Author: Web Editor
Digital | firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
At the close of yesterday, July 24, a total of 60,467 patients were admitted for clinical epidemiological surveillance, 14,864 were suspected, 3,546 were under surveillance, and 42,147 were confirmed active.
For COVID-19, 56,424 samples were studied, resulting in 8853 positive samples. The country accumulates 6 million 208 thousand 857 samples taken and 332 thousand 968 positive.
Of the total number of cases (8853): 8787 were contacts of confirmed cases, 16 with the source of infection abroad and 50 without a source of infection. There were 6147 medical discharges, for a total of 288,414 in the country.
Of the 8853 cases diagnosed, 4747 were female and 4106 were male. The 8853 diagnosed cases belonged to the following age groups: 1632 under 20 years of age, 20 to 39 years 2609, 40 to 59 years 2983, 60 and over 1629.
Of the 8853 positive cases, 5.0% (441) were asymptomatic, for a total of 103,353 cases, representing 31.1% of those confirmed to date.
Distribution of cases by provinces: 8853 cases
Pinar del Río (149)
Villa Clara (383)
Sancti Spíritus (190)
Ciego de Avila (427)
Las Tunas (300)
Santiago de Cuba (735)
Of the 332,968 patients diagnosed with the disease, 42,147 remain hospitalized, 41,788 of them with stable clinical evolution. A total of 2351 patients died (80 during the day), two were evacuated, 54 were returned to their countries, 6147 were discharged during the day, and 288,414 patients have recovered. 359 confirmed patients are being treated in intensive care, including 153 critically ill and 206 seriously ill.
María Esther Ortiz Quesada |email@example.comPosted: Saturday 26 June 2021 | 01:24:10 pm.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
This time drugs will not be at the center of attention, neither them nor their effects on the central nervous system. While it is true that they are among the great protagonists of the drama, I prefer to focus on the real protagonist: the person.
It all started just when drugs stopped being only in nature, stopped being collected by a hand and stopped being used only in ritual sessions under previously established guidelines. When the collecting hand was replaced by a hand that cultivates, harvests, processes and generates substances that alter the state of consciousness and that hand offers those products to other hands in exchange for lucrative goods, then drugs changed the nature of their relationship with people, or rather, people changed the nature of their relationship with natural psychoactive substances and drug trafficking appeared.
This commercial activity, as lucrative as it is destructive, forced the creation of regulations, prohibitions and agreements that sometimes create disagreements, interpretations and misinterpretations. The old legal maxim warns that ignorance of the law does not exempt from compliance and responsibility.
Although the value of knowledge of laws and regulations, agreements and disagreements goes far beyond the warning about compliance, it is the knowledge of the history and evolution of the laws governing the issue of drug trafficking, both for the confrontation and for the understanding of people’s beliefs about drugs and their use, for the design of prevention or treatment programs.
From this perspective, knowledge of the history of drugs in humanity has an effect on the fight against drug trafficking and an indisputable value for the socio-psychological and medical approach to drug abuse, in the same way that laws and agreements nurture history and provide guidelines for treatment approaches and have a preventive effect for many; Prevention and treatment, on the other hand, remove many people from the drug trafficking networks, weaken them and form informal armies of people who, after recovery, pass on their experiences to others with the explicit or not message of BETTER NOT STARTING.
Turning to individuals
There are non-consuming individuals and they are much more frequent than you can imagine, who never established a relationship with any psychoactive substance, including legal ones. There are others who, at the time broke their relationships with any psychoactive substance. Rejecting this reality means looking at it with a narrow, reduced, tunnel vision.
Consumers are divided into two groups: those who consume responsibly. In this group are all those who are medicated with psychotropic drugs, neuroleptics and other substances necessary to reduce discomfort or control illnesses. Although the fact that the substances consumed are prescribed by a physician is not enough to be considered responsible consumption. To do so, consumption must be limited to the substance, dosage, frequency and time indicated by the physician. This is the only way to be responsible.
The essence of the concept lies precisely in the fact that the substance that is introduced into the organism does not cause damage. This is either because the quantity does not exceed the levels that the organism can tolerate, or because the frequency does not interfere with the harmonious functioning of physiological and psychological processes. In other words, both quantity and frequency must be tolerable by the organism. In still other words, both quantity and frequency must be tolerable for the organism. I say this because of my work experience, practically all consumers say that they consume in a controlled manner.
The big problem is that the consumer generally loses or does not have the notion of self-care while the exercise of their critical judgment is diminished, so they cannot evaluate what is tolerable for their organism and what is not.
It is true that not all consumers are classified as addicts, but it is also true that all addicts, before becoming addicts, have been simply responsible consumers or not, but “uncomplicated” consumers.
I consider it important to be able to identify which people, and under what circumstances, become irresponsible consumers, also called abusive consumers. It classifies as irresponsible and abusive consumption, any amount of drugs, legal or not, by pregnant or breastfeeding women, by minors, by people who drive vehicles or handle precision equipment and instruments, people who are on medication, who suffer from mental illnesses, among others.
An overdose occurs as a consequence of irresponsible, abusive consumption by someone who may not even be a frequent user. It is someone who, in a certain place and occasion, in search of enhancing something he/she believes he/she lacks or with the intention of attenuating an uncomfortable or painful emotion or feeling, for which he/she is not able to solve with help and confused or gullible by what he/she has heard in the promotion of drug consumption, comes to believe that drugs are the solution. This type of irresponsible consumption, which leads to acute intoxication, generally occurs in situations of celebration, loss, grief and anger, causing unfortunate situations for others and for the consumer.
The consequences will always be in correspondence with the amount consumed, the type of drugs, the general state of the person, the circumstances in which the consumption occurred and of course, with the personality of the consumer.
Finally, although the subject of irresponsible consumption is much broader, I will refer to addiction, the last stop for the consumer, which in itself, has several substations and none can be described as pleasant, comfortable or successful. To illustrate a little: the consumption of drugs makes the organism work at the mercy of the substance and when this practice becomes frequent, when the doses increase, then the organism is left without possibilities to defend itself. This generates mediate and immediate damages that make the consumer suffer from certain disorders or illnesses that force they to visit hospitals (first substation). On the other hand, drugs make the person not always able to control their impulses, behavior and language, so it is not surprising that sometimes he becomes a victimizer or a victim, with possible legal consequences that sometimes go from court, to the penitentiary systems (second sub-station). Both sub-stations may be creating the basic conditions for the person with abusive or irresponsible consumption, turned the addict to endanger his life either by disease, violence, accidents or suicide (cemetery, third station).
The addicted person does not always present symptoms so spectacular and is not always easily identifiable, some manage to maintain a certain degree of functionality, although he/she is not exempt from going through the same substations as any other addict.
If someone were to ask me what are, from my point of view, the most significant signs that distinguish an addicted person from a non-addict, I could make a long list of indicators ranging from damage to health, to cognitive processes, to the economy, to the family, to social relations, in short, the list would be quite extensive. But I prefer to think of the non-addicted person, the person who lives according to his or her own mandates and not according to the impulses generated by a substance.
