The Dream, the Forest and the New Wolf / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

“…because, although a nation may collapse, its mountains remain. And with the mountains there remains man’s eternal responsibility to preserve what is essentially his, which is his soul. And with that responsibility there remains the possibility of yearning and striving and the satisfaction that comes with doing it.” Hanama Tasaki

Fifty years ago the triumph of the Revolution was a paradigm for an era about to begin. The serious social problems that it sought to stamp out and the head-on antagonism towards the U.S. government marked its early years with a tense and radical tone. The justice of that struggle, the immense jubilation of a sea of people celebrating victory and later developments such as the literacy campaign, the invasion at Bay of Pigs and the October missile crisis would confer glory on its charismatic bearded leaders. It was a romantic image that resonated with every leftist movement throughout the world. At the time, as so often happens in similarly fervent eras, it seemed that anything was possible.

As one might imagine, to bring these dreams to life, a different type of man was needed. He had to possess his species’ highest virtues, be capable of making huge sacrifices while losing nothing. He had to be someone trustworthy, who acted in accordance with his principles to the point of being willing to die for them. There was an urge to forge an altruistic being, indifferent to the miseries of the past and without the slightest trace of selfishness. There was a need for a man aware of his moment in time and of the legacy he should leave. He aspired to be the perfect being “outlined in the speeches of Che Guevara” and was called upon to be the model for an idealized future. In other words, he was the dream of the New Man.

But that vision did not lead to a smooth road towards the promised land. While large estates, foreign holdings and properties belonging to the wealthy were nationalized in the early years, with the onset of the “revolutionary offensive” of 1968 such government measures were redirected against the very Cubans who had so fervently supported the Revolution less than a decade earlier. They often found themselves stripped of their small family businesses, whether they were simple little neighborhood stores, humble produce stalls, or tiny shoeshine stands. These misguided and extreme measures were followed by decades of economic stagnation and a flourishing bureaucracy that did nothing but demonstrate how inappropriate it was to adopt a carbon copy of the Soviet model.

The passage of time also saw an absence of civil guarantees, the lack of a separation of powers and an ethical impoverishment brought on by a press subjugated by censorship, all of which created an atmosphere of social hypocrisy that could only grow exponentially. The initial promise of plurality was necessary to motivate the people to wage war against tyranny of Batista’ as well as against assassins the likes of Ventura Novo and Cañizares, of Pilar García and Rolando Masferrer. It ultimately degenerated into a civil and spiritual poverty that today we recognize with embarrassment.

Now, fifty-four years later, I ask myself what remains of that dream. What of the utopia of the New Man have young people today inherited? The fantasy died in the cradle and in its place arose someone capable of the full range of hypocrisy, someone who runs from truth like vermin from light.

In he shadow of fear was engendered a lazy and selfish being, unable to put himself forward civilly with principles, unable to concern himself with anything that doesn’t have to do only with him. Insensible to the pain of others inadvertently powerless to go further, beyond the boundaries of his little plot, and in his Kafkaesque insect dimension, vegetates in his own harvest of misery without ever uncovering the great common parcel.

I don’t want to say that my inquisitive mind or judgement are infallible, nor do I want to wipe the slate clean, but it greatly distresses me that the behaviors that should be dark exceptions are the shameful norm: I look with sadness at the minimum level of spirituality of this youth, focused on fashion and reggaeton but too uneducated and superficial to notice major issues.

Elevated concepts like nation, commitment, duty or sacrifice are as alien to the average youth of today as the concepts of quantum physics. And it’s not that it’s wrong to live intensely, to wear the latest fashions and dance to the point of delirium, “because youth only comes around once and as beautiful as it is, it is fleeting,” but there should be, along with joy, depth… isn’t this Guevara?

The mega-experiment of the schools in the countryside had everything to do in such moral devastation, which for decades kept several generations of Cubans away from their families in the most critical phase of their adolescence, while their personalities crystallized.

In the classrooms of these boarding schools there was a climate of adequate teaching, “high quality in many cases,” while in the dorms many times the prison code prevailed: good had to adapt itself to sign of evil, and never vice versa, if you wanted to survive; their that young person in the making could descend to the most obscene unscrupulousness.

