Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola, populism and the government of Cuba

It has been uncovered the Pandora's box with the revelations made by "Diario de Cuba" about Ebola and the possibility facing those Cuban doctors, working with "WHO" in Africa, could contract the fatal virus and wouldn't be repatriated, not even their remains in the case of any death within their staff. It is a very sensitive issue, not only because the scale of the tragedy unfolded in Africa, which has already spread to other parts of the world, but also by touching some very sensitive, emotional and spiritual cords among human relationships, and the ostensible helplessness of Cuban nationals in front of the legal instruments in their country.
It is well known, the laws exist and they are well written, the courts are formally constituted, and anyone can go to the gates of justice. This is what we know about an idyllic Cuba, the ideal course, but behind closed doors the government has a key, an iron will and interests they don’t hesitate to defend even with illegal instruments at any cost, included its credibility
It has been done in the past, nowadays, so it will be tomorrow.
But first we should go to the essence, and that is answering two essential questions: why Cuban doctors should go to Sierra Leone to combat Ebola? And why?
Cuba's medical institutions have no experience in managing a disease like ebola, that has already claimed many lives, which is an extremely mutable virus, more than 200 mutations have occurred since its appearance in that region. Clearly, at some point, due to the movable character of the worldwide flows and the ostensible relationtionships between African countries and Cuba, especially within the healthcare area, and other types of assistance on these areas where the Ebola is claiming new lives every day, it will arrive to the country, sooner or later, unfortunately.
How many lives will it cost? How could react Cuban authorities in the country? What will happen? And how will they proceed?
Well, part of the answer must be found in Sierra Leone. And that's why the answer to the "What For" question should be, moving us away from all traces of political, ideological interests and philosophical differences, to work with the international health authorities involved in the fight against ebola in order to obtain experience, knowledge about the resources they should use and know how.
The phytosanitary conditions of Cuba, the disaster in which the network of sewers and drinking water are right now, the lack of medical and paramedical staff at the expense of exporting many members of the public healthcare system, the lack of medicines and technological backwardness and deterioration of hospital facilities in the country, evident to all but apparently not for the Cuban authorities, would cause a tragedy of unknown dimensions if the Ebola reaches Cuba. All this makes essential any Cuban presence in the region, no discussion about it.
This would be the answer looking at the problem from the center of a sterile bubble, where political marketing and ideological interests are ecosystem's parasites far away from that ideal bubble.
Unfortunately, this is far away from Castro's planet.
The answer to the "WHY" is also double sided, with a nasty back, but essentially the government of Cuba responds to a call from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. The Korean knows that Cuban authorities positively marketed with professionals, and they know they do it cheaply, and desperate, in order to win international credit at their cost. And one factor cannot be ignored is the inescapable closeness of the start of sessions of the General Assembly, where Cuba cries against the embargo every year after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Cuba will respond, and will do so with a heavy ticket, thought the Korean ... as it happened.
No surprise here.
Taken this from the center of that perfect and ideal aseptic bubble is humanly understandable and entirely laudable the Cubans arrival to the land of the ebola. The problem begins precisely when Ban Ki-moon hung up his pone to Raul Castro. Maybe even earlier.
Essentially, how much of voluntariness have those who chose to pack with no possible return from Sierra Leone? What will be the political cost of those who dared to say no?
Let's stop making stories. All Cubans know about pressures of all kinds, publics, secrets, silenced and not silenced, crawling throughout the halls of the government offices, public institutions, unavoidable communist party's meetings and communist youth associations, travel possibilities and courses abroad, staff turnover and better salaries and jobs, and even others more personal.
Socialist extortions fill the pockets of the white robes of Cuban doctors and nurses. Of every Cuban.
We have seen in the past with military adventures to Angola, Ethiopia and Algeria. We are also in an era of so called "reforms", the god of money that will enter in the government accounts those "volunteers" fighting the ebola is an inescapable factor. They will receive just some crumbs a little bit higher than those working in "Mais Medicos" in Brazil. A little more, keywords ... including their non-return to Cuba.
