The Invisible Reforms… and The Visible Dissidence / Miriam Celaya

The Roundtable (TV Show) now runs only an hour. / Oh, Miracle! Raul’s reforms are working! / Cartoon from Garrincha, from Cubaencuentro.


On September 19, the Cuba Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) announced, in the voice of its deputy Roberto Gonzalez, that this coming December it will present a report on the results of the transformations that have been introduced in the Island’s healthcare system in search of “more competition” on the part of the staff working in the sector and greater “efficiency” in the service. Such transformations would be inscribed among the changes of the General-President. According to the deputy minister, under consideration are the modifications discussed and approved at the VI Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) aimed at “perfecting” the healthcare system while ensuring “quality, savings, resource efficiency and the elimination of unnecessary expenses,” elements that are priorities for the “renewal of socialism” in Cuba.

Also lately there has been circulating on the web a letter-complaint addressed to R. Castro by a group of doctors of General Surgery at the capital’s Calixto Garcia Hospital, which, although not confirmed as to its authenticity, we know that what is raised in the text is scrupulously true and reflects the need for much deeper and more radical changes than those contemplated in the government guidelines.

Meanwhile, ordinary Cubans do not perceive the benefits of such supposed changes: many family doctors offices are not open during their scheduled hours, often they are mobilized by the health director of the area to work on dengue screening (an undeclared epidemic that continues to advance at a rapid pace); in the polyclinics medical equipment is scarce, insufficient, generally obsolete and with frequent imperfections that prevent its effective use; the physical building and hygiene conditions of the installations are defective and sometimes deplorable; and the salaries paid to health personnel are embarrassingly miserable.

So far, the General’s only visible reform has been to shorten the Roundtable TV show by half an hour, although this hasn’t improved the information any. However, we must be grateful that this TV show dedicated the broadcast of Friday, September 21, to an active sector of the dissidence and independent civil society (such as the blogger Yoani Sanchez, the Ladies in White and others). True, the “information” offered was manipulated, taken out of context and falsified. True also that the material prepared by the government’s yeomen was horribly edited, as could be appreciated by the scarce viewers (me included, because someone alerted me to what they were putting on the small screen); but we must be grateful for the dissemination, something unthinkable a few years ago. There is no bad propaganda, friends, only propaganda. The moral is that, beyond their evil intentions, they cannot ignore the existence of these forces that oppose the system and which, with their help, continue to slowly but inexorably spread in Cuba.

September 24 2012