Sunday, January 17, 2010

Living and dying in the land of the lost dreams.

Mazorra was a name how Cubans knew always Havana Psychiatric Hospital, today is holding the more lavished name of Havana Psychiatric Hospital Dr Bernabe Ordaz after its late director who died in 2006. Ordaz took over Mazorra at the beginning of 1959, as soon Castro took power in Cuba. The images of Mazorra daunted all Cubans at the beginning of the Revolution, and became a question of honour to change its face and fate by the newborn Revolution. Living and dying in the land of the lost dreams

Castro itself named Ordaz as its director and since then to his very end the renowned Dr Ordaz had his named stamped in every stone lifted in its premises. As the new owners of Cuba, Ordaz became a trademark and his influence was extended, not only within the Hospital premises, but rather went through the entire municipality of Boyeros where the Hospital is located. Ordaz became another Feudal Lord as his Commander in the Presidential Palace. He died in 2006, many people said since then Mazorra changed forever and started to fall as every single Health Care institution in Cuba. Although, in life of Dr Ordaz there were accusations against him and his institution by taking part in torturing and repressing some dissidents in its premises.

Today, the hospital is far away from its days of splendour and from the days Dr Ordaz was strolling around as its Feudal Lord. In a book published by the Cuban Book Institute in Havana in 1971, Ordaz left written:

“The patients, herded up in insalubrious ward, naked and hungry, lacking hygiene and the necessary food.”

Ironically, its dear doctor would be horrified to discover that those words, written to paint in vivid colors the fate of that hospital before 1959, could be perfectly written to describe what happened in January 11th in 2009 there.

26 patients died by hypothermia and hunger in an institution praised by the Lords of the Revolution as the advanced front in psychiatry and mental treatment. For neighbours and former workers, what happened there is beyond the worst they ever know about the fated hospital. Patients almost naked and barefoot, without any blanket to protect them from the coldest temperatures registered during those days, January 10 and 11th. With hunger and lacking any sort of protection, the authorities found them grouped together to fight the low temperatures and the hunger. News sparkled throughout the municipality tell that the authorities had to use their whole power to separate them from each other: they were frightened.

What it could be news brought out from a history book, it was a daunted reality well-known for every single institutional official in Havana. For years the hospital had been abandoned and without maintenance, the windows broken, the blankets and supplies to the patients stolen to be sold in the black market by the current workers and authorities. Food, medical supplies, even furniture were ransacked.

It is not only in that Hospital where you can find those problems, and the National Health Care authorities know that. It is not rare to find any hospital in Havana with those problems: light bulbs, blankets, medicines, any sort of supplies and food are sweeping away every day in every single institution in Cuba.

Where was the Health Care Minister when the facts bring out to light? Where is his authority to establish order and protect the victims?

What happened in Mazorra was know abroad not because the official journalists reported in Cuba newspapers. It was the labour of the hated and blamed independent journalists and the non-official Commission of Human Rights who reported and brought to light. Rumours and the courage of those people brought the macabre picture of Mazorra.

Where was Cuba’s media? Where were Granma and its fellows? Where were the well-known “trollers” who in daily bases are blaming the civil society, bloggers, dissidents and independent journalists? Where was the well-known journalists and MP’s who on daily basis are blaming and discrediting dissidents and opponents to Castro on TV?

Now the authorities are alleging respiratory deceases and “other circumstances”. We will see later how all the Castro’s propaganda machinery will be thundering about this and that, searching for the smallest culprits and hiding the big names. Let’s remember them: near Mazorra there is a nursery home administered by nuns and none of their patients died and suffered in the same dayss when 26 mental patients died defenceless under the low temperatures and hunger.

What it is behind all this is a systemic crisis that we all know but anybody of the regime wants to acknowledge. Meanwhile, the machinery is talking about Haiti and the poor misery of that slammed country had suffered. We all need to help Haiti because it is the only way others could help us tomorrow. We need each other, this world is interconnected and nobody is alone, even when Cuba regime wants to rotate in its own orbit.

Meanwhile, it is a question of principle to ask the totalitarian regime to acknowledge the fact that its system is in a total crisis and ask them for the resignation of its Minister of Heath Care, Mr Balaguer, who also share level of guilt in this business.

In a democratic country others had been forced to resign for facts less serious and less despicable. What happened in Mazorra will happen tomorrow in any other hospital nationwide. In fact, it happened in the past in mental hospital located in Santa Clara and Placetas, in different proportions and were covered up because their remoteness.

We cannot allow ourselves to witness more irresponsibility. Those acts have to be punished with criminal charges, from top to bottom without any exclusion. There are more patients living and dying in the land of the lost dreams in Havana, and in the countryside of our suffered Cuba.

It is time to say: it is enough!!!