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.

Archive for July, 2012

The Fallacy of Internet in Cuba

Not to slam Granma, but it happens to be the only publication I subscribe to and I, like millions of Cubans, do not have access to the Internet so here’s my revenge. I couldn’t help reading in the International section of the July 6 edition the unfortunate way in which the Latin Press Agency scored another miscue, this time with the statements of its president Luis Enrique Gonzalez who just said at a world summit on mass media that in Cuba, “… more than 30% of the population has access to the Internet, and another 30% to the new technologies, through social services that now exist on the World Wide Web.”

Guys like Luis Enrique leave me flabbergasted, publicly putting out this lie in the crudest way. On hearing this anyone would suppose that Cuba has a connectivity rate comparable to any other country in the region, when the reality is quite different. This gentleman knows that the political authorities and the Cuban government has been doing everything humanly possible to keep their people in absolute cyber-darkness; that in my country only a privileged few can access the Internet, and even they with dagger of censorship threatening to oust from their jobs anyone with the temerity of post some “inappropriate” comment, because the Party that oversees everything is not going to make an exception just for something as strategic as information.

If the selected journalists, rancid Roundtable panelists, managing directors of foreign companies, diplomatic personnel, high officials or exceptional public figures ideologically aligned with the Cuban government are permitted to connect from home, or the students who make up the pathetic cybernetic response brigades from the University of Information Sciences join the count of this 30%, it would still be a count that this Cuban would greatly doubt, and we must always take into account, that in order to be on line the sine qua non is always absolute submission to the rules established by the inquisitors.

I hope that Mr. Director of the Latin Press, when he speaks of the other 30% who have “access” to the new technologies, is not referring to the declining network of “Youth Clubs” or the misnamed “surfing rooms” in some post offices, places from which, with great luck, you might barely be able to write an email and where, inexorably, the censoring eye of the Party and the Political Police are looking over your shoulder, which is no secret to anyone.

I also hope that they are not referring to the most select sector which has the affluence required to pay the extortionate fee to connect in hotels — between 6.00 to 12.00 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) for one hour (which is $6.60 to $13.20 in US dollars, or, if we look at the average monthly salary of 400.00 Cuban pesos, the cost is 150.00 to 300.00 Cuban pesos) — which is fixed by Resolution No. 146/2012 of April 27, established for our workers by the Ministry of Finance and Prices, all of which would make one die laughing if it weren’t so serious.

Regardless of what this head-in-the-clouds director says, I do know something very specific: it may be pure chance (?) but I don’t know a single Cuban doctor in my entire circle of relationships who connects to the Internet, nor a single one of my neighbors in the many streets around, nor one of my family members, nor any friend, who can connect freely from their home which is also true for me and every blogger I know.

There are no two ways about it: the Cuban government deliberately keeps its people deprived of Internet access because it fears the free flow of information and desperately needs to maintain the most absolute monopoly on it to preserve its power without jumping through hoops. More than once I’ve said: I maintain with absolute certainty that if the powers-that-be in Havana considered it convenient for the maintenance of their status, our people would be able to access the Web regardless of any economic or political obstacles, including the United States embargo.

Thus, I would suggest that Mr. Luis Enrique, a complete professional of the press, at least learn to lie with more subtlety for the sake of the brand new agency he represents.

July 22 2012

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Open Doors and Loose Ends

After the hunger strike I went on last March, which led to our being reinstated to practice medicine, I once again began to practice my profession in Guanajay on May 7. Now, more than two months after starting work, there are still a couple loose ends: if it is true that they paid us the entire salary from those 66 months and allowed me to begin from the third year of my specialty in Internal Medicine starting in September, it’s also very true that there is still no evidence in our work files that they paid us that sum and that it derives from those five and a half years being regarded as work years, which is what they told us they would do and what was legally stipulated in Decree Law 268-2009 (amending the labor regime) in its Chapter V.

Also this Decree Law states that if an unjust administrative penalty is revoked, the worker who suffered such prejudice must be publicly vindicated before the assembly of partners in their workplace and this is, in our case, a meeting convened by the administration, the party and the union, as public as those that were held in 2006 to gratuitously vilify us, where they set out why it was a mistake that they punished us why they decided to overturn that ruling now.

This meeting, still not convened — which does not have to result in anyone’s hara kiri because, in particular, I do not need it — would find me more mature than then and also, I hope, a little wiser. So no one should expect that this mouth would speak a single word of hatred and resentment, but I believe this exercise would be very healthy for everyone and would speak more opening about the real position of the political entities in this case.

A meeting of this kind, conducted with colleagues in an atmosphere of quiet respect, would say a lot about the tolerance our government publicly advocates today, because the lack of humility in recognizing its errors has been one of the great scourges and this would open the door for stories like ours which are repeated over and over again at any time and place on this little island of ours. This would be an act to vindicate us all. Meanwhile, Citizen Zero now patiently waits.

July 17 2012

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