According to Castro regime statistics, the rate of suicide in Cuba is extremely high: 16.3 per 100,000.
Imagine how much higher the rate must really be.
Everyone who has lived in Castrogonia knows that lying about statistics is one of the government's greatest talents. Whatever the statistics, they can't ever be trusted, for the Ministry of Truth relies on phony statistics to prove the "success" of the so-called Revolution.
In the case of suicide, which always points to unhappiness, figure-fudging is an absolute necessity. Revolutionary utopias are not supposed to produce unhappy suicidal citizens.
So, when the government figures actually show that Cubans kill themselves at a higher rate than any other people in the Western hemisphere, this means that the actual number of suicides must be relatively astronomical. (And that's not even taking into account the number of Cubans who kill themselves by trying to flee the island in "rustic" vessels.)
In Castrogonia, only the oligarchs and their larvae can be happy. Everyone else longs to leave the island, one way or another.
Add this to the long list of "factoids" routinely ignored by the mainstream news media.
Cubans kill themselves at a higher rate than any other people in the Western Hemisphere
Out of every 100,000 people in the island nation of Cuba, 16.3 commit suicide, the highest rate of any country in the Americas in 2009.
According to a study by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)--the regional subdivision of the World Health Organization (WHO)--Cuba is rivaled only by the "non-Hispanic Caribbean" in suicide rates.
The report, titled "Suicide Mortality in the Americas," uses two different time subdivisions to compare suicide rates in North and South America: the average of suicide rates between 2005-2009 and the data available for the last year in which that country provided statistics. In the former category, all of the Americas fare better than the global average for suicide, and Cuba's average pales in comparison to Guyana and Suriname (23.44 and 22.79 per 100,000 people, respectively). Statistics provided for the last available year, however, show Cuba's suicide rate high above other nations. For comparison, Guyana recorded 16.04 suicides per 100,000 people, while Suriname recorded 14.79 in the same year.
The United States recorded 11.38 suicides per 100,000 population in 2009. Jamaica recorded 0.30 per 100,000. The lowest suicide rate that year in the Americas was recorded in Haiti, where only 0.05 people per 100,000 took their own lives.
According to the Cuban dissident news outlet Martí Noticias, the vast majority of people who commit suicide in Cuba choose to do so by asphyxia (71.6%). Poison is in second place (10%), while a surprising 9.2% self-immolate.
The PAHO notes that their information is reliable but ultimately incomplete, as they must rely on government figures provided to them, and countries often differ on what kinds of deaths to classify as suicides.
Continue reading HERE.
By Fernando Damaso in Translating Cuba:
It comes to my attention that in recent months the World Bank has reported that, according to their evaluation, Cuba has one of the best public education systems in the world, with acceptable teacher pay, and the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has said something similar about the public health system.
What’s more, CNN has placed Cuba among the ten countries with the highest level of public hygiene. With the majority of my years having been lived in Cuba, and having suffered and continuing to suffer from one system or another, it seems to me like a bad joke.
It seems that those who make these assessments use official data from the Cuban authorities to prepare their analysis and come to their conclusions, without taking the trouble to investigate and conform their veracity.
If they took a tour — without official authorization nor government handlers — of our schools, polyclinics and hospitals (and not of the facilities prepared for visitors), they would see that the reality is very different from the statistical data.
They would find deteriorated schools, without adequate conditions to support the teaching process, hot, dark, unhygienic and with many “improvised” teachers, and the polyclinics and hospitals are in a deplorable state, lacking in hygiene, the technical means and equipment to care for patients, lacking in medicines, and in the case of those admitted, with terrible food, as well as medical attention offered primarily by students or recent graduates, as the better prepared are pressed into service in other counties, for which the State receives important economic and political earnings.
Propaganda toward the outside is one thing and the internal reality is another.
Since I know that these assessments do not reflect the truth, I also question that released about other countries, both for and against, because I think they use the same bureaucratic method.
The terrible thing is that this serves, wittingly or otherwise, to provide a misleading picture of two systems that Cubans have to endure daily. It’s like the story of the torturer asking the tortured not to scream because he was enjoying one of the greatest torture in the world.
Garrincha in Yahoo Noticias:
"We have a Bolivarian plan to combat Ebola."
"Blame the United States!"
