Medical Organizations Around the World Should Investigate Cuba’s Psychiatric Hospitals

The context in which the complaints appear is worrying: the situation of public health in Cuba is precarious. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Frank Calzón, Miami, 17 February 2023 — The complaint on social networks this week regarding 13 patients killed at the Holguín Psychiatric Hospital, if confirmed, reproduces the tragedy of 2010, when 26 Cubans died in the Mazorra Psychiatric Hospital of Havana, which, according to Granma, was due to low temperatures in the capital from a cold front.

What forced Granma to report on the matter on that occasion were the photos that arrived abroad of the victims, reminiscent of those of the Nazi death camps. We will have to wait for what independent journalists, who continue to be harassed by the regime, will report on the situation in Holguín.

But the context in which the complaints appear is worrying: the situation of public health in Cuba is precarious. The regime maintains a medical apartheid system by which foreigners are treated in air-conditioned hospitals, where they lack nothing and enjoy the necessary diet and medicines. Meanwhile, Cubans suffer from all the shortages of food and medicines.

The Island suffers from epidemics of dengue, scabies and other diseases that had been eradicated before 1959, and an extraordinary increase in pestilence, flies, mosquitoes and rats that did not occur before the Revolution, as a result of the lack of maintenance of the aqueducts and sewer systems, the rationing of food and the poor collection of garbage that piles up in the streets of the poorest neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the Government builds luxury hotels for foreigners.

That the regime has abused psychiatry for political purposes is undeniable. In 1991, the prestigious University of Rutgers published The Policy of Psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba, a study of more than 200 pages sponsored by Freedom House and Of Human Rights, presided over by Dr. Elena Mederos and the exiled bishop Eduardo Boza Masvidal.

In a devastating introduction, Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident and intellectual that the KGB tortured in a psychiatric hospital, wrote: “One cannot be surprised. . . Cuba in this matter is only different in that it achieved in thirty-two years what the USSR achieved in seventy-three. During a single generation, Cuba advanced from ’revolutionary justice’ to ’socialist legality’, from ’the liquidation of class enemies’ to ’political re-education’ and to ’psychiatric treatment’ of ’those disaffected with socialism’.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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