Unity “From Below” Can Work in Cuba

Dmitri Prieto

When in tune a community can make itself heard. Photo: Irina Echarry

A while ago I wrote a post about how in the neighborhood assemblies in my town (Santa Cruz del North) a unanimous demand was generated to halt the administrative decision already functioning, to take away specialized hospital services from our community.

The administration argued that such services should be centralized in a larger urban center, but people objected that such centralization would generate a countless number of complications that would have negative repercussions on our health and quality of life.

I should say today that I feel very happy, because a few days ago we were informed that the specialties of our hospital will stay in Santa Cruz.

A friend of the family also gave us the good news that the operating room was finally activated, and that the Santa Cruz surgeons have already made here several operations. These weren’t the most complicated surgeries, because the more complex cases are transferred to Havana or Güines. However, those interventions made here, near home, are a big advantage as much for the patients as for their families, because it saves them additional traumas from the stress and the difficulties of the transportation (as well as to accompany the patients far from the home).

I remember with pain and gratefulness how in the last months of my mom’s life we had to appeal several times to the semi-urgent help of a Santa Cruz resident surgeon that he/she became friend of the family for those days.

Once I had to call it at 4 in the morning, and the doctor came, and solved the problem… there was never any material contribution on our behalf, the doctor considered it his duty to help, and apart from this he was asigned to our hospital where the surgical unit still didn’t exist. I remember how that doctor complained that he could not exercise his specialty that he likes a great deal, because the facilities were not there.

I am happy for that good doctor that has already carried out some operations in the newly functioning facility and I am also happy – of course – for the patients. But especially it motivates me to more reflection and commitment the fact that people of my community, through a conscious action, were able to prevent some bureaucrats from causing them more problems.