To this must be added the unfathomable crisis of values that came with the decade of the ’90s. The profound deterioration of people’s living standards prompted a mass exodus of teachers from the National Education System with its logical consequences, and meanwhile in the streets the law of the jungle was definitely enthroned.

Then libretazo of the 2000s “with its never achieved its Comprehensive General Teachers, its video-conferences and massive graduations of emerging, and volatile, teachers,” struck the final blow. The sad result we are touching today; it is my generation and my daughter’s generation that is the product of those years: the insensitivity, the worst education, the most arid vulgarity are the norm and, after so much time, have reached epidemic proportions. In short, we have created a Frankenstein and today we do not know what to do with it.

But I maintain the stubborn hope that not all is lost. Against such desolation I offer in opposition Jose Marti’s unshakable faith in human improvement. I have a living certainty that my people will draw, from the illustrious examples of their history, the strength necessary to rise from its ruins; so that the New Man we dreamed of one day, and whom I resist considering an impossible chimera, is finally born as the “son of universal values, not of political indoctrination” for the ultimate good of the fatherland.

We do not need the man of prefabricated harangues: essentially we need to rescue this man from the moral abyss dug by simulation and lies. We urgently need a Revolution of the soul.

“What can we count on…?!” the myopic skeptics scream. And the response worthy is what Agramonte shouted that shook the insurgent swamp: “The shame, we can count on that, the shame all Cubans deserve!”

by Jeovany Jimenez Vega

25 March 2013

Requiem / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

By Jeovany Jimenez Vega

With the attempted coup of April 2002, the Venezuelan oligarchy tried to remove from power and/or murder Commander Hugo Chavez, leader of the nascent Bolivarian Revolution. There were moments of intense drama: the uncertainty of the early hours of his ouster and then the tsunami of people, the fiery waves that came down from the hills to restore their elected president to Miraflores Palace, a display of pure courage. That was an impressive and spontaneous reaction; since then the world was certain that something was brewing in Venezuela, something more important than simple ascent of a leader: this was a people with real aspirations, who performed an incredibly brave act of atonement for their true leader.

Parallel events, like the Llaguno Bridge Massacre, widely manipulated by the pro-coup media — “snipers who smashed the skulls of Venezuelans on both sides so as not to arouse suspicions when it came time to accuse the Chavistas,” they reported — and others like the siege of the Cuban embassy, the violent closure ot the official TV channel, and the precipitous recognition by various nations of the “transition government” that lasted no longer than an ice cube in the sun, largely defined Latin American during the following decade and are now Histroy, like it or not by the detractors of Hugo Chavez.

I have never visited Venezuela, so I can not offer an opinion with complete certainty about a reality that I never experienced. Many of my references have come to me from Cuban doctors, nurses or technicians who served there during different stages and I who told me  about an excessive social violence, “the painful legacy of past decades,” with youth organized crime, with trigger-happy almost-kids perpetrating crimes in cold blood; they tell me of constant political tensions, the rising scarcities of life, and the opportunistic showing its face on both sides of the conflict.

If there is anything I am aware of, it’s that for the government of Hugo Chávez nothing was exactly easy. But I’m convinced that “I could be wrong about all that,” that in the Venezuelan case the scarcities referred to are greatly speculative, driven by wealthy opponents, because I can’t understand how this could be in such a rich country, with the largest recognized oil reserves in the world.

But one cannot ignore the fact that this oligarchy still retains enough economic power to sabotage, should it decide to do so, precisely because the Government of Hugo Chavez “in addition to its socialist project, but different from the Cuban experience,” respected private property in Venezuela, giving the State control over the most strategic sectors.

Recently we Cubans watched how Maduro delivered his first speech as President, “in which he immediately called elections” under the same roof with known pro-capitalists opponents who listened with respect and were treated with respect, and, through Telesur, the station that could be called the Chavista “official” TV, we watched Capriles deliever his clumsy speech quite naturally before this and other media of the press; a lesson in tolerance we need to learn.

