakers -- in less than two weeks is proof of the seriousness of the situation.
Dec 23, 2001
Argentina has no choice but to default
NEW YORK -- Argentina is now experiencing one of its most severe economic and social crises in recent history. Riots are spreading through the country and the government seems increasingly unable to control the situation. The declaration of a state of siege for 30 days, although a necessary measure to control riots in which more than 5 people were killed and dozens injured, shows the seriousness of the situation. If not controlled, the crisis could bring about a popular revolt with incalculable consequences for peace and democracy in this beleaguered country.
Dec 9, 2001
Mental health challenges remain unmet
NEW YORK -- One aspect not frequently considered of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center tragedy, the anthrax scare, and thousands of people fleeing in terror from Afghanistan is that these events may create or exacerbate mental health problems. Unless they are properly treated, many among those involved could be left with permanent psychological scars.
Nov 18, 2001
Will New York ever be New York again?
NEW YORK -- I was one of many New Yorkers who had the sad experience of witnessing the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers. The memories of those moments -- gigantic skyscrapers collapsing like castles made of sand -- have not disappeared from my mind. I wonder if they ever will? After this tragedy, the aftermath of which has affected us all, I also wonder if New York, the most vigorous of cities, will ever be its old self again?
Nov 1, 2001
A Palestinian state is key to Mideast peace
NEW YORK -- As the son of a Lebanese immigrant to Argentina, I feel a strong connection to what is happening in the Middle East, and at the futile attempts at reaching a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict in that region. To me, the way my father conducted his life -- and attempted to bridge the gap between Arabs and Jews -- is an example of how a harmonious relationship between these two groups can be established and maintained.
Aug 25, 2001
U.S. Congress is wrong to target the U.N.
NEW YORK -- The threat by the U.S. House of Representatives to withhold $582 million in funds for the United Nations is the wrong action against the world body.
Jul 28, 2001
Malnutrition plagues Tibet's children
NEW YORK -- Recent studies on children's health in Tibet reveal that almost half of them suffer from malnutrition. As a result, they suffer from stunted growth and their mental development has potentially been damaged.
Jun 26, 2001
Justice takes a step backward in Texas
NEW YORK -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry's decision to veto legislation that would have banned the execution of mentally retarded criminals is a setback to the elimination of a barbaric policy that has almost universal repudiation. This decision comes at the same time as the release from prison -- where he spent 22 years -- of Jerry Frank Townsend, a mentally retarded man who had confessed to six murders that he didn't commit. DNA evidence was able to do for him what the justice system was unable to do: prove his innocence.
Jun 20, 2001
China's AIDS policy taking a deadly toll
NEW YORK -- China's decision to bar Dr. Gao Yaojie from attending an award ceremony in the United States is the latest example of the Chinese government's mistaken policy on AIDS. Taken together with other policies, it shows that by trying to avoid publicity about AIDS and ignoring the rapid spread of HIV, the government is contributing to the spread of the disease rather than to its elimination.
Jun 2, 2001
AIDS in prisons: a spreading problem
NEW YORK -- Several investigations worldwide have shown that the human immunodeficiency virus responsible for AIDS is spreading rapidly in prisons, where the rate of infection has been found to be several times higher than in the general population. Prisons have become one of the most potentially dangerous incubators of the epidemic. If new and more effective measures are not put into effect, it is not only prisoners who will be at risk. Prison staff and members of the communities to which the prisoners belong will also be affected.
Apr 30, 2001
Deal with the Taliban by humanizing it
NEW YORK -- It is easy to feel antagonism toward Afghanistan's Taliban leadership. As if its assault on women's basic rights were not enough, it has turned its rage against historical monuments in actions that have been almost universally condemned. But this condemnation has not changed its policies at all. If anything, it has made it more adamant about following its own dictates, no matter what the cost. As a result, other governments -- notably the United States -- and the United Nations face the dilemma of what to do with a fanatic regime in order to limit the damage it does to its own people.
Apr 2, 2001
India wages an uphill battle against AIDS
NEW YORK -- India's population of 1 billion, greater than Africa, Australia and Latin America combined, is undergoing the threat of the unrelenting advance of HIV/AIDS. The infection is affecting all ages and social classes, and does not show any signs of abating. As things stand now, it is necessary to implement rapid measures with a strong component of prevention education to stop its deadly progression.
Mar 18, 2001
Torture continues to be big business
Recent events highlight the importance of the torture-weapons trade and the role that private companies in some countries, notably the United States and Britain, have in it. Their role was stressed in a recent Amnesty International document, "Stopping the Torture Trade," which calls for a stop to the production and trade of torture weapons.
Mar 10, 2001
What women can do for the environment
The growing worldwide demand for resources is threatening the world's environmental health to an unprecedented extent. Unless new policies are set in place, this situation could have devastating implications for human develop- ment. Significant among the possible options are massive campaigns, both at government and private levels, to educate people about how critical the situation is for human survival and for everybody's quality of life.
Dec 27, 2000
Surging arms sales exacerbate Third World poverty
NEW YORK -- In recent public statements, world leaders such as the pope, U.S. President Bill Clinton and World Bank President James Wolfensohn have called attention to the urgent need to end world poverty. Almost lost among their proposals to remedy the situation was any mention of the need to curb arms sales, particularly those conducted by leading industrialized nations. It is a crucial responsibility of such nations to curb sales to developing countries, not only as a way to diminish poverty, but as a critical move to achieve lasting peace.


Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on