By Claudia Korol
March 22, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
He was not yet Che, when he traced a route of travel through the lepers of the continent. He wasn’t the romantic hero or the guerrilla. He was a sensitive doctor willing to “touch” human pain, a product of poverty, stigmatization, isolation, and fear.
In their journey across the continent together with Alberto Granado, they met and challenged the logic of health care, visiting the lepers from Cordoba to Peru and Brazil. They sought answers in their dialogues with the Peruvian doctor Hugo Pesce, who shared with them everything from the writings of José Carlos Mariátegui – the rebel communist who questioned dogmas and made passion a fundamental part of the revolution – to his knowledge of the daily fight against leprosy.
In those years Ernesto wrote to his father:
“[…] farewells like the one the sick people in the Lima Leper colony gave us are the kind of farewells that invite you to go on […] All the affection depends on our going there without our duster or gloves, shaking hands with them like any neighbor’s child and sitting among them to talk about anything or play soccer with them. It may seem to you like a pointless comradely, but the psychic benefit to one of these sick people treated like a wild animal, the fact that people treat them like normal beings is incalculable and the risk involved is extraordinarily remote […]’.
There are many other writings by the young Guevara, in which he expresses his conviction that there is no true medicine that does not “touch” the roots of pain, and that does not break those imposed conditions of isolation, when they do not build bridges in which collective solutions to urgent needs circulate back and forth. There is no social medicine that does not question the capitalism that enriches itself by sowing disease and multiplying misery.
Was the young Fuser (Furibundo Serna, as his friends called him) an irresponsible boy when he visited the lepers and treated the people who survived there without fear or prejudice?
Was Che irresponsible when he decided to join his fate, as José Martí said, to the poor of the earth, making his way in the guerrilla struggle?
Many tried to make him irresponsible, before and after his immense figure multiplied in the hearts of the people of the world. To those who did, he replied in his ironic style, in his farewell letter to his parents written in 1965: “Many will call me an adventurer, and I am one, only of a different kind and one of those who put their skins on to prove their truths.
Che put his skin, body and soul, to fight the virus of capitalism, because he knew that its expansion and multiplication would only lead to new and increasingly dangerous wars, invasions, dictatorships, epidemics, and social diseases. His generous seed was tattooed on the social consciousness of the people
In these days when everyone shows off the tracks on their skin and in their awareness, fruit of battles won and lost, I think that the gestures of Che are indicated in this Cuba. [The Cuba] that opens its borders to receive the people infected by the Covid-19 virus that arrived in the English ship. I think that they are in the Cuban doctors who travel to Brazil, after the Bolsonaro government violently expelled them, subjecting them to humiliation and persecution as criminals; in those who travel to Madrid, to Lombardy, and to other destinations where the threat multiplies. Wouldn’t they be “safer”, wouldn’t they feel more “cared for”, taking refuge on the island and closing its borders?
Here, the profound internationalism of those who feel / live the world as a territory is put to the test, in the face of the narrow nationalisms and localisms that raise walls, as if the viruses could not get over them.
I think that the traces of Che, his gestures, are in the many doctors, nurses, health workers, who are exposed to the risks of the body to body, but who demand, more than the applause, that an adequate budget is allocated for health, for a healthy diet, to guarantee proper hygiene in all the houses, to safeguard the minimum conditions of care in hospitals, wards, and in the slums where the ambulances do not arrive.
Is the budget not enough, they say? Let’s make the collective gift that our mother from Plaza de Mayo, Norita Cortiñas, asked us for her birthday, and let’s decide once and for all not to pay the foreign debt. What’s crazy? Yes, it could be. Mothers have always been crazy. Their madness is our mental health as a people, it’s memory against impunity.
Great crises. New answers needed. Something like demanding that the state stop police patrols from chasing us when we go out to meet a basic need, and that they allocate the means and resources to bring health and food to distant places. Water for the Wichi. Freedom for political prisoners. Care for those who survive in places of detention.
Demand from the state and at the same time, build autonomy. I think that the traces of Che are multiplying in the activists of the popular movements that today organize the arrival of food, of elements of hygiene, of attention and care for those who are in necessary isolation. Health guerrillas – including mental health guerrillas – are shaking hands with lepers, with those infected by fear, by shame, by hunger, by despair. Popular guerrillas of the embrace, of care, of intransigent rebellion against the state militarization of all dimensions of life.
I speak of the community feminists, the popular feminists, the lifeguards, building bridges from solitude to solitude. I speak of the women who take care of the picnic areas and soup kitchens, looking for ways to continue reaching those who survive every day with food. I speak of the multiplication of the memory of resistance, flooding and overflowing the social networks, so that the 30,000 know that here we are, as always, building squares in the houses if necessary, making history so that the revolutions do not fail. So that they know that neither yesterday nor today, we will leave them out in the open. That we will repeat the gestures, until no virus has a little crown. Until collective victory, against loneliness.
A difficult, but not invincible rival, appears in our geography. It needs to be defeated, in the purest sports jargon, with a KO.
By Gladys Leidys Ramos
March 23, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
A difficult, but not invincible, opponent appears in our geography and needs to be defeated, in the purest sporting jargon, with a KO. Victory will not be rewarded with a gold medal, but with the most brilliant prize: life. For this, we have the best Cuban team: the national health system and our families.
The game will be tense, long and with constant strategies, at the height of the best game of chess, basketball or baseball. The Cuban people and all its institutions will fight for the ultimate victory.
The rapid spread of the new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19 disease, has set off alarm bells all over the world. A total of 171 countries, among them 41 Latin American and Caribbean peoples, are being threatened by this pandemic. However, Cuba has the necessary conditions for its prevention.
The measures taken by the country’s leadership and the national health system are intended to avoid any vulnerability that could undermine the well-being and quality of life of every Cuban. In this effort, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution are holding health meetings throughout the country to help raise the perception of risk of this disease.
In the People’s Council of San Francisco de Paula, in the capital city of San Miguel del Padrón, one of these debates was held on the causes and consequences of the new coronavirus, its forms of propagation and the actions that should be taken to reduce the possibilities of infection.
“The objective of this meeting is to keep the population prepared. I insist on hygiene precautions for each person: washing hands with soap and water or alcoholic solutions; also cleaning surfaces with this type of product. Primary care, where the actions begin, is ready and trained to deal with this phenomenon. In the polyclinics and clinics, all the personnel are working to keep the information on the subject up to date,” Luelsis Hernández, director of health in the municipality, told the residents of the popular council.
Sandra Layón, coordinator of Zone 55, expressed her concern, specifically with the population of San Francisco, because she believes it may be vulnerable. “There is talk that the fundamental basis for containing the infection is the doctors’ offices, but I think that the work of the doctors and nurses in our territory should be intensified, in the field, which is the main scenario for detecting cases.
On that point, Hernandez Torres said that although there are 20 doctor’s offices in that community, and each one has doctor and nurse coverage, he agreed with the call to defeat this disease.
Risk perception and prevention are key against the coronavirus. Although the work of health specialists is essential in preventing phenomena like this, the will and responsibility of each one is equally important.
Nurse Maria Hernandez called for responsibility and discipline in the investigations that are currently being carried out in the area,, This is one way in which the primary health care network can rule out or identify any case of infection by the virus.
Idania Bastida, a pharmaceutical worker, agreed with her and called on all the inhabitants of the popular council to be able to maintain the hygiene of the community with the resources they have.
“It is important not to form gatherings on street corners, especially now that we have several collectors. We must also respect the schedules for dumping that waste. We know that there are places where trucks cannot gain access due to the geographical characteristics of our town, but that is why the collectors were installed on the corners,” said the ceding company.
Adis Aba Escalona, an official of the Federation of Cuban Women, took advantage of the occasion to inform the residents that the creative women in the municipality are working on making nasobucos, as a protective measure.