To paraphrase the old adage, dictatorships of a feather stick together...
Via Foreign Policy:
North Korea Enlists the Help of Cuba and China in Shielding Kim Jong Un From ICC
North Korea has long used ballistic missile tests and underground nuclear explosions to proclaim its intentions to the world.
But fearing that the West wants to prosecute their leader, Kim Jong Un, for human rights abuses, North Korean officials are beginning to rely on soft words instead of hard power. In an appropriately bizarre new tact for the Hermit Kingdom, North Korean officials are engaging in an intensive charm offensive designed to persuade world powers to leave their "dear leader" alone.
As part of a rare PR blitz, North Korean diplomats have reached out to reporters, diplomats, and regional experts to derail any efforts to pursue prosecution of senior North Korean officials. This week, Jang Il Hun, a North Korean diplomat who oversees North Korean outreach to the United States, went to the Council on Foreign Relations to denounce a U.S.-led "plot" to overthrow his government. Earlier this month, another North Korean official, Choe Myong Nam, defended Pyongyang's human rights record at a U.N. press conference. Although he also acknowledged the existence of "reform-through-labor" camps where wayward individuals can be "improved through their mentality and look upon their wrongdoings." And on Wednesday, Oct. 22, a delegation of North Koreans diplomats attended a U.N. panel on human rights that featured two former inhabitants of North Korea's extensive prison network. When the session ended, a North Korean official passed out CDs to journalists that denounced efforts by "the United States and other hostile forces" to engage in childish plots to mislead public opinion in the U.N. arena with nonexistent "human rights violations" in the North Korea.
The intent of North Korea's extraordinary charm offensive is to convince the United Nations and key governments that North Korea is prepared to allow the world unprecedented, though extremely limited, scrutiny of its human rights record. But Pyongyang has been stymied by its diplomatic estrangement from key governments with which it has no diplomatic relations, forcing it to rely on sympathetic allies such as Cuba and China to do its diplomatic bidding.
The move follows the release of a damning 372-page report in February by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK, which concluded that "widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," according to a 36-page summary of the report. The summary also concluded that such crimes have been committed "pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State." The "gravity, scale and nature" of these abuses "reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," according to the summary.
In response, the European Union and Japan have introduced a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the "ongoing, systematic, widespread and gross violation of human rights" in North Korea. The resolution asserts that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in North Korea, and it encourages the U.N. Security Council to "take appropriate action to ensure accountability," including imposing sanctions on those responsible for or who ordered such crimes and authorizing a criminal investigation by the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Never mind that General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding and the prospect of the Security Council's adopting a resolution triggering an ICC investigation is remote, given China's reluctance. North Korea is clearly spooked.
On Oct. 17, North Korea enlisted Cuba to reach out to the European Union on its behalf. In essence, Cuba was offering a trade: North Korea would invite the U.N. high commissioner for human rights to Pyongyang to discuss the situation in exchange for European assurances that the North Korean leader would be off-limits. China subsequently delivered the same appeal to the European Union.
"The Cubans have been doing their [the North Koreans'] diplomacy basically because they are not so skillful," said a European diplomat. "The Cubans came forward with a proposal to drop the ICC referral from our text. In exchange, they would accept a visit from the high commissioner for human rights. The reaction was very negative to such a deal. We don't trust them -- that's for sure. But even if we trusted them, we wouldn't trade a referral to the ICC for a visit to the country. It's a little late for that."
Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations, Jang, the North Korean diplomat, dismissed the commission's contention that North Korea has hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in labor camps spread across the country, saying they are simply "reformatories."
Continue reading HERE.
Pastor Mario Lleonart and his wife Yoaxis visit dissident Guillermo (Coco) Fariñas.
Religious persecution is on the rise in the Castro Kingdom.
But you won't find that piece of news featured in any English language mainstream media outlets.
No. Instead, you have to dig, dig, dig, until you find it in some small, virtually unknown publication.
Then, when you read the details, you can clearly see that the Castro regime's "reforms" mean nothing, and that anyone who dares to question the 55-year-old status quo is instantly labelled a "criminal."
And you also discover that it is the Protestant churches that are being targeted for persecution, because --unlike the derelict Catholic Church of Cardinal Ortega -- the Protestant congregations are actually calling for real change on the island.
