By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Two realities coexist in Cuba: The virtual, fake Cuba, the Cuba of the people who rule the country and enjoy the privileges of this totalitarian state’s capitalism that they disguise as socialism, and the Cuba that is painful, the one that ordinary people have to suffer day in and day out to get their daily bread.
This is the only way to explain the extremely obvious paradox between official discourse and the harsh reality that is hitting Cuban society hard right now.
The absence of civil liberties, chronic shortages of basic essentials, regular blackouts and, of course, the serious health crisis we are experiencing is no secret to anyone living on the island.
Every day, in every municipality, you hear reports on the street of deaths in hospitals, polyclinics or at home because of COVID-19. The saddest thing is just how many Cubans have died in such an absurd and cruel way, without access to oxygen.
It pains me and also terrifies me to imagine many people’s desperation when they have to watch their loved ones in agony when they can’t breathe and in spite of that, there’s absolutely nothing they can do to help them and save them.
I recently read a post on social media from a man who was offering 25,000 USD for a damned oxygen cylinder. This is the poor and sad state of things in Cuba today.
It’s also extremely upsetting for health personnel, who risk their lives every day to attend to these patients, without the resources and means for such contingency.
On the other hand, there is proof that cases of infections and deaths as a result of this terrible virus are around four times the official statistics reported by government authorities. I stopped listening to the daily briefings in the official press, a long time ago. They are completely corrupt.
The health system is collapsing, something the government has never explicitly admitted.
What was their explanation for all of this? The same old excuse as always, the “blockade”. The United States of America’s blockade is genocide, according to them, the thing that is responsible for poor conditions in Cuban hospitals, medicine shortages, gasifier manufacturers not being able to meet medical oxygen demands for health centers, for there not being enough ambulances to transport the sick or funeral cars… to give you just a few examples.
This same “blockade” doesn’t seem to have stopped them from buying its fleet of patrol cars to repress the population or to renovate hotels in Varadero and other tourist resorts looking ahead to November, when it’s announced that the country will open up to international tourism, revenue from which will end up in the coffers of GAESA, the business conglomerate that is controlled by the military. It’s a fact that the main Cuban companies that bring in hard currency belong to this military leadership.
However, they continue to play the card of the US blockade and manipulation.
By the way, four farmers from Pinar del Rio recently had the beautiful idea to buy five air conditioning units, with money from their own pockets, which were needed to set up an I.C.U. room for COVID-19 patients at the provincial Abel Santamaria Hospital.
These four farmers were Elpidio Aguiar Porras, Juan Ramon Vega Pacheco, Leoncio Torres Cabrera and Servilio Jesús Rodriguez Cordova. They took them to the I.C.U. room in less than 24 hours.
It’s very likely that this humanitarian gesture, which was given more coverage in the independent press than the party-line press, didn’t sit well with the authorities, yet they’ve tried to spin the story with a solidarity and revolutionary altruism twist.
That’s because they know that this dishes out quite an uncomfortable truth. Knowing that the Cuban people’s heath isn’t a priority for leaders, the contrary even, how can they explain shortages of these goods in health centers when they are being sold in its USD stores?
Meanwhile, we have these two realities fighting to win over minds. The schizophrenic reality, the reality that best suits the dictators to subject the uncritical masses, and the more painful and terrifying reality, the one that ordinary Cubans have to live with every day.