With regards to the elections of this coming April 14, I have few doubts. With hisspeech to the country, Capriles simply dug his own grave. The opposition leader gave a masterclass in political stupidity, in how to incisively attack not only the institutions, but the human sensibility of people still in deep mourning, with a tirade that left a bad taste in the face of elections too close to allow times to make amends.

I am convinced that this slip will cost Capriles tens or hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of votes. I predict that this election, with the emotional component in his favor, will be won by Maduro by a margin greater than the last one won by Chavez.

To his credit, the commander left a legacy of millions of literate, owners of new homes, through missions like Robinson, Barrio Adentro, Habitat and Great Housing Mission, among others who completed a total of 21 and who sought, above all, to humanize the life of ordinary Venezuelans.

Commander Chavez died after a long battle during which he never lied to his people about his health. With Honorary Doctorates from 10 universities, the “José Martí” International Award of UNESCO, and he earned dozens of international awards, honors and medals, he died convinced of the justness of his struggle, that neoliberal capitalism is guilty of the serious problems in Latin America, of the great hoax and lying to the third world by global institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. He died believing that Bolivar gave us a saving proposal two centuries ago, and therefore embraced that dream until his last breath.

The media of humanity honored him, including the UN General Assembly, the OAS and virtually all regional bodies. Fifty heads of state and government, as well as hundreds of world personalities attended his funeral and left an undeniable mark on the new dynamics of North-South relations. All this convinces me that Hugo Chavez will not belong to us but to history, and maybe not today but tomorrow, History will issue the final verdict.

1 March 2013

Reading Agenda Item 1 / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

1Perhaps the concern I feel over the recent visit of Russian President Dimitri A. Medvedev to Cuba is due to my natural incompetence in economic matters, but in truth reading the first item on his agenda leaves little room for doubt. The Russian Prime Minister clearly establishes as the primary purpose of his visit, to establish a “Convention on the regularization of the debt of the Republic of Cuba to the Russian Federation for credits granted in the period of the former USSR.”

It couldn’t have been stated more clearly if it were etched in stone. Any malcontent could get the impression that Comrade Medvedev came to hand us the bill for everything having to do with Russian for the three decades of “cooperation” during the Soviet era. However much this issue is decorated or obscured with the other nine points which are of little importance, that time of Russian dreams has been left definitively in the past by this generation of Russian politicians and they’re giving us a clear and concise message: the seem disposed to collect everything they are owed, down to the last centavo.

I recently reflected on the post-war period and how much a society can progress through an opportune focusing of its efforts. A little more than a decade after the Second World War, Europe was completely changed. Cities flattened by Nazi bombs were rebuilt in the carefree abandon of the ‘60s, and the same thing happened in Japan, once it was stripped of it military ballast. The world watched how, despite the nuclear aftermath, the land of the rising sun rebuilt at a dizzying speed and became a world economic power. A similar evolution occurred in Germany, with all its cities bombed by the RAF, including Berlin having been attacked by the artillery of the Red Army.

However, after three decades of broad Soviet economic protection — equivalent to a Marshall Plan designed especially for us — left us unable to take flight. The fact is, we have given history an eloquent example of how to waste such an opportunity.

But, as it was in the past it continues to be today, and Moscow doesn’t believe in tears. Now Comrade Mededev arrives, at this time and with that message, which could not come at a more inopportune time, no matter how one depreciates the amount for the differences in the value of the old ruble and the agreement to pay in a decade.

Watching the press conference I saw something — arrogance? — in the gestures of the Russian, and something else — worry? — on the face of our President Raul. To tell the truth, I don’t know where we are going to get everything we would need to pay back for thirty years of resources wasted by the handful — I wonder if this would be possible — because at that time no one knew — not the KGB, nor the CIA, not even God — that there would be glasnost, or perestroika, and that someone would one day postulate, for good or ill, the apparent end of history.

