Where Are Abela’s Guajiros?

Guajiros (peasants), Eduardo Abela

The composition is almost circular, compact. The eyes follow a spiral line that starts on the shoe of the man seated in the foreground and ends at the rooster held by another. There is peace, vestiges of good conversation, and in the background a village of wood and palm leaf huts. Six Cuban peasants have been represented in this painting by Abela, as well known as it is plagiarized. Their faces are tanned by the sun and vaguely indigenous. They are magnetic, irresistible. Our gaze takes us to the details of their clothing. “Dressed to the nines,” impeccable sombreros, long sleeves, perhaps with the fabric starched for the occasion.

Infected by the familiarity of the painting, I go to the countryside, put myself in the furrows where so many times I have picked tobacco, beans, garlic… I go in search of the primordial unity of Cubanness that is rural man. However, under the scorching sun of August, instead of “Abela’s guajiros,” I find people dressed in military garb. Olive-green pants, shirts that lost their epaulettes long ago, old berets from some battle that never happened. They don the uniforms of the Armed Forces or the Ministry of the Interior to face the rigors of the fields. They don’t have many choices.

In the informal market it’s easier to buy an official jacket than a shirt for farm work. A police cap costs less than a straw sombrero. Belts made out of cowhide are also a thing of the past; today it’s easier and cheaper to find those used in the army. The situation is the same for shoes. Rubber boots are scarce and instead the men and women of the land wear shoes designed for the trenches and combat. In a militarized country, even in the smallest details the military prevails over tradition.

State centralization was drying up the autonomous production of clothes designed for farming. Not even the recent relaxations for self-employment have encouraged this production. It is not just an issue of economics or supply, this situation also affects questions of our national idiosyncrasies and popular customs. A current version of Abela’s painting would leave us with the impression of a looking at a militia group in tattered clothing posing for the painter in the middle of an encampment… about to sound the reveille.


131 thoughts on “Where Are Abela’s Guajiros?


    STATE MONOPOLY OF THE MEDIA: The media is a key arena in which the right to freedom of expression is exercised. It plays a critical role in any society, for example raising awareness of human rights and exposing human rights violations. The media has the potential to help shape public opinion and to monitor and assess the performance of those holding public office at all levels; it is an important tool for scrutinizing government practices in all societies no matter their political ideology. The absence of an independent media is a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of freedom of expression and the adequate review of corrupt and abusive official practices. Restrictions on the Cuban media are stringent and pervasive and clearly stop those in the country from enjoying their right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.8 The state maintains a total monopoly on television, radio, the press, internet service providers, and other electronic means of communication.9 According to official figures, there are currently 723 publications (406 print and 317 digital), 88 radio stations, four national TV channels (two devoted to educational programming), 16 regional TV stations and an international TV channel. All are financed and controlled by the government.10 Three newspapers provide national coverage: Granma, which is the organ of the Cuban Communist Party, Juventud Rebelde and Trabajadores.

    In Cuba, access to the internet remains under state control. It is regulated by the Law of Security of Information, which prohibits access to internet services from private homes. Therefore, the internet in Cuba has a social vocation and remains accessible at education centres, work-places and other public institutions. Internet can also be accessed in hotels but at a high cost. In October 2009, the government adopted a new law allowing the Cuban Postal Services to establish cyber-cafés in its premises and offer internet access to the public. However, home connections are not yet allowed for the vast majority of Cubans and only those favoured by the government are able to access the internet from their own homes.
    However, many blogs are not accessible from within Cuba because the Cuban authorities have put in place filters restricting access. The blogs affected are mainly those that openly criticize the Cuban government and its restrictions on freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and movement. For example, Generation Y is one of the dozens of blogs that are filtered or intermittently blocked by the government and are not accessible inside Cuba.



    HAVANA TIMES: Reforms in Cuba: The Last Utopia? – Emilio Morales

    When Raul Castro initiated reforms aimed at transforming the Cuban economic model, Cuban and foreign experts hoped that they were finally glimpsing a change on the horizon following more than five decades of mistaken policies.

    However, despite having further reach than those changes effected in the nineties, Raul Castro’s reforms have turned out to be limited, shallow, slow and contradictory.

    One of the things that should be noted as unique to this process is that the changes are being implemented by the historical leadership of the revolution. This represents a peculiarity never before seen in history, not even in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union where the ones that carried out the reforms were the emerging political forces. In the Cuban case, we have the paradox of the historical leadership finally finding themselves prisoners, trapped by their own errors.

