A Cuban internationalist doctor heading a medical center in Miranda talks about the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution which, despite facing a non-conventional war, continues to resist
Venezuela.— The heat was stifling at the Manguito Siete High-Tech Medical Center (CAT), in Paz Castillo municipality, located in the western part of this state. But it was also very peaceful. At this facility designed by the Bolivarian Revolution to conduct important tests on patients who require a speedy diagnosis, Dr. Rogelio Enrique Suárez González, a 50-year-old general practitioner, welcomed us alongside his colleagues.
Rogelio, from the province of Camagüey, heads this group of Cuban collaborators, here to share their invaluable knowledge. He has many memories to share regarding his various internationalist missions. This is his second time in Venezuela, and between 2006 and 2008 he worked in a Miracle Mission clinic in Honduras, the first inaugurated by Cuba in that Central American country.
As Rogelio explained, in Honduras he was shocked by the difficulty in accessing health services, and the number of children living in extreme poverty, unable to attend school. “One thinks a great deal about what our Revolution has done for health and education. It is an aspect that further motivates us regarding our duty to preserve the beautiful things that we have.”
However, his time in the Central American country also proved to be a wonderful experience: many people with cataracts, whose vision was poor or severely impaired, recovered their sight. This miracle was provided free of charge for all those in need.
Up to 70 Honduran patients per day were served by this mission. In two years, more than 5,000 surgeries were performed. Rogelio noted that many of the patients whose vision was restored maintain contact with their doctors.
This is your second experience in Venezuela, what does this stage mean?
We have arrived here at a very important, intense time. The Bolivarian Revolution endures, experiencing many changes since the death of Comandante Hugo Chávez. We are here to maintain what he and Comandante en Jefe Fidel created through the Cuba-Venezuela Agreement in the field of health.
The centers in which we work are located where the population most needs them. We are called on, together with Venezuelans, to help residents recover their health. We have to care for children, the most vulnerable, follow pregnancies. Thus, with the passage of time, solidarity is strengthened, and the gratitude of all the people treated increases.
Have you always worked in the CAT?
I started in a doctor’s office. It was a magnificent stage because I was in direct contact with patients, day after day. It was like returning to the roots, to the beautiful role of the family doctor. It was very good to sense the appreciation of the patients who were thoroughly examined. We treated people in need even outside working hours.
Is there a particular story you recall from your time at the local doctor’s office?
I can’t forget a nephrotic syndrome patient, whom we diagnosed as such and began to follow. We helped him as much as possible, but he needed more specialized treatment in other health institutions in the country. At that point his condition began to worsen, but fortunately he is alive. He has been receiving hemodialysis for two years now. He is extremely grateful to us and to the Cuban Revolution. If he had not been diagnosed in time, he would not have survived. We also restored his vision.
You’ve made many friends here, right?
Many thank you constantly. Every time we need help they reach out to us, be it in everyday life or at work. That is the solidarity that inspires Cuban medicine, which has no borders and makes no distinction between human beings.
Each of our collaborators in the land of Bolivar does great work…
Definitely. In the end, when you are working in any of the health structures that Venezuela has, the work is as a team; we are all cogs in a machine, and for it to work perfectly, we must all make the maximum effort in the area we are responsible for, so that the patient, when he leaves, does so satisfied with the response, with the service we offer.
Honduras left its mark on you. What will you take way from your experience in Venezuela?
First, a greater commitment to Cuba and to Fidel’s ideas, which translates into a commitment to maintain all the achievements of our Revolution, including Public Health. This is no easy task because there will be increasing challenges for our Revolution.
The other thing that marks us is that we have helped to form new generations of revolutionaries. In all the places where we have been, we have also taught, which has helped many professionals grow, including us. Wherever we go, we must leave behind people to continue the work we started.
The Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba expressed its “permanent willingness to continue working with corresponding U.S. entities and companies.”
Following the U.S. government‘s recent change in policy toward the country, the Cuban institution expressed its commitment to facilitating the promotion of business opportunities on the island, according to a statement published July 3, on its website.
The text also conveys the entity’s hope that U.S. companies “cease to be hostages of an unjust policy, contrary to international law and rejected by the entire world.”
It goes on to note that last June 16, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a policy directive entitled “National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening U.S. Policy toward Cuba,” and revoked the Presidential Policy Directive, “Normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba,” issued by President Obama on October 14, 2016.
Many people will never hear about how at the end of 2016, 38 medical professionals from Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade returned home after more than two tireless months of treating Haitians. They were sent to lend support to Cuba’s permanent medical teams in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
Following the death of 90-year-old revolutionary Fidel Castro on Nov. 25, 2016 corporate media has been fixated on depicting Fidel as the mastermind of a two-dimensional “dictatorial regime.” For those with a three-dimensional perspective, however, Fidel Castro’s death provides an opportunity to celebrate victories from the 56 years of the Cuban Revolution for which many people around the world are profoundly grateful and even owe their lives.
Reports from Haiti, Chernobyl, West Africa and many other places recount the extraordinary contributions of what some call Cuba’s “medical internationalism.” In 2014 there were 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses working in 60 developing countries, according to the research of Canadian author John Kirk published in his book “Cuban medical internationalism has saved millions of lives.” But this unparalleled solidarity has barely registered in the western media.