29 March 2013

Peggy Picket: The Pathways of Pain / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

img_0581At the gates of heaven there is supposed to be the one who separates and in the agony decides who stays, but everyone retraces at the end their own path to the common pain, everyone weaves their own purgatory. “Peggy Picket sees the face of God,” by Roland Schimmelpfenning was the heartrending offering last week by La Compañía del Cuartel at the Brecht Cultural Center in Vedado. The play leads us to a sensitive and controversial theme: how much frustration or personal fulfillment results for a Cuban doctor from working on a collaborative project abroad, versus submerging himself in the everyday here in Cuba.

A dilemma contained in the compelling performance of the young cast, that managed to address a complex and painful reality, which hit close to home for this viewer because of his own status as a Cuban doctor, and friend to some of those who returned from their own Peggy Picket adventures, and so many others who never returned.

All I wanted to saw was there, everything detailed: peering into the unknown, to another dimension of human tragedy; knowing oneself a vehicle of an alien message, moving the pieces at whim of foreign exchange; the grinding poverty that compels one to leave because no one lives on bread alone, because dreams also count and because love isn’t enough; that tearing sacrifice of a couple or a family destroyed in the making; finding yourself besmirched by someone, they told you, who would be like your brother, finding that “…we are not always welcome here, no”… in short, that Peggy Picket… Shows us the dark and human side of the Cuban medical missions, their unconfessed edge, to those who return with a veil of silence drawn in a look.

It proposes an approach to one of the most controversial nerve centers of the reality in my profession: the way going on one of these work missions can affect the life of a professional Cuban who, at least up to the time this work was written, was not allowed to leave the country except under the conditions demanded by the authorities, and never by choice; that once there had to — and still has to — face living in extreme conditions, exposed to risks in unimaginable countries, that come from nature or the hostilities and ingratitude of men, all knowing that they will receive a tiny percent of the money that will be exchanged between the countries, and meanwhile remaining far from their family and all they left behind.

But today, while I applaud La Compañía del Cuartel, I abstain from making a moral judgment; nothing is further from my mind than to launch attacks capable of hurting feelings. It would be very difficult for me to sincerely say what I think without some colleague thinking I’m referring to them. At my age I have learned to be slow to comment on realities I haven’t experienced; at this point I try, above all, not to judge. For thus reason, I decided to let you draw your own conclusions. And Carol and Martin already know their reasons for leaving; Liz and Frank already know why they chose to stay. Better that everyone be left alone with his own conscience.
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Jeovany Jimenez Vega

February 4 2013

 

Rage in the Time of Cholera* / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

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Cholera – also referred to as Asian morbus because of repeated and deadly worldwide pandemics originating in India and China – is the result of colonization of the digestive tract by the Vibrio cholerae bacillus, “a bacteria of the Spirillaceae family, very sensitive to heat and acids, which quickly kill it.” It was discovered in 1893 by R. Kock, who also discovered the tuberculosis bacillus in 1882. It is treated as a very infectious contagious disease and is transmitted orally through drinking water, foodstuffs contaminated with fecal matter and vomit from an infected person or a carrier. On rare occasions it can be transmitted through urine, as well as through contact with objects such as glasses, dishes or tableware used by an infected person. Continue reading

Waiting Patiently for What Never Comes / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

IMG_0530The last time I was in the farmers’ market, a couple of days ago,I saw various things on offer which I don’t recall seeing since I was a kid. It was in the mid-80’s that this market – at least in Artemisa, where I live – had its “golden age”. But the economic strategists disrupted the prosperity of the most entrepreneurial and consistent producers and they stopped right then and there, so that the ability to largely meet public demand which was the case a few years previously, was, at the beginning of the following decade, past history. Continue reading

Open the Wall! / Jeovany Jimenez Vega #Cuba

Granma-informaba-migratoria-Habana-octubre_PREIMA20130114_0138_40The implementation, as of this January 14th, of the Cuban political migratory reforms has generated hope unprecedented in more than 50 years for a people who suffered already for too long family separation and the grief of terrible deaths at sea. It is supposed that from this day forward that monster of the “white card” — the equivalent of the sacrosanct Exit Permit — ceased to exist and with it also the execrable figure of the “permanent exit” with which every Cuban who decided to leave his country for a specified time was banished against his will and which implied the automatic “outlawing” (that is seizure) of all he left behind, really serious things if you look at them from the correct perspective. Continue reading