“For that reason, we are calling on everyone who knows how to sew to join in this work and complete as many as possible, not only in San Miguel del Padrón, but also in the entire capital and, if possible, in the country.
Jan Carlos Serabay warned of the need for young people, as a sector that can be vulnerable due to the low perception of risk, to contribute individually and collectively, not only to avoid infection in their age group, but also to transmit information from social networks, so that Cuban society becomes informed and aware.
On the other hand, Dr. Dairis Escobar recalled that, unlike other peoples, our country has the possibility of taking effective measures. “We take measures so that every Cuban becomes a protagonist and communicator of hygiene actions and discipline from the workplace and the home; for that we do not need greater material resources, only the perception of risk and the willingness of each person to take care of themselves and others.
The health system is doing its job, from the preparation of each worker in the sector, doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, laboratory workers, etc., to the conditioning of rooms in hospitals, to wait for admissions with everything ready,” he added.
March 25, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The 71-year-old Prince of Wales “has shown some mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home in recent days,” a spokesman for the British Royal House said.
His wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, has also been tested for COVID-19, but she tested negative, the text added.
Sources at Clarence House said Charles and Camilla are currently in isolation at the royal residence of Balmoral in Scotland, adding that it was not possible to determine who infected the prince with the virus.
“It is not possible to determine from whom the prince contracted the virus due to the many commitments he made in his public role over the past few weeks,” the official statement from the Royal House said.
Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, said the monarch last saw her son on March 12 and that “he is in good health.
The prince’s last public engagement was that same day, and he has been working from home ever since, according to official sources.
However, the Press Association news agency says the prince has had several private meetings with different people, who have already been informed.
According to the latest figures from the British Department of Health, there are currently more than 8,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, but the number of cases is likely to be higher.
Of that number, 422 people have died from COVID-19.
By Jorge Gómez Barata
March 18, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
I heard two appeals to the Cuban government yesterday. A brief and peremptory: “Close the airports: Now!” The other one sounds like a plea: “I ask the Cuban government please DO NOT to send our medical personnel anywhere…”
By the way, the Chinese authorities believe they have identified “patient zero.” He is a man who contracted the virus in mid-November 2019. Since then, more than 100 days, after which there are three sick people in Cuba, no dead, and about 150 contacts under medical supervision. why then close the airports?
The other fellow Cuban, asks that “no medical and nursing be sent anywhere…” The thing is, the government doesn’t send them. In any case, it summons trained professionals and in full use of their rights acting voluntarily. Probably, many take on the task not as a task, but as an opportunity. I know comrades, myself among them, who believe it was worthwhile to go Angola where the risks were enormous.
In December 2019, China was surprised by the aggressiveness of COVID-19, but not Europe and the United States. In fact, since the end of December 2019 and early March 2020, had more than 60 days to prepare. The warning was early, although the reaction turned out to be late. The alarm, at times a mixture of impotence and hysteria, is motivated not only by the explosive spread of COVID-19, but also by the ineffectiveness of health systems in responding to situations to guide social and economic activity. societies to observe minimum rules.
Cuba, with more than 100,000 doctors and sufficient nursing staff, more than 3000 hospital beds for that purpose, the means to diagnose and the necessary medicines and a national mobilization led by the president of the republic, manages the threat. It does this without demanding extraordinary sacrifices and costs from the population which they cannot incur.
Cuban solvency stems from having faced two major epidemics: African Swine Fever in 1980 and a sudden outbreak of Dengue Fever that 1981 affected more than 300,000 people, 158 of whom died. To study, participate in events or get cured, they come to the island by the thousands, people from poor countries and tropical climates where there are infectious diseases. Cubans, too, by the hundreds of thousands as happened in Angola, travel and stay in those countries. Rejecting some and preventing others from traveling is not part of Cuba’s national health doctrine.
