jueves, marzo 15, 2007


El presente articulo fue publicado por Physician for Human Rights a encasas dos semanas de la Primavera Negra de Cuba, e incluía información sobre los médicos cubanos detenidos en ese operativo represivo. Es por eso que en ocasión del IV Aniversario de la Primavera Negra de Cuba, lo incluimos en nuestro Blog. Una información más reciente de la campaña de Amnistía Internacional a favor de los médicos cubanos detenidos., también es incluida.
By: Susannah Sirkin. *
April 1, 2003
While human rights groups in the US rightly insist that the warring parties in Iraq take care to avoid harming hospitals and other medical facilities, closer to home in Cuba independent clinics and physicians have recently been deliberate targets of attack. The clampdown on dissidents across the island - which coincided with the ground invasion of Iraq - started with the dismantling of an independent medical clinic in the town of Pedro Betancourt, 150km east of Havana. Over 150 officers and paramilitaries searched and ransacked the private home of Miguel Sigler Amaya and his wife Josefa López Peña, where the clinic was housed, confiscating 90 pounds of medicines: antibiotics, pain killers and vitamins. Police also seized a metered dose inhaler, an oxygen delivery system, a glucometer, some physiotherapy equipment, parental infusion appliances and topical applications. The family's own medications were confiscated too.
The operation was carried out in front of small children and their 71 year old grandmother, Gloria Amaya, who was later hospitalized with a heart attack. Her two other sons (also dissidents) were detained as well.
While international attention is focused elsewhere, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro has ordered his State Security to lock up almost 80 people: independent journalists, human rights activists, free trade union organizers, poets, economists, photographers, teachers, and physicians.
In Cuba where achievements in health are the pride of the regime, dissent among physicians is particularly embarrassing. Yet some members of the medical community have complaints about the current system. They are concerned with the government's tendency to limit health facilities for Cubans, alleging that resources are shifted towards dollars-only "health tourism," making medicines available only for people with foreign passports who can pay with hard currency. Irrespective of their political sympathies, physicians are worried that the extremely low professional salaries in Cuba are particularly dangerous for medical personnel, who must take extra jobs to make ends meet leading to absenteeism, overwork or poor work ethics.
Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that an independent Medical Association started operating in November 2001 (awaiting legal registration). Physicians from across the island, some still in state jobs, others already "separated" from official medical institutions, joined forces to set up independent clinics and pharmacies where equipment and drugs prescribed by doctors from the state health system and sent from abroad, including from the Cuban Diaspora, are distributed free. The group's national coordinator is Dr. Marcelo Cano Rodríguez.
Searching for guidance on how to set up an independent group, Dr. Cano approached the unofficial Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation. For the past four years he has been in effect a generic "physician for human rights." On March 22, Dr. Cano was detained in Las Tunas in the east end of the island while his home in Havana was searched and medicines confiscated. At the time, Dr. Cano had been in Las Tunas to investigate the case of Dr. José Luis García Paneque, another member of the Medical Association detained four days earlier. There, too, a thorough search led to the seizure of medicines and medical equipment: four stethoscopes and three glucometers, books, documents.
Cuba's jailing of dissident doctors is not new. Among the most prominent Cuban political prisoners is Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a physician who served three years in detention for expressing his political beliefs only to be released and promptly detained again, this time for attempting to organize a human rights workshop. He is currently held at Combinado del Este prison.
The regime announced that the detained will be charged under the "Law 88" which punishes anyone who supports or helps to support the US economic embargo against Cuba. Many in Cuba and in the US find the embargo a counterproductive measure, but jailing physicians and ransacking independent clinics is not a way of dealing with the embargo. Whether it is Iraq or Cuba, universally accepted codes of medical ethics cannot be ignored-if they are, ultimately it is the patient who stands to lose the most.
* Deputy Director. Physicians for Human Rights
Recommended link:
Medical Action: Six physicians who are prisoners of conscience in Cuba.
Photo: Animate was made by Primavera Negra Blog