    The recently opened real estate market has turned out to be more about speculation than sales. The prices of the homes are not in accordance with the purchasing power of the population. The average price of a house in Cuba on a national level is 31,489 CUC, while the average annual salary is 216 CUC.

    In this new market context the lack of financial mechanisms for stimulating sales and financing mortgages weighs heavily. The low amount offered in loans to finance home construction and repair that the banks offer has generated a market where payment is only in cash and this slows down the process instead of stimulating it.

    The capital investments are discriminatory, as they are only allowed for foreign companies or businessmen, not for Cubans living inside or outside of the island. The government doesn’t stimulate individual initiative or free enterprise, but instead prefers to make incursions into the failed road of the cooperatives.

    In agriculture the distribution of land and cultivation rights has been a failure. Despite leasing out 70% of the lands they possess (80% of the total) the State has to import 60 percent of the country’s food at a cost of $2 billion dollars annually. Those who have been granted land don’t feel that they are really the owners. They look at the harvests they produce more as a survival mechanism than for commercialization and distribution.

    Finally, the 183 modalities approved for self-employment have now arrived at a limit that doesn’t permit any greater growth of the private sector. Meanwhile, the highly trained sectors of society – the professionals- have not been included at present in the reform program.

    This is the landscape, as we observe what the next years may bring: if the reforms continue to aim at the utopia of shoring up socialism or if they will take the direction of a road to transition towards a market economy that brings prosperity and development to all Cubans.

    For the moment, everything indicates that we will continue to hitch our wagon to the star of utopia. And that may sound very nice, but it’s not a signal of change.




    Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba has learned of, with profound concern, the statement made on August 31 by Barack Obama, President of the United States, in which he announced his decision to launch a military action against the Syrian Arab Republic.

    Without leaving any margin whatsoever for attempts underway to reach a political solution to the conflict, or presenting any kind of evidence, and with total disrespect for the opinions of many countries – including some of his principal allies – and the United Nations, the President of the United States has announced his intention to engage in actions in violation of international law and the UN Charter. These will inevitably provoke more death and destruction and will unavoidably lead to an intensification of the existing conflict in this Arab nation.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba calls on members of the UN Security Council to fulfill their mandate to prevent any rupture of the peace and to stop a military intervention which threatens international security in this volatile region of the world.

  4. It doesn’t matter how high they are in the hierarchy of the Castroit military regime. The higher they rise, the harder they fall, and they could end up dead. It is a common side effect for those working for the ruthless Castroit tyrannical military regime.

  5. It’s a pretty sad commentary on the repressive state of Cuba that one would assume that the only way that you would have anything to sell is that you stole it.

    Families may send remittances and goods to the island prison, so that is perhaps how Yoani’s friend obtained them to sell. I’m assuming, Marabu, that you were lucky enough to be born in a much freer and less repressive country. That you feel the need to disparage those who weren’t as lucky, and are, perhaps, just trying to survive, is shameful.


    Who says there is unemployment and poverty in the US?

    I have a business idea. Well, to be honest I have stolen the idea from Yoani who wrote on Twitter: “A friend got arrested in a police operative for selling plastic bags outside one market”

    This is how it will work:
    We will work as a team. You will take any job in the Wall Mart or in Target store. Every day you will take 100 plastic bags from your workplace an give it to me. I will stand on a street corner and sell the bags. We’ll split the income 50/50

    Remeber this is not just about money. We will call ourselves dissidents and someone will publish our fight for freedom on a blog in 15 languages.

  7. Cuban Air Force Chief Killed in Car Crash. This was the general in charge of the shipment of weapons to North Korea that just happen to dies in a car “accident.” As a matter of fact, the team of UN experts doing the investigation had requested permission to question the general. Another convenient death by the Castroit regime just in time to avoid the questioning.

  8. Report: Cuban weapons in North Korean ship violated U.N. sanctions

    By Juan O. Tamayo
    Posted 08/28/2013

    Cuban weapons found in a freighter bound for North Korea “without a doubt” violate U.N. sanctions and some of it seemed intended for Pyongyang’s own use, not for repair and return as Havana claims, according to a report Tuesday.

    The weapons shipment hidden in deliberately modified sections of the ship also was much larger than previously reported, and included anti-tank cannon and night vision equipment, said the report in 38 North, a U.S.-based Web page on North Korean issues.