Cuban solvency can be explained by the fact that for decades, thanks to the existence of an effective health model, based on a system of primary care, an advanced approach to the epidemiological issue [has been in place] It addresses the prevention and treatment of diseases like Dengue, Zika, Cholera, Chikunguya and others. Cuba’s strengths show that it is not always about money. From one day to the next some developed countries can have fifty billion dollars to deal with the pandemic. However, no amount of money will allow you to install national primary care and to have hospital capacities to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Nor is it possible to inculcate all people, the habit of going to the doctor as the Cubans do, among other reasons, because none of them will leave in debt or broke.
The task of the moment, as the World Health Organization suggests, is to identify, isolate and cure the infected, and control rigorously their contacts. As for the tourists, people presumably healthy, checked in their countries and re-examined when you get to the island, there’s nothing to be afraid of. As it has always been done, those who arrive healthily will be cared for and those who unfortunately get sick, they’ll be cured. See you there.
By Rolando Pérez Betancourt
March 16, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
A few days ago, actress Gwyneth Paltrow appeared on social networks wearing a mask and this recommendation: “I’ve already been in this movie. Stay safe. Don’t wave. Wash your hands often.”
The film Paltrow was referring to is Contagion (Steven Soderberg, 2011), the most-watched on the Internet in recent weeks because of its similarity to that global scourge that keeps humanity against the wall, Covid-19.
Contagioun has a first-rate international cast: Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Matt Damon, in addition to Paltrow, and is the film, within the genre of catastrophe, that most resembles what we’re experiencing, something like if since fiction its scriptwriter, Scott Z. Burns, had been sending out a warning message.
In Contagion, Soderberg once again demonstrates his ability to combine experimental films with documentary elements and commercial touches, a formula that, through the use of breathless editing, opens the doors to vast audiences, while at the same time immersing the viewer in an atmosphere of tribulation.
The film talks about a virus that is supposedly transmitted from Hong Kong. Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, infected by a chef who shakes her hand after preparing a strange dish, later visits a casino where she blows the dice on a man who will die two days later. There he will contaminate everyone who approaches him, people who in a few hours will take planes to different parts of the world. On her way back to her native Minnesota, she falls ill and dies.
The epidemic takes on a global dimension and scientists begin to work on a vaccine, while the most diverse reactions take place in a film that gives great importance to the secondary characters: a blogger who denounces an international conspiracy that links the government with the pharmaceutical industry, cases of extreme selfishness, countries with no economic possibilities that are not involved in international cooperation, the manipulative role of the media and the lukewarmness, at the level of the nation and from the first moments, with which it faces what is happening.
It is true that there are other films that deal with the subject, but none with the realism of Contagioun, hence the worldwide resurrection that makes many people look for it, and especially those people who remain in quarantine in their respective countries, perhaps because after long anguished suspense of anguish, the conflict opens the way to hope.
It is logical that in this “re-envisioning” the scriptwriter of Contagion, Scott Z. Burns, a faithful collaborator of Soderberg, returns to the foreground – with greater force than nine years ago. Interviewed by the website Slate, he had no qualms about condemning the cold actions of some governments in the face of the pandemic, starting with President Trump, who in the first moments relied more on his elusive messages via Twitter than on concrete actions.
According to Burns, while writing the script for the film, he went to meet with leading scientists who told him that the issue was not whether what he said could happen, but “when” it would happen. “When scientists say something, it’s better to listen,” the screenwriter said, and he had words of praise for the professionals at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control who advised him on his script. But he complained, “We’re finding out that we don’t have enough kits to test and for some reason, we’ve dissolved our pandemic response teams.
Speaking of the many people who tell him that the film was becoming a reality, Burns responds that he said, “I never imagined that there were leaders in this country who would leave us defenseless.
From a long interview appeared on the Slate website and an extensive lunge by Scott Z. Burns: “The administration and the Republican Party talk about protecting people with a wall [on the border with Mexico], but we don’t even have test kits. And he blames the lack of measures against hoarding, demonic price hikes, and other reprehensible aspects. “Where is the law when there are people on the Internet selling miracle cures?” he wonders. Those who saw the film remember the tricks of a grotesque con man in it, one more similarity of the many that come to show that, between fiction and reality, only the passage of life is in between.