From BosNewsLife ("Breaking the news for compassionate professionals")
Wife of dissident Baptist pastor arrested
Cuba's communist government briefly detained the wife of a Baptist pastor to pressure the couple to end their involvement in defending persecuted Christians, activists told BosNewsLife Saturday, October 25.
The troubles began October 15 when Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso was reportedly threatened with criminal charges. "The following day his wife, Yoaxis Suarez, was arrested," said advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC), which closely followed the situation.
"Authorities attempted to force her to sign paperwork accusing her of criminal activities, [but] she refused," the group said.
The “Acta de Advertencia” she was reportedly asked to sign is a document that can be used as justification for future arrests and criminal charges, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
She was allegedly also told to stop having contact with “counter-revolutionary” elements or risk imprisonment. Another pastor, Yordanis Santi Perez, was detained and interrogated at the same time, but more details were not immediately available, Christians said.
Prior to the threat of criminal charges on Barroso and Suarez's arrest, Barroso had visited "numerous church leaders" who reported violations of religious freedom, activists told BosNewsLife.
The couple's involvement in defending religious freedom or belief made them a target for the Cuban government, which apparently equates that as "counter-revolutionary" activity, explained investigators.
The Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) group condemned what it called Cuba's "ongoing violations of the religious freedom of its citizens and its harassment of those who are involved in documenting these violations."
CSW said from January to June 2014 they registered more than 130 "serious violations" of religious freedom in Cuba.
ICC's Regional Manager Corey Bailey said activists demand that the Cuban leadership "cease its harassment of Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and his wife Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez."
Continue reading HERE.
Maria Werlau in Spain's ABC (translation by Capitol Hill Cubans):
Paying for The Port of Mariel: Are Cuba and Brazil Partners in Human Trafficking?
The Brazilian government has committed huge taxpayer funds —in loans, subsidies, and direct humanitarian assistance— to support infrastructure projects, food exports, and other initiatives in or for Cuba. Brazil has also provided decisive international political backing to the Cuban military dictatorship. This support is nowhere more evident than in the Port of Mariel, refurbished to great fanfare with Brazilian public financing of over one billion dollars.
Brazil’s massive lending for Cuba seems reckless from a financial/due diligence perspective, as Cuba does not meet basic standards of creditworthiness. The island is technically insolvent; it has US$75 billion in external debt, a long history of defaults, and a classification from The Economist Intelligence Unit as one of the four riskiest countries on the planet to invest in. Meanwhile, the port project is apparently not viable, as the two main reasons given to justify the gigantic investment are shaky at best. Several ports in the vicinity look better positioned to take advantage of the Panama Canal expansion and the U.S. embargo does not seem anywhere close to ending.
Brazil’s huge government loans and subsidies for Cuba have been granted with unprecedented levels of secrecy and are currently under investigation for allegations of corruption, kickbacks, and favoritism towards the port builder, Odebrecht, which received Brazil´s development bank (BNDES) loans for the port construction and is a large campaign contributor of the ruling Partido dos Trabalhadores (P.T.). Moreover, while Brazil has greatly increased financing for projects of politically-compatible foreign governments such as Cuba’s —growing the deficit to 4% of GDP—, public funding for infrastructure projects within Brazil has been lacking. The manifest commitment to support Cuba at all costs may seem puzzling, but can be explained by the strong political-ideological alliance of P.T. leaders with the Cuban regime in the pursuit of a radical hemispheric agenda (inspired in the Foro de Sao Paulo). The hyped-up business opportunities surrounding the port seek to exert pressure against the U.S. embargo and attract investors.
While the Mariel port project does not meet standard repayment conditions, Brazilian officials insist Cuba is meeting its financial commitments, presumably the amortization of its own loans from Odebrecth. In fact, it appears that repayment is coming from exploiting Cuba’s citizens as export raw material for goods and services —purchased mostly by public entities in Brazil— in what arguably constitutes a government-to-government collaboration in human trafficking. Referred to as “health cooperation,” these exports consist of:
Export services provided by approximately 11,400 Cuban doctors hired out for a Brazilian government program launched in 2013 that generates Cuba estimated annual net revenues of US$404 million.
Continue reading Are Cuba and Brazil partners in human trafficking?
