Posts Tagged ‘solidarity’

From Cuba to Brazil: More Doctors

August 26, 2013


by Alfredo Prieto

After it was used as a political football by her opponents, and a process of push and pull, the government of Dilma Rousseff has announced the addition of four hundred Cuban doctors – through the More Doctors program of the the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), aimed at providing health services to underserved communities in Brazil.

To try to prevent this, the opposition vainly deployed a range of arguments ranging from the ideological to the technical. Starting with the latter, they imposed a requirement that they speak Portuguese, apparently forgetting that it is neither the Serbo-Croatian or Mandarin, but a language very close to Spanish – Don Miguel de Unamuno once called it “Spanish without bones” – and especially of the same variety spoken in Angola and Cape Verde, where thousands of Cuban physicians and health personnel have worked from the 1970s to the present. And they also insisted on four weeks of orientation on the Brazilian health system and a basic knowledge test. For Cubans, it should work more or less like what in English is called “a piece of cake”.

As for the former, for Brazilian medical associations, especially for the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) – an entity that brings together the upper middle class doctors exercising their modest offices in certain neighborhoods of Rio, Brasilia or other large cities – the presence of the Cubans, as well as “electioneering, irresponsible and disrespectful”, “violates human rights and threatens the health of Brazilians, especially those living in poor and remote areas.” This formulation gives the impression that the inhabitants of the favelas and the deep Brazil are living in a Swiss canton without suffering structural health problems that they actually suffer. This is why the government decided to accelerate the program after popular protests in the summer demanding fundamental changes in social policies. For associations of its kind, attempts to disqualify the Cubans professionally has been a true recurrence, which has no factual basis from its proven professional-academic and an accumulated history that has led them to practice in places like Gambia and Haiti, with emphatic results in reducing infant mortality rates or cholera, and recognized by institutions such as the World Health Organization and even markers of American liberal media as the New York Times.

But behind those ideological stratagems there are certain truths. The Brazilian government's initial call only garnered a response from 1618 physicians either local or from other parts of the globe, i.e., only 10.5% of the more than fifteen thousand necessary. And of course, they declined to go to communities and more isolated and difficult places in the country (north and northeast), in which Cubans are, nevertheless, real experts, having been tanned in the plains of African and through the mountains of Pakistan or the Venezuelan hills. And we know that once there they do their jobs not only technically, but also socially, according to the type of medicine that is practiced. A popular way to empowerment, but without ideological political speeches or pamphlets, as well, as a fellow colleague and New Mexico resident has emphasized.

From another angle, however, the crux is whether the move would generate more international coverage of the quality of services to the Cuban population, already overburdened by more than thirty-eight thousand health professionals –of these, some fifteen thousand doctors provide their services abroad– and problems such as lack of resources and inadequate treatment of people. Unfortunately, today these are not uncommon experiences in hospitals and health centers.

The Cuban press, which just held another of its congresses, has so far remained quiet on More Doctors, though the program got the limelight in the international media, including the United States. Another stripe for the tiger, even though it is a story that concerns Cubans, who, as always, access it via the classical word-of-mouth or the new information technologies. This generates feelings of empathy with the “cooperantes" [professionals offering services abroad through cooperation agreements] and their internationalism; in others, joy for the fringe benefits that the journey involves, but in both the concerns that ultimately make up the complexity of the scenario.

Moreover, the new Brazilian route reaffirms the main trend of the Cuban economy: almost from birth this country seems destined to export something. Sugar was the main protagonist from the mid-eighteenth century to the late twentieth – without it, it was said, there was no country. Then more than a hundred sugar mills were guillotined as old, inefficient and unproductive, and displaced by joint ventures and hotels. And then, since the dawn of the new millennium, the spotlight is on the export of professional services, especially in the area of health, but also in education and sports. It is no longer just “symbolic capital,” as Julie Feinsilver discussed in a classic study (Healing the Masses, University of California Press, 1993), but a reality of the global economy. In the Cuban case, this means an income of about six billion dollars a year for the state coffers.Final del formulario

08/24/13 – Cuba-L Analysis (Albuquerque) –
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann

Over Three Million Patients Benefit From Operation Milagro

August 9, 2013

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More than three million patients have recovered vision thanks to the Operation Milagro. The second phase will expand the attention to the African peoples without decreasing the number of operations on patients from Latin America and countries of the ALBA
By: Osviel Castro Medel

CARACAS, Venezuela.- More than three million patients across the world, especially in Latin America, have benefited from the Operation Milagro created on July 8, 2004 by Commanders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan Gabriela Soler, national coordinator of this program, which has restored the sight to so many people for free, noted that these figures are due to the quick increase after the initiative was given a new official thrust last June.

Soler said that the second phase comprises of the installation of optics and workshops to carve crystals or lenses, new equipment for some of the surgical centres, a plan to continue to train ophthalmologists and opticians in Venezuela, the establishment of a statistics centre to register the patients’ pathology and those who are prone to undergo eye surgery, among other measures.

