Apartheid in Cuba.
The definition of "apartheid".
a·part·heid Pronunciation (-pärtht, -ht) - noun.
An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.
A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.
The condition of being separated from others; segregation.
[Afrikaans : Dutch apart, separate (from French à part, apart; see apart) + Dutch -heid, -hood.]
Apartheid is therefore defined as "a policy or practice of separating or segregating groups". Though not required in this definition it has the connotation that different and non-equal treatment is given to these separate groups.
This page aims to explore the apartheid applied in Cuba by the regime of Fidel Castro whereby Cuban nationals are physically separated and treated differently (worse) than foreigners be they residents in Cuba or "normal" or "health" tourists (including those in international programs like the Venezuelan airlift).
In the months of March and April of 2008 Raul Castro has put in place a number of reforms that ease the "petty" apartheid" in Cuba.
Cubans can now:
Legally own cell phones.
Stay in luxury hotels or pay to use their gyms, hair salons and other facilities.
Visit beaches, which had previously been reserved for tourists.
Buy DVD players and other appliances; computers are to go on sale soon.
Cultivate unused state land with cash crops such as coffee and tobacco.
Farmers will also be permitted to buy supplies at state-run stores without special permission.
And the government could soon:
Let Cubans travel freely nationwide -- and possibly internationally.
Increase the buying power of the peso, the currency most Cubans are paid in.
Reduce restrictions on free enterprise that would allow more Cubans to start their own small businesses.
While these changes are a theoretical improvement, they appear cosmetic in the sense that Cubans have to pay for all these services and products they can now access in CUC, the "convertible peso Cubano". This CUC is the "tourist currency" in Cuba's double monetary system. It has an exchange rate of 25 Peso Cubano for one CUC. With the average Cuban salary below 400 Peso Cubano (CUC 16) it takes a year's salary to stay a weekend in a hotel or to pay the 120 CUC "registration fee" to get a cell phone. As long as this two currency system is in place the changes in apartheid will only benefit those with access to foreign currency through remittances or work.
The legal apartheid has been replaced with a "mixed" apartheid based on the separate currency system and the low incomes of Cubans.
Cubans have been protesting against this dual currency system for years. it is known as the "con la misma moneda" campaign.
As of May 5, 2008 the situation in Cuba is still unclear.
The Cuban government has stated it will allow Cubans to stay in hotels, but also declared they would have to pay the full (highest) price for the rooms they occupy. This means that Cubans would not be able to benefit from any of the promotional tariffs that tourists enjoy.
See: Los cubanos pagarán la tarifa máxima en los hoteles de la Isla
Las autoridades comunicaron al sector profesional que todo cubano que se presente en un hotel deberá pagar la tarifa máxima.
Agencias | 07/04/2008
Also reports are still arriving of Cubans arrested on and removed from beaches.
See: DETENCIÓN POR ESTAR EN LA PLAYA, 2008-05-05.
See: Cubanos aún sufren apartheid turístico en sus playas, 29-05-2008.
See: Not many Cubans at Cuban beach
Posted on Wed, May. 28, 2008
Video: Los Cubanos hablan.
The Cuban Ministry of Exterior Relations, Minrex, still shows basically the same page on travel requirements as in the past referring to:
- Extensions of Travel Abroad Permission (PVE)
- Application for Entrance to Cuba Permission (PE) and Traveling Validity (VV)
- Making and delivering of Invitation Letters
There are three main (intertwined) forms of apartheid in Cuba:
Tourist apartheid: the segregation between tourist in Cuba most clearly seen in the beach resorts like the islands (cayos) that were completely off limit to Cubans that do not live or work on the island. The impact of recent changes to the Cuban petty apartheid there is still unclear. Hotels, bars, restaurants and other tourist facilities (up to beaches) had been declared "tourist only", a policy officially recalled in March 2008. Unaccompanied Cubans (and even those with foreigners) were not allowed to enter these facilities. The full impact of the current changes is still to be seen.
Medical or health apartheid: whole hospitals (or floors - wings) of hospitals are reserved for "health tourists" only. These facilities then benefit of all investment needed and are fully stocked with medical supplies which both are totally lacking in the "Cuban" section of the health system.
Information apartheid: foreigners resident in Cuba have easy and full access satellite dishes, e-mail, internet and cell phones access to which is prohibited or subject to heavy restrictions for Cubans. From April 14 onwards Cubans will be allowed to own cell phones. Their cost will be prohibitive though. