By Jetzabel

Lines in downtown Cienfuegos.

HAVANA TIMES – Chronic is one of my favorite words, and it’s also one of the most hard-hitting, which is why I don’t use it very often. It brings back memories.

Being a doctor, I’m a victim of the memories that come flooding back… dialysis patients, patients with diabetes, child cerebral palsy, cancer, mental health patients with a fixed stare and autistic children. Likewise, empty pharmacies, “how expensive,” “there isn’t any,” “there isn’t any,” “there isn’t any” … A never-ending list.

Tonight, I watched the News out of habit. Yep! The show that government’s Cuban broadcast media uses for depressing purposes. “Cuba is steaming ahead.” While (any) other country is in chaos. Seeing that depresses me.

In fact, I had already lowered my head and rested it on the table where I was writing. This weight in my chest has already gone into sync with the evening. A weight that I hate to channel. Not because I’m a pessimist, but rather for being its vehicle. This time without rain to wash it away and make my day better…

They were literally speaking about the “food and nutritional sovereignty we need to obtain.” (It’s sickening). About new sovereign and sustainable food systems. On establishing a food culture that contributes to a healthy and balanced diet. About agricultural production and boosting production methods. “Thereby supplying the Cuban people with pork, chicken, turkey,” an employee who was interviewed said. The normal verbal diarrhea – I told myself. Going hungry?

Lost appetite

I couldn’t eat. On top of that, I couldn’t let some steam off with my partner, like something out of a terrible nightmare. He got off the toilet, nauseating, and showed me the product of a dietary transgression. I preferred to keep quiet. I didn’t tell him about the news that are determined to laugh in my face.

Going for a walk today, luckily there was bread. We bought some and it vanished. We ran our clean hands, our young and innocent hands along the same old shop windows. Stores barely stocked with water, alcoholic beverages and nappies.

The water store! – my partner shouted out as a joke to fight off my empty feeling… We passed by lines in the town, by corners of old people piled on top of each other, in front of drugstores without anti-inflammatory and antiviral drugs. We passed by voices and sighs. Some people asked questions like: where did you buy bread?

Some little girls were playing on the street corner. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the image of that girl who looked at our bread. Her head spun as if she were watching something magical. Her eyes were so fixated, as if she were a mental health patient. The girl’s little mouth echoed like a metastatic tumor. Her neck stood still like a deoxygenated brain. We were so absorbed that we weren’t able to give her a piece of bread. Oh the bread I would have given her!

Chronic hunger is a well-known issue in Cuba. No matter how many times my parents tell me, I can’t even imagine what it would have been like when we were friends of the Soviet Union. I still don’t know why I was refused milk when I turned seven years old. The same milk that will soon be taken from my son’s “basic food basket”.

On the horizon

This will be a period of acute chronic hunger, there’s no doubt about that. Nobody can even tell me why. I just take a moment to meditate in the face of lies and vile deeds.

Imagining the terror of the graduated journalist, their illusory search for the truth, their circus-like reports, their muzzled voice, their dirty and withered aura. I can’t deal with CENSORSHIP. It’s a word many people fear.

They are afraid to talk about food shortages. However, my voice refuses to lower its head and shouts: damn them! The ones that drank from the Mambises’ blood, 61 years ago. Who forgot that artists that emerged died of hunger. If Arthur Rimbaud were to wake from the dead, he would write the second Season in Hell.

So much fear spread, anxiety accumulated, years potentially lost, violence and wear-and-tear on our streets every day, in our own families? Dysfunctional families all for a piece of bread. Chronic disease. Stations of the Cross. OPEN YOUR EYES, CUBANS!

Read more articles by Jetazabel here.


4 thoughts on “Cuba Has Acute & Chronic Disease

  • When We have lived in Cuba, Shared Lives &Deaths, When I had Taken that Last Flight Out April 5th Knowing we Can Not Help any longer Until Permitted A Return, Too Many Nights Have Past with our Children Going To Bed Hungry. Many of Us Now Share That Sick Feeling of Cuban Hunger. Did The People Get The Government They Ask For, Did They Have a Choice Many years ago. When a Controlling Government Stopped The Growth of a Nation & Created Anger in its People towards the Rest of the Free World just 90 Miles & North the Nations have Opened our Doors only to be Turned Down. Take a Look at Second Harvest in Toronto & How we are willing to Give, Provide when we are Freely Permitted without Government interference. I Live in what must be the Capital of Giving where it is Now getting COLD the Local Food Bank had Radio Talking of the Need for more Donations of Food & $ on a Friday & Low & Behold Come Monday the Talk on the Radio was the $ amount & Foods where more then Double Expected just over a Weekend. The Freedom of Choice The Freedom To Grow & Build your chosen Life, Some People Created & Live Better then Others & we feel the Need to Give when we are Not Controlled. OSHARE, We Would if Cuba Would Open There Doors to the People.

  • Stephen is correct, there is little to add !

  • What makes this article so poignant is that it is written by a doctor of all people and professions. Imagine a doctor! Well educated, well intentioned, extraordinarily well respected in the community and country, yet the family must experience and endure the degradation, the humiliation, of being “fortunate” to buy a loaf of bread. Absolutely disgraceful in the year 2020 in Cuba, let alone anywhere in the world.

    In a country that sits in the most idyllic region for food production and yet Cubans are dying from malnutrition, children denied milk after a certain age, and shops empty of foodstuffs.

    A doctor in any other country enjoys the fruits of hard academic work and is duly rewarded with financial security, status, and a host of other accolades to many to mention. In Cuba any doctor well intentioned, well respected, must receive handouts just to be able to survive.

    The Cuban communist government always takes pride via its propaganda machine to extol the virtues of its medical professions sending thousands abroad to obtain revenue to feed its incompetent, mismanaged economic system which as the Cuban doctor describes is in total shambles.

    It is no wonder that probably many Cuban doctors on these foreign medical “missions” never return but the government will never relent to reveal the true numbers of medical doctors who bail never to return. Even if they will not be doctors in their new country they make more money and live better than being a medical professional in Cuba.

    We can all empathize with the article writer who laments: “…my voice refuses to lower its head and shouts: damn them!” I cannot imagine the agony, the depression, the heartache, many Cubans, let alone doctors, must endure watching their friends, compatriots, neighbors, suffer from the insular empty promises coming from communist elites who themselves benefit from a corrupt system, yet their citizens go without bread.

    Cuba does indeed have an acute and chronic disease as the doctor so eloquently expressed and the only functional remedy to this outrageous disease is an immediate dose of market driven, private enterprise economic stimulate, that is, a teaspoon of capitalism for starters.

  • The chronic disease Cuba has is a horrible dictatorship that for over 60 years has been asking the Cuban people for sacrifice when the Castro families sealing in Yates on the Mediterranean posting on Instagram and others social media the luxury goods when ppl do not have basic things And theirs homes are collapsing literally. The incompetent regime that is not able to plant trees and vegetables to feed their own people in an island where is impossible to find fresh fish and the government import salt and later blame everyone else for the incompetence and repression. A horrible chronic disease the Castro’s regime.

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