Juan Juan Almeida, 25 July 2016 — Although it is not the first case of a Cuban doctor suddenly abandoning his mission overseas, the desertion in Brazil of Dr. Alejandro Guerrero Gonzalez — a leading specialist in general medicine and a former director of Lucia Iñiguez Landin Surgical and Clinical Hospital in Holguin province — is one of the most significant setbacks for the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) in recent years.
“He has left. That is is a fact. But we cannot comment on it publicly,” said an official at MINSAP’S Department of Cooperation, a branch of its foreign relations bureau. The official, who did not give her name, reported, “His daughter went to visit him for a month; we arranged her trip. We now know that, when it was time for the girl to come home, she threw a tantrum and refused to leave. One thing led to another and it became an issue of family loyalty. But the doctor would never have betrayed the mission on his own accord.”
At this point, party officials, the government and the health ministry are, quite stupidly, trying suppress the story. But accusing one of the Provincial Health Administration’s principal figures, along with his wife and daughter, of “deserting a mission” has led to anger among authorities and expressions of support from the Cuban medical community and a segment of Holguin society.
Guerrero Gonzalez is known for his hard work and strong commitment to improving the quality of public health services.
A professor and instructor, the Banes native is a member of Cuba’s medical elite who turned the eastern province’s surgical clinic into his battleground by encouraging the development of education and medical specialties. His efforts have put the institution at the national forefront in kidney transplants (thirty per year), corneal and bone marrow transplants, stem cell therapies, surgical treatments for Parkinson’s disease and the use of prosthetic penile implants.
The physician was part of the team that set up the Cuban medical mission in Guatemala. Along with his wife, also a specialist in comprehensive general medicine, he worked in Brazil while his daughter remained behind in Cuba, which is customary for all children of Cuba’s volunteer workers.
“There’s more take here about Dr. Alejandro’s escape than about the blackouts or preparations for the July 26 commemorations. The guy wanted to save a little money and buy himself a refrigerator. We will miss him a lot. People here were very fond of him. His daughter’s name is Masiel. I downloaded three seasons of Violetta, the Disney Channel children’s television series, for her,” says a young male nurse at the Lucia Iñiguez hospital in Holguin, who has a business on the side distributing the Weekly Packet.