Solidarity or Propaganda? / Fernando Damaso
Posted on September 15, 2014
I wish I could be happy about the quick response by the Cuban government
to the request for assistance from the World Health Organization and the
UN general secretary in their efforts to combat the Ebola epidemic, but
I am all too aware of the deteriorating state of our hospitals, the lack
of hygiene, the poor medical care — provided mainly by students rather
than doctors — the poor nutrition provided to patients, the shortage of
drugs and many other problems.
I am referring, of course, to the medical centers which serve the
average Cuban, which are the majority, not to the specialized centers
catering to foreigners, VIPs or people who can pay for their services in
A similarly rapid response should be applied to the serious problems
that have afflicted our health care system for years. We make the
mistake of trying to solve the world's problems without due regard for
our own. This seems to have paid off in that at least it generates a lot
of free propaganda.
However, no one who speaks or writes about the magnificent Cuban health
system has had to have their illnesses or those of their loved ones
treated here. Furthermore, many Cuban bigwigs prefer to seek treatment
in other countries, even that of the enemy. There must be some reason
At a press conference in Geneva, Cuba's minister of public health took
the opportunity to propagandize about the country's achievements and to
emphasize yet again how many medical personnel have provided and are now
providing care in other countries.
He also talked about the thousands of overseas volunteer workers, though
without mentioning how much Cuba charges in dollars for this service —
currently one of the country's main sources of foreign exchange — or how
doctors, nurses and other specialists are not being properly paid.
At one point during the press conference the minister stated that the
Revolution did not wait for its health services to be developed before
beginning to provide assistance to other peoples.
He neglected to mention that Cuba's health services were already
well-developed before 1959 and were among the best not only in the
Caribbean but in all of Latin America. One need only look to official
statistics from international organizations of the time to confirm this.
Given these questions, I am concerned that what we are dealing with here
has more to do with propaganda than with solidarity.
Source: Solidarity or Propaganda? / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba -