An English translation of the blog Ciudadano Cero from Cuba. "Citizen Zero" features the testimony of two Cuban doctors disqualified for an indefinite period for the practice of medicine in Cuba for having channeled to the Ministry of Public Health the opinions of 300 public health professionals about their salaries. Dr. Jeovany Jimenez Vega, who administers this blog, authorizes and appreciates the dissemination by any means possible, of every one of his opinions or articles published here.

medico-cubanoThe anniversary arrives uneventfully. Today is the Day of Latin American Medicine, and in this or that Cuban medical center this or that political-cultural-recreational-allegorical act will be held, in which this or that director will repeat this or that second-hand patriotic phrase opportunely memorized. On the platform will be those who live to talk, pretend or lie, and those who simply work saving human lives.  When the staging is finished they will leave behind the same panorama as always: a health care professional who asks what do the words accomplish without the support of the facts.

There are heard again these days rumors of an imminent “salary increase” that our sector will get, even specifying that it would be around 30 or 40% of base salary.  Personally I very much doubt it — because in one of his last speeches Raul Castro made clear that for now that would not happen.  To create expectations today would be like taking the heartbeats for the galloping horse that is expected, but it would be worth the effort, stage direction apart, to reflect on the value of such a “raise” for an economic sector that earns for this country much more than a billion dollars annually.

If true, that would be a raise of around $200.00 pesos (CUP or “national money”), which is the equivalent in Cuba of $8.00 in convertible pesos (CUC), or what would be the same as $8.80 US.  That is, as long as we generate billions, they will offer us $8.00 a month for such a “salary increase.”

But the Cuban government says it has no more to spend on public health workers. True, they have to prioritize the wages of those policemen who stoically sacrifice to maintain such quiet that we do not hear anyone screaming in the middle of the Revolutionaries’ street that they can not afford to live on their salaries, which would create too awkward of a landscape for the tender eyes of the tourists and foreign reporters.

What defines the quality of a gift is the posture, the dignity of the recipient: if you receive something from a position of subservience or submission, to the detriment of a single shred of dignity, it’s as if you receive a handout but consists of millions received in an unworthy manner; this is what they do with us in 2005 and it would be the same now, if it is true what is rumored.

I think if some sector in Cuba is comfortably able to triple the base salary of its employees, it is the public health sector; tripling the basic wage — and from there add no less than $500 in Cuban pesos for each specialty practiced, or another way to look at it, each diploma or mastery — and this would begin to be more respectful, the rest would be pure symbolism, pure window dressing.

But as for now everything is pure speculation, and not to be accused again of being “metallic” for demanding a decent wage, I am happy today to congratulate from my humble site those I hold in high esteem, those working with very modest resources, ignoring the shortages they suffer personally, to return to health and to life as many people as possible; to my teacher, for whom I have an admiration and a respect bordering on fanaticism, and a devotion similar to that professed by the martyrs and the saints; to that professor who does not know my voice and who, but for the limits imposed by behavior and gallantry and good looks, like the kiss for a father, whenever I met him I would kiss his clean hands.

December 3 2012

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