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 November, 2012

An Indecent Proposal

In response to an article published by Jean-Guy Allard in the newspaper Granma on November 12, in which Yoani Sanchez is accused, for the umpteenth time, of being “a mercenary working for the United States.”

Clearly the theme “Generation Y” has escaped the hands of those responsible for calming the troops, and I presume this has upset the dream of countless government operatives, real and virtual, at all levels of Cuban counterintelligence.

As in my role as a doctor I’m obliged to look after the physical as well as the mental health of every Cuban, today I am trying to convey to the author of this article and to State Security — including its Section 21, that maintains a very intense romance with this young woman in Havana — a doubt that assails me: if the U.S. government and/or the CIA have contracted with this “mercenary” and this is what motivates her, financial payments, she works only for this, then the solution to their insomnia is extremely simple: why don’t they bribe her? Why don’t they pay her more and call it good?

If there is something that history has amply demonstrated, it is that the mercenaries, without honor and flag, serve the highest bidder; then the solution is easy: if the people to the north have paid her some miserable half million euros, then pay her, let’s say, a million, or five, or even ten, and surely her eyes will jump out of her head at such an irresistible offer. After all, in this heart vacant of principles there is nothing more than greed, so now it’s time to raise the stakes on this out-of-control woman and you’ll see how fast she changes sides and sinks into an absolute silence, as such a contract would require.

Although I have been to her house many times, the only life of Yoani’s that I know is the publicly visible one. Despite the cordiality with which she treats everyone there, along with her  husband — that also irredeemable soul, Reinaldo Escobar — there are barriers that respect and prudence presuppose.  Because of this I don’t aspire in this post to offer an apology, not to mention that’s not my personal style, it’s about something much more elemental: someone who has managed to feed a blog that receives, according to Wikipedia, 14 million visits a month — making it the most visited page in the Spanish language network — doesn’t need it.

As for me, I don’t seek anything personal from Yoani either, and what’s more, having never flattered or bowed down to absolute power and the onerous owner of everything around me, capable of ruining my life with a snap of his fingers, then I’m not going to do it before anyone.

But it fries my bacon that in the official Cuban press, which is scandalously silent about the high level corruption overrunning my country, everything is reduced to the old story of money money money — as evidenced by the fact that absolutely every Cuban political opponent, from the oldest and most recalcitrant to the latest upstart, without exception, is accused of this.

So fine, back to the point: paying this “depraved” woman more would be a solution, right? And given that, thanks to the blockade, budgets for repressive activities are tight, something unlikely, say 500,001 euros ought to be enough. After all, for these out-of-control people, according to the official accusation, the difference of a single dollar ought to be enough to make them collapse, drooling, at the feet of their new master.

In a country where millions keep their mouths shut and fake it for a leadership position, for the assignment of a State-owned car, for a little work mission abroad, what wouldn’t this libertine do before such an offer. I think, I suppose, I am saying, the best thing to do with this trifling sum — which would be worth extracting, with due prudence, from the secret account of some tycoon who’s robbed millions from this little country — would be enough to rid the general staff of such a pain in the testicles.

I do want to note, though, that I acted here only from the professional point of view, from an analgesic vocation to relieve the discomfort caused by this chick with iron balls — undoubtedly the largest and most powerful on the island, nobody questions it — and all would be carried out in the most secretive and strict confidentiality.

After all, we doctors work for free in Cuba, it’s nothing to me, but it’s amazing, I remain concerned that the genitals … I mean the genial… strategists of State Security never thought to follow such an elementary strategy.

November 27 2012


Why Estado de Sats Must Not Die

About two weeks Antonio Rodiles was arrested by State Security. First he was charged with resisting arrest, then they concocted a charge of undermining the authority when nearly a dozen witnesses deny the police accusation. It is not anything unusual, because in Cuba long arbitrary detentions are part of the repressive praxis. This time it’s someone with undeniable charisma and whose authenticity is demonstrated with concrete events: In a short time Rodiles has converted Estado de Sats — against all flags and with modest resources — into an important space when it comes to probing the Cuban reality.

Several factors contribute to our atmosphere today of alternative aromas. In this regard, the extensive possibilities of the Internet, which open a digital breach to the world for the restless gaze of the island’s bloggers and twitterers, to which are added the lack of ethics in the official press to denounce the shamelessness of the corrupt, the ineptitude of the leaders and the constant violation of our civil rights. In this context we have inserted alternatives like and Estado de Sats.

Bit this latter space is not only a virtual peculiarity: in Rodiles’ home, during the presentation of the programs, there is a frequent assiduous and physical convergence of around a hundred irreverents, and we know what that means to the powers-that-be in Cuba.

This modest but clear capacity to call people together, ended up worrying the general staff, and so Rodiles presented himself in front of State Security’s Section 21 on the afternoon of November 7, and the leadership saw the awaited opportunity to book him and decapitate his project. But those who reason this way underestimate a civil society that is not disposed to cede an inch of space conquered at great risk.

We are a people saturated with promises that sound like mockery, words belied by the demagoguery of a bourgeois elite that demands austerity from us, while their table overflows; we are a people forced to face unjustifiable hardship and shortages that generate a deep social immorality, which have turned theft, simulation and lies into “trifles,” and what is worse, sincerity and civility into a crime.