Functional non-addicted people prioritize objectives that facilitate them to achieve greater harmony and comfort in their lives and do not subordinate them to obtaining, buying and consuming substances.
The central objectives of functional non-addicted persons can be found focused on the family as a network of support, responsibility and affection; on friends, as that chosen family, with whom they have encounters and misunderstandings and with whom friendship always survives; on functional leisure, that which distracts, recreates and cultivates mind and body; on economic security for oneself, that which distracts, recreates and cultivates mind and body; in the economic security for oneself, for the family and to be able to dedicate time to the spiritual economy and one more objective, that although it is not the last one, it is very important as a social entity and is referred to the certainty of remaining an active and respected social entity.
Unfortunately, although to external eyes this does not occur with some addicts, most of these objectives are not prioritized by the addicted person and are subordinated to the places, situations and people that facilitate the obtaining of drugs and their consumption.
At this point a question may arise, why worry about responsible or low-risk users, if for them this is not the reality?
Let us return to an earlier statement: all addicts are users, although not all users are addicts. Anyone who uses drugs is much more likely than anyone else to go through the addictive process to addiction.
It is not about going to the place of the fire, it is about creating the conditions so that the fire does not occur; it is not only about having care services for addicts, it is about prevention where apparently there are no risks either, in order to enhance the strengths.
It is a matter of knowing the laws and agreements on the subject and making appropriate interpretations, always placing the person at the center of attention. I speak in the singular, because from this singularity arises the plural, the collective, the society, not as a numerical sum. It arises instead as a dynamic interaction of personal, family, local, national histories, of these cultural interactions and of the convictions and beliefs that these dynamics generate, convictions and beliefs that protect or unprotect. I insist, it is the person at the center of attention because any addiction is an affront to human dignity.
Marina Menéndez Quintero | firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
It could be said that, as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Nayib Bukele in El Salvador were in their time, he is also an outsider: a man outside politics who is said to have formulated his candidacy as a presidential candidate on the same day that the registration period closed. On that date, he was accepted by Peru Libre. Today, Pedro Castillo has real possibilities of being elected president and of bringing about changes.
But only the primordial character in these matters relates him to those other candidates who, like him, came to the elections virtually outside the parties, when in the formal political sphere they were still little known: the distances between Castillo and those other outsiders of the region are enormous.
His formation as a very humble rural teacher in a remote locality of Puña, in Cajamarca, where he still lives and, recently, a social activism that placed him as leader of two popular mobilizations let him be seen -of course, from a distance- as a man with bullet-proof authenticity that he proclaims wearing the native hat of his homeland, and that he has shielded with his speech. It is the same hat he wore as a “comunero” and “rondero”, as they call in his country the peasants who stand guard to protect their region from the violent ones.
He speaks simply because he is simple; also, perhaps, because of that gift of explaining clearly that a teacher always has and, surely, so that those from below understand. And he “speaks well”, because in academic matters he is not an improvised: he studied Pedagogy at the University and also has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology.
By antagonism, these qualities gain weight when Pedro Castillo has in front of him, for the second electoral round that will decide the presidency of Peru this Sunday, a precocious candidate worn out as a political figure from so much climbing to the proscenium, on whom weighs repeated accusations of corruption and the 25-year prison sentence that her father Alberto Fujimori is serving for those and other sins. A candidate with a portfolio full of the same empty promises that only portend more of the same.
In spite of this, Keiko Fujimori is running for the third time for the first magistracy, and the polls say that she finished the campaign on the heels of her rival, although better positioned than when she started.
Keiko, the political heir of her father, Alberto Fujimori, would keep the neoliberal model intact. Hers could be a term of social and legal instability because there are legal cases against her. Photo: Reuters.
In the face of the right-wing candidate of Fuerza Peru and her deceitful speech, political “virginity” and, at the same time, the will for change of “the Professor” stands out, as Castillo is known with the respect that the teaching profession awakens, especially among the poor, because for them education is almost always something foreign.
When one examines his program, it may be thought that he gathers the sentiments of the dispossessed and, therefore, that he has been able to overcome the skepticism created by the accusations of corruption that persecuted six former presidents in the last 20 years, and for some of whom exercising the Government turned out to be a form of profit.
The disbelief that this provoked was visible in the almost 30 percent abstention rate and the 17 percent of invalid votes in the first round: altogether, a figure that placed these indices as real winners.
Previously, in November, non-conformity exploded through the resounding demonstrations provoked by the deposition in Congress of the penultimate former president, Martin Vizcarra, because the legislature had once again disregarded the laws and the people.
A cardinal aspect is that the aspirant of Peru Libre has included among his proposals the installation of a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution, a demand to which the radicalized demands of the street protests were directed.
Pedro Castillo has said that he will sponsor foreign investment, but “with order”, and has criticized that they take the money out of the country, for which he speaks of nationalizing the wealth, as well as the renegotiation of the tax stability contracts with the big companies. He has promised what he calls a “second agrarian reform”.
In addition, he proposes the universalization of the health system, the creation of the Ministry of Science and Technology “because Peru cannot be only a primary exporting country”, he has said on Twitter. He also proposes an increase of the budget for research in development and free entrance to higher education, as well as decentralizing public universities.
However, the first focus of his eventual government would be aimed at combating the pandemic, for which he has proposed, among other measures, the creation of a council composed of scientists, public health technicians and researchers, in order to design effective measures against Covid-19.
He was a man virtually unknown in Peru two months ago, until he was the most voted candidate in the other round with only 19 percent of the ballots. A surprise.
Now he seems a step away from victory. But the margins of difference with Keiko are so close that it is difficult to predict.
It could be said that the flood of endorsements has come to Castillo in a “natural” way if one takes into account the scarcity of resources of his campaign and the same austerity and relative youth of the party that welcomed him and launched him into the arena, and against the backdrop of dirty campaigns.
Peru Libre was founded in 2007 under the slogan “Force born of the people!”, with the declared purpose in its statutes of “the search for social justice expressed in the welfare of man as the highest aspiration, making Peruvian society more equitable, less exclusive and that all Peruvians have equal opportunities formerly denied, striving for development from each of the angles in which they act and develop”.
The right-wing insists on branding Castillo as a communist in order to close the way to him, re-editing an old fear that seemed to be buried with the era of McCarthyism.
As expected, the conservative media campaign has been furious against him and includes other accusations against the candidate and the leaders of Peru Libre, without discarding the lawfare chapter that could be the accusations of money laundering that are once again waved against the general secretary of the group, Vladimir Cerron, wielded this week in a hurry in the clear desire to disqualify the leftist candidate until the last minute, as in a final sprint.
Thus, the voting intention has been “polarized”. The candidates represent antagonistic programs and, therefore, very different social classes.
Everything could be seen, a little superficially, in this way: those who want the status quo have closed ranks behind Keiko, even valuing that of “the lesser evil”, just to stop the opponent. The poor and those who want change are rallying behind Castillo.
Opinion polls show that she is stronger in the northern departments and cities; he has preeminence in the countryside and the central and southern regions.