Dreams of Peace / Jeovany Jimenez Vega #Cuba

enrisco 200I offer my open hands to a friend from childhood, a friend I knew when the fair only offered pale convulsed dreams. It was around this time that my friend insisted on weaving hopes against the prevailing winds that announced storms gathering at the end of the street, the wind that in his rise seemed dotted with vivid chaotic colors, beautiful shades that fled the rotting trash coming to live in the plaza. In my dreams — I distinctly remember — my friend rose to an immense height and there, higher than the pigeons fly, recorded his remote signs in the heavens. Then the plaza was flooded with that smell of new dreams.

Today I confide to his warm hands what tenderness, from the low pressure system, my hands saved; my hands sore and tired from the stories my friend told me. He did not say, in those days — forgetting that a child believes everything he hears — that the light, like the truth, has dangers if you take it by force, and this boy was in pursuit of the light and now, for wanting to touch the sun both hands are burned.

But although the wounds put an end to innocence, not to guilt. In face that boy still wonders if he would scare the butterflies, if those paper boats would capsize, if those kites that flew so high would sink under the torrential downpours; although he knows well that today they would bathe in the light of sunsets very different and disparate, and therefore, more human and sublime.

When the evening comes I go to clean the plaza and throw a tricolor line that divides it into two perfect halves. The surprise upsets the pigeons and the rest of the creatures and I note to my dear friend that, in addition to pigeons, the plaza is home to and shelters sparrows, turtledoves, canaries, mockingbirds, hummingbirds, swallows and goldfinches, delicate creations, all from God, who having been born in the same village have the same right to fly, the space and the sun and what they most ask for a little more light, some little corner of peace to ease their life, which is so ethereal and fleeting like the dreams.

I hope my friend understands that this is the most beautiful flock of birds that nest on this infinite island: that with freedom they have enough.

Jeovany Jimenez Vega

January 17 2013

 

Necessary Reminder / Jeovany Jimenez Vega #Cuba

By Jeovany Jiménez Vega

I reread the letter from the surgeons from the Havana “Calixto García” Hospital to Raúl Castro, which was published on 20 September by Cubaencuentro anonymous and undated. At the time of posting my previous post on October 1, I didn’t know that on September 28 another digital site, Cubainformación, had published what it says is the real letter–this time backed by the name of 62 surgeons of the hospital and dated August 15, 2011–in an article that also accused “international media and the so-called Cuban dissidence…” of manipulating the document. The next day, September 29, Cubaencuentro reviewed the indictment and published the full text referred by Cubainformación.

I do not think the letter made public by one of these sites differs too much in its essence from that published by the other. Some words here and there but the poverty, abuse, neglect and hopelessness they describe are unquestionable facts.

So, today I focus not on the presumed authenticity of one or other, but on fact slips into the background here, that this controversial and incredibly important document only comes to light after being published by Cubaencuentro, yet was sent to the highest leadership of the country over a year ago and this is where I ask: did these doctors received any response from the authorities and government policies to their just concerns?

Or perhaps it passed to the Internet because they never received a response to their letter? Did the authorities react with maturity and naturalness or with their usual arrogance? Do events like this finally make the Cuban authorities become aware of the imminent need to accommodate us with more respect or do they eternally perpetuate this laziness?

I hope that by this time this controversy bears good fruit. Hopefully this intolerance that has corroded life is not first and foremost any more since those who from shame have the nobility to speak aloud when others are silent out of fear. Hopefully no other Cuban will suffer what I had to suffer for saying for similar words, which I offer here as a reminder of what must change, but in continuing is the shame of our country.

(*) Letter addressed to the then Minister of Public Health Dr. José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, on November 11, 2005, by Drs. Jeovany Jimenez Vega and Rodolfo Martinez Vigoa. (Excerpt)

…The worker subject to our Ministry has particular characteristics that must be kept in mind in order avoid falling into simplistic analysis… Whoever graduates and then betters himself, as an unavoidable human consequence, aspires to live decently from the fruit of his labor, but today our particular reality is quitepainful and different: we receive an evanescent salary that is exhausted at five or at the most 10 days, being then in the throes ofthe urgency of expenses of that kind of public charity, from the spontaneous gesture of the grateful patient who knows our imperious necessity. We speak of talented and dedicated professionals, of high human quality, working with threadbare gowns and his only pair of broken shoes, with many of his more elemental needs not covered, who has coexisted with this lamentable situation for more than a decade, burdened by shortages that would fill these pages and that we leave to the imagination.

