14ymedio, Havana, 16 August 2021 — The criticisms of the Cuban Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, directed against Cuba’s healthcare personnel have unleashed a storm that comes at the worst moment for the Palace of the Revolution. Doctors, the crown jewel of the regime, pampered and exploited for decades, have started a rebellion against the leaders of the country, which is still experiencing the effects of the July 11 protests.
Last week, Marrero accused the Cienfuegos health workers of “neglect” in their work against the Covid, and since then the complaints against the prime minister have spread to several provinces. “The healthcare collapse is not the fault of the doctors,” more than twenty doctors responded to Marrero in a video released this Saturday. In the video the health workers also denounced the poor working conditions and “mistreatment of the leadership” they suffer every day.
“The problems are not subjective, they are objective, they are the fault of you who direct us. Solve these problems so that we can save more lives,” demands Alexander Jesús Figueredo Izaguirre, an internal medicine doctor from Holguín, through his social networks.
“I want a real report of all those who have been vaccinated in the last days and have suffered from pneumonia days later or have died, I need a national report. It is for a study,” he wrote in another post.
In conversation with 14ymedio, Alexander Jesús Figueredo Izaguirre says that since February, when his grandfather died, he began to express complaints about the authorities’ mismanagement of the pandemic.
“As a result of that I began to report everything they were doing wrong in the public health system with respect to isolation centers, polyclinics, hospitals, command posts created for this, a chain of negligence that they were not really in line with the situation in the country, from the lack of supplies and human resources, a lot of negligence, and I started to make complaints,” he details.
He explains that he made the complaints “directly” to the State bodies and at the institutional level but that he was called “counterrevolutionary” because on his Facebook profile he had the poster of Patria y Vida at that time. The response of the authorities was to expel him for five years from the health sector and invalidate his medical degree for the same length of time.
Although in Holguín, where there is currently a terrifying epidemiological situation, there have been a multitude of critical voices against the Government in this regard, the demand is spreading across the island. On social networks, people use the hashtag #CuidadoConLosMedicosChallenge to stand in solidarity with those who have dared to question the handling of the pandemic in Cuba, and confront the implications that it may have for them and their families to do so publicly.
“I, Dr. Víctor José Arjona Labrada, specialist in Pediatrics and Pediatric Cardiology at the Hermanos Cordové Pediatric Hospital in Manzanillo, strongly oppose any act of repression against my colleagues in Holguín who have denounced the truth. I join them and I ask for the resignation of Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz and President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermúdez, due to the incorrect epidemiological management that has ruined the lives of many people,” is the demand from one of the many doctors who are already asking Marrero to leave the position after placing responsibility on the workers of the healthcare sector.
Since then, the prime minister has tried to repair the slip and praises the Cuban health workers. “Every minute that passes we reiterate our recognition for all the work that has been done and the search for alternatives, solutions, many of them even risky but that life has shown to be valid as alternatives,” he said.
In the same vein, and trying to reduce the controversy, Miguel Díaz-Canel declared himself. On Sunday he wrote on his twitter account : “Today the factions in which we go through life are more visible, according to José Martí: On the one hand those who love and create. And pn the other, those who hate and destroy. The former do not lie or slander or defame, they do not hate. They are saving lives. The others cannot with that light.”
That division of medical personnel in two — those who raise their voices if they consider that something is not well done, bad; those who are silent, good — it has not served to calm the spirits but rather the opposite. That is why this Monday the president tried to improve the version with a positive tweet. “What we have seen most in this time is the patriotism of our people, of the healthcare personnel, of the scientists, of all those involved in the millimeter oxygen operation, people who are working full time in complex situations. Thank you all!” he said.
The Cuban virologist residing in Brazil, Amílcar Pérez-Riverol, has lent his support from abroad and evaluated the complex situation of the pandemic. “On several occasions since the beginning of the pandemic I have asked for support and respect for the work, sacrifice and courage of health personnel (doctors, nurses, technicians, laboratory workers, support personnel) who, as I wrote in February — unlike us — have had to learn about this terrible disease in real time, risking their lives to try to save ours. No one, absolutely no one, should question them in the slightest. And I am not denying that there may be a specific case,” he said from his Facebook profile.
The scientist notes that the world’s health professionals have faced the explosion of an unknown disease that in all countries has led to extreme situations, but adds that in Cuba, in addition, there are shortages and it is “inadmissible” to hold them responsible for the pandemic being unleashed.
This Monday, 9,169 coronavirus infections were reported for Sunday, along with 65 deaths. Concern is spreading on the island because the authorities have already recognized the flagrant lack of oxygen, an essential treatment to improve the worst cases of pneumonia caused by the virus.
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