Seven days ago, the latest polls showed the aspirant of Peru Libre in the lead, but only two points and tenths ahead of his rival, whom three weeks ago he was leading, however, by up to ten percentage points.
The resounding 51 percent that opinion polls showed for “the Professor” last Sunday, and the 48.8 percent registered by Fujimori, suggested a technical tie.
Whatever the result, the “news” was already carried by the surprising emergence of Pedro Castillo into political life. Even if he did not win, this could be his start as leader of the sectors that bet on a different Peru.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Is America a racist society? Yes. Absolutely and categorically so. Facts abound to exemplify the assertion. A review of some of the incidents of more immediate times reaffirms it.
However, it is not only the acts of violence, of police brutality, especially against Blacks and Latinos, nor the rise of extreme right-wing, xenophobic and fascistic groups and organizations, that show this visible trace. Neither do the economic and educational inequalities that undermine development opportunities.
In the first days of May, the governor of the state of Idaho, Republican Bradley Jay Little, signed a bill whose purpose is supposedly not controversial: to prohibit public schools and colleges from teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin is inherently superior or inferior”.
It might seem positive; however, this sidesteps, indeed, eradicates, conversations about race and equity, as if they have no relevance in a society where they remain one of the biggest and most divisive problems, rooted in a historical development that had as its roots the near annihilation and dispossession of native peoples and the enslavement of men and women forcibly brought from faraway Africa.
Idaho is not unique in the trend, as a dozen states, including Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and West Virginia, have also introduced bills that would prohibit schools from teaching “divisive,” “racist” or “sexist” concepts.
According to a paper published by USA Today, such legislation attacks “critical race theory,” a movement of scholars and civil rights activists, which questions and critically examines how the legacy of slavery (in August 1619 the first cargo of enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of present-day U.S. territory) and systemic racism still affects American society today and are everyday experiences for people of African descent.
Thus, this legislative pattern – especially in Southern and Republican-dominated states – is seen as a backlash against teaching anti-racist lessons in schools, a barrier to learning true and hidden histories in order to entrench the racism against African descendants in the U.S. society.
The pattern is seen as a backlash against the teaching of anti-racist lessons in schools, a barrier to the learning of true and hidden histories to enthrone the socio-economic dominance of white elites, who also cover up class-based profiteering, whatever the skin color of the exploited.
Two key events
These final days of May mark two dates a century apart, the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, when the relentless knee of policeman Dereck Chauvin squeezed his neck for more than eight minutes and prevented him from breathing. It was a crime that shook America and continues to shake it, and outraged the world. Then there is the centennial of a massacre of which very few in the northern nation are aware: the Tulsa massacre.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, dozens of Black citizens were murdered -some estimates reach more than 300 victims of the racist barbarism of white mobs, joined by the police and the National Guard-, between the night of May 31 and June 1, 1921, in the Greenwood area, which was known as the Black Wall Street, due to the economic prosperity and intellectual development achieved by its inhabitants, and which was reduced to ruins and ashes in the fires.
Baptist minister and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times: “Few even know about the massacre. It has not even been taught in Tulsa public schools until this year. Though a hundred years old, the massacre raises questions of justice and decency that
of justice and decency that America cannot avoid.”
Yet a significant part in size and power of the United States avoids it and does its best to sidestep it.
The detractors of critical race theory, the conservative elements that deny the existence of systemic racism in America, hoist its eradication and not only try to “discredit” it by calling it “Marxist”, above all they impute it to be a plan to “teach children to hate their country”, therefore, they are a threat to American society and the nation.
The Trump administration opposed the teaching of that history in public schools, asserting that it was “divisive and un-American propaganda.” Trump said, “Students in our universities are inundated with critical race theory. This is a Marxist doctrine that holds that America is an evil, racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression, and that our entire society must be radically transformed.”
A recent study by Reflective Democracy, a group working to build a democracy in America that works for everyone “because it reflects who we are and how we live in the 21st century,” found that white men hold 62 percent of all elected offices despite being only 30 percent of the nation’s population, exercising minority rule over 42 state legislatures, the House of Representatives, the Senate and state offices from coast to coast.
The analysis added that women hold only 31 percent of the offices despite being 51 percent of the population and “people of color” hold only 13 percent despite constituting 40 percent of the population. It also recalled that 43 states in the Union are considering or have already passed laws that would allow them to apply voter suppression, which targets precisely those vulnerable segments – Blacks, Latinos, native Americans and women.
Some analysts recall that this wave against critical race theory only “crystallized” with Trump, but was awakened when Barack Obama came to the White House, which “was shocking and traumatic for people who had always imagined the United States as a white nation,” according to Adrienne Dixson, a professor at the University of Illinois and author of the book Critical Race Theory in Education.
On both sides, the debate has grown over the past year with the nationwide, ethnically diverse, age-group-wide activism of Black Lives Matter which burst onto the social scene of the national conservative organization Parents Defending Education, whose purpose is to confront what they consider “divisive and polarizing ideas in the classroom,” as Critical Race Theory sees it.
On their website Parents Defending Education released a study in which they claim that 70 percent of respondents said it is not important for schools to “teach students that their race is the most important thing about them.” that 74 percent opposed teaching students that whites are inherently privileged and that Blacks and other people of color are inherently oppressed. They also say that 69 percent opposed teaching in schools that America was founded on racism and is structurally racist. Likewise, they say and that 80 percent oppose the use of classrooms to promote student political activism.
Is American society polarized? Undoubtedly, and in my opinion, this is an extremely dangerous element, a boiling cauldron with no safety valve.
Liudmila Peña Herrera,
Lisandra Gómez Guerra,
Dorelys Canivell CanaL
Published: Thursday 13 May 2021 | 10:30:46 pm. Updated: Friday 14 May 2021 | 03:55:27 pm.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Every time María Alejandra’s menstruation is late, she and her husband’s pulse quickens. The 35-year-old woman jokes that surely the female is coming, behind her boys, and he makes a face like he wants to pull his hair out, because “two are more than enough”. Then she returns to the subject that was almost forbidden that afternoon when he told her that he agreed to opt for male sterilization (vasectomy). However, it all remained a fleeting phrase.
“We had that conversation in front of my mother-in-law, who, upon hearing my proposal, screamed her head off,” says this Havana native, who currently uses condoms as the only contraceptive method, which was difficult to obtain more than a year ago.
There are many people who face the dilemma of finding the best way to control birth control or to put an end to their fertility. Ideally, the decision should be made in a consensual manner with the couple, but this is not always what prevails.
The 48th edition of Cuba’s Health Statistical Yearbook -which contains updated information up to 2019- states that intrauterine devices (IUDs) had the highest percentage (52.2 percent in that year) of contraceptive coverage, followed by female sterilization (tubal ligation), which reached 22.6 percent in 2019.
According to that document, this last value is the highest recorded since 1995 (the date from which the comparisons start). Other contraceptive methods referred to were pills, injectables and condoms. It is worth noting that male sterilization was not included among the options, at least not reported.
