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Reuters Shills For Their Idol – Fidel Castro

From those dictator lovers at Reuters:

Castro exports medicine instead of revolution

03 Aug 2006 17:17:05 GMT
By Esteban Israel

HAVANA, Aug 3 (Reuters) – For hundreds of thousands of poor people from the Andes to the Himalayas, the legacy of Cuba’s ailing communist leader Fidel Castro will be not revolutionary war but eyesight.

For decades, the now ailing Castro, who temporarily handed over power to his brother Raul on Monday, prescribed armed revolution to cure the Third World’s ills. But more recently he has preferred to export doctors to treat poor people in the undeveloped world.

The programs have expanded rapidly thanks to financial support from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, leader of the world’s eighth-largest oil producer and Castro’s main ally.

Medical diplomacy is helping Cuba gain friends in its ideological battle with Washington. But at home, Cubans have mixed feelings about so many of their doctors going abroad. It has affected the free health-care system that once boasted a family doctor on every block.

"Every time you go to a clinic now there is a line of 30 people," one young man said. "There are no more family doctors, now there is a community doctor."

Castro has described the program’s security benefits.

"These programs make us stronger, since it is not easy for the empire to destroy a people giving back vision to millions of Latin Americans," Castro said in July, making a pejorative reference to the United States which calls him a menace to regional stability.

Castro, 79, issued a statement this week saying he was not sure when he would recover after intestinal surgery. No details of his treatment have been released but the Communist Party said on Thursday it would stay in control no matter what happens to the veteran leader.

Cuba has 20,000 doctors and 10,000 other medical personnel working abroad. The majority are in Venezuela, which in turn supplies Cuba with 98,000 barrels of oil per day on generous terms, a boost worth billions of dollars that has helped overcome the crisis that followed the demise of its former benefactor the Soviet Union.


The government says service exports, mainly medical, became its most important source of foreign exchange in 2005 at around $2.9 billion. That has happened "even though Cuba continues to provide medical cooperation absolutely free of charge to more than 60 countries," Castro has said.

Bolivia, after the recent election of leftist President Evo Morales, is now the second most important recipient of Cuban medical aid, followed by Ecuador, Haiti and Central America countries, all without charge.

The government says Cuban medical personnel show the same courage as the 350,000 soldiers who fought in places like Angola and Ethiopia during the Cold War.

"Our doctors will be like our soldiers in Angola 30 years ago," Economy and Planning Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez said.

Cuba sent its first doctors abroad in 1960, a year after Castro swept into power. Since then more than 104,000 doctors and paramedics have served in more than 100 countries.

When an earthquake struck Pakistan last year, 2,500 Cuban doctors were there, attending to 1.6 million Pakistanis. Today some are in Indonesia, which was hit by a quake in June.

Castro even offered the United States 1,500 doctors after Hurricane Katrina, an offer that was refused.

The most ambitious program is "Plan Miracle," which aims to restore the sight of six million Latin Americans in a decade. Some 260,000 people, the majority Venezuelan, have been operated on for cataracts and other problems since 2004.

Meanwhile, back on planet earth, we have this report from Investor’s Business Daily:

Doctors Flee South America Sick Man


Latin America: As rumors fly about Fidel Castro’s demise, truths about his regime’s failures slip out. His vaunted overseas "free" medical program for the poor, once a propaganda coup, is falling apart.

In Bolivia, at least 30 Cuban doctors out of 719 defected to freedom, according to Bolivian media.

In Venezuela, 4,000 Cuban doctors out of 15,000 also fled the country, Union Radio reported.

These Cuban doctors were at the forefront of Castro’s last-ditch effort to rejuvenate his communist dictatorship. Castro cooked up the Venezuelan "Barrio Adentro" plan just three years ago with Hugo Chavez to obscure his record of dispatching brutal military mercenaries and guerrillas abroad to seize power and influence.

For Chavez, the new Cuban medical missions worked well as political pork to buy votes in his 2004 Venezuelan recall referendum.

Emptying Cuba’s hospitals and clinics, Castro sent these doctors to the slums of Caracas and elsewhere, leaving Cubans themselves without doctors. Havana’s public hospitals, outside the tourist zones, are bereft of any medical care as doctors disappear abroad.

For Castro, his perfect plan was remarkably cheap. Although details are hardly transparent, it’s known that the scheme cost Cuba only a few million dollars. Cuban medics got $100 a month and another $100 for family members back home to ensure their return.

But Cuba’s doctors didn’t play according to the script. Over in Caracas, some who had passports simply walked out, got on planes and sought to practice medicine in the free world. Others, whose passports were under the lock and key of their Communist Party minders, sought asylum at U.S. embassies, and got it.

Other doctors made contact with networks of Caracas’ 40,000 Cuban exiles who’d fled Castro in earlier waves and quietly made their way to asylum and safety elsewhere.

It’s no surprise why they did it. Defecting doctors say they are essentially there for a political purpose rather than to practice medicine. Their "free" medical care amounts to industrial "dumping," putting real doctors out of business in places such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Central America, all of which have seen medical-personnel strikes over these "free" and often less-trained Cuban doctors.

In Caracas, the Cuban physicians live in unsafe conditions, with Castro and Chavez showing little regard for their well-being. They’ve been housed in medical kiosks in visible slum areas to get down there with "the people." For them, that meant being awakened at night by blasts and flashes from gunfire in the gang violence plaguing the area. These doctors had no freedom to practice medicine in personal safety.

These Cubans also marveled at the prospect of buying actual soap and food in freer if more anarchic Caracas with their meager salaries, a chance they rarely had in Havana.

And one by one, they quietly began leaving. Now the extent of it’s known.

In western Caracas, near the Caricuao subway station, a fresh-constructed red-brick octagonal medical kiosk, the visible symbol of Castro’s Cuban doctor operation, is boarded up and encircled with razor wire. That kiosk was installed supposedly to provide 24-hour medical service to poor areas. But the doctors are gone.

And along the old Caracas/La Guaira highway, three more of the distinctive Cuban brick compounds, one after another, also were recently seen boarded up.

Meanwhile, in the truly poor Caracas slums, known as ranchos, where cardboard boxes and corrugated steel serve as housing, no Cuban doctor kiosks are there at all.

It goes to show that Castro-care is nothing but a myth.

What’s disgusting is how quickly the media bought into it, giving glowing press and extolling Castro’s supposed altruism. Castro knew this would happen and even tried to shove his doctors onto the U.S. during the Hurricane Katrina debacle, pleased with his good publicity after the U.S. turned him down.

After all, in the logic of the left, Castro’s medical missionaries showed the "humanity" of socialist medicine over the profit-driven capitalist kind. Renouncing profit would bring abundant medical care for all, or so the reasoning goes.

But this happens only if there really is medical care that’s fairly valued. Under the current fiasco for Castro, there is now evidence that "free" medical care is as much in shortage in Caracas as it is in Havana.

Now that the Cubans are defecting, Chavez will have considerable trouble persuading the poor that a vote for him in December will mean more abundant political spoils.

Farther north, Castro seems to be even more worried. His National Assembly speaker, Ricardo Alarcon, Thursday said that President Bush’s priority in Cuba’s coming transition was to "sabotage" Castro’s overseas medical program.

It’s likely he was thinking of Cuba’s missing doctors.

If so, these defections may signal more than just Castro’s fear of being discredited — they might just bring those communist regimes down.

Similar reports can be found all over the internet. But, alas, they are almost all in Spanish.

Of course our watchdog media can’t even be bothered to translate them.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, August 3rd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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