“Good God, Cuba has done so much for Haiti!” said Ivon Rebelisa, a 46-year-old Haitian from Semillera, Artibonite department working on a farm as a day laborer in the Dominican Republic. “Several of my neighbors were treated successfully for cholera in [the city of] Gonaive by Cuban doctors. Others who didn’t make it to the Cuban clinic in time, my cousin and his wife, both died. The Cubans taught us how to avoid contagion, about frequently washing our hands, boiling or treating water, about not eating street food that had not been reheated enough.”
In 1999 Cuba founded the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) and offered 10,000 scholarships to students “in countries where Cuban medical teams were assisting the local health systems…. The idea behind the ELAM is for graduates to eventually replace the Cuban doctors in their countries,” according to MEDICC, a non-profit which promotes Cuba’s public health program.
The ELAM currently has 19,550 students from 110 countries, making it one of the largest medical schools in the world. All students receive a full scholarship. The ELAM includes the US in its outreach, among youth aspiring to become doctors from the ranks of the “global south” within the north. More than 100 US students have attended the ELAM for free, in exchange for a non-binding promise to serve low-income communities for two years upon their return.
The Forum saw the participation of 10 companies, during which representatives also discussed licensing Cuban products for the Russian market; supporting scientific projects; technology transfers; and the establishment of joint ventures between the two counties
The establishment of joint ventures in the fields of medicine and pharmaceuticals, between Russia and Cuba, directed toward strengthening beneficial trade among entities responsible for the sale and production of equipment, medicines and state-of-the-art technologies – with visible results – was just one of several issues discussed during the First Cuba-Russia Medical-Pharmaceutical Bilateral Business Forum recently held in Havana.
The event aimed to foster alliances for the development of value chains between entities in both countries; provide Russian business people with up-to-date information on Cuba’s medical-pharmaceutical sector; and identify opportunities for collaboration between research universities and institutions, technological parks and regulatory and legal frameworks.
The Forum saw the participation of 10 companies, during which representatives also discussed licensing Cuban products for the Russian market; supporting scientific projects; technology transfers; and the establishment of joint ventures between the two counties, with Russia providing the direct foreign investment for the production of medicines and pharmaceuticals on the island.
Also addressed was the establishment – under business project licenses – of Cuban-Russian medical-pharmaceutical enterprises as well as projects with academic institutions from the Eurasian country for the development of medicines.
In addition to the signing of agreements between various companies, the event also saw the identification of raw material suppliers, equipment suppliers, and service and consultation providers. There was also discussion around developing medical treatments and improving quality of life for patients in both countries.
Speaking to Granma International, Marketing Director of the Cuban state enterprise group BioCubaFarma, Mayda Maurí Pérez, noted that Russia represents a strategic partner for the entity.
“This is an extremely important event given the close level of existing relations between the two countries, and the opportunities and synergies maintained between them, above all toward strengthening the pharmaceutical sector, vital to our economic development.”
The director highlighted that there are important examples of prior bilateral efforts in the distribution of Cuban medicines registered in Russia, with good prospects of establishing a federal program, which would give Russian patients the opportunity to benefit from innovative Cuban-developed products.
“This forum has given us the chance to have the participation of the most important, advanced, and prominent Russian companies in the biopharmaceutical sector, with which we have identified interests ranging from purchases of supplies and equipment produced in Russia to bilateral agreements for products from the Cuban biopharmaceutical industry to be sold there,” she added.
Maurí also mentioned various important industry results at a national level, such as the creation of monoclonal anti-bodies to treat cancer, above all in the form of therapeutic injectables, with the potential to be produced in Russian facilities.
She went on to emphasize treatments for international patients offered by the Cuban Medical Services entity in specialized facilities on the island.
HAVANA.–The Executive Board of the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (Parlatino) recently approved a resolution rejecting the U.S. President’s statements announcing plans to reinforce the economic, commercial, financial blockade imposed on Cuba by this country.
The document reiterates that the change in U.S. policy toward Cuba represents a setback in the process undertaken by the previous administration to move toward normalization of relations between the two countries.
Also emphasized was that the blockade has been repeatedly denounced by Parlatino bodies, in particular by the 25th and 31st sessions of its Assembly, as well as in 25 resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly since 1992, and by international public opinion.
Parlatino considers the economic, commercial, financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States to be the greatest violation of the Cuban people’s human rights and the principal obstacle to the island’s development.
According to the newspaper Cubarte of the Ministry of Culture, the document has so far more than 800 signatures of people from 35 countries.
Among the most recent signatories are the legendary Uruguayan troubadour Daniel Viglietti and the Spanish singer Pilar Boyeros, who recently performed in this capital at the Cubadisco Festival.
Trump said a week ago in Miami, Florida, that his executive order to restrict U.S. citizens’ travels to Cuba further and to limit trade and business was seeking a ‘better deal’ for the Cuban people and for the United States.
However, in an interview with Prensa Latina, LaBash noted that if the president really wanted that, he should not only keep the rapprochement with Cuba but also eliminate all aspects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington for 55 years.
‘How is the continuation of the blockade a better deal for farmers who grow black beans in Michigan, or for milk producers in Pennsylvania?’ She wondered.
‘How is it a better deal for dozens of thousands of Americans whom are denied Cuba’s treatment against diabetic foot ulcers that can prevent 70 percent of amputations?’ The Cuba solidarity activist added.
For Cuba, the best deal is that the blockade and regime change programs come to an end, that the country’s self-determination and autonomy are recognized and that its people are allowed to decide the socialist forms and their future, she pointed out.
According to the NNOC co-president, Trump’s speech and the executive order signed on June 16 are full of contrasts with reality.
It is an insult and a farce for a U.S. president to punish Cuba for human rights, she noted.