The voluntariness of the Cubans at the face of the government officials' request was green... when the goats were gardeners. Or you say yes and they request you to sign that piece of paper, or whatever, or you already have a cross in the secular memory of the bureaucrat who is passing the official ideological extortion.
Never forget.
A very important detail. If the Cuban presence in Africa is inevitable, for the reasons I explained before, the key issue is the magnitude of that presence. And here also the ideological and political nuances continue dictating Castro's decision.
Why the exaggerated extent of that bio-ideological Cuban cargo? Why so many healthcare workers, doctors and nurses?
The reasonable and smart for the Cubans involved in this tragedy, and for Cuba too, would have been to sent a much smaller and specialized group of representatives with some practical skills and knowledge within the field ... if we faced the need to respond to the request from Ban Ki-moon from the very center of that idyllic bubble, remember?
The greater the Cuban presence is in Africa greater its chance that a member of that delegation faces the risks to contract the disease. But the government of Cuba is not in that idyllic bubble I talked. The opposite is right.
Simple accounts. United States have a massive presence in confronting Ebola, but many belong to the military. Lift up the parade! 
"Hundreds of doctors and paramedics against military Yankees"
This is the secular thought, deeply excavated since the beginning of the Cuban conflict with Castro clique. They collect, however, quick media dividends. All the press will contrast the white Cuban robes against the American military uniforms, especially those leftist advertising guns. And the result you can see it if you do a search on Google, it is not mere conjecture.
It is not intelligence, but there is plenty of malice and guile. ¿Humanitarism? A government that does not weigh with sanity, rationality and practicality the risks their own citizens have to face off, each one of them, no matter their political affiliation and their human feelings, a government that acts stripped of all consideration and true humanity is not working with humanistic spirit. Those who don’t think in their own people ever truly think in any others.
Human charity disappears at the same time when cunning and political machination makes its presence in the social scaffold.
And hence it follows inevitably the true answer to the "WHY" beyond the phone call of the Korean sitting on the UN's big office. Political dividends in a spiritual realm where ideological manipulations are very easily forgotten. It is very difficult to see the transparent wires moving the reaction of a government in the industrious hands of healthcare professionals.  And it becomes very difficult to protest those decisions.
Who has the courage to question Cuba for its response to Ebola in Africa?
And more important, after this experience much more publicized than Haiti's earthquake, who will question local reports on competition of Cuban professionals, local healthcare system and the experience and professionalism of their educational institutions?
Difficult, isn’t it?
Well, that’s the game. Pure cunning.
No one then will recall that, with high probability, these doctors could not say no. Even those that today stubbornly claim they agreed voluntarily, because some of them think so, do not understand the degree of psychological pressure and need to abide by their "voluntariness".
I have often said that to understand Cuba, what happens there and how it happens, how Cubans think and act, and the why of our national psychology, it is difficult for an international analyst. They have not lived the experience, our bad experience. They have not suffered the pressures, or the secular atmosphere of secrecy and conspiracies and, most important, Cubans themselves have not intelligently articulated a response to all those circumstances and questions.
We have some blame in this matter.
One final issue: the defenceless against the impossible return of virtual infested Cubans and their possible deaths. Who, from Ban Ki-moon's refrigerated offices in New York, responds to these accusations and revelations of the last moment?
What guarantees WHO has demanded to the Cuban government about its healthcare workers in Africa?
Why WHO is complicit in this legal gruesomeness?
You know the answers and Ban Ki-moon too. He is not a silly fellow, and yes quite clever. He did not win that international seat just because his cartoonish smile, or a haircut in Havana.
There are other questions that should be answered if the virus will reach Cuban soil. What will be the degree of trustful in their statistics, their treatments and how they will cope with the disease? What degree of information and knowledge will they share with their inhabitants? What legal and illegal actions will execute the Castro's regime?
None of these questions had been answered by Ban Ki-moon, and I think he doesn't care too much.
The Cuban's helplessness then starts from that very call from New York.
Nota: For the Spanish translation clicks here.