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 December, 2012

The Turn of the Outraged

In March 2007 the Attorney General of the Republic replied just once to the first of three applications by two doctors who had been unjustly disqualified. It wasn’t just a technical report issued by a non-political and autonomous body against two citizens who considered their rights had been fundamentally violated, but this retrospective response was a vendetta, a written crucifixion using biased and politically-charged language.

But for some mysterious reason, and in spite of the fact that more than five years have passed, I woke up this morning with a couple of doubts circling in my mind. This is what they were about: if, hypothetically, the two people affected were now to decide to file a lawsuit at the Peoples’ Tribunal against those responsible for the serious injury suffered, what process would they have to follow? Would it now be considered appropriate for our Attorney General to accuse these officials – who doubtless still occupy public service positions – of having subjected us to public humiliation and grave professional and family damage?

Above all, the conclusion would unavoidably be drawn that we should be reinstated in our profession and recompensed for the salary owed to us to cover the period in which we had been disqualified; the implication would be clear that it was a total injustice, and that in order to throw the book at us they played with the truth, they slandered us and, obviously, someone was responsible. Today I would ask our “honorable” Attorney General who five years ago dismissed all the evidence in our favour, if we still have the right to accuse those persons who, enjoying full authority, never did anything.

I wonder if one could still proceed on the grounds of perjury and defamation against the then Provincial Director of Health of Havana, Dr Wilfredo Lorenzo Felipe, who is now Municipal Director of Health of Guanajay, and his wife, Doctor Beatriz Torres Pérez, who was then Dean of the Western Branch of the Institute of Medical Science of Havana, against the then Minister of Public Health, Dr. José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, who is now the Head of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Party, who ignored the 10 letters sent to him, and the present-day Minister, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, who ignored several others.

I wonder if one could proceed against the President of Parliament,  Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada on the basis of perversion of the course of justice, and against Esteban Lazo, Vice President of the Council of State, and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, First Vice President of the Council of State, or Raul Castro, our President, who received four letters which were not replied to – just a question. All these persons, even if they weren’t responsible for what happened, at least knew about it for years and did nothing about it.

Moving on, I ask myself if the Attorney General of the Republic would consider it to be in order to commence an action for perversion of the course of justice against itself as an institution, for having, since mid-2007, rejected the evidence which should have resulted in our immediate readmission, as it showed that the facts were twisted in order to punish us for political reasons. I am supposedly living under a Rule of Law – as my government assures us – which gives me the authority, I believe, as an ordinary citizen — perhaps Citizen Zero — to place before the relevant powers such resources as I believe necessary to guarantee my personal liberties.

I am not proposing to dig around in the shit. My long and patient struggle to return to work in my profession has made me grow and rise above my miseries. Now I am only driven by curiosity, because although I have the right to feel resentment still, nevertheless I have decided to follow the noble advice of Reinaldo Escobar and Yoani Sanchez, those blessed miscreants who, just a few hours after my reinstatement, proposed that from that moment I should concentrate on my health and forgive everything; after everything it was those “warmongers” who – paradoxically –  put it to me that I should have the courage and stature to forget.

by Jeovany Jimenez Vega.

Translated by GH

November 13 2012

Day of Latin American Medicine

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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