While it’s true that some of our patients, who barely made it to the 6th Grade, earn no less than $300 Cuban pesos a month, selling candy or peanuts, others can earn that amount daily; it would be absurd to compare with the sector made up of the self-employed.

We then want to bring attention to the state sectors that interact around us, which would be valid to take as point of comparison. For example: A SEPSA custodianearns about $200 Cuban pesos a month, includingCUCs, food, and personal hygiene products. An ETECSA clerk, in similar terms, earns $ 1000 Cuban pesos a month.The MINFAR and MININT pay higher salaries than ours and for years, have been systematically implementing a policy of incentives.In all the above cases,the employee receives a uniform and a pair of shoes on a regular basis.

The list of better-paid jobs in the state sector would be a long one.So, I cannot find the answers to the following questions: If the official argument is the lack and unavailability of resources and funds, then what justifies the fact that the person who guards the door at the hospital earns three times more than a professor of Internal Medicine, who have been training doctors for decades, and even the director of the hospital, when National System of Public Health is an entity entirely subordinated to the State that centralizes such resources and funds.

Isn’t it totally absurd that a month of school pays off several times more and results more ’useful’to an individualthan 12 years of higher education? Does it make any sense that this society, which aspires to full equality, pays more back to a custodian thana neurosurgeon who is now saving lives?

What justifies the reality that an MGI specialist or a dentist or the last super-specialist of the Institute are unable to satisfy their basic needs, and when that’s not the case, they fulfill them at the expense of undertaking some other kind of work, but never from their salary as professionals?

Our workers are asked for an altruistic and selfless spirit and great human sensibility, capable of taking high doses of sacrifices, qualities that they certainly have. Unfortunately, in the chain of CUC stores, where the State sets the prices and sells products very expensively, and where many of the basic consumer goods end up being sold, the hard currency (CUC) we are charged with cannot be called sacrifice, altruism, or dignity (that would be truly touching), but simply CUC… Then, our professionals, left with no other choices, go into the street to face that other ’daily struggle’ to avoid prostituting themselves in their profession, selling under-the-counter “certificates of illness,” medicines, or receive some sort of perk.

It is such an overwhelming situation, which forces the individual to seek an alternative source of income, in many exotic and dissimilar ways that would leave one in awe: raising pigs, taking in ironing, selling pizza, ham or eggs, working as masons, carpenters, shoemakers, or simply renting the car that was awarded for participating in an international mission, for a fixed monthly price, so that they can afford to buy gasoline. And all of these activities share something in common: they are discouraging and time-consuming when placed in the balance with professional growth.They take people away from what should be their only worry: studying, which they should pay back byproviding exquisite attention to their patients, from a scientific point of view.

If today we are flying the flag of internationalism with medical missions in dozens of countries, it also thanks to the spirit of self-sacrifice of those of us who stayed in Cuba. Our workers have had to take onthe work of those who left in missions, and so a single doctor is responsible for the work previously performed by 3 or 4; there are even more dramatic cases, and on top of this, doctors try to deliver the same level of care to their patients while receiving in return the same pay, knowing that your internationalist colleague, certainly well deserved, earns several hundred dollars a month and after her/his return they will receive amonthly stipend, not negligible at all underthe present circumstances…

Under this situation, our staff had bigger expectations regarding monthly salary increases in June 2005, which resulted in true disappointment. A $48.00 Cuban pesos raise to the monthly salary of a doctor, under these circumstances, was less than symbolic.In the hallways of our hospitals and polyclinics, you could hear harsh words being said, charged with grief and resentment; insulting and offensive phrases, that we will not repeat here in the name of decency, were muttered all over the place.