The past 10 days have seen three hysterical editorials from the New York Times pleading for a U.S. economic lifeline to the Castro brothers’ terror-sponsoring regime (i.e. to end the so-called embargo).
It’s the economy, stupid—-Venezuela’s that is. Those plummeting oil prices (20% in the past few months) are playing havoc with the Cuban colony’s already-rotten economy. Venezuelan subsidies to Cuba last year, mostly in the form of essentially free oil, were estimated to total $10 billion. That’s more than double what the Soviets used to send.
But Castro’s Venezuelan puppet Maduro is now on very shaky ground. The only thing keeping this pathetic satrap in power—besides the 30,000 or so Cuban military and security “advisors” essentially running Venezuela—are the bread and circuses that sitting on top of the world’s largest oil reserves allows the Venezuelan regime to put on for Venezuelans.
Now this oil-fueled largesse looks imperiled—and with it the subsidies to Venezuela’s colonial overlords in Havana. Hence the Castro brothers’ desperation for a rescue from U.S. tourists and taxpayers—and the SOS to their regime’s traditional agents-of-influence worldwide, among whom the New York Times features very prominently.
Our friends at Frontpage Magazine don't require a U.S. taxpayer botellita to disseminate relentlessly derogatory (and accurate) items about the Castro brothers' dictatorship.
Today is a rare day for Cubans: a saint's feast day that involves an Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba.
It's the feast day of St. Antonio Maria Claret, a 19th-century Spanish missionary priest who is known as the "spiritual father of Cuba."
Claret was born in Sallent, Catalonia, near Barcelona. Much to his surprise, however, he ended up serving as Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba from 1849 to 1857, a most turbulent time in the history of the island.
Claret's achievements in the diocese of Santiago were remarkable, but controversial. Slavery was still very much in place in Cuba, and his diocese had a very large African population. Spanish exploitation and racism were deeply entrenched, and so was rural poverty. Claret made it his mission to visit every parish in his diocese (an extremely rare thing for any Spanish-appointed bishop), to denounce concubinage and adultery (which were rampant), to establish trade or vocational schools for disadvantaged children and credit unions for the use of the poor. He brought missionary priests, monks, and nuns from Spain, visited jails and hospitals, defended the rights of workers to a decent living, and denounced racism.
Claret preached ceaselessly, improved the training of priests, promoted religious instruction, and engaged in constant pastoral work. Records show that he confirmed over 100,000 people and married over 9,000 couples.
Claret quickly became aware of the unique fertility of the Cuban soil and took an interest in developing new agricultural methods and in making the island less dependent on the cultivation of sugar and more independent of Spanish control. A proponent of crop diversification and of the creation of self-subsistent family farms, Claret soon ran into trouble. Much like present-day dissidents in Castrogonia who oppose the government's monopoly, Claret was vilified, ridiculed, harassed, physically abused, and targeted for murder. One potential assassin even managed to stab him.
Recalled to Spain against his wishes by Queen Isabela II, he spent his remaining years obediently serving as her confessor. When the Spanish monarchy was overthrown in 1868, he followed the queen into exile in France, where he died two years later at the age of 63.
Known for his prophetic statements, Claret once declared that Cuba would some day be ruled by a tyrant whose dictatorship would last for "more than forty years." He also predicted this dictator would die from internal bleeding.
His final words, inscribed on his tombstone, can certainly resonate with many Cubans today: "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile."
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity, one of the first sites visited by St. Antonio Claret upon his arrival in Cuba
From Franciscan Media:
Saint Antonio Maria Claret
The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Catalan Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council.
In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers.
He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians.
He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: Reflections on Agriculture and Country Delights.
He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony.
All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets.
At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.
By Karel Becerra in Panam Post:
Naïve New York Times Fails to Recognize Cuba’s Real Enemy
If Economic Pressure Forces Reforms, Up the Pressure
A few days ago the New York Times asked for an end to the “embargo on Cuba.” However, they should have asked for an end to the embargo on Castro. Cubans have nothing to impound: no properties, no houses, no cars, no furniture not even intellectual property; everything belongs to the communist government.