We are looking at a youth that is definitely different, and wants to open itself to a world it suspects is out there, a youth that knows it is imprisoned, but that now knows the name and the password of its jailer and is increasingly less afraid. And the jailer knows this and represses every birth, tries to mutilate each new shoot, stuffing the cracks so that the cell never receives the dangerous rays of the sun.

Rodiles is accused of assault, and yet, in Estado de Sats, Rodiles’ home, I never saw anywhere a club or the tip of a trigger, never heard plotting of attacks of sabotage, never heard a threat or a call to violence. I heard nothing more there than ideas and arguments, reasonable or not, but launched from the perspective of tolerance, respect for the opinions of others.

As far as I know, no Cuban opponent ever stopped a delegate of the National Assembly of Popular Power in the entrance of Parliament, or any member of the Communist party to prevent him from participating in the last Congress of the Party, nor conducted any “operation” to boycott their last National Conference.

However, from the other side, it’s a different matter: the raids and arbitrary detentions perpetrated by state security against any dissident when, how and where they want, without due process and even without charges — including many who went to Estado de Sats — is their daily practice, reported thousands of times by bloggers, twitterers and by the same project now want to shut down.

If despite the deafness strongly imprinted during the last decades by the dissidence against the all-embracing State power, this has been no more than a few turns of the screw, one can only imagine the scene of these gentlemen didn’t know they were installed by the select share of Cubans who dare to speak while the rest remain silent.

Alternative spaces like the monthly Voices Magazine and projects like Omni Zona Franca, and Estado de Sats itself, are at this time so necessary for this people like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and must not disappear simply because some gorillas consider this country remains the same jungle as in the ’60s and ’70s.

But they had to take Rodilies because every brave person is one less slave, because each front raised is an act of vindication, because every mask that falls away is a triumph of human dignity, one of those miracles that are the work only of able-bodied men.

For all this, by reality and necessity, spaces like Estado de Sats must be preserved. The barbarians must understand once and for all, that it is useless to incarcerate a many when his dreams fly free.

Rodiles conceived this project, now ours, and dedicated his efforts, assumed all the risks and put into it the same hope and the same faith that is put into a child. For this we must care for Estado de Sats — we owe it to him and to ourselves — because whatever problems appear on the horizon we will never abandon the child of a friend!

November 19 2012

Letter of One (?) Cuban Doctor

These heartfelt words come, crisp, clean and sincere, to our mailbox, written by a colleague I don’t know; I never saw his face, never shook his hand, I don’t even know if Eider exists, but here are the words, complete. / Jeovany Jimenez Vega



Days ago I had the opportunity to read an open letter issued by the General Surgery Department of the Calixto Garcia Hospital denouncing the deplorable working conditions they face every day.

The letter addresses issues extremely important points and says: … “the government is responsible for all this, and not only to know it, but also to solve it.” This letter has high levels of courage and I believe that it’s purpose is to make an emergency call to focus once and for all on the growing disgust of the Cuban doctor.

We must demand that our government has to differentiate us from the rest of the working people. We are doctors and we handle the gift of life and that deserves respect. We can not remain the hindquarters of this system where anyone deserves to win a medal or play a conga drum. Cuban doctors want to have dignity in our country and be respected by the people: the dignity must begin at home.

We are wandering the world to show how worthy we feel as Cuban doctors and when we return to Cuba we blush for what we are because no one appreciates what we do. We are miserable in our own country and cherubs in the world; we are gods to the rest of the world and fallen angels in our beautiful country. We don’t relax with the tourists, but we heal them; we don’t disseminate culture but we dictate sentences that save lives; we don’t break world records but be bring down percentages and this is worth a lot and more like life because that’s what we do every day.

We don’t have to wait for the Olympics, nor an annual contest nor an opportune invitation to emigrate to reach the summit. No, our competition is the daily doing of our duty; all the craftsmanship that leaves our hands is so that the unfortunate enjoy it; all the energy we expel in our daily cravings is for others to be happy. We provide happiness, records, songs and poems, and that is also art. Why not reward us if our fruits are sweeter than those of others.

We can do both things: be valued abroad and valued in our country. We can bring life to those abroad and guarantee the lives of our own. We want and demand attention to provide our people with the same efficiency that is provided abroad; we need our work to be valued and to be paid with the same fairness that it is valued and paid in those foreign missions.

How can we live in penury and on the contrary give opulent attention to our patients? It is not a question of conscience and trivial ideas. It’s a question of dialectical logic. It’s not possible that our own drown while we are saving others; it is not possible that we are incapable of supporting our families with our labor and paradoxically have an obligation to support, sometimes with old pitchforks, other families.

We are doctors as well as humans, as well as Cubans and the needs of many should not be of everyone. Indeed, we live more in spirit the more souls we save but the gift of wisdom surrenders before the privation. We cannot feed our children with slices of morality nor dress them in clothing of the finest rejoicing.

Our president said on July 26 this year that he knew that doctors earn very little but so it is with everyone. Excuse me, Mr. President, but with all due respect, we are not everyone. We are the specialty of the house with regards to the inequality you refer to. In the center of the crisis we can be an exception to the rule and earn a fairer salary and have working conditions that are not only fairer but dignified, corresponding the humanitarian and immeasurable work that we do.

We know of the magnanimous investments being made to support the Cuban health system and its institutions but to not invest in the human being, the doctor, is like forcing a homeless man to live in a palace. Cuba has an army of coveted and unbeatable white coats but already the white is turning yellow: purity… changes color.

Eider Valdés

24 September 2012

Posted to Citizen Zero: November 1 2012

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