Theory and Practice in Our America / Somos+, Eliecer Avila

Source: CLAES

Somos+, Eliecer Avila, 1 May 2018 —  or at least two decades, since Hugo Chavez’s rise to power, the policial debate in Latin America has centered its discussions around the populist model, which was introduced in Venezuela and which has not stopped being exported, with more or less success, to the rest of the continent.

After the resounding failure of the experiment called “21st century socialism,” the arguments against it were greatly strengthened; today, it is not so difficult for any well-informed Democratic candidate to win a debate by a large margin when facing the representatives of the radical Left.

With the overwhelming evidence we have at hand about the impracticality of this type of political project, it seems impossible that candidates like Gustavo Petro in Colombia or Manuel López Obrador in Mexico will be competitive in the face-to-face surveys in the next elections. continue reading

Apparently, voter perception is not based solely on television content, educational videos, or posts on social media. A majority of the world’s citizens continue to reference the concrete situation in which they live to determine whether they will support or oppose any given politician.

To save democracy from the claws of populism is, in the opinion of many, the “mission” that voters have in the next elections, and this is true. What’s not healthy is that this perspective overlooks the necesary debate that must be had about the quality of the democracies and governments which aspire to be elected as alternatives to populism.

It is of no use today to win ideological debates or to demonstrate the falsity of the proposal aligned with Chavism if, after being elected, many Democratic candidates don’t last in their seat without being prosecuted for corruption, vote buying, alliances with the mafia, links to drug trafficking, crimes against journalists, shell corporations to launder money, and a string of things that have become rule, with honorable exceptions from the Rio Bravo to Patagonia.

No matter how hard it is to admit, bad Democratic governments are the principal architects of populism and its consecuences, because they have not taken full advantage of their years in power to implement the structural changes, investments, and public policies that are urgently needed in Latin America to improve the quality of life of a majority of our people.

It’s difficult to believe that in the era in which we live, millions of people in our America are unable to access the medical attention that they need, some are unable to study at elementary levels because they’ve needed to work since childhood, and crime, scattered or organized, runs rampant in entire populations where governments and police mean nothing to the Left.

I know that the populist formula does not resolve these problems, or if it resolves them in part, it does so in exchange for your life, your will, and your conscience. But, if we are clear that this is not the way, that the solution is not that “you give him the fish without teaching him how to fish,” that “you can’t drink the milk and eat the meat from the same cow,” and many other adages that appear to be obvious: why are there not sufficient advancements with solutions emanating from democracy? Isn’t that what democracy itself is for?

I have no doubt that the western democratic design, based on balance of power, freedom of expression, and respect for the human rights recognized in the Universal Declaration, is the best one that exists on the face of the earth, but if the human capital entrusted with making the system work does not respect its rules and repeatedly betrays the social pact and the trust of the outraged voters, then they will inevitably end up rejecting the politicians and also the democratic design.

Now more than ever, the future of our America depends on the integrity, honesty, and commitment of the democratic leaders. This should, at least in theory, make us feel safe and happy. We’ll see what will happen in practice.

Translated by: Emilee Sullivan 

Farmers With More Than Ten Cows Will Have to Inseminate Them to Increase the Birth Rate

The cattle population of Cuba has fallen up to 70% compared to the years of the Soviet subsidy. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2018 — Cuban farmers who have more than ten cows will be required to employ artificial insemination techniques to increase the birth rate of their herds and the production of meat and milk, the Business Group of the Island’s Livestock reported this Thursday.

To that end, 347 technicians are currently being trained in insemination in the western provinces of Pinar del Río, Artemisa, and Mayabeque, the central provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, and Camagüey, and the eastern provinces of Las Tunas, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantánamo, explained specialist Carlos Acosta. continue reading

They are also working on the certification of guarantees for the use of technology for artificial insemination or the use of a genetic stud from registered mothers, as well as in the creation of breeding points to contribute to the improvement of the existing livestock mass, indicated the expert.

In agreement with Acosta, 75% of the females included in the plan of artificial reproduction belong to the private sector, according to a quote from the report of the state Cuban Agency of News (ACN).

It also showed that livestock technicians and producers participate in workshops related to food, reproduction, genetics, and bovine health.

It specified that with the purpose of facilitating the activity of the veterinarians and the technicians of the sector, it foresaw the acquisition of modes of transport and thermoses to store liquid nitrogen, a product utilized in the conservation of bovine semen.

Cuba has some 17 million doses of frozen bovine semen, from more than 30 species, which comply with the standards of quality to develop livestock, according to experts from the Management of Artificial Insemination, belonging to the Cattle-Raising Group.

Translated by: Emilee Sullivan 

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

My Experience with the Health Care System in the United States

Delivery room in a hospital in Virginia, United States. (Eliécer Ávila)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eliécer Ávila, Virginia, 19 February 2018 — By now my first child, Elisa, has been born, after having withstood the stress and the ups and downs that we faced as a family during the first months of pregnancy in Cuba.