So common, it seems natural to many people that birth control is mostly a female concern, even if there are men who are willing to take a leading role.
A survey conducted in the streets of Sancti Spiritus shows the prevailing patriarchal ideology that affects these decisions. Among the opinions identified with this type of concepts, those that stand out are those that maintain that women should worry more because men have children, but if they want to, they do not raise them; if they change their mind after tubal ligation, they can go to the doctor and he will always know what to do.
The “discomfort” involved in the use of condoms and the discomfort associated with IUDs were also mentioned. Another of the ideas naturalized by popular opinion is that “if a woman has a cesarean section, she takes advantage of it and gets her tubes tied”.
This is confirmed by Claudia Bernal Castillo, who opted for tubal ligation surgery. We didn’t even talk about it at home,” explains the 32-year-old. If we only wanted two children, and we already had them, why let that moment go by”.
This is one of the reasons that move patients to request the surgical procedure to the Sancti Spíritus doctors Omar Rangel and Miguel González Bellón, specialists in Gynecology and Obstetrics, who assure that it happens “as a consequence of machismo”.
“This is a definitive and irreversible method of family planning. Although the application of methods to reverse it has been registered, the predominant thing is the appearance of ectopic pregnancies, which are a danger for the woman”, says Bellón.
Dr. Rangel adds: “It is always explained that it is not necessary to perform the procedure during the cesarean section, because it is more invasive and can generate a greater number of maternal deaths, since it involves a surgical intervention. It can be performed laparoscopically -which is less invasive and less risky- 48 hours postpartum”.
The possibility of complications was what made Yaritza Cabrera, 36 years old and a resident of the capital, desist from this procedure, minutes before the cesarean section. “When they were preparing me for the operation, including the oxygen mask, I vomited and almost choked. I was afraid that my blood pressure would rise, because I became tachycardic, so I told the doctor: ‘Forget about the ligature,'” she recalls.
Although both physicians from Sancti Spiritus agree that requesting this procedure is a woman’s right, they recommend it, especially under certain circumstances. Dr. Rangel explains that it is done up to the age of 39 and 40, and never before the age of 24. He also states that it is sometimes necessary to perform it on multiparous patients, those with serious psychiatric problems, decompensated diabetics and those with renal insufficiency.
Both consider that there is an urgent need to improve the culture regarding the use of multiple contraceptive methods: mechanical, endocrine, implants, tablets, etc., so that surgical intervention is not recurrent. “In the family planning consultation, which should be attended as a couple, providers should be trained to provide guidance, according to all the possibilities, so that the best option is chosen,” concluded Dr. Bellón.
Among the techniques used to write this report was a qualitative survey carried out in a private group created by this team for journalistic purposes (Experimento para textos periodísticos) on the social network Facebook, which is made up of 900 users residing in the country.
Most of the women acknowledged that when they decided to end their fertility through surgery, they made the decision alone, without consulting their partner. Some responded that they never thought of proposing to him to have a vasectomy, and it is noteworthy that several of them tried to negotiate to see which one would work best for them.
Several tried to negotiate to see which of the two would undergo the surgery, but it was not possible to reach an agreement. Two girls even proposed to their husbands to have it done and they were offended.
This is still a taboo subject,” says Yinet Córdova, from Holguín. I used condoms for many years because I couldn’t use other methods, and I gave them up when I was sterilized endoscopically, because my husband refused to have a vasectomy”.
For Rouslyn Navia, a resident of Havana, the story has not been much different. At 37 years old and with two children, she does not intend to get pregnant again. She did not opt for ligation during the cesarean section “for fear that the recovery would be more painful. Then I tried to negotiate with my husband to have the vasectomy, since he has several children. He did not agree.
Vasectomy is a surgical technique whose purpose is male sterilization, when the man has decided to put a definitive end to his fertility. However, urologist and andrologist Ramiro Fragas Valdés, specialist in Urology and master in Sexuality at the Cira García Central Clinic, in Havana, warns that, although it can be performed since the 1970s, “it is not practiced as much as it could be because, when couples are referred, they think more about tubal ligation, and because it is the woman who generally opts for sterilization. The idea is to change that, especially because vasectomy is a much simpler and less risky procedure for a man than tubal ligation is for a woman”.
One of the issues that prevent men from opting for this technique, in addition to prejudice, is misinformation. In the survey, most of the participants assured that they would not dare to have it done, and considered that the subject should have a greater presence in the media.
Although some said that “it is not a necessary method if the woman can get pregnant” and that “they say it is very painful”, it is striking that more than half of the men said that “it should be a more accessible option” and “information should be offered in family planning consultations and in sex education in schools”.
These opinions coincide with the opinion of Dr. Fragas, who believes that “if we break the taboo of machismo, if we make the method more widely known, and if we get family planning programs to offer it as an option to couples, vasectomy would be practiced much more than female sterilization, we would save resources, and we would save money. With female sterilization, we would save resources and take better care of women”.
T is a middle-aged man, a doctor, from Havana and childless. He does not want to mention his name, but agrees to share his experience because, despite wanting to undergo the surgery for many years, it has not been possible for him to do so. For years, it has not been possible for him. He says that he never wanted to have offspring, which is why, since he was a medical student, he asked about that possibility.
“First, it was not feasible because I was very young,” he recalls. Then, because I had no children. Later, I was frightened by the unwillingness I found to receive help with postoperative pain management. When I told myself I could handle it, the childlessness story came back.
T’s doubts and concerns may be those of other men. That is why we asked Dr. Fragas, also a member of the board of directors of the Cuban Urology Society, about these issues. The specialist explains that “vasectomy is a very simple surgery that is performed in 15 minutes. The rest period is two or three days, and sexual activity can be resumed after a week”.
However, he believes it is necessary to be clear that “the reversal -in case the patient wants to have children later- takes at least two hours because it is done through microsurgery, and the results are not always favorable. Therefore, it is generally recommended for couples in which the man and the woman are over 35 years old. It cannot be a hasty decision and should be promoted among stable unions, with two children or more”.
Dr. Fragas has extensive experience in this type of surgery, and between the incisional method and the one that does not require a scalpel (Li technique), he prefers the latter, although in his opinion both are equally effective.
“There are patients who feel safer with the traditional technique, with a scalpel,” explains the doctor, who in 2009 presented in Barcelona a casuistry of approximately 400 patients who had undergone surgery, together with other experts. It is also very simple, and one or two small incisions are made. Li’s technique does not change much, but the fact that it does not use a scalpel, that it is performed through a single incision in the median raphe under local anesthesia, makes it more attractive”.
The urologist assures us that the experience of these men, when the doctor makes an appointment to see them to see how it went, is very favorable. “They are very happy with the method and recommend it as something safe and simple,” he says.
Dr. Iliana Armas Ampudia, First Degree Urology and MGI specialist, and member of the Provincial Infertility Consultation in Pinar del Río, corroborates her colleague’s explanation and adds:
“The patient walks in and out of the consultation and should not have any complications. However, it is a very unusual practice. In more than ten years in the specialty, I have barely performed four, and I have colleagues who have performed one or two. Society still has many taboos about these issues. Men should know that it does not affect virility: their erections will remain the same, as will their ejaculation, only free of spermatozoa”.