Our Ministry has the moral obligation to offer a respectful response to its workers, given the extreme sensitivity of this issue. These are the same workers who, at the peak and during the saddest moments of the Special Period, remained working for $3.00 USD or less a month, holding high the honor of our work, and they deserve to know that their opinions are taken into account…

Everything that has been said here is completely true; it has been said in a measured and respectful way for a very simple reason: If justice is the supreme ideal of the Revolution, the current compensation received by our workerseven after decades of effort and dedication is neither fair nor proportionate, while other state sectors are paid several times more, the situation is not compatible with Marxist principles… ’one should get paid according to his work.’

… The problem itself is much more controversial and profound, and it will never besolved with palliative measures or timid salary increases. We can only humbly alert; those who have ears to hear, listen. Reality is much harsher than any words, and that one, even when it burns our hands, does not fit in any discourse.

There are thousands of workers… who are waiting for a response. We hope that it will be moderate and fair, well-thought and intelligent, and it will show no signs of clumsiness. The harshness of these times has not made us lose the tenderness inour hearts.We have faith in that decisions, consistent with the spirit of this Revolution for the humble, will be made, by the humble and for the humble.

- End of the Document -

P.S. Eleven months from the date when this letter was delivered at the headquarters of the Ministry of Public Health, both of us, its authors, were suspended from the practice of medicine for more than 5 years.

Translated by Chabeli

October 16 2012

 

The Turn of the Outraged / Jeovany Jimenez Vega #Cuba

In March 2007 the Attorney General of the Republic replied just once to the first of three applications by two doctors who had been unjustly disqualified. It wasn’t just a technical report issued by a non-political and autonomous body against two citizens who considered their rights had been fundamentally violated, but this retrospective response was a vendetta, a written crucifixion using biased and politically-chargedlanguage.

But for some mysterious reason, and in spite of the fact that more than five years have passed, I woke up this morning with a couple of doubts circling in my mind. This is what they were about: if, hypothetically, the two people affected were now to decide to file a lawsuit at the Peoples’ Tribunal against those responsible for the serious injury suffered, what process would they have to follow? Would it now be considered appropriate for our Attorney General to accuse these officials – who doubtless still occupy public service positions – of having subjected us to public humiliation and grave professional and family damage?

Above all, the conclusion would unavoidably be drawn that we should be reinstated in our profession and recompensed for the salary owed to us to cover the period in which we had been disqualified; the implication would be clear that it was a total injustice, and that in order to throw the book at us they played with the truth, they slandered us and, obviously, someone was responsible. Today I would ask our “honorable” Attorney General who five years ago dismissed all the evidence in our favour, if we still have the right to accuse those persons who, enjoying full authority, never did anything.

I wonder if one could still proceed on the grounds of perjury and defamation against the then Provincial Director of Health of Havana, Dr Wilfredo Lorenzo Felipe, who is now Municipal Director of Health of Guanajay, and his wife, Doctor Beatriz Torres Pérez, who was then Dean of the Western Branch of the Institute of Medical Science of Havana, against the then Minister of Public Health, Dr. José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, who is now the Head of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Party, who ignored the 10 letters sent to him, and the present-day Minister, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, who ignored several others.

I wonder if one could proceed against the President of Parliament,Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada on the basis of perversion of the course of justice, and against Esteban Lazo, Vice President of the Council of State, and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, First Vice President of the Council of State, or Raul Castro, our President, who received four letters which were not replied to – just a question. All these persons, even if they weren’t responsible for what happened, at least knew about it for years and did nothing about it.

Moving on, I ask myself if the Attorney General of the Republic would consider it to be in order to commence an action for perversion of the course of justice against itself as an institution, for having, since mid-2007, rejected the evidence which should have resulted in our immediate readmission, as it showed that the facts were twisted in order to punish us for political reasons. I am supposedly living under a Rule of Law – as my government assures us – which gives me the authority, I believe, as an ordinary citizen — perhaps Citizen Zero — to place before the relevant powers such resources as I believe necessary to guarantee my personal liberties.