This misunderstood contradiction means people such as the Times editorial board see a generous leader fighting against imperialism and a country “that has suffered enormously since Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961.” Meanwhile, the Cuban people who know the truth see a civil society impoverished by a dictatorship in Cuba that has held power for over five decades.
Cubans who know better call for independence and democracy on José Martí’s 160th birthday. (CID Facebook)
The Times presents two main arguments: “shifting politics in the United States” and “changing policies in Cuba.” Therefore, they contend, it is now “politically feasible to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and dismantle the senseless embargo.”
The first argument is supported by a telephone survey of a sample of one thousand respondents in nation of 300 million citizens and a Cuban community of over one million. It lacks of scientific rigor and is meaningless.
The second argument falls flat after a mere glance at Cuba’s Official Gazette, where allowed private activities are nothing but “topping palms, fixing shoes, and selling plastic bags.” The Times adds that, as part of these reforms, it is now possible for Cubans to “sell properties like cars and houses,” although they fail to mention buying them. Even the Times knows it is impossible for a Cuban who fixes shoes or sells plastic bags to pay US$25,000 to buy a car.
However, the Times argues that “in recent years, a devastated economy has forced Cuba to make reforms.” Here begs the question: if the reforms have been forced on the government, they are not really open to a freer market, so why ask for an end to the embargo?
The Times‘ logic only holds if they can show that lifting the embargo would have a negative impact in the economy, since then Castro would be forced to make additional reforms.
The Times ignores the facts that shape the real world. Castro’s regime only reacts under pressure, from inside or from outside. The pseudo reforms in Cuba are nothing but “a process that has gained urgency with the economic crisis in Venezuela.” Yet, the Times editors ignore the interference of Castro in Venezuela, which has contributed to their sister nation’s economic crisis.
Continue reading HERE.
Fausta Wertz on Fausta's Blog:
Cuba: NYT goes Duranty on ebola
Walter Duranty, arguably the New York Times’s most [in]famous correspondent, earned his reputation as Stalin’s apologist. In keeping with this tradition, the NYT editorial board is touting Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola, actually parroting Cuba’s Communist propaganda (from the mouth of José Luis Di Fabio, the World Health Organization’s man in Havana), ignoring the fact that the embargo does not apply to medical supplies and equipment:
José Luis Di Fabio, the World Health Organization’s representative in Havana, said Cuban medics were uniquely suited for the mission because many had already worked in Africa. “Cuba has very competent medical professionals,” said Mr. Di Fabio, who is Uruguayan. Mr. Di Fabio said Cuba’s efforts to aid in health emergencies abroad are stymied by the embargo the United States imposes on the island, which struggles to acquire modern equipment and keep medical shelves adequately stocked.
In for a penny, in for a pound, the NYT rolls right along, exhorting the USA to
As a matter of good sense and compassion, the American military, which now has about 550 troops in West Africa, should commit to giving any sick Cuban access to the treatment center the Pentagon built in Monrovia and to assisting with evacuation.
Governments, China’s included, complain they simply don’t have enough experience with Ebola to send in large numbers: “This is a big challenge for our scientists,” said Qian Jun, team leader for the China Center for Disease Control Mobile Laboratory Team in Sierra Leone.
So the question is, Is Cuba Sending Unqualified Health Workers to West Africa?
Continue reading HERE.
Talk about bringing coals to Newcastle!
Other nations are now selling oil to Venezuela, the one nation on earth with the largest oil reserves.
The reason for this is that Venezuela is not able to produce enough light oil to mix with its very thick crude reserves.
This is a most unnerving sign for Emperor Raul Castro, who depends on his Venezuelan colony for a constant supply of oil and financial support.
Maduro's government claims this is merely a cost-saving move, and that importing lighter oil is cheaper than producing it.
The real story is that Venezuela's oil industry is now mirroring every industry in Castrogonia, its imperial overlord.
Total inefficiency and severe shortages are the ultimate result of 21st century socialism.
The Castro brothers have known this for over half a century, but have fooled most of the world into thinking that whatever has gone wrong in their kingdom has always been due to the nefarious so-called blockade imposed by the evil Americans.
They've also known that they would eventually suck all the blood out of their Venezuelan colony. But it seems that the draining process has moved much faster than they anticipated.
No worries. Sean Penn can always come to the rescue. He knows how to win votes for pro-Castro liberal politicians in U.S. elections.
