Cuba: The Other Euthanasia

Raúl Castro, during a session of the National Assembly of People’s Power last week. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 December 2022 — The approval of the right to euthanasia announced by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health hasn’t brought about, as one would suppose and desire, a wide debate between its supporters and its critics.

The idea of offering a “dignified death”, of avoiding a prolonged and painful agony, is supported when there’s scientific confirmation that the person’s illness is both incurable and lethal and when it’s the expressed desire of the patient themself (or of their closest relatives, if they should find themself incapable of expressing their will).

It’s the tenacity of the self preservation instinct that can counter the idea of euthanasia (and all forms of suicide), and it can reappear as a change of heart at the last moment, when the process of switching off life is already irreversible. On the other hand, religious considerations which leave the decision in the hands of God oppose the practice.

It’s very tempting to apply the argument in favour of euthanasia in other areas of life. When a successful farm is affected by a blight, it’s best to pull up the sown field and plough the earth; when a company becomes unproductive and despite refurbishments continues to make a loss, the best solution is liquidation; when a whole economic, social and political system doesn’t produce the hoped-for results, you need to change it.

To not beat about the bush, this moribund Cuban type of socialism deserves the application of a merciful euthanasia, above all so that it stops causing such unnecessary pain to all the 11 million patients who suffer under it. There’s an abundance of evidence that the ills contracted under the rules of this system are incurable and that sooner or later the collapse will come without warning.

It’s the self-preservation instinct of a group of people who still cling to their privileges and ideologies that counters this social euthanasia — ideologies with shades of pseudo-religion that invoke the blood spilled in arriving at where we are, from a people still committed to dead leaders of the past and continuing to believe in the blurry illusion of a prosperous future.

It wouldn’t occur to anyone, including myself, to commit suicide even if everything indicated that I were about to suffer a horrible, painful and prolonged departure, but we Cubans don’t have to go on supporting “this” and from here on I’m daring to recommend a “dignified death” for the whole process. And the only ’will’ to take into account here is the will of those who are suffering.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso


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