Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Foreign Medical students beaten down in Cuba for protesting poor conditions

Congolese beaten down by secret police in Cuba for protesting conditions

Anti-riot shock troops chase down students. Medical student faces down armed police
On Monday a large number of secret police gathered to violently put down a student protest at the School of Medical Sciences Salvador Allende of Havana. There had been rising tensions among Congolese medical students who had been kept in poor conditions, and not been provided with their scholarship funds for over two years. Images of troops in riot gear, with dogs, and an armed police man pointing his firearm at medical student were captured and shared over social media. 

According to 14yMedio Congolese medical students held a meeting on April 1, 2019 with representatives of the Embassy of Congo and Higher Education and the Ministry of Health of Cuba that ended without an agreement between the parties, which generated a greater discontent among the students.

The Congolese students began a strike of non-attendance to the classes in protest, to which the authorities reacted with vigilance in the residences of the students. On Monday, the operation was moved to the Salvador Allende campus in the Altahabana district of Boyeros municipality.

"The police arrived and delivered many blows, at least five students were arrested and taken to the police headquarters in this area as well as a neighbor who was filming and a girl," said a witness who did not want to reveal his name. The medical students recorded images that they spread through social networks in which anti-riot police are seen running towards the protest area, previously cordoned off by a group of uniformed people. A police officer arrives to point a gun at two students. 

The protest organized by a group of medical students from the Republic of Congo on Monday was suppressed by a strong deployment of the National Revolutionary Police along with special troops and officers of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT). The Congolese students demanded the payment of their scholarships that have been delayed 27 months and better conditions in the university residences.

Some context: Kenyan doctor commits suicide in Cuba due to poor conditions

Health care professionals in Cuba have endured terrible conditions. Conditions so extreme that they have requested to return home, and at least in once case may have led to a suicide.

On March 17, 2019 Kenyan doctor Dr Hamisi Ali Juma was reported dead. He was taking part in an exchange program between Cuba and Kenya. A team of experts left for Cuba on March 20, 2019 to investigate the circumstances under which the Kenyan doctor died.

Citizen Digital explained why the doctor may have committed suicide:

Dr. Hamisi Ali Juma committed suicide barely six months into the exchange programme.
He was one of the 50 Kenyan doctors in Cuba sponsored by the government to study Family Medicine as a specialization under the framework of the MOU between Kenya and Cuba.

Dr. Ali Juma's family said that he was constantly complaining of poor working conditions in Cuba and at one point Hamisi even lodged a formal request to return home but that was never to be. 40  of the 50 doctors in Cuba including the deceased signed a distress letter.  The letter was sent to the Parliamentary Committee on Health, pleading with the legislators to address what the doctors termed as “numerous challenges that have gone unanswered.”
It further explains that they were forced to board the plane to Cuba with threats of tough disciplinary actions should they fail to do so. In the letter, the doctors explain that they currently live under “humiliating and unbearable conditions,” sharing small rooms with no ventilation.

Congolese medical students are standing up for their rights in Cuba, and discovering that the police state in Cuba is as brutal or more brutal than what they have experienced back home.

No comments:

Post a Comment