I Hope it’s Not Too Late

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

Crowd in my town to buy crackers.

HAVANA TIMES – The COVID-19 pandemic has already taken tens of thousands of lives worldwide. For weeks now, most Cubans have been clamoring for the government to close the border and to implement protection measures to mitigate the future effects of this virus.

In the meantime, the Government has continued to play the safe tourism and excellent national Health system cards. It even took the luxury of sending a contingent of doctors to other parts of the world to fight the disease.

I’m not against human solidarity (such as the controversial case of the British cruise ship that docked in Havana) or love for thy neighbor, but I don’t understand these strategic political acts that are disguised as humanism, when the Cuban people lack medicine, sanitary and hygiene conditions are awful and the almighty and divine State can’t even guarantee masks for its citizens.

I wrote on my Facebook page that this attitude of having kept the border open to foreign tourists, and the likely catastrophic consequences this would have, has a name in criminal law theory: gross negligence, not wanting a damaging outcome, but still doing the same thing, even when it knows that this will most likely end up leading to a disaster.

I wondered whether this pro-foreign currency behavior was because of the fear of a social explosion if the economic situation worsened, if resources further diminished.

However, it seems that the risk-benefit ratio weighed more in favor of this than the likelihood of thousands of lives being lost because of a careless policy, as well as a collosal disgrace in the international community’s eyes, with unexpected political consequences. I don’t want to touch on anyone’s nerves, much less be accused of being paranoid or malicious, but I have seen so many vile acts that it’s hard for these thoughts not to pass through my suspicious mind.

However, good sense finally won out. The Cuban government has adopted a series of measures. The most important include prohibiting foreign tourists from entering the country, although cargo ships are still allowed in, complying with certain safety regulations. Cuban citizens returning from abroad must stay in self-isolation for 14 days, upon entering the country.

Schools have been closed down until April 20, and will only reopen if the epidemiological conditions allow for this. Collective transport, both public and private, between the provinces has also been suspended. Measures have been taken to prevent crowds, as far as I know, night clubs and gyms have closed down, and measures have been taken to prevent commotion in crowds for basic products.

In regard to the latter, police presence across the country will be reinforced so as to control these situations, making sure that people remain at least a meter away from each other in these infamous lines.

The possibility of selling products sold until now on the non-regulated market as part of the rations booklet is also being analyzed. This is an extraordinary situation. I agree with these measures regardless of the inconvenience it may cause us, because these are the measures that tend to prevent the new Coronavirus from spreading, with its terrible effects that we are very familiar with now.

Let’s hope the COVID-19 outbreak comes to a halt in the coming days, which will be decisive. As I’m writing this, there are now 119 confirmed cases of COVID-19 here on the island up to March 28th. Measures being implemented today needed to have been taken a long time ago. I just hope it’s not too late.

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Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

Pedro Morejón has 137 posts and counting. See all posts by Pedro Morejón

4 thoughts on “I Hope it’s Not Too Late

  • Of course cargo ships are allowed to go to Cuba. As a consequence of sixty years of communist planning and management, a once highly fertile agriculturally productive country has become dependent upon imported food. Even sugar production reached its lowest ever recorded level in 2019.
    But, the main threat to Cubans will not come from tourists, but from returning Cubans – particularly the so-called medical brigades all of whom will have been in direct contact with the disease.
    Incidentally Stephen, Cuban medical and teaching staff forming part of the contracted services for other countries receive almost a fifth of the contract fee – a lot of money for a Cuban – I know having relatives who have participated.

  • On the nail Stephen! How many people are aware that medical students in Cuba have to attend compulsory classes on Marx/Engels/Lenin. The purpose is to make them into missionaries bearing the tidings of communism.
    But when the surviving members of the medical “brigades” return to Cuba, will they be placed into individual isolation for in excess of two weeks and then tested prior to release? Because to protect Cubans, they ought to be!

  • “…the Government has continued to play the safe tourism and excellent national Health system cards. It even took the luxury of sending a contingent of doctors to other parts of the world to fight the disease.”

    Despite this public altruism demonstrated by the Government, we need to ask (and we will not get an answer), how much money/monetary benefits will the Cuban Government receive with this exportation of crucial medical personnel to a foreign country.

    Throughout the years, Cuba has sent thousands of professional people abroad – think recently Brazil – where they provide much needed medical care to local residents unable to obtain or afford medical care. The Cuban government receives a huge stipend from the foreign government for each doctor/nurse provided to the host country. That is the bargain.

    The host country is more than receptive to this proposition because it cannot afford or simply ignores much needed medical care for its own population. The Cuban communist government knows this. It supplies well trained professionals to any country that requests the help – for a price. Cuban professionals are educated free of charge but remain the human resource of the government for a limited amount of time. They can be sent whenever, wherever the government dictates.

    Upon return from a foreign call of duty ( una mision, as they say), the Cuban professional is compensated for his/her service – not monetarily – but in kind, perhaps a house, perhaps a car. Some prefer not to return because they do not like the bargain.

    Now, all these Cuban medical professionals who were sent to Italy are, no doubt, doing a miraculous service for the Italian government and hopefully saving lives. They are to be commended for putting their lives at risk.

    Is the Cuban government not receiving or will receive some form of tangible compensation for their public altruism? I suspect down the road there will be some form of pay back and the Cuban government knows this.

  • This a good overview of the pandemic in Cuba and the government’s response. Like most other articles on the subject it says little about an important subset of the population particularly at risk: the elderly.
    Statistics from around the world indicate that most dead are old folks suffering from diabetes, a hart condition or other serious illnesses.
    Cuba has the largest elderly population per capital in the region, and their numbers are expected to increase. Many young Cubans dream to emigrate to anywhere that would take them.
    Cubans’ monthly retirement payment is $13 a month. The amount should be raised to $28, the average Cubans earned a month.

    Several countries have highlighted the elderly special needs, but not Cuba. It is a population with low caloric intake and very susceptible to the virus.
    To their credit several Catholic parishes sponsor soup kitchens for them, but Church resources are very limited and the government takes a part of any donations sent to the Church.
    In the United States there is a hospital system that provides for sick veterans, many of them old. Cuba could considered providing access to military hospitals to Cuba’s internationalists who served overseas supporting Soviet strategic priorities. Given the immensity of the crisis, a private appeal for help for them, from General Raül Castro to President Vladimir Putin will not be ignored.
    Frank Calzon

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