    Taken together, the evidence makes clear “that contrary to both the North Korean shipping declaration and Cuban government statements the shipment was without a doubt a violation of United Nations sanctions on North Korea,” it said.

    Havana claimed the 240 tons of “obsolete” equipment, including two MiG-21 jets, 15 engines for the MiGs, nine missiles and parts and two anti-aircraft missile radar systems, was sent to Pyongyang for repairs only.

    “The statement was misleading to say the least,” said the report, co-authored by Hugh Griffiths, a global arms trafficking expert with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, and research intern Roope Siiritola. 38 North is run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Maryland.

    Continuous reading here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/28/3590027/report-cuban-weapons-in-north.html

  9. Contemporary Cuba[edit source | editbeta]

    Political repression[edit source | editbeta]
    Further information: Cuban dissidents
    A 2009 report by Human Rights Watch concluded that “Raúl Castro has kept Cuba’s repressive machinery firmly in place…since being handed power by his brother Fidel Castro.”[26] The report found that “[s]cores of political prisoners arrested under Fidel continue to languish in prison, and Raúl has used draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental rights.
    Freedom House classifies Cuba as being “Not Free”,[27] and notes that “Cuba is the only country in the Americas that consistently makes Freedom House’s list of the Worst of the Worst: the World’s Most Repressive Societies for widespread abuses of political rights and civil liberties.”[28]
    A 1999 Human Rights Watch report notes that the Interior Ministry has principal responsibility for monitoring the Cuban population for signs of dissent.[29] In 1991 two new mechanisms for internal surveillance and control emerged. Communist Party leaders organized the Singular Systems of Vigilance and Protection (Sistema Unico de Vigilancia y Protección, SUVP). Rapid Action Brigades (Brigadas de Acción Rapida, also referred to as Rapid Response Brigades, or Brigadas de Respuesta Rápida) observe and control dissidents.[29] The government also “maintains academic and labor files (expedientes escolares y laborales) for each citizen, in which officials record actions or statements that may bear on the person’s loyalty to the revolution. Before advancing to a new school or position, the individual’s record must first be deemed acceptable”.[29]
    The opposition movement in Cuba is a widespread collection of individuals and nongovernmental organizations, most of whom are working for the respect of individual rights on the island.[30] Some of the best known Cuban members of the opposition include the Ladies in White (recipients of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought), Martha Beatriz Roque, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Sakharov Prize winner Oswaldo Payá, as well as Oscar Elías Biscet, and Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez.” The movement is violently repressed by the State despite its nonviolent strategy for change.[31]
    International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have drawn attention to the actions of the human rights movement and designated members of it as Prisoners of Conscience, such as Oscar Elías Biscet. In addition, the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba led by former heads of state Václav Havel of the Czech Republic, José María Aznar of Spain and Patricio Aylwin of Chile was created to support the civic movement.[32]


  10. Wow, just, wow. People in Cuba are destitute because the wages are so ridiculously low. They do what they can to provide for their families, selling whatever they can, to make a few extra bucks and idiots like Marabu ask moronic questions about the origin of what they are selling.

    First, Marabu totally berates dissidents, and then purports that people should do things such as chop sugar cane. By luck of the draw, I’m assuming that Marabu was born in a country where he/she does not have to do such things. Shame on you.

  11. Yoani writes on Twitter: “A friend got arrested in a police operative for selling plastic bags outside one market. She has 3 daughters”

    Three questions to Yoani:
    1. Where did the plastic bags come from?
    2. Does your friend have a plastic bag factory?
    3. Did she import them and pay the custom duties?

  12. Outstanding Child Baseball Player Marginalized Because he is the Son of Dissidents

    nin?os-peloteros1-300x168HAVANA, Cuba, August 28, 2013, Michel Iroy Rodriguez / http://www.cubanet.org.- The ballplayer Jonathan Machado Tarrago, nicknamed Suzuki, age 14, who was stolen base leader in games held in Taipei, China in July 2011, will not be allowed to participate in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, as the son of a regime opponent. It is expected that he will also be suspended from the World Cup to be held in Mexico next year.

    Yonatan Tarrago Machado was suspended from participating in games by State Security, because he is the son of Antonio Machado Ramirez, a political opponent of the regime.
    His mother, Ana Maria Tarrago Ruiz, a resident of 80th Street between 49th and 51st, in the Havana municipality of Playa, says she feels hurt and that the measure is stupid. “They want to destroy the future of my son because of our political position,” she said.

