Health And Education
By Fidel Castro
17 July, 2007
I will not refer to Bush's health
and education, but to that of his neighbors. It was not an improvised
declaration. The AP agency tells us what his opening words were: "Tenemos
corazones grandes en este país" (We have big hearts in this
country); he said this in Spanish in front of 250 representatives of
private and religious groups, foundations and NGOs who had come to Washington
with all expenses paid by his government. Of these, some 100 came from
the United States.
“The meeting, called
the White House Conference on the Americas, is part of the ideas outlined
by Bush as he began a tour of five Latin American countries at the beginning
of March about what his government was hoping to do for the region in
the short time still remaining of his term in office.”
“Bush called the conference
in order to discuss several subjects, especially education and health.
‘It’s … in the interests of the United States that
our neighborhood be healthy and educated', he said in improvised declarations
during a chat with six of the attendees, from Guatemala, the United
States, Brazil, Haiti and Mexico, who sat at the table with him in a
colloquium”, the press agency added.
He said some incredible things,
like “the hard work we’re doing in the neighborhood".
Bush spoke, as did the Secretary
of the Treasury, the Under Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere
Affairs and the Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Together
with them, several members of the Cabinet chaired the working groups
in which the meeting was arranged. They all talked until they were blue
in the face.
They mentioned that Bush
had created a training center in Panama that graduated more than 100
doctors from six Central American countries. They very emphatically
referred to the Comfort, “one of the best medical ships in the
world that had just called on port in Panama after visiting Guatemala”.
“Bush dedicated 55
minutes of his time to this activity which took place in a hotel in
the city of Arlington, Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington D.C.”
Then, as bold as you like,
Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, joined the voices to speak about
According to another news
agency, when our Council of State, complying with constitutional norms,
had just called the elections, she declared that “the United States
hopes that the Cubans themselves will decide their future”, and
she added: “Washington will not tolerate the transition from one
dictator to another”.
In his opening speech, Bush
addressed really unusual concepts for the head of a planetary global
empire, very conscious of his power and of his personal role, reported
in detail by the Spanish press agency EFE: “The President of the
United States, George W. Bush, today urged the governments of Latin
America to be honest, transparent and open.” (…) “The
leader affirmed that societies which are open and transparent are those
which will lead to hopeful tomorrows.”
“We expect governments
to be honest and transparent (…) We reject the notion that it’s
okay for there to be corruption in government…”
“It is also in our
interest to help a neighbor in need. It renews our soul. It lifts our
collective spirit. I believe to whom much is given, much is required.
We’ve been given a lot as a nation, and therefore, I believe we’re
required to help,” he insisted.
Bush knows that he is lying
and that his tall tales are hard to swallow, but he doesn’t care.
He is confident that if he repeats it a thousand times, many will finally
believe him. Why so much trickery? What essentially torments him? When
did all this rushing come up?
Bush is discovering that
the economic and political system of his empire cannot compete with
Cuba in vital services, such as healthcare and education, although this
country has been attacked and blockaded for almost 50 years. Everyone
knows that the United States’ specialty concerning education is
the brain drain. The International Labor Organization has indicated
that “47 percent of people born abroad that complete their Doctorate
in the United States stay in that country.”
Yet another example of the
plunder: “There are more Ethiopian physicians in Chicago than
in all of Ethiopia.”
In Cuba, where healthcare
is not a commodity, we can do things that Bush cannot even dream of.
Third World countries do
not have the resources to set up scientific research centers, while
Cuba has created these even if her own professionals have often been
enticed and encouraged to defect.
Our Yes I Can method of teaching
people to read and write is today available to all Latin American countries,
free of charge, and the countries that choose to use the program receive
support to adapt it to their own characteristics and to produce the
printed materials and the corresponding videos.
Countries such as Bolivia
are implementing the program in Spanish, Quechua and Aymara. The numbers
of those who have learned to read and write there in just one year exceed
the number of those who have been taught to read and write by the empire
in all of Latin America, if indeed there is anyone. And I am not speaking
about other countries like Venezuela which has accomplished veritable
heroic deeds in education in a very short time.