I am not proposing to dig around in the shit. My long and patient struggle to return to work in my profession has made me grow and rise above my miseries. Now I am only driven by curiosity, because although I have the right to feel resentment still, nevertheless I have decided to follow the noble advice of Reinaldo Escobar and Yoani Sanchez, those blessed miscreants who, just a few hours after my reinstatement, proposed that from that moment I should concentrate on my health and forgive everything; after everything it was those “warmongers” who – paradoxically – put it to me that I should have the courage and stature to forget.

by Jeovany Jimenez Vega.

Translated by GH

November 13 2012

 

Day of Latin American Medicine / Jeovany Jimenez Vega #Cuba

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 increase.”

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

 

An Indecent Proposal / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

In response to an article published by Jean-Guy Allard in the newspaper Granma on November 12, in which Yoani Sanchez is accused, for the umpteenth time, of being “a mercenary working for the United States.”

Clearly the theme “Generation Y” has escaped the hands of those responsible for calming the troops, and I presume this has upset the dream of countless government operatives, real and virtual, at all levels of Cuban counterintelligence.

As in my role as a doctor I’m obliged to look after the physical as well as the mental health of every Cuban, today I am trying to convey to the author of this article and to State Security — including its Section 21, that maintains a very intense romance with this young woman in Havana — a doubt that assails me: if the U.S. government and/or the CIA have contracted with this “mercenary” and this is what motivates her, financial payments, she works only for this, then the solution to their insomnia is extremely simple: why don’t they bribe her? Why don’t they pay her more and call it good?

If there is something that history has amply demonstrated, it is that the mercenaries, without honor and flag, serve the highest bidder; then the solution is easy: if the people to the north have paid her some miserable half million euros, then pay her, let’s say, a million, or five, or even ten, and surely her eyes will jump out of her head at such an irresistible offer. After all, in this heart vacant of principles there is nothing more than greed, so now it’s time to raise the stakes on this out-of-control woman and you’ll see how fast she changes sides and sinks into an absolute silence, as such a contract would require.

Although I have been to her house many times, the only life of Yoani’s that I know is the publicly visible one. Despite the cordiality with which she treats everyone there, along with her husband — that also irredeemable soul, Reinaldo Escobar — there are barriers that respect and prudence presuppose. Because of this I don’t aspire in this post to offer an apology, not to mention that’s not my personal style, it’s about something much more elemental: someone who has managed to feed a blog that receives, according to Wikipedia, 14 million visits a month — making it the most visited page in the Spanish language network — doesn’t need it.

As for me, I don’t seek anything personal from Yoani either, and what’s more, having never flattered or bowed down to absolute power and the onerous owner of everything around me, capable of ruining my life with a snap of his fingers, then I’m not going to do it before anyone.

But it fries my bacon that in the official Cuban press, which is scandalously silent about the high level corruption overrunning my country, everything is reduced to the old story of money money money — as evidenced by the fact that absolutely every Cuban political opponent, from the oldest and most recalcitrant to the latest upstart, without exception, is accused of this.

So fine, back to the point: paying this “depraved” woman more would be a solution, right? And given that, thanks to the blockade, budgets for repressive activities are tight, something unlikely, say 500,001 euros ought to be enough. After all, for these out-of-control people, according to the official accusation, the difference of a single dollar ought to be enough to make them collapse, drooling, at the feet of their new master.

In a country where millions keep their mouths shut and fake it for a leadership position, for the assignment of a State-owned car, for a little work mission abroad, what wouldn’t this libertine do before such an offer. I think, I suppose, I am saying, the best thing to do with this trifling sum — which would be worth extracting, with due prudence, from the secret account of some tycoon who’s robbed millions from this little country — would be enough to rid the general staff of such a pain in the testicles.

I do want to note, though, that I acted here only from the professional point of view, from an analgesic vocation to relieve the discomfort caused by this chick with iron balls — undoubtedly the largest and most powerful on the island, nobody questions it — and all would be carried out in the most secretive and strict confidentiality.

After all, we doctors work for free in Cuba, it’s nothing to me, but it’s amazing, I remain concerned that the genitals … I mean the genial… strategists of State Security never thought to follow such an elementary strategy.

November 27 2012