    Her son has played baseball since he was 5. When he was 8 he was eligible to play in the age 9-10 category, with a 300 batting average. He was batting above 300 in his first year in the age 11-12 category. The following year, when he joined the City of Havana team, he was already batting 489, but he was not allowed to be on the Cuba team. After several efforts by his coach, Jorge Mazorra, he joined the team to travel to Taipei, China, where he led with 13 stolen bases and a 615 average. Even then, his speed from home to first base of 7.7 seconds, and he had 22 hits and more than 24 stolen bases.

    In 2012 he was again chosen by the Cuban baseball commissioner, who told his parents that due to his high performance in the leadoff spot he would be taken to the Pan American Games in 2015.

    When Machado Tarrago was suspended from the Pan American Games, the teenager assigned to his place had much lower stats: 13 hits and 3 stolen bases.

    “The Cuban government feels it has the power to destroy the future of any young person. It mistreats, humiliates and destroys whomever it pleases. It believes it is the owner of all Cubans, entitled to decide who will become something and who will not. And then they complain that young people want to leave Cuba. It’s not just because of economic problems that they go,” said Ana Maria Tarrago, the mother of this promising baseball player.


  13. Evidence, that Fidel Castro is a dictator? Don’t be silly.

    Next time you visit Cuba, ask some ordinary Cubans, if they will be honest with you. Most are afraid to talk about what it’s really like.

    I could say the same about your arguments, no? If you feel that my comments add up to a whole lot of nothing, here’s a little bit of advice for you, DON’T READ THEM.


    “An official at the state sports institute, INDER, told the BBC that boxers’ salaries will vary between $1,500 and $5,000 a month plus bonuses. If so, that would be a huge increase – although an undisclosed cut will be retained by the state.”

    BBC NEWS: Cuba’s boxers go professional – by Sarah Rainsford

    Cuba’s boxers have been the poster-boys of its amateur sports ethos for over five decades.

    Drilled to fight for the country, not for cash, they have won an impressive 34 Olympic gold medals over the years.

    But in a move that would have been unimaginable while Fidel Castro was in charge, the island’s elite fighters are now entering the ring as professionals for the first time.
    Ten top Cuban boxers have been sent to Mexico for their first foray into the World Series of Boxing this week. Run by the governing body of amateur boxing, AIBA, the league allows fighters to receive a regular salary as well as bonuses.

    Cuba’s communist authorities are currently considering going even further, allowing boxers to join a fully-professional series with 10-round fights that AIBA plans to launch next year.

    But there are other factors driving this radical shift in policy. Like many Cuban sports, boxing has been badly hit by defections in recent years.

    Fighters can earn as little as the $20 (£13) average monthly state salary and even champions take home under $300 a month.

    Talent flight

    In the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, several boxers skipped the country to try their fortune in the professional ring, and Cuba failed to win gold for the first time since 1972.

    Anxious to retain the rest, trainers talk of increasing the “psychological” work with fighters; the Boxing Federation says it helped resolve complaints over perks such as apartments and cars – and Cuba signed-up for the World Series.



  15. Trevor,
    At the risk of repeating myself:
    Why don’t you try and back up what you say with some kind of evidence?
    Or back it up with….
    back it up with some kind of anything.
    Otherwise your argument adds up to a whole bunch of absolute nothing…..

  16. Thanks for that last c & p Humby….
    If thats what sustains you in life, then you keep ’em coming,,,,


    CARIBBEAN NEWS NOW: Report reveals abuse of Cuban detainees in Bahamas – by Candia Dames

    NASSAU, Bahamas — Cuban detainees were severely beaten at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre in The Bahamas for almost two hours after they attempted to escape, and one even appeared to have temporarily lost consciousness as a result of the abuse, according to one of the marines interviewed as part of the initial investigation into the incident.

    Witness statements from both guards and detainees are contained in the closely guarded report of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) dated July 19, 2013, The Nassau Guardian has exclusively revealed.

    The Guardian has decided to withhold the names of the marines and detainees interviewed as part of the probe.

    The beatings allegedly occurred after detainees attempted to escape from the facility on May 20.

    The report contains explosive details of the abuse that allegedly occurred at the facility. A marine reported that detainees were sprayed with pepper spray in their eyes and wounds after the beatings.