Yes I Can is of benefit to
other societies outside the Western Hemisphere. Suffice it to say that
New Zealand is using the program to eradicate illiteracy in their Maori
Instead of having one training
center for medical professionals in Central America, which has trained
about 100 –and we’re glad for this-- our country today has
tens of thousands of students from Latin America and the Caribbean on
full scholarships who spend six years training as doctors in Cuba, free
of charge. Of course, we do not exclude any American youth who take
their education very seriously.
We cooperate with Venezuela
in the education of more than 20,000 youths, who study medicine and
train in clinics in the poor neighborhoods, tutored by Cuban specialists,
so that they can get acquainted with their future and difficult job.
The Comfort, with over 800
people on board, that is, medical staff and crew, will not be able to
look after great numbers of people. It is impossible to carry out medical
programs episodically. Physical therapy, for example, in many cases
requires months of work. Cuba provides permanent services to people
in polyclinics and well-equipped hospitals, and the patients can be
cared for any time of day or night. We have also trained the necessary
physical therapy specialists.
The eye surgery also requires
special skills. In our country ophthalmologic centers perform more than
50,000 eye surgeries on Cubans each year and look after 27 kinds of
diseases. There are no waiting lists for cornea transplants which need
special arrangements. Let an active investigation be done in the United
States and you will see how many people really need to be operated on
there; since they have never been examined by an ophthalmologist they
will attribute their eye problems to other causes and run the risk of
becoming blind or of having their vision seriously impaired. You would
find out that there are millions.
In the abovementioned figure
I did not include the hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans and Caribbean
people some of whom are operated on in Cuba, but most in their respective
countries, by Cuban ophthalmologists. In Bolivia alone, they are more
than 100,000 each year. In this instance, Bolivian doctors educated
in the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) take part in the surgeries
alongside our Cuban specialists.
Let’s just see how
the Comfort will make out in Haiti, providing health services for a
week. There, in 123 of the country’s 134 communes there are Cuban
doctors working alongside ELAM graduates, or Haitian students in the
last year of medical school, fighting AIDS and various tropical diseases.
The problem is that the United
States cannot do what Cuba is doing. On the contrary, it brutally pressures
the manufacturing companies of the excellent medical equipment that
is supplied to our country to prevent them from replacing certain computer
programs or some spare parts that are under United States patents. I
could cite concrete cases and the names of the companies. It is disgusting,
even though we have solutions that make us more invulnerable in this
Less than six months ago
Bush had not yet invented the idea of making fuel production universal,
from foodstuff inside and outside the United States. Those of us who
are aware of the value of fats and protein foods for human nutrition
know what the consequences are for pregnant women, children, teenagers,
adults and the elderly if they lack these. The brunt of the scarcity
will fall on the shoulders of the least developed countries, in other
words, on the largest part of humanity. It will surprise no one that
this will be accompanied by increased prices for basic foodstuffs and
social instability. Yesterday, Friday 13, the price of oil was 79.18
US dollars a barrel; another consequence of the money rush and the war
Barely 48 hours ago, the
United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, said
that “he had the gut feeling that a terrorist attack could happen
in the country during the summer”. The Secretary of State, and
subsequently the President of the United States himself, said something
similar. But while they were giving information about a potential risk,
they were also taking great pains to calm public opinion.
The government of the United
States sees and hears all, with or without legal authority. Furthermore,
it possesses numerous intelligence and counterintelligence services
that are provided with copious economic resources for espionage. It
can obtain all the security information it needs without kidnapping,
torturing or murdering persons in secret prisons. Everybody knows the
real economic purposes pursued through world violence and force. They
can prevent any attack on their people, unless there is some imperial
need to deliver a bang so that they can carry on with and justify the
brutal war which has been declared against the culture, religion, economy
and independence of other peoples.
I must conclude.
Tomorrow, Sunday, is Children’s
Day. I think of them as I write this reflection. I dedicate it to them.
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 14, 2007
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