Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day of Latin American Medicine

Day of Latin American Medicine / Jeovany Jimenez Vega #Cuba
Jeovany J. Vega, Translator: Unstated

medico-cubanoThe anniversary arrives uneventfully. Today is the Day of
Latin American Medicine, and in this or that Cubanmedical center this or
that political-cultural-recreational-allegorical act will be held, in
which this or that director will repeat this or that second-hand
patriotic phrase opportunely memorized. On the platform will be those
who live to talk, pretend or lie, and those who simply work saving human
lives. When the staging is finished they will leave behind the same
panorama as always: a health care professional who asks what do the
words accomplish without the support of the facts.

There are heard again these days rumors of an imminent "salary increase"
that our sector will get, even specifying that it would be around 30 or
40% of base salary. Personally I very much doubt it — because in one of
his last speeches Raul Castro made clear that for now that would not
happen. To create expectations today would be like taking the heartbeats
for the galloping horse that is expected, but it would be worth the
effort, stage direction apart, to reflect on the value of such a "raise"
for an economic sector that earns for this country much more than a
billion dollars annually.

If true, that would be a raise of around $200.00 pesos (CUP or "national
money"), which is the equivalent in Cuba of $8.00 in convertible pesos
(CUC), or what would be the same as $8.80 US. That is, as long as we
generate billions, they will offer us $8.00 a month for such a "salary

But the Cuban government says it has no more to spend on public health
workers. True, they have to prioritize the wages of those policemen who
stoically sacrifice to maintain such quiet that we do not hear anyone
screaming in the middle of the Revolutionaries' street that they can not
afford to live on their salaries, which would create too awkward of a
landscape for the tender eyes of the tourists and foreign reporters.

What defines the quality of a gift is the posture, the dignity of the
recipient: if you receive something from a position of subservience or
submission, to the detriment of a single shred of dignity, it's as if
you receive a handout but consists of millions received in an unworthy
manner; this is what they do with us in 2005 and it would be the same
now, if it is true what is rumored.

I think if some sector in Cuba is comfortably able to triple the base
salary of its employees, it is the public health sector; tripling the
basic wage — and from there add no less than $500 in Cuban pesos for
each specialty practiced, or another way to look at it, each diploma or
mastery –and this would begin to be more respectful, the rest would be
pure symbolism, pure window dressing.

But as for now everything is pure speculation, and not to be accused
again of being "metallic" for demanding a decent wage, I am happy today
to congratulate from my humble site those I hold in high esteem, those
working with very modest resources, ignoring the shortages they suffer
personally, to return to health and to life as many people as possible;
to my teacher, for whom I have an admiration and a respect bordering on
fanaticism, and a devotion similar to that professed by the martyrs and
the saints; to that professor who does not know my voice and who, but
for the limits imposed by behavior and gallantry and good looks, like
the kiss for a father, whenever I met him I would kiss his clean hands.

December 3 2012

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