Thursday, 28 July 2011

Australia intends to finance communist Cuba´s international propaganda campaign

Merles: "I also think it's important for them (Communist Cuba) in terms of building their international profile"

Radio Australia is telling us about the Australian government´s intention to finance communist Cuba´s medical propaganda campaign in the Pacific.

Before going on to that part of the story, here is some useful background information:

Nothing has changed since Raúl Castro took over after his brother Fidel in Cuba, Human Rights Watch reports:

Raúl Castro has kept Cuba’s repressive machinery firmly in place and fully active since being handed power by his brother Fidel Castro. Scores of political prisoners arrested under Fidel continue to languish in prison, and Raúl has used draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental rights. In particular, the Raúl Castro government has relied on a "dangerousness" provision in the Criminal Code that allows authorities to imprison individuals before they have committed a crime, on the suspicion that they might to commit an offense in the future.

This is HRW´s most recent human rights story from Cuba:

The conviction of six dissidents in summary trials for doing no more than exercising their fundamental rights highlights the continuing abuse of the criminal justice system to repress dissent in Cuba. Raúl Castro's government should immediately release the prisoners, who were given sentences ranging from two to five years in prison, and cease all politically motivated repression against Cubans who exercise their fundamental freedoms.

The story often repeated by western mainstream media about the "unselfish" Cuban "doctor diplomacy" is in real life somewhat different:

But in 2003, Castro went big, and shipped 20,000 doctors and nurses to Venezuela's jungles and slums to treat the poor, doing the work "selfish" private-sector doctors wouldn't. Hugo Chavez touted this line and the mainstream media followed.

Now the ugly facts are getting out about what that really meant: indentured servitude to pay off the debts of a bankrupt regime.

This week, seven escaped doctors and a nurse filed a 139-page complaint in Miami under the RICO and Alien Tort acts describing just how Cuba's oil-for-doctors deal came to mean slavery

The Cuban medics were forced to work seven days a week, under 60-patient daily quotas, in crime-riddled places with no freedom of movement. Cuban military guards known as "Committees of Health" acted as slave catchers to ensure they didn't flee.

Doctors earned about $180 a month, a salary so low many had to beg for food and water from Venezuelans until they could escape.

What they endured wasn't just bad conditions common inside Cuba. The doctors were instruments of a money-making racket to benefit the very Castro regime that has ruined Cuba's economy.

"They were told 'your work is more important to Cuba than even its sugar industry,'" their attorney, Leonardo Canton, told IBD.

That's because their labor was tied to an exchange: Castro took 100,000 barrels of oil each day from Venezuela's state oil company in exchange for uncompensated Cuban labor.

Most of the oil was then sold for hard currency, bringing in cash. Cuba also charged Venezuela $30 per patient visit, meaning a $1,000 daily haul per doctor. But the doctors never saw any of it.

Read the entire article here

Neither is the medical care in Cuba as excellent as many western media picture it. Leaked US diplomatic cables tell another story:

A Cuban woman in her thirties confides, “It’s all about who you know. I’m okay because I am healthy and I have ‘friends’ in the medical field. If I didn’t have my connections, and most Cubans do not, it would be horrible.” She relates that Cubans are increasingly dissatisfied with their medical care. In addition to the general lack of supplies and medicines, and because so many doctors have been sent abroad, the neighborhood family physicians now care for 300-400 families and are overwhelmed by the workload. (Note: Neighborhood doctors are supposed to provide care for only 120 families. End Note.) In the absence of the physicians, patients go to their municipality’s “polyclinic,” but long lines before dawn are common, with an all too common 30-second diagnosis of “it’s a virus.”
Few medical professionals are allowed access to the internet and are rarely allowed to travel to participate in international conferences or continuing education courses. Access to up-to-date medical literature is not available. Some physicians have confided to the FSHP, “All of us want to leave.” They are dissatisfied with their salaries and their own medical care. They receive no special privileges – most of them do not even have access to care at the better foreigner hospitals, even if they work there.
As described in reftel, the best medical institutions in Cuba are reserved for foreigners with hard currency, members of the ruling elite and high-ranking military personnel. These institutions, with their intended patient clientele in parentheses, include: Clinica Central Cira Garcia (diplomats & tourists), Centro Internacional de Investigaciones Restauracion Neurologica (foreigners & military elite), Centro de Investigaciones Medico Quirurgicas (military & regime elite), Clinica de Kohly (Primer Buro Politico & Generals of the Ministry of Interior), and the top floors of the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital (foreigners) and Frank Pais Hospital (foreigners). These institutions are hygienically qualified, and have a wide array of diagnostic equipment with a full complement of laboratories, well-stocked pharmacies, and private patient suites with cable television and bathrooms

