Cuba Faces an Apparently Endless Pandemic

Photo: Yander Zamora EFE

By Aurelio Pedroso  (Progreso Semanal)

HAVANA TIMES – The endless pandemic is not a headline, but the textual quote that Dr. Francisco Duran, Cuba’s top epidemiologist, made during his television appearance on Thursday July 9th.

Most likely, he said it taking into account the behavior of the Covid-19 worldwide, although Cuba must also have a small dose of truthfulness, mainly in what corresponds to the country’s capital.

And the reasons are known. In the first place, the indolence of many people who, far from ignoring the so-called “risk perception”, show a complete indiscipline in all orders and that reaches ethical proportions.

Secondly, the long lines, have, as an official slogan proclaims, also “come to stay.”

Whether or not the virus finally becomes endemic, something that the health authorities do everything possible so that it does not happen, we will still have lines for a good while and not precisely because of the virus. It will be because of local and international economic reasons.

Once the third phase of the first stage [of recovery] has concluded, we will know in detail the plan prepared to face such a difficult situation when it comes to sitting at the table and contemplating a national piggy bank with a spider web around it.

It’s curious that up until now no one has told us how much this new blow to our health system has cost and will cost, especially when we are experts in calculating up to pennies the damage the gringo blockade costs the nation.

As for me, I think that the epidemiologist Dr. Durán Garcia has plenty of reasons to tell us that the pandemic seems to have no end.

16 thoughts on “Cuba Faces an Apparently Endless Pandemic

  • That comment Mr. porki is correct. Unfortunately, Stephen used the term ‘farmers’ in describing the smallholders in Cuba who grow tiny amounts of product sufficient to feed the immediate family with a small surplus to be sold at prices dictated by the State.

    Agriculture is an industry, not a way of life.

    Those who think of food production as in the happy family of childhood story books, would starve were it not for the efficiency of the agricultural industry. The so-called farming in Cuba illustrates that production by smallholders is inefficient. Farming by the State is similarly inefficient as illustrated by Cuba’s ever declining sugar production whereby a country that once was the largest producer in the world, is now having to import sugar.

    Although spending the majority of my time in Cuba for many years, I have yet to meet anyone who would be described as a “farmer” in the commercial world. The key to efficient farming lies in a combination of professional knowledge, proper relationships between management and staff, use of technology and a scale where full use can be made of modern equipment.

  • There are no farmers in Cuba the way you imagine it, ugh.

  • oh Dan, your perception of socialism is quite simple. China economically is not communist or socialist, I was born in USSR, so no fake news here. I spend two months a year in China for work, there is no socialism, only militia/political dictatorship and that’s what is the similar to Cuba.

  • Apparently you are a reactionary if you know communist systems that don’t open have inherent shortages.
    Any system that stymies private enterprises will create it, which of course they do.

  • Eltur Kohn

    I totally disagree with your analysis about Cuban people. Cubans care a great deal about their country and their prospects for the future; however, they are living under a totalitarian system that does not allow political freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom to apply economic free market principles to sustain themselves.

    Moreover, the American embargo, specifically the draconian Helms-Burton Law strangling the Cuban economy, is not helping matters.

    Now you say why don’t they “rise up” and change their progressively poor plight. Easier said than done.

    Cubans have been down that road of brave revolution before (see Fidel Castro 1959) and are presently living under the consequences of that socialist uprising. No, most Cubans do not want to go down that terrible failed experiment again. Rather, they do want freedom, human rights, and economic sustainability but not at the expense of revolutionary bloodshed.

    Certainly, anyone living under totalitarian regime and whose freedom and economic opportunity are severely diminished will look elsewhere for a better life. Notice how many poor immigrants flee Latin America countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras all trying to reach economic nirvana in the United States, so much so, that the United States President has to build a wall to keep all these refugees out. All nationalities try to improve their lot in life.

    To the average Cuban their solution to their dire predicament is not to abandon their country, though some do and all the power to them, but the average Cuban is resilient, resolute, strong, proud, industrious, and yes brave just to name a few traits.

    One has to visit the country and live with Cubans to find how patriotic they are despite the current hardships they are enduring.

    Perhaps the apathy and lack of bravery you refer sits with the current government administration who do not want to give up their totalitarian power and adopt successful market economic policies that will benefit all of Cuba.

  • Not to say that the current system couldn’t benefit from some loosening up. But your history is very one sided. Before 1959, kids in the Cuban countryside were illiterate, malnourished and full of parasites. Their fathers had to worry about getting through the tiempo muerto. The latifundistas, many from the US, had it pretty good though.

  • Jmorton,

    There is absolutely no need for a few farmers in America to teach farmers in Cuba anything. Cuban farmers are as reliant, self-sufficient, industrious, motivated as any farmer anywhere in the world.

    The only difference that differentiates the two agricultural entrepreneurs is the political climate both operate in. Absolutely, in a capitalist system where the farmer owns their own land, richly profits from any production plus surplus, has no master dictating what can and cannot be grown except market forces, and has all the available inputs readily at hand to aid in production, sure, an American farmer does extremely well.