He also points out that “the couple should continue to take care of themselves for up to three months after the surgery to completely avoid any risk of pregnancy”.
At the age of 67, Georgina Venegas, from Pinar del Río, remembers with gratitude the decision of her husband, journalist Rafael Cao, now deceased. He decided to have a vasectomy so that she would not have to undergo a ligation. It was the early 1990s, and Georgina had undergone two back-to-back terminations.
“We had one child together, and he had another from a first marriage. I had already turned 39, and I told him, ‘I’m going to have to tie the knot, unless you do.’ I just had to ask,” she says.
After a tenacious search in surgical records and operative reports by the nurses of the Urology service in Pinar del Río, this team managed to talk to Alfredo Miló, who underwent a vasectomy in 2019 to prevent his wife, already with two very complex pregnancies due to preeclampsia, from having to enter a salon again.
“Before deciding on a vasectomy, we looked at other alternative methods, but none of them satisfied us. I would tell her, ‘I don’t want you to go to the operating room,’ and she would say, ‘I do want you to go, but to have a vasectomy. Not knowing what it was like and with my machismo in front of me, I did not agree, and so we worked for several years, until I was convinced.
“During the operation I felt no pain. The recovery was perfect. I can tell those who doubt that vasectomy transports you to a world where worries are over.”
His wife, Yamilka Rodriguez, confesses that it was not at all easy to convince him, because “there was a lot of pressure from society and even from the family; even when he entered the salon they told him not to do it”.
Today, Yamilka says, not many people are surprised:
“Women ask me how I got her to have it done and men tell her: ‘You’re crazy, no woman deserves to have that done for them’. It is a deep-rooted machismo. In the face of that, I say that we are happy”.
As this is an issue that is discussed (when dialogue is achieved) within the couple, in the Family Planning Consultation of the municipality of Pinar del Río, each of the options available to avoid pregnancy is explained. In this regard, Dr. Lázara Medina Martínez, who has a diploma in Comprehensive Care for Women and a master’s degree in Communicable Diseases, points out that “vasectomy, in particular, is almost never accepted”.
From 2012 to date, during the time she has been working in this practice, only two couples have opted for this method, in both cases because the women had pathologies that prevented them from undergoing ligation.
In sexual and coupled life, as in social life, everyone has their own contexts, realities and determinants. It is true that as a country we are gaining more and more information and debate on topics that have traditionally been considered off-limits, or only of interest to sectors such as women, in the case of birth control and the end of fertility; but as long as there are options that have not been taken advantage of because of macho cultural patterns, there is still much to communicate and discuss.
On this path, there is nothing better than to seek guidance from specialists and positive experiences. Fortunately, when one looks to the horizon, one finds examples such as those of Ernesto Herrera, from Holguín, who has just become a father. He is sure that, “when the time comes, vasectomy will be the option I will take. It is safer and less traumatic than a ligation for my wife. It is also an act of love.
Juventud Rebelde |email@example.com
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Malicious interests are behind the campaign on the alleged Havana Syndrome, Johana Tablada, deputy director-general of the U.S. Directorate of the Cuban Foreign Ministry denounced today.
No report or study published in the United States, Cuba or the world provides scientific evidence that there were radiofrequency waves of great intensity in the area where the diplomats who reported health symptoms were located, said the official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX).
The only ones who won with this story are the members of a minority and reactionary group of politicians desperate and willing to resort to any means to try to impose and perpetuate the course of confrontation, lies and injustice in Washington’s policy against the Cuban people and the Americans themselves, she said.
Tablada maintained that the group of experts from Cuba that investigated this issue stated and explained why the thesis exposed most recently is an unlikely hypothesis, and certainly not a proven fact as the media and unidentified sources try to fix in people’s imagination.
She added that the Cuban Academy of Sciences disagreed on this possibility which she described as speculation presented as one more hypothesis, not supported by arguments in the body of the published report of the U.S. Academies of Sciences. The Americans themselves cannot assure what is the cause of the reported symptoms and the absence of information requested to the Washington government is critical, which limited their study.
The diplomat reiterated that the Academy of Sciences and the team of Cuban experts reject the politicization of the issue and recently reiterated the call for collaboration between both countries to solve the matter and establish the truth.
Tablada stressed that up to now the most concrete and factual thing we have seen is that symptoms were reported with such a diversity that even the State Department doctors explained, as well as the Cuban scientists, that so many elements cannot be attributed to a common cause.
The official recalled that the unfounded accusation against her country of the attacks served as a pretext for the withdrawal of most of the staff of the United States Embassy in Havana, in 2017, coupled with an unprecedented sequence of actions of hostility and setbacks in relations between the two countries and peoples.
She said that after the change of administration in the White House we are facing a new cycle of articles and leaks on the alleged existence of attacks, a word not used by official spokespersons of the Washington government in their most recent statements, according to PL. She pointed out that the common denominator of this set of publications is political speculation, manipulation and absence of primary sources and the misleading reference that assumes and presents as a true fact an alleged syndrome that was not proven by science.
The Deputy Director-General of the US Directorate of MINREX pointed out that there is no such thing as the Havana Syndrome outside of propaganda, but we live in a world, she stressed, in which perceptions matter more than realities.
She said that the investigations of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Ministry of the Interior (Minint) of Cuba were serious and conclusive in ruling out the existence of ultrasonic or infrasonic sonic attacks.
Tablada stressed that Cuba has not questioned the existence of health symptoms, has investigated the issue from the police, medical and scientific spheres and has made many attempts and calls to cooperate by delivering information of its investigations to the U.S. government.
The diplomat concluded that the main victim of this whole saga seems to be again the truth. The measures taken on the basis of unconfirmed speculation have not been reversed and the suffering they have caused to the Cuban people, families and bilateral and people-to-people relations has only been aggravated, she said.
Recently, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that agencies and departments across the federal government are working to address “unexplained health incidents” that are sometimes reported by different agencies and did not occur in one place.
Marco Rubio, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, insist on the so-called Havana Syndrome despite Cuba’s denial, supported by scientific studies, which categorically distances itself from such actions.
Author: Aracelys Bedevia
March 9, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The enigma of femininity has made men of all times cavillers. [quibblers] —Sigmund Freud
One more step forward in the effort to build a more humane society, a victory for those of us who work and dream for a better world, represents the program Cosas de hombres [Men’s Things] which has been broadcast every Monday for the past two weeks at 10:15 p.m. on Cubavisión channel.
Masterfully conducted by Doctor in Historical Sciences Julio César González Pagés and directed by Yolanda Cabrales, the new proposal has already put on the table two topics that generate plurality of criteria: machismo and feminism. What is it? Are we or are we not?