Read the entire article here

Keeping the above mentioned facts in mind, we now read about the intention of the Australian government to finance Cuba´s international medical propaganda efforts:

Australia is looking to work more closely with Cuba in delivering development aid to the Pacific.
Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, visited Cuba last week to hold talks about linking up the countries health assistance programs in the Pacific.

MARLES: Look we think we've taken the next step forward in doing that. It was a really success to Cuba and Cuba is obviously a fascinating country, but a fascinating player in the development assistance world and it's very renowned in terms of with health. There are ten-of-thousands literally of Cuban doctors around the developing world doing very good work and that includes working in the Pacific and I think they've developed a particular expertise in delivering health care and assistance in developing world settings and we're keen to see how we can, if you like, leverage their expertise against our presence in the Pacific to do something really important. So what we've agreed is we will both participate in a scoping study of Cuban experts and Australian experts hopefully later this year to look at ways in which we can do exactly that and see whether we can ultimately have an agreement about doing that. And I should also say we've taken the first tentative step in relation is actually in Haiti and this occurred prior to my visit, but we do provide some assistance to the provision of Cuban medical assistance in Haiti, after, of course, the tragic earthquake there.

COUTTS: Now you talked about scoping of experts. Is this strictly in health at this stage?

MARLES: Yes, it is. Health is in a sense what the Cubans are most renown for and it does represent the development assistance that they're providing in the Pacific at the moment.
So that is what we are looking at seeing how we can work with them to do more in relation to that.
COUTTS: Now health is of course really important and we know that Cuba has many, many universities dedicated to turning out doctors, alone a speciality there. For a small country and a small economy, what's the thinking, why are they doing that?

MARLES: I think that's a really good question and it's one I asked a number of people, including the foreign minister and we also visited a place called the Latin American School of Medicine, which despite its name is actually providing medical training to people from all over the world, including some 160 odd students from the Pacific. So they are drawing people from the developing world to Cuba and giving them medical training and for a full six year course and at the end of it, people go back as trained doctors.
I think in answer to your question they see that health care is an important, well it's probably the key social indicator. It's something that they have focused on very heavily within their own country. I think in the process of doing that they have developed a particular expertise around how to develop a health care system in a developing setting and in a setting where there isn't a lot of money going around and this is now something that they feel they can share with the rest of the world and somebody said to me it's kind of in the Cuba DNA now to provide healthcare assistance to as many countries as possible and that's what they're doing.
COUTTS: What's in it for them, who funds all of this?

MARLES: Well, the Cuban government fund it and I mean a good question again, what's in for them. Well, I think they're engaging in developing assistance for the same reasons that we are, that they're in the sense of this is the right thing to do in terms of helping the developing world. I also think it's important for them in terms of building their international profile.

Read the entire article here

The naivety of the Australian Parliamentary Secretary is astounding. Does he not understand that what he actually is proposing, is to use Australian tax payers´ money to finance communist Cuba´s international propaganda efforts? If he really wants to give medical aid to Pacific countries, why not send Australian doctors and nurses to do the job, or educate young people from these countries to become doctors in Australian medical schools?

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