"Yes, [my wife] did take pictures [of her recent trip to Cuba], but mostly inside her mom's house as the authorities called her to task when she was filming the streets in Guantánamo and the sad state of disrepair of the houses in the town. But she filmed the road from Guantánamo to Holguín and that road was a disaster. Her stories about life in Cuba are enough to fill a big book of horrors. But here is one of them [that stands out].
One of her relatives works in a hospital in that city, and she injured herself and had sought medical help to see an orthopedician and to have her arm X-rayed. She was told there were no specialists to look at her problem and she was told to wait for 4 months for an appointment to see the doctor. Meanwhile her own husband was in Venezuela as a medical doctor earning $9,900 for the Cuban regime while being paid $50 dollars a month. Also my wife was told by the same relative that the Cuban doctors inflate the medical bills presented to the Venezuelan Govt. for the patients they attended with X-rays, electrocardiograms etc. even though they sought help for a minor ailment such as a ingrown nail. The doctors themselves feel very bad about this but they are told they have to fulfill a certain quota of tests and check-ups to pad the bill and enlarge it for Chávez. So while in Cuba the people cannot find a specialist doctor and are being attended by last-year medical students or recent graduates from the School of Medicine, the Venezuelan patients are being treated by all sorts of doctors and specialists sent from Cuba to bill the Clown Chávez for these services. She searched for over 3 days to find toilet paper to purchase with dollars at a shopping! Finally, after 3 days she went to another city and found 4 small rolls for 1.80 CUC the quality of which, according to her, was not even near the worst paper we find here. All of this of course at a price so far out of reach for the average Cuban to make it impossible for them to buy it. She found the situation so bad she was ready to leave after only 5 days into her visit. Naturally, if one was to place this comment on the Cuban Triangle, for example, the likes of commenters like Leftside would say that all of these are lies and made-up stories. — Agustín Fariñas, comment on "Fred Thompson" thread, RCAB, November 9, 2007
Around the time that beef became unavailable in Cuba and its unauthorized possession a criminal offense, a friend related to me that supermarkets in Spain were stocked with imported Cuban beef, which sold at a lower price than did the local product. The Cuban beef, he reported, was of excellent quality and much preferred by Spaniards of limited means who could not otherwise afford beef. This was in the 1960s when Spain was on the road to becoming a developed country and Cuba had embraced underdevelopment as its future. My friend never ceased to be astonishment at the fact that he re-discovered Cuban beef in Spain. He was also reintroduced to Cuban coffee, guava paste and other foodstuffs which had long ago disappeared from the ration card or been offered sporadically and in miniscule amounts which reminded one of the taste but could not satisfy the craving for them.
In the late 1970s, when eggs, coincidentally, no doubt, suddenly became available "por la libre" for the first time in 20 years and the last time since, Cuba was able to corner the international blood plasma market. This was accomplished by harvesting its slaves, who were expected to donate blood in solidarity with their internationalist brethren who were bleeding for the Revolution in Angola and everywhere else in the Third World. Except that the blood that Cubans donated was sold on the international plasma market, where Cuba became the "superpower." It was better to donate a pint of blood than a pound of flesh. For prisoners there was not even a choice; the country's most underfed and least healthy population were the "front line" in this campaign, pumped for hundreds of thousands of pints every week. The advent of AIDS killed this market, although by quaranteening patients with HIV the regime attempted, unsuccessfully, to retain its hold on it.
It was then that it occurred to the Castroites that they didn't have to harvest the blood drop by drop but could rent its surfeit of doctors to the Third World, thereby putting a resource to use that realized no profit in Cuba while at the same time representing itself to the world as philanthropic and humanitarian. The Castro regime had to conceal its participation in the plasma business; but there was no need to hide the Cuban doctors. After all, the Revolution had made them them doctors, right? Who would dare suggest that it could possibly be exploiting them? And, to tell the truth, most newly-minted doctors were anxious to get the hell out of Cuba since they figured that their lives could not possibly get worse anywhere else. This also afforded them with the possibility of travelling and even of escape (not as great as they had imagined). The pittance they were given as allowances they could use to buy items abroad that were not available at home at any prize — simple things, like an electric razor or a thermos.
As Agustín points out, it is no longer the "surfeit" of doctors which is being exported to Venezuela and elswewhere by Cuba. What happened to buses a long time ago in Cuba is now happening to its medical personnel: they are being salvaged for pieces. Hospitals in Cuba, such as they are, are literally being disbanded and the heads of departments and other specialists shipped abroad on "internationalist missions" while the desperate needs of the populace are ignored so that the Smith Brothers of tyranny can attend to the health of their Venezuelan patron's own slaves — to the great consternation, we may add, of Venezuela's doctors, who have been displaced by socialized medicine and their professional careers effectively ended. This is not just a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Paul is as much a casualty of the "largesse" imposed on him as Peter is of the misery.