Oye! Todo lo tuyo es mio!
From WLRN News
Venenozuela is now importing oil
Venezuela’s economic woes just won’t quit. Its currency recently hit an all-time low with black market traders. Now the South American country has to ration food – and, believe it or not, import oil.
Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. But it produces mostly thick, heavy crude that has to be mixed with lighter oil to make it usable. Problem is, Venezuela’s seriously mismanaged state-run oil industry isn’t pumping enough light crude. So this weekend the country will receive its first ever shipment of foreign oil: two million barrels from Algeria.
“It’s a sad commentary,” says Russell Dallen, head of the Venezuela-based securities firm Caracas Capital Markets. “You’ve got a country that has more oil than Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia can easily produce 11 million barrels a day. Venezuela can’t even produce 3 million barrels a day."
That’s also bad news for Venezuela’s economic crisis. The country relies heavily on oil revenues. As global oil prices drop, shortages of basic goods are getting worse – and this week Venezuela even started a food-rationing program more reminiscent of Cuba. Possible debt default is another concern.
“At a hundred dollars a barrel, Venezuela couldn’t pay all its bills," says Dallen. "Now we’ve fallen to $80 a barrel, and the situation is deteriorating for the country.”
Some relief did come this week when China agreed to restructure a portion of Venezuela’s debt.
The next patron?
By Jeovany Jimenez Vega in Translating Cuba:
What Happens If Ebola Comes To Cuba?
The Ebola outbreak on the world epidemiological scene will obviously involve a huge challenge for every country that is reached by the current epidemic, already registered as the greatest in history and that in recent days has reached about 9000 confirmed cases — although experts say that figure is an undercount. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that the epidemic is not being confronted will all the political rigor that the moment demands on the part of the international community and also warned that if the situation is not brought under control in time, by 2015 it predicts an incidence of about a million and a half cases.
It is easy to conclude that arriving at this state of things the danger would only grow exponentially. We are confronting an extremely contagious illness of non-vectoral transmission, that can be spread person to person through the most subtle contact with any bodily fluid of an infected person — and that may be transmitted sexually to boot, given that the virus is isolated in semen until 90 days after recovery.
Although a first clinical trial for a vaccination has just been implemented, the reality is that for now the medical treatment protocols are in their infancy in the face of a disease that in previous outbreaks has reached a lethality of between 90% and 100% of cases and in the face of which one can only commit to treatments of its severe complications and to practice the usual measures for life support.
Today is raised before man a threat by one of the bad boys of virology, which demands the implementation of the most extreme biological containment measures, as well as the use of the most specialized and scrupulously trained personnel for its handling.
Such a scene places before us the most elemental question: what if Ebola breaks out in Cuba? This is not negligible, and it stopped being a remote possibility after the departure of a detachment of hundreds of Cuban professionals destined for the African countries flogged by the epidemic. Let’s remember the possibility that it was that route used by cholera to reappear in our country, imported from Haiti after an absence of 120 years, and not to mention the everlasting dengue fever.
The eruption of this most dangerous illness in Cuba could simply take on shades of tragedy. Beyond how dissipated may become the customs of the inhabitants of the alligator, I am inclined to fear by the experience of one who has seen too often the systematic use of recyclable material, the usual practice in Cuba, even when long ago the world definitively committed to the exclusive use of disposable material: the idea of treatment centers for these patients winding up recycling suits, gloves or other materials because it occurs to some pig-headed guy from the “higher level” that this would “guarantee” safety under such circumstances is terrifying.
In a country where too many times a doctor does not have in his office something as basic as running water and soap in order to wash his hands, it will be understood what the demand for costly minimal material demanded for handling patients with Ebola would involve, and if besides we take into account that the almost generality of our hospital infrastructure is not designed or prepared objectively for the containment of this kind of scourge, now we will be able to raise a prayer to the Virgin to save us from the trance.
On the other hand, let’s not forget how reticent the Cuban authorities have shown themselves to be about publicly reporting on the incidence of epidemics when one considers that this might risk the affluence of tourists or the successful conclusion of some relevant international event — the Cuban dengue fever mega-epidemic of 2006 is still an excellent example in that regard.
Continue reading Reports from Cuba: What happens if Ebola comes to Cuba?