In addition, 22 hospitals in Venezuela are expected to serve as pilot headquarters of the operation in this second phase. The goal of this program is to also provide attention to the criminal population in penitentiaries, disabled people who have not been registered and indigenous inhabitants in their regions.

The social program not only includes surgery, but also implies the supply of corrective lenses, inquiries to add people with visual disabilities and a project to prevent eye problems.

The most common health conditions under treatment by the ophthalmologists through these nine years are: cataracts, pterygium, glaucoma and strabismus.

In the act of re-launching the operation, celebrated two months ago, Venezuela’s Executive Vice-president Jorge Arreaza, said that this project, which will entail giving more attention to the African people without reducing the number of patients from Latin America and countries of the ALBA under medical attention, will be under the rectorship of Virginia, Hugo Chavez’ daughter.

The Vice-president praised the professionalism of the Cuban health personnel, which has been the heart of this operation, considered a pride and joy for Commanders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

The Operation Milagro, created in 2004 to treat Venezuelan patients in Cuba, spread to Latin America and across the planet when in August 2005 Fidel and Chavez signed the Sandino Pledge in both countries to assist six million people within ten years – especially from the Third World- with different visual difficulties.

Translated by ESTI for JuventudRebelde

Continental Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba Ends in Caracas

July 30, 2013


Delegates to the encounter advocate the end of the economic and political war by the United States against Cuba, and the development of an international campaign in favor of the Five Cuban Heroes.
By: Osviel Castro Medel

CARACAS, Venezuela.— The Seventh Continental Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba, which took place from July 24 to July 27 in Caracas, Venezuela, concluded with a homage to the Bolivarian leader Hugo Chávez Frías at the Cuartel de la Montaña (Mountain Barracks), where his mortal remains lie.

About 500 delegates from more than 30 countries took part in the four-day encounter, full of intense activity. The delegates advocated the end of the economic and political war by the United States against Cuba, and the development of an international campaign in favor of the Five Cuban Heroes.

Cultural activities, master lectures, workshops to debate, and protocol ceremonies were carried out in the encounter to support the Cuban Revolution. The Eternal Commander of the Bolivarian Revolution Hugo Chavez, who would have turned 59 years old on July 28, was frequently mentioned during the encounter.

Among the lecturers were Aleida Guevara; Vice-president of the Cuban National Assembly of People’s Power Ana María Mari Machado; journalist Stella Calloni, from Argentina; and the deputy and member of the Venezuelan Communist Party Yul Yabour.

Other personalities were also present such as the Executive Vice-President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Jorge Arreaza, who officially opened the encounter; the member of the Cuban Communist Party Politburo Mercedes López Acea; Venezuelan professor Luis Britto García; the president of the Cuban Institute Friendship with the Peoples, Kenia Serrano; the president of the National Association of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC), Miguel Barnet; the son of one of the Barbados’s martyrs Camilo Rojo; Irma Sehwerert, mother of René González, and Ailí Labañino, the daughter of Ramón Labañino, one of the anti-terrorist fighters, unjustly held in US penitentiaries.

The delegates analyzed, in different panels, the importance of the insurrection carried out on July 26th, 1953, the inspiring example of the Five Cuban Heroes, and the legacy of Latin-American integration left by Hugo Chávez. This last panel counted on the participation of the former Cuban Ambassador to Venezuela, Germán Sánchez.

The Meeting also included a discussion panel entitled En Defensa de la Humanidad, dedicated to the ten years of the creation of the Net for the Defense of Human Rights, the cultural gala Al son de los pueblos libres, and a sports festival in the community of Coche, with the participation of some great Cuban sporting figures like Driulis González, Eduardo Paret, Yumileidis Cumbá, Zuleidys Ortiz, Tomás Herrera, Yoel García, Jorge Jay Masó and Enrique Cepeda.

The participants in the event also made a vigil at the Cuartel dela Montaña to honor Hugo Chávez.

Translated by ESTI for JuventudRebelde

Bernie Dwyer Presente!

July 10, 2013

Bernie Dwyer receiving the Felix Elmuza medal for journalism, 2008. Photo Bill Hackwell

At 7:30am today, July 10, Irish journalist and beloved compañera Bernie Dwyer died surrounded by her family. Bernie was based in Cuba and worked for years at Radio Havana Cuba. She made several important documentary films including “Mission Against Terror”, “The Day Diplomacy Died” and others. Bernie interviewed dozens of celebrities in the world including Noam Chomsky.

Her deep research on the aggression and terrorism against Cuba, and the defense of the Cuban 5, imprisoned in the U.S., was one of the most important contributions to the solidarity movement with Cuba.

Her smile, her words in English and Spanish, her messages, her insightful articles, her participation in international events, and her fruitful work, despite being severely ill, will be an inspiration to all of us who knew and loved Bernie. We will always remember this great revolutionary woman and social documentarian that she was.

We send our warmest embrace to Bernie’s family and her beloved people of Ireland, from all of her comrades in Cuba and the U.S. and the family of the Cuban 5. It has been our honor to know her and she will be deeply missed but we will carry the struggle forward with Bernie Dwyer in our hearts and minds.

Hasta la Victoria Siempre Dear Bernie Dwyer!

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
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