Sunday, April 10, 2016

What President Obama got wrong on his trip to Cuba: Cuban Healthcare

"[Y]our visit could serve the unintended purpose of providing legitimacy to the Communist Party’s rule and could sweep the pro-democracy movement further into the shadows for years to come."
 - Letter to President Obama Regarding Cuba’s Future

Despite President Obama's claims Cuban healthcare is a mess in Cuba

Since President Obama traveled to Cuba without sitting down with those Cuban American leaders in the United States elected to Congress and the United States Senate, that represent large Cuban - American constituencies has drawn media attention. It should because all of them, whether Democrat or Republican, viewed the White House Cuba policy as a disaster for the interests of the United States and the Cuban people. A number of unfortunate outcomes demonstrate that these critics were justified in their analysis. Listening to only those who agree with you in an echo chamber when setting policy is a guarantee for a disastrous policy. Take a look at the debacle in Iraq.

Before President Obama made his trip to Cuba those dissenting from his policy approach to Cuba would have recommended that he first read Paul Hollander's Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society if he did not want to be manipulated by the Castro regime.  This book studies and catalogs the strategies and tactics that these totalitarian regimes use to control what one sees visiting their respective countries and what the unintended consequences are for its victims: i.e. the people who have to live there. This is what it had to say about healthcare in Cuba from a past regime supporter as early as 1987, prior to the Special Period in the 1990s when things deteriorated further:
Maurice Halperin, a supporter of the Castro regime who lived in Cuba between 1962 and 1968 teaching at the University of Havana and working in the ministry of foreign trade ... reported on a "confidential public opinion poll made by the Communist Party in ... 1987" about public health conditions in Holguin province, provides a far less rosy picture of the vaunted health care system than one can find in much of the literature on Cuba under Castro. Of those polled (over ten thousand) 87 percent had unfavorable views of the health care they received. Most of the complaints "as summed up in the report concerned 'lack of attention, negligence and abuse of patients.'" There were also many complaints  "about the chronic absenteeism of both doctors and nurses and about favoritism in the treatment of well-connected patients."
The second book to have recommended the President and his advisors would have been Katherine Hirschfeld's Health, Politics, and Revolution in Cuba Since 1898. This anthropologist spent a lot longer than three days in Cuba, studying the healthcare system, she contracted dengue while there experiencing first hand the 'discrepancies between rhetoric and reality,'  What she found was a repressive, bureaucratized and secretive system, long on 'militarization' and short on patients' rights

This would have saved President Obama from the embarrassing spectacle in  Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 23, 2016 of repeating the Castro regime's talking points on its healthcare system: 
“Medical care–the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to that of the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to health care.  That’s a huge achievement. They should be congratulated.”
President Obama celebrated a system that coerces medical doctors to work for starvation wages around the world while the Castro regime makes billions of dollars.  Sam Bernstein in a March 30, 2016 publication of The Advisory Board raised questions about the official statistics on health care in Cuba and how they are generated raising questions about their validity.

How is it that the same rational individuals that snicker at absurd North Korean healthcare claims take seriously Cuban healthcare claims? There are serious consequences for travelers to Cuba when they are not properly informed with what to expect with Cuba's public health failures and the disastrous state of Cuban healthcare. Not to mention a hefty bill for catching Cholera while on vacation.

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