At the beginning we were afraid, because no one manages to completely remove himself from all of that omnipresent propaganda that suggests that anyone can die from a lack of medical attention in the United States. Despite the enouraging messages of my very dear friends, deep down we were uncertain about how it would be possible to integrate ourselves in the health care system and have the pregnancy monitored until the time of delivery. We also questioned ourselves about what would happen after. continue reading

We do not have refugee status, or a social security number, or the support of political organizations or foundations, and had less-than-sufficient money to take the expenses of the whole process on ourselves. We immediately set off for the nearest health center, and there we were given information about what we should do in this situation. After filling out three forms and being attended to by two secretaries, we were already heading off towards the clinic that would be, from that point on, our hospital center for the next four months.

The cost of birth was assumed by the State through Medicaid. Starting at that moment and continuing through the next five years, part of our daughter’s medical coverage is covered through this insurance. Apart from this, we receive alimentary support through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC, as it is abbreviated in English), which is also of a public nature and finds help for low-income women.

Given that we did not have an income and were existing on the lowest step of the health system’s standard of living, we planned to find ourselves with basic medical care that was probably lacking many comforts that an official insurance plan guaranteed.

We were tremendously surprised upon entering through the doors of the medical center. The quality of the infrastructure, where each detail ran properly, the extreme cleanliness that provided a pristine environment, and the organization of the internal processes of the place made us feel absolutely secure and comfortable.

It should be noted that, in the immense majority of cases, the patients that shared the waiting rooms with us for a few minutes were Central Americans and African Americans, some accompanied by several children and waiting for the next.

Beyond the physical aspect–the equipment used, the internet access, the instruments, most of which were disposable for safety–I have concentrated on those parts which every health system in the world should keep in mind, and I do not doubt that at one point in time these formed part of the good practices of the Cuban healthcare system, before all of the deterioration, budget cuts, and lack of incentives destroyed the quality of care until it reached the current disaster level.

Each weekly appointment is coordinated with the patient and her family to find the most convenient days and times. Once it has been set, you receive a written record. When the date approaches, you receive an email or an SMS as a reminder. There is also the possibility to reschedule the appointment.

In the consultation, everything flows naturally. Without screams in the hallway, or people sweeping your feet. No one smokes in the establishment, and the language used is extremely cordial, human, and respectful.

Each patient and her companion meet alone with the doctor or the nurse. Before each important question they consult the patient, and nothing ventures outside of this framework. In fact, before each important question the specialists ask the patient if they would like their companion, be it their husband or their wife, to be present. If any check is necessary, everyone leaves the room except for the doctor.

Experiencing this type of treatment causes me to remember when I was an adolescent and I developed two growths on my knee and my elbow, I imagine from taking baths in rivers and stagnant dams. I took quite a difficult dermatological turn and, while I was waiting in the endless line in the hallway, on foot, at three in the afternoon without lunch, the nurse who had taken my details came out and called for me, yelling: “The boy from the country, the one with the pimples!”. Everyone present, including two very beautiful girls who I had been admiring, searched for me among the crowd to know who “the one with the pimples” was. Before the third call and sweating with shame I answered with another yell to the woman: “Well, I have a wart: could it be me?” To which she responded, “Obviously, moron. How many Eliécer Ávila del Yareys do you believe there are here, son? Go on!”

Among the giggles, I entered the consultation, in which there were three cubicles and they were waiting for me in the last one to burn it off. In the first there was a woman with her legs open; in the following I recognized the voice of one of my classmates who was speaking about a fever following a curettage; and in the last there was a gray-haired man who screamed at me: “Fuck, you’re the son of a Chinese! Look at how they beat you.” All this in the midst of the laughs of the front cubicles. The whole towns knew of the works and miracles that happened in that hospital.

Here, each step of treatment, whether a lab test or physical adjustment, is explained to you in detail so that you understand it and then decide whether or not you authorize the doctor to do it. Your body is an individual temple over which you exercise complete sovereignity. In fact, many people refuse certain traditional practices and opt instead for natural and even spiritual versions of certain methods. They respect it completely, always reminding you that you act under your own responsibility.

We were not accustomed to having options, and it was difficult for us to choose. In Cuba, we have never been asked if we want this or that, if we give consent to be touched, or even if they could examine us.

Coming from Cuba, we were used to others making decisions for us, even about our health. We did not have control over what happened, and many times we were not even able to give an account if there had been any negligence. In the U.S., the opposite has happened and, sometimes, this respect toward the patient can be overwhelming for someone who is not accustomed to it, although they end up accepting it.

I do not pretend that this testimony makes a comprehensive comparison between the health care systems of Cuba and the U.S. It addresses our personal experience and I do not doubt that on the Island, at least as far as human capital is concerned, we would have received appropriate attention.

My desire is that every Cuban can enjoy true quality of medical attention on the Island, such as that which we have come to know. This is something that I believe depends on the Government that prevails in our country and on the political and economic system that we construct.

Translated by: Emilee Sullivan

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.