For these days I had read more than one confused report about Cuba’s health Care System and, specifically, one of its hospitals: CIMEQ, the place where Chavez has got treated lately. It is beyond this post to analyse his medical treatment, what I want to introduce you is what it is CIMEQ and what IT IS NOT.
Cuba has two parallel health care systems as I had said in another post. One for its regular citizens usually lacking a lot of supplies, with Hospitals lacking medicine, paramedical supplies and with old equipments and superstructure; the other is the one you can see in Michael Moore’s documentary or even get in touch personally when a foreigner visits Cuba. CIMEQ belongs to this second kind of institution, as you can see even when you read the information in its website:
The information marked in red says: “This centre provides comfortable guest houses nearby the Hospital for lodging patients and visitors. Distinguished worldwide personalities of the Art, Science and Politics have received assistance within its modern installations”
Cubans don’t have “comfortable guest houses” and definitively they don’t have the environment you can see in CIMEQ.
What that information is lacking also is the fact that that hospital is within a military premises and to go through its doors you have to check with its sentry post, in which your name and your identity must be in a list to enter its premises. You can see that sentry post in the next picture:
In the picture above you can see the fence and the entry door of that fence, and even the man with the blue shirt checking his entry with the military personnel there.
It is because CIMEQ IS NOT a health care institution to regular Cubans. It is for government officials, and it has been Fidel Castro’s personal hospital since it was opened in 1982. It was built close to his permanent residence (unknown by the majority of Cubans) as you can see in the next aerial picture:
You can also notice in the picture where Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Fidel Castro met a few months after his well-published illness: at the end of the running track marked in the picture with a rounded red marked. The picture of that meeting you can see in the bottom-right corner.
The pictures revealed by newspapers and Cuban official websites about Chavez’s presence in CIMEQ only tell one side of the entire story. It doesn’t tell you , for instance, that CIMEQ doesn’t have any Emergency service like the one that any regular Cuban hospital has, or the fact that to get into an external consultation with its specialists in whatever medical branch you should need your name must be stamped in a list previously checked in that sentry post I told you before.
But, wait!!! There IS NO any other medical institution in Cuba who sends you to one of those “external consultations” in CIMEQ. Because CIMEQ is for high ranked government officials, foreigners and high and very distinguished figures, as the website by itself says. PERIOD!!!
What you do find in its especial premises is personalised rooms for especial patients, like this one in the picture:
Cubans Hospitals, on the other hand, have to resign themselves and be content with something more like this:
From the comfort in guest houses within CIMEQ’s areas for Cuba’s aristocracy and distinguished visitors like this:
To the real Cuban hospitals like the one you can see in this picture:
And that picture belongs to one of the Children Hospitals in Havana. Very different story, isn’t it?
So, Chavez will be staying in one of the jewels of Castro’s health care system.. but only for its favorites guests. And don’t forget one of the key information missing in this entire story. CIMEQ is settled far away from the core of Havana, in a neighbourhood where you can find western diplomat residences, Cuban high ranked officials’ houses. In one word: where all Cuba’s elite is living... in a different world that they are proclaiming to the rest of Cuba. And that is the most important piece of information you should know.
Nearby CIMEQ there IS NO PUBLIC transportation system accessible, and the perimeter of that Hospital is fenced with a Chopper platform included in one discrete corner of the Hospital. On top of that, CIMEQ’s personnel have an especial contract in which there is a line asking them for discretion that should not be violated. After all, they are members of the Ministry of Interior: it is part of the rule to make them more committed to fidelity and secrecy to the system.
Meanwhile CIMEQ front facade illustrates its own comfort, our Cuban fellows only deserve institution like the one you can find in the core of downtown Havana as you can see in the picture:
The name of that is ironically “Emergencia” (Emergency) and it is settled in Carlos III and Infanta, in the core of Havana’s downtown. As you can see this Cuban medical institution is lacking not only in windows and in a bit of paint, but also in a good attention by Cuban authorities who never shows this images in their websites or newspapers... because it belongs to the first health care system they never talk about it.
CIMEQ is not a Hospital for regular Cubans and they know that. Its services are one of the myths built by Cuba’s propaganda system. Myths that left-wings leaders like Chavez enjoys and Castro uses as propaganda’s puppets to his political purposes.
And that is the other side of the story that NONE of the western media in Havana tells.