Friday, April 09, 2004

Cuba: Castro's Propaganda Doctors.

From StrategyPage...

Cuba's Stealthy Special Forces
by James Dunnigan

Cuba has gone the American Special Forces one better, and developed a cheap, effective to spread the ideas of communist revolution without using highly trained soldiers. Instead, the Cubans send "Medical Brigades" of underemployed doctors and medical technicians to poor countries that need the medical assistance, but are not as keen on the revolutionary propaganda the accompanies the medical care. Cuba offers the medical services at bargain prices (sometimes for free), with the propaganda seen, by the patients, as the equivalent of commercials on TV (a necessary evil.) Cuba currently has medical "brigades" (of 200-1,000 personnel each) in Haiti, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, Ghana and Zimbabwe. Cuba has also sent Medical Brigades to other countries for limited periods, to help deal with natural disasters. The medical brigades have been out there for over two decades.

Cuba, one of the few communist dictatorships left, is sticking to its revolutionary principles. That means the place is a police state, the economy is a mess and the government still wants to export these revolutionary ideas to other countries. Since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and withdrew billions of dollars a year in subsidies for their communist showcase in the Caribbean, the Cuban economy has shrunk by 40 percent. Currently, the main source of foreign currency (with which to buy foreign goods, like medicine) is gifts of cash sent by relatives in the United States.

But one thing the Cubans have maintained since before the 1959 revolution is the highest level of medical care in Latin America. At the time of the revolution, Cuba had the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America (and the 13th lowest in the world), and the third highest number of physicians and dentists per capita (comparable to the Netherlands and higher than in the United Kingdom). Since the revolution, Cuba has produced more doctors, built more hospitals and clinics and managed to keep the level of medical care high. Well, at least primary medical care. Cubas communist economy could not produce the foreign currency needed to buy a lot of medical equipment and medicines. Some hospitals have this stuff, but these are reserved for senior members of the Communist Party.

>>Read the Article>>


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