The guests represent a wide range of professions and activities that relate male behaviors in different social spheres. Víctor Fowler (writer), Rochy Ameneiro (singer), Omar Franco (actor), David Blanco (singer), Norma Vasallo (university professor), Andrea Doimeadiós (actress) and Marilyn Solaya (filmmaker) have spoken with Pagés so far; all of them very committed to the struggle for egalitarian spaces where men and women have the same opportunities and are valued as human beings, regardless of sex.
In Men’s Things there will be, from the scientific area, research, communication and teaching, Félix Julio Alfonso, Patricia Arés, Clotilde Proveyer, Yulexis Almeida, Tania de Armas, Yonnier Angulo, Jesús Muñoz Machín, Andrei Hernández and Francisco Cruz. Alberto Roque, Lisandra Chaveco, Yohanka Rodney, Yosvel Hernández, Oni Acosta, Enmanuel George, Arlin Rodríguez and Neida Peñalver will also be present, said Julio César González Pagés to Sexo Sentido.
Edesio Alejandro, Cristian Alejandro, Maykel Blanco, Israel Rojas, Jan Cruz, Luis Franco, Jorge Luis Robaina (Karamba), Juan Carlos Rivero (Moncada), Ernesto Blanco, Adrián Berazaín and Raúl Torres will accompany the debate with music, acting and direction. The list includes Rodrigo García, Tony Ávila, Alberto Corona, Denis Ramos, Jorge Martínez, Maysel Bello, Lizette Vila, Marcos Herrera and Sebastián Milo. Representing the athletes will be multi medalist Victor Moya, in the high jump.
Dr. Pagés, leader of the Ibero-American and African Network of Masculinities (RIAM) and author of more than a dozen titles (Macho, varón, masculino and Por andar vestida de hombre, among others), says that “the idea came up in 2013 during a visit of director Yolanda Cabrales to my house.
“She had directed Ecos de mujer and wanted to create a space where men were the protagonists. In 2020 Rafael Pérez Insua, director of Cubavisión, called on us to rethink the project. With COVID-19 we had to look for alternatives. The original idea underwent changes, but gained nuances for discussion.”
-How much time will you be on screen and what other topics will you be discussing?
-We will discuss health, paternity, sexuality, violence… There will be 13 segments with a duration of 27 minutes, divided into four parts , with three guests and a section called Tangled Men, which is coordinated by Yonnier Angulo and addresses the impact of social networks on contemporary life and masculinities.
-We talk a lot about violence against women and very little about violence against men. Don’t you think that machismo is one of the reasons why this violence is invisible?
-One of the big obstacles is that women’s demands have been resisted by men who do not see them as a priority. A change of vision from hegemonic masculinities is to give them the prominent place in the effort to end inequalities in order to achieve a more equitable society.
“Revolutionary experiences have taught us that the inequalities suffered by women do not end with the end of capitalism, because there are men who are still interested in maintaining the subordination of women.
“Understanding the issue is complicated when a sector suggests that these demands can divert us from more urgent or important objectives at the national level or consider them sectoral demands, and believe that we can create the bonds of solidarity necessary to transform society without questioning male supremacy.
“More than defending men, it is about knowing [mens’] vulnerabilities and prioritizing an agenda that deconstructs the myths of [male] supremacy. We must first and foremost learn to be full humans in order to live in harmony and not be the source of so much violence and destruction.”
-Is it a good time for a program of this kind?
-Yes, it comes at an excellent time of changes in Cuban society. Laws related to our masculinities are being passed and it is important to be prepared for this. There is a great need to educate the population on the various questions related to masculinities and to offer ways to unlearn toxic macho values.
José Luis Estrada Betancourt |firstname.lastname@example.org
March 8, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
I couldn’t help but think of my mother as soon as I started watching Madam C. J. Walker: Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, the miniseries released by Netflix in 2020 and now broadcast by Cubavisión on Saturdays at around 9:15 p.m. And not only because the extraordinary actress Octavia Spencer brings my Juana to mind, but because the story she stars in and for which she was nominated for Emmy awards, brought me back to those years of my childhood in which so many times I found the mistress of my days girdled with a hot comb to smooth her hair soaked in fat smelly grease.
It frightened me that I had to try, by fire, to make them find her beautiful, sliding that red-hot iron through the bundle of strong and unruly hair that she inherited from our ancestors, to leave them shiny and straight. I preferred to leave so as not to witness a possible accident, an alternative that did not disappear when it was the turn of the curling iron and the curl began to bend in a more permanent way with a chemical treatment that does not even spare the scalp.
I didn’t even wonder then what would be wrong with natural hair. It seemed to me the most common thing in the world that some people wanted to “advance the breed”, or that, before inquiring about their health, they were concerned with finding out how the newborn had turned out: It is evident that I was not ready to understand then that the centuries of slavery, of colonialism, imposed a Eurocentrism that later capitalism and imperialism were in charge of accentuating, to the point that this racist concept, which is so discriminatory, is so impregnated in my mind, that I was not ready to understand then that the centuries of slavery, of colonialism, imposed a Eurocentrism that later capitalism and imperialism were in charge of accentuating, to the point that this racist concept, discriminatory, is so impregnated in us (still today) that it can be common that in many spaces what does not comply with the “white beauty” is taken as dirty, unkempt, inappropriate, unprofessional, and is associated with poverty and marginality.
Undoubtedly, the theory of the existence of human races (over time up to 63 were classified, although Cuba must have surpassed that figure with so many mulattoes, mulatos blanconazos, jabaos, capirros, Indians…) was a great “invention” for those who sought to establish their social and cultural supremacy. The truth is that, although scientifically it has been destroyed, the direct derivative of this concept: racism, has not disappeared at all.
Madam C. J. Walker: A Self-Made Woman, a story that aims to bring us closer to the life of Sarah Breedlove (who later became C.J. Walker when she remarried publicist Charles Walker and took his name for her business), the first African-American woman to achieve the status of millionaire in the United States, could speak more forcefully about all of this, but does not.
However, viewers should not think that they will get to know much about this revered figure by African Americans with the four 45-minute chapters that Netflix offers us, because suddenly we will find her as a notable businesswoman and philanthropist when in a scene filmed in broad daylight, we discover her dressed in beautiful blue, as if she were dressed for an Oscar award ceremony, protecting herself from the sun, strolling outside her mansion where she will be noticed by her neighbor Rockefeller.
“To whom God gave it…”, those who think I’m envious are probably thinking right now. It’s just that no divine force must have given her anything, but she certainly had to fight very hard to be able to create an empire in the cosmetics industry with hair products. How did a black woman, who came into the world in 1867, on a cotton plantation in Louisiana, orphaned at the age of seven, more than poor, without any education, a domestic servant who lost her knuckles washing, manage to impose herself in a United States living in full racial segregation, in that lamentable period (1877-1950) when more than 4,400 African-Americans were victims of terrible lynchings? How was she able to achieve this, subjected to men, as women were in the early years of the 20th century, and despised for her sex and her skin?
We will not know it from the series Madam C. J. Walker... It will remain as a pending task to approach in depth the existence of this totally unknown woman (at least for me). In this production, such historical context is just a postcard in the background. Of course, we will be moved by the image of some being hanging in a tree, but the story of the protagonist played by Spencer will move along other paths.