    They were then beaten some more, according to the marine.

    One guard told investigators that another marine became concerned when one of the detainees briefly appeared to have lost consciousness, and he left the room where the beatings were taking place.

    That marine reportedly remarked, “The young fellas went too far”. It was an apparent reference to some of the marines doing the beatings.

    The report says that at the outset of the interview, one marine appeared angry and had established that he had a prior heated conversation with a leading seaman who is one of the investigators in the matter.

    During that exchange, the marine threatened to report this individual to Member of Parliament Alfred Gray, “a personal associate of his”, says the report completed by the RBDF’s senior intelligence officer (SIO).

    The marine also alleged that he had informed Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage that Cuban detainees had informed him that one of the detainees had accused him of supplying cell phones to the detainees.

    When questioned by the SIO as to how he came to be engaged in conversations with detainees about matters of national security, he became calm, possibly realizing that he had just admitted to committing a breach, the report says.

    The marine suddenly became a willing participant in the interview and volunteered the following information, the report adds.



  18. Again, and this is getting boring, you have no idea of how repressive dictatorships work, but continue to live in lalaland, if that’s what you must tell yourself. Subtle coercion, recrimination, discrimination, etc., to influence your “vote.” That’s how Cuba works.

  19. By the way Humby,
    Wall Street Journal likes to publish such stuff….
    But do you remember what happened when Fidel was in NYC a few years ago???
    The Wall Street Journal threw a big old banquet for him and all these WSJ bozos were waiting in line to touch the hem of his olive green uniform and have their piccy taken with him…
    Course ya do……

  20. Congratulations on 2nd copy and paste of the day Humby…
    Even more interesting than the first.
    Keep em coming.
    The more, the merrier…….

  21. Trevor,
    In each Cuban election there is a percentage of spoilt ballot papers.
    Have you ever heard of a single Cuban getting into trouble because of a spoilt ballot paper?
    Nor me. Not one single example.
    I am not suggesting that the Cuban electoral process is ideal.
    Far from it.
    And I’m not suggesting that it is preferable to that of the USA (which has its own venerable, but less than ideal electoral process).

    What I am suggesting is that if a majority of Cubans were overtly unhappy with this process, then there would be a torrent of spoilt ballot papers. Not just a trickle.

    As far as I am concerned Trevor you are absolutely more than welcome to express a point of view, but at least try to base it on some sort of evidence rather than just the same old ‘Castros are dictators routine’.

    The world is moving on. Cuba is moving forward. Hopefully towards a better (and more democratic) future.



    WIKILEAKS : Would-be Cuban defectors from Guyana face tough times
    Several Guyana-based Cuban doctors, who wanted to defect to the United States, had fled the airport and gone into hiding, fearing that Guyanese and Cuban officials would have tracked them down and return them to Cuba, a cable released by Wikileaks has revealed.
    Having worked for meagre salaries and unable to save enough, they usually have to endure months of waiting to know whether their parole applications are approved, states the cable from the United States embassy in Georgetown.
    Six Cuban doctors had gone into the United States embassy and were interviewed for Signficant Public Benefit Parole under the Cuban Medical Personnel program.
    “Three of the pending applicants are in hiding, reporting that they cannot move freely for fear that Guyanese police or Cuban embassy personnel may apprehend them and repatriate them to Cuba,” the cable stated back then.
    One of the doctors complained that the Cuban government canceled his passport after he refused to board a plane to ostensibly accompany a six doctor back to Cuba. He told the US embassy that he felt that he was being tricked after Cuban authorities might have been informed that he had visited the American embassy here to request parole.
    “The applicant refused to board the plane because of a hunch that he was being tricked into repatriating himself. Subsequently, Cuban Embassy authorities told him that his passport would be canceled immediately. They also removed him from the medical brigade and labeled him a deserter,” the cable states.
    Cuban doctor’s monthly salary is equivalent to US$500 from which US$100 is deducted on a monthly basis and contractually remitted back to the UCCM. Overtime is accumulated at the rate of US$1.25 per hour, and doctors on the overnight shift make US$2.50 per night. In comparison, Guyanese doctors typically make US$1,500 per month.