    However, in a communist system which is controlled by state government officials beholden to the ideology of state ownership, the masters frown any form of profit, disregard market forces of supply and demand as anti-government ideology, and are severely punished if the farmer does not comply with decreed rules and regulations which the farmer fines onerous and obtrusive, sure, a restricted Cuban farmer will pale next to the free farmer.

    In fact, if the American farmer were in the same shoes, no doubt, would revolt.

    It is disingenuous to arrogantly insinuate that Cuban farmers are lazy, unmotivated, careless, unpatriotic, unproductive to the extent of not being able to produce enough food to feed the country. This is not reality on Cuban farms. It is not the farmers’ fault.

    A history lesson is necessary here. Check out Cuba’s agricultural production prior to 1959 and you will see Cuba easily feed its people. It’s farmers – many American to boot – operated like American farmers today, free, unrestricted and productive.

  • I notice with a degree of amusement, that Dan considers that I am shaping facts when writing that Florida has now has more cases per day of Covid than the whole of Capitalist Europe and that the Covid 19 virus and subsequent pandemic commenced in Socialist China.

    So Dan. which is wrong? Which is not factual?

    Are you denying Dan that China has adopted capitalism?

    Do please provide your “alternative facts”!

  • While the rest of Latin America is in flames with Corona virus somehow Cuba isn’t, why is it I don’t believe the Cuban government, oh yeah it was just last year that we found out that Cuba was hiding their zika infections for 2 years while zika was exploding all around Cuba.

  • Oh, Carlyle. Like all reactionaries you shape your “facts” to conform to your argument. Just the other day I read one of your daily anti-socialist tirades wherein you opined about shortages being inherent in Socialist systems. Another individual pointed out the case of the material abundance in Communist China. You predictably responded with the excuse that China is really Capitalist. Whatever it takes to make your argument, you’ll say it.

  • Cubans also have no concept of buying more food and keeping it stored at home every time I have gone I have bought surplus for my family and now they do it more often so that they don’t have to go every day to the store

  • A few farmers in America have the know how to teach a few farmers in Cuba how to quickly( yes, quickly) grow enough food to provide enough food to feed all of Cuba and have a surplus to sell but we can never get permission to do so. There are no known cases of virus at our local farms because we follow a few suggested rules and we have enough produce and meat to seek methods to sell it all. It is up to the Cuban agricultural departments to get busy and disseminate the required information to get rid of the : No hay. explanation and begin to ask only: Como hacerlo?

  • Florida alone, now has more cases per day than the whole of Capitalist Europe. There is no question that the virus and subsequent pandemic originated in Socialist China.

  • Covid Deaths
    Capitalist USA: 138,000 (+58,349 new cases yesterday)
    Socialist Cuba: 87 (+6 new cases yesterday)

  • My understanding is that large parts of Cuba are now Covid free, but that Havana and in particular Havana Centro remains a problem. Most visitors to Havana see only the more salubrious parts, Habana Vieja, Vedado, Mirimar, or if having political or rich amigos, Siboney. There is little to attract anyone other than residents to Centro, where the crowded living conditions, coupled with the need to find food, deny social distancing.In general. Those problems have been a long time in the making and thus more than difficult to overcome.

    With regard to Stephen’s comment about the farmer being discouraged from selling food, my understanding is that recently the so-called farmers – they are in reality only small-holders – have been instructed to each supply food to a dozen campesinos. Like most communist concepts, it may in theory be mathematically correct, but in reality won’t work.

  • In places like Florida, Texas, Arizona government officials show total disregard for health officials advice to wear masks, keep a safe distance person to person and avoid large crowds. Without adherence to health authorities this pandemic in those named states will continue well into the future and may spiral out of control if government officials and the general public do not abide by current practiced pandemic protocols to stop the virus from spreading.

    Cuba is in an entirely different category whereby the country has been quiet successful at containing the virus yet on the other hand now has a significant problem as Aurelio Pedroso, the author, has alluded in eliminating the virus because of economic reasons, specifically long arduous lines waiting for food.

    Those lines will not eliminate themselves because people are desperate for staple food supplies like rice and beans. A hungry stomach knows no pandemic. Unlike the Americans who flaunt health authorities’ protocol measures, Cubans are very complaint and want to respect their health authorities dictates but unlike their American counterparts are struggling to survive day to day through no fault of their own.

    Dr. Durán Garcia, the epidemiologist, is warning his nation that there are plenty of reasons to warn Cubans that the pandemic seems to have no end in Cuba. Why?

    Certainly not the American response to the pandemic is a reason, but because of economic reasons, both internal and external, as Aurelio Pedroso states.
    But to have a country’s population restricted to waiting in long lines day in and day out for such simple very easily grown staples such as beans and rice begs the question: Where is the country’s agricultural sector in feeding the nation during this pandemic and prior to the pandemic?

    In a recent HT article a local Cuban farmer in Holguin grew his own food and was discouraged to grow more to help feed surrounding neighbors because of punishing fines from local state police for selling surplus food to friends.

    Hopefully not, but yes, the pandemic in Cuba may have no end until those long food lines are eliminated and the population properly fed.

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