It begins when the beautiful Addie Munroe (Carmen Ejogo), a mulatto whose white genes gave her a long and abundant mane, is shown before Sarah with the “crecepelo”, a product that will not only solve her hair loss problems, but will also give her back, above all, her self-esteem. Seeing that it works, the future tycoon, excited, will propose to her savior to let her participate in the sale, but the first one, who in a “rapture of kindness” provided it, was not willing to give that miracle to darker people with bad hair. Just what writer Alice Walker (The Color Purple) calls “colorism” to describe that other expression of “internal” racism.
You don’t have to be too imaginative to know how the script will develop in the future: Sarah and Addie, who will give her one setback after another, will become bitter enemies, although those who are familiar with Madam C. J. Walker’s biography assure that this is one of the many licenses taken by the authors of the scripts, in order to provide the ingredients that would make the melodrama move forward in the right direction.
In fact, if one is to go by the events presented to us from the novel On Her Own Ground, by A’Lelia Bundles, on which this biopic is based, Madam C. J. Walker, rather than the enormous injustices that African-Americans had to face in the early 20th century, was made more difficult by Addie (who, let’s face it, ended up stealing her invention, which she miraculously copied and obtained) and the men around her – such as Charles Walker (Blair Underwood), the husband jealous of his wife’s success; and John (J. Alphonse Nicholson), the ungrateful husband of her daughter, Leila Walker (Tiffany Haddish). She becomes betrayed, even by some of the very women to whom she gave support and work…. Nothing, the series seems to reinforce the popular saying that there is no worse wedge than the wedge of one’s own stick.
In any case, the undeniable fact is that with her efforts Madam C. J. Walker overcame poverty, humiliation, discrimination, classist and sexist prejudices… to rise as a true exponent of the American dream and to honor the title of this dramatization that was released in March, just two months before George Floyd ended up dead under the knee of ex-cop Derek Chauvin.
For me, Madam C. J. Walker: A Self-Made Woman stands out, above all, for the superb performance of Octavia Spencer (who also serves as executive producer), ever so believable, ever so convincing. Yes, Spencer is an actress of the highest caliber. She reminded us again this Sunday thanks to the film Hidden Figures, which was put on by Arte 7. We saw her, as splendid as her two other co-stars (Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe), also with her hair ironed, chemically straightened or in wigs, because that’s what is generally expected of black actresses and models on TV or in the movies. As beautiful as diversity is! But it is difficult to overthrow what has been coined for so many years in the sociocultural field.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Speech by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, at the XXVII Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, on April 21, 2021, “Year 63 of the Revolution”.
His Excellency Xavier Espot Zamora, Head of Government of the Principality of Andorra;
His Majesty Felipe VI;
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government of Ibero-America and other heads of delegations; Your Excellency Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary-General:
Please receive cordial greetings on behalf of the Cuban people and Government.
The efforts of the Principality of Andorra to organize this Summit and to give continuity to the work of the Ibero-American Conference, in the period that is coming to an end, under the exceptional conditions imposed by COVID-19, must be acknowledged and thanked.
Our congratulations and support to the sister Dominican Republic, next Pro Tempore Secretariat.
Cuba has experiences to show and attaches special relevance to the theme of this appointment: “Innovation for Sustainable Development-Objective 2030. Ibero-America facing the challenge of the Coronavirus”.
In barely a year, a devastating pandemic has worsened the living conditions of millions of human beings on the planet and caused the worst economic downturn in nine decades¹. In contrast, five years after its adoption, hardly any progress has been made in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
There is talk of the multiple crises generated by COVID-19, but some problems are dozens of years older.
Developing countries are burdened with the unbearable weight of a foreign debt that has already been paid a thousand times over, and some of them are also suffering the impact of unilateral coercive measures that violate international law and hinder their legitimate right to development.
Until a just, democratic and equitable international economic order can be established to address the root causes of inequalities and move towards the Sustainable Development Goals, these will remain a chimera for most of the world’s peoples.
Let us be honest. The current development paradigms cause poverty and exclusion of the majority due to their irrational patterns of production and consumption that, under the designs of the market, disdain the most valuable thing: human life and dignity.
An inclusive Ibero-America, which takes into account the interests and development needs of all the members of this Conference, can favor the progress of our nations.
Sustainable development demands political will, solidarity, cooperation, financial and technology transfers from developed countries and equitable access to these resources that takes into account accumulated inequalities.
The pandemic has laid bare an indisputable truth: health and social protection systems, education, science, technology and available material resources must be put at the service of all and not at the mercy of the narrow interests of a few. Regardless of ideologies, the State has a responsibility to assume in the use of resources associated with the life and well-being of citizens.
As I explained at the Ibero-American Summit in Veracruz in 2014, in Cuba, science and innovation have been key factors in the development process and social justice objectives. This premise, which is a fundamental part of the legacy of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, has allowed us to face the current pandemic under the blockade.
A robust system of science and technological innovation with an advanced and efficient biotechnological and pharmaceutical industry, allied to the universal, free and quality health system, with highly specialized human resources, have made possible the Cuban response to the pandemic that seems to surprise some.
A little more than a year after the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in the country, we have five vaccine candidates, two of them, Soberana 02 and Abdala, in Phase III clinical trials and we hope to immunize the entire Cuban population before the end of 2021, with our own vaccines.
Our National Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, gives a leading role to innovation and scientific research.
The links between government structures and the knowledge and goods and services production sectors have been strengthened to promote innovation for economic and social development, with emphasis on local development.
Cuba has 229 Science, Technology and Innovation entities, of which 141 are Research Centers, 26 Scientific and Technological Services Centers, 61 Development and Innovation Units and a Science and Technology Park², and at the same time it is developing a Government Management System based on Science and Innovation.
The Government of the United States, in the midst of the pandemic, brutally tightened the economic, commercial and financial blockade, and financed and supported dangerous acts of violence and disrespect for the law to promote social and political instability in our country. The Cuban people have responded by redoubling their proverbial resistance to the blow of creativity.
The campaigns of the U.S. Government to discredit and boycott the medical cooperation that Cuba offers have not tarnished our vocation of solidarity and cooperation: 57 medical brigades of the Henry Reeve Contingent have contributed to confront the pandemic in 40 countries and territories. Many of the members of this Conference have appreciated the high altruism of Cuban health professionals.
The legitimacy of a government emanates from the expressed and sovereign will of its people, not from the recognition of foreign powers. The Government presided over by the constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros must be respected.
It is unfair to blame the Venezuelan Government for the economic and social situation facing Venezuela, when the application of cruel unilateral coercive measures, planned and implemented by the United States accompanied by several of its allies, with the aim of causing suffering among the population, continues. These coercive measures promote emigration, a phenomenon about which some express great concern and could contribute to resolving its cause.
It would be useful and sincere to recognize that the U.S. design of intervention in Venezuela failed miserably and placed other countries that supported it in an untenable political and legal situation.
