Canadian couple on vacation in Cuba experience the horrors of Cuban healthcare firsthand

On a couple’s last day of their apartheid vacation in communist Cuba, the wife came down with appendicitis and got to experience Cuba’s fourth-world healthcare system in all its socialist glory. Yet Canadians will continue flocking to Cuba for cheap vacations and the thrill of being served by the enslaved and impoverished natives.

Via CubaNet (my translation):

‘There was no electricity, there were dogs around’: What a Canadian couple experience in a Cuban hospital

Despite it being the last day of their stay, a tourist couple from Quebec, Canada were forced to extend their stay in Cuba due to a medical emergency. On April 3, Caroline Tétrault was admitted to a hospital in Cuba (unidentified by the media) for appendicitis, which saved her life and also allowed her and her husband, Christian Maurais, to experience the Cuban public health system firsthand.

“Caroline suffered from acute peritonitis; her appendix burst,” Maurais told Radio Canada.

The situation required Caroline to undergo emergency surgery. Despite the attention of the staff, the hospital infrastructure left much to be desired, Maurais detailed: “There was no electricity, there were dogs around, it was like a scene from a horror movie.”

Although Maurais did not specify the name of the hospital where his wife was treated, the images he published suggest that it is the “Arnaldo Milián Castro” Provincial Clinical Surgical Hospital in Santa Clara.

During the operation, the doctor tried to reassure the tourist. “We don’t have the infrastructure or resources here, but we have good staff,” he told him, according to the man’s account to Radio Canada. “They saved my wife’s life, I can’t say otherwise,” he added.

Subsequently, Caroline had to continue her recovery in a hotel due to the lack of medical supplies at the hospital. “The hospital staff could not provide her with the necessary antibiotics,” said her husband. The necessary medications had to be administered intravenously during her stay in the hospital, and no other options were available, the Canadian detailed.

The couple made an appeal through social media, and thanks to the response of their family and friends, they were able to obtain the necessary medication. “Tourists from our region who were traveling to Cuba brought us the necessary medical supplies,” Maurais commented.

Despite having travel insurance, the man had to resort to the informal market to buy juices and ice cream that his wife needed to maintain her liquid diet.

“It is crucial to ask yourself if the destination has the infrastructure and resources necessary to deal with a medical emergency,” he advised. “If it hadn’t been for the people of Mauricie and my family, I honestly don’t know what would have happened.”

The couple said they do not plan to return to Cuba.

Canadian Tourists: From Bad to Worse in Cuba

This same week, the case of Canadian tourist Faraj Jarjour, who died on the island in late March, came to light. His widow and children were waiting for his body in Quebec, but they received the corpse of a Russian citizen by mistake, according to CTV News Montreal.

Faraj Jarjour, a 68-year-old Canadian man, died in Varadero on March 22. The tourist suffered a heart attack while he was bathing in the ocean, during the second day of the trip to the island with his wife and children.

His family told CTV News that, due to the absence of a doctor at the Meliá Varadero Hotel, where they were staying, they had to wait hours for emergency services to transfer the body from the tourist facility.

The family had to return to Canada while the body remained in Cuba, awaiting the death certificate and the rest of the documents necessary to repatriate the corpse.

However, once the family had gathered the documentation and paid $10,000 for the transfer, instead of Jarjour’s body, they received that of a Russian man, visibly younger, with tattoos and a full head of hair. “It wasn’t my father’s body. It was another person who looked nothing like him,” Miriam Jarjour, Faraj’s daughter, told the Canadian press.

According to CTV News, on Sunday the family still did not know the whereabouts of the body. According to Miriam, a Canadian government employee indicated that it was not their responsibility, but that of Asistur, a Cuban medical insurance company that had delivered the wrong body. However, the family was never in contact with the insurance company.

“We Canadians are not protected in Cuba,” the woman lamented.

This Wednesday, it was learned that Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly had intervened in the Jarjour family case.

“I have spoken with my Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, about the case of Mr. Jarjour,” Joly wrote on the social network X, this Wednesday. “We share the utmost concern for the unimaginable situation facing his family, with whom I spoke yesterday. Canada will continue to assist the Jarjour family until this situation is resolved,” she said.

For his part, the Cuban regime’s foreign minister responded to the Canadian minister’s publication: “I spoke by phone with Mélanie Joly about the regrettable incident related to the transfer of the corpse of a Canadian citizen who died in Cuba. Cuban authorities are investigating to clarify the incident. I extend my deepest condolences and apologies to the family and friends of the deceased,” he said.

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