    The Wall Street Journal’s Joel Millman reports on Cuba’s program of sending doctors abroad as missionaries—and the doctors’ attempts to stay abroad for good: The video tells the story of one Cuban doctor working in Gambia who took nine months to escape and now lives in Florida. His wife and child are still in Cuba and she lost her job at a hospital as a result of being blacklisted for five years because of his defection. Another downside is that, without their medical records and certifications (held by the Cuban government), Cuban doctors in the United States can only work as nurses or surgical assistants.
    Cuba has been sending medical “brigades” to foreign countries since 1973, helping it to win friends abroad, to back “revolutionary” regimes in places like Ethiopia, Angola, and Nicaragua, and perhaps most importantly, to earn hard currency. Communist Party newspaper Granma reported in June that Cuba had 37,041 doctors and other health workers in 77 countries. Estimates of what Cuba earns from its medical teams—revenue that Cuba’s central bank counts as “exports of services”—vary widely, running to as much as $8 billion a year. Many Cubans complain that the brigades have undermined Cuba’s ability to maintain a high standard of health care at home


  24. Congratulations Humby on your first copy and paste of the day….
    And guess what !?
    It comes from that good old right-wing propaganda outlet, The Miami Herald.
    And guess what it says !?
    Its got something BAAAD to say about Cuba.

    Well mercy me !
    Now theres a surprise !

  25. Heaven forbid history should be used as a means of figuring out why something is like it is today!

    Stay in the dark, if you prefer. And the Castro brothers are still dictators whose “policies” have been dismal failures for the average Cuban. The dictators, and those connected to them, have cleaned up though.


    MIAMI HERALD: U.N. affiliate may sponsor “modern-day slavery” – by Andres Oppenheimer

    The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is doing great things in Latin America, but I wonder whether its latest role as a middleman to help place 4,000 Cuban doctors in remote areas of Brazil does not amount to sponsoring slavery.

    Under a deal between Brazil and Cuba that was brokered by the Washington-based PAHO, the Latin American branch of the U.N. World Health Organization, the Brazilian government will pay Cuba the equivalent of $4,080 a month — or nearly $49,000 a year — for each of the Cuban doctors.

    Under the PAHO-brokered Brazilian program, called Mais Medicos (More doctors), Brazil pays Cuba the entire amount of the Cuban doctors’ wages, and Cuba later pays a fraction of it to the doctors.

    Here’s the problem: Neither Brazil, nor Cuba, nor PAHO are saying how much of the $4,080 a month per doctor will go to the doctors working in Brazil.

    Solidarity without Borders, a Miami-based organization that helps Cuban doctors around the world, says the Cuban government pays its doctors working in Brazil and other countries between $250 and $300 a month, or about 7 percent of the full amount it gets from the Brazilian government. The remaining 93 percent are pocketed by the Cuban government, the group says.

    “It’s a modern-day slavery system,” Solidarity Without Borders President Julio Cesar Alfonso told me in an interview. “The only difference is that it uses highly skilled slave work.”

    Asked how does he know the amount paid by Cuba to its doctors in Brazil, since it’s an official secret, Alfonso responded, “It’s very simple: there are about 30,000 Cuban doctors in Venezuela, and other tens of thousands around the world, and more than 5,000 have already defected. They tell us how much they were being paid by the Cuban government.”

    Former Cuban ruler Fidel Castro created this doctors-for-export racket in 1982 as a way to earn cash for the country. Castro opened medical schools throughout Cuba to produce as many doctors as fast as possible. As Cuba’s economic situation deteriorated over the years, Cuba stepped up its doctors’ export business, Alfonso says.

    Some of the Cuban doctors that are being sent abroad have not even graduated, Alfonso said.

    “They are now exporting 5th and 6th-year medicine students to Venezuela, as part of their training to get their degree,” he said.

    “It’s a good business deal for Cuba, and it also serves as a way to export Cuba’s ideology to the poorest parts of the world,” Alfonso says, adding that Cuban doctors played a big role in helping late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez win support in poverty-stricken parts of Venezuela. “In remote jungle regions where they never saw a doctor, the presence of a fifth-year Cuban medicine student is a godsend.”



  27. Somone forgot to update his knowledge about Cuba.

    The new rules came into force about 2 years ago. Raul Castro won’t be able to govern beyond 2018. But it is not the person on the top what matters, but the strategy and the implemented policy.

  28. Cuban law limits the time in office for the President to the maximum 2 terms of 5 years.

    This was diffrerent in the 20th century and even more different in earilier centuries, where kings governed for life.

    All this is cosmetics of little importance. What counts is the implemented policy.

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