Those who claim to respect the will of the Venezuelan people and promote a political solution among Venezuelans should recognize that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a sovereign state, cease meddling and act with respect for the United Nations Charter and the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
On behalf of the Cuban people, I am grateful for the traditional support of the Ibero-American community for the just demand to put an end to the blockade against Cuba, as well as the signs of rejection to the arbitrary and unilateral qualification of our country as a sponsor of terrorism, by the Government of the United States.
Cuba maintains unchanged its policy of solidarity and international cooperation for the benefit of our peoples, and will never renounce the construction of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation, always ready to share, as a human heritage, the results of our experiences based on Science and Innovation.
Thank you very much to all of you.
Taken from the Report: “The Inequality Virus”, published by OXFAM on January 25, 2021 and available at: https://www.oxfam.org/es/informes/el-virus-de-la-desigualdad
Data provided by Citma’s International Relations Department.
Posted: Saturday 27 February 2021 | 08:16:08 pm.
Author: Marina Menéndez Quintero | email@example.com
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Assets, buildings and even military bases. What no country would put at stake, should serve as a guarantee against possible legal claims…
Abusive demands, some said; others sniffed out a hypothetical ulterior motive, and third parties even concluded that such far-reaching forecasts showed too much distrust of the manufacturer’s own product.
What is palpable is that the revelations about the unimaginable conditions that the pharmaceutical company Pfizer has imposed on Latin American countries in order to sell its vaccine against COVID-19, are a clear illustration of the concerns expressed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and by the UN Secretary General himself, about the difficulties that poor nations will have to face in order to immunize their populations.
“I must be frank: the world is on the brink of catastrophic moral failure, and the price of this failure will be paid in the lives and livelihoods of the poorest countries,” warned Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, last month, drawing attention to the huge inequality in access to vaccines around the world.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reiterated warnings about how inequity caused by the unfair global economic order and lack of cooperation will once again prey on the poor – now in the face of a deadly threat as direct as the pandemic – when he criticized what he called the “grossly unequal and unfair” distribution of the vaccine.
At that time, he pointed out, only ten countries had administered 75 percent of all the doses distributed worldwide, while more than 130 countries had yet to receive a single dose.
In this context, the revelations made public a few days ago by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) – a news organization dedicated to investigative journalism based in London – and the Peruvian media Ojo Público, based in Lima, about the difficult negotiations of nations such as Argentina and Brazil to acquire the vaccine produced by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, acquire support.
Their harsh and unusual demands illustrate the additional obstacles that resource-poor nations, including those more solvent ones that have not produced their own vaccine, may face, beyond the lack of current money.
As the journalistic investigation acknowledged, “most governments offer indemnification (exemption from legal liability) to the vaccine manufacturers they buy from.”
That is, the government would pay for any lawsuits against the manufacturer that a vaccinated person might file. “This is fairly typical of vaccines administered in a pandemic,” he noted, even though adverse effects are very rare.
However, Pfizer’s demands for Argentina and another nation, whose representatives have remained anonymous because negotiations are continuing, went further, asking for additional indemnification against any claims, officials in Buenos Aires said.
After representatives of the southern cone nation had negotiated difficult requirements that demanded changes in its legislation, Pfizer went so far as to demand “that the sovereign assets be part of the legal backing,” said a participant in the negotiation.
This happened at the end of December. It involved the Argentine government putting up its sovereign assets – which could include federal bank reserves, embassy buildings or military bases – as collateral against potential claims.
“We offered to pay millions of doses in advance, we accepted this international insurance, but the last request was extraordinary (…). It was an extreme demand that I had only heard when it was necessary to negotiate the foreign debt; but in that case, as in this one, we rejected it immediately”, the source affirmed.
Similar conditions were imposed to countries such as Brazil, where there were no agreements until today.
According to a message on Twitter by Misión Verdad, nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have reached agreements with Pfizer.
Although the tweet states that “the terms of these commercial agreements are not known” -and in truth it is information that in many cases is confidential-, the investigation by The Bureau… and Ojo Público gives an account of the rigors faced by Peru, and the “set of binding conditions” that it had to sign to close the agreement.
These included a supreme executive decree by which the nation committed to submit to international arbitration if disputes arose in the contracts for the purchase of the lots. At the same time, Peru waived “the sovereign immunity of the State for the enforcement of an arbitration decision”.
Contacted by The Bureau…, Pfizer declined to discuss the ongoing private negotiations, but argued that it has allocated doses to low- and middle-income countries at not-for-profit prices, including an advance purchase agreement to supply up to 40 million doses to Covax: a UN-sponsored project, and the only one worldwide that aims to facilitate access to vaccines for poor countries.
Meanwhile, vaccines that were initially viewed with apprehension, such as the Russian Sputnik V, are increasingly being used in Latin American countries.
Although Mexico has also acquired the Pfizer vaccine, in a message published on Twitter on the 23rd, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard thanked President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Foreign Minister and the Ambassador in his country “for their support in making possible the arrival of Sputnik V vaccines to our country. Mexico-Russia friendship grows stronger,” he wrote. More than 20 million doses arrived from Moscow, far exceeding the thousands of vaccines from other companies that had arrived until then.
It is known that Sputnik V has also been acquired by Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Bolivia. In Peru its acquisition has been recommended and it has been reported that Brazil is planning to buy it, while it was expected to arrive in Chile. Reports state that in Ecuador contacts have been maintained with suppliers.
Meanwhile, reports from the Russian Embassy in Mexico state that the Russian Direct Investment Fund is looking for allies to produce Sputnik V in that Latin American nation.
In the midst of so much selfishness, the purpose could be evidence of humanistic logic. Mexico is the second country in the Americas with the second highest death rate from COVID-19.
But there is no shortage of people who appreciate the growing presence of Sputnik V as an expression of Moscow’s growing influence in the region.
Cooperation is needed
One hundred and eighty nations have endorsed the Covax initiative, which needs the help of rich countries to provide the funds to buy the drug. Ghana became the first country to receive a batch this week.
However, the pace may be very slow. According to officials involved in the initiative, the aim through Covax is to be able to vaccinate just 20 percent of the most vulnerable population in each participating country by the end of this year.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance coalition, a network of organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam and Global Justice Now, estimates that nearly 70 low-income countries could vaccinate only one in ten citizens.
The response from potential donors is still not registering at the required level. Dr. Tedros explained that vaccines can only be delivered to Covax member countries if rich nations cooperate and honor contracts, referring to commitments made by the United States and the European Union to significantly increase their contribution.
On the other hand, regional solidarity initiatives are trying to help and could be very effective if they were more generalized.
An example of cooperation actions that could help is provided by ALBA-TCP (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America and the Peoples’ Trade Agreement), whose Bank announced in December – by the decision of the most recent Summit – the creation of a modest fund of two million dollars as financial relief to member countries that needed to acquire the vaccine and had not concluded negotiations with the supplying companies due to lack of money.
The availability or otherwise of the vaccine by all nations will be absolutely decisive in the planet’s triumph over the pandemic. Faced with COVID-19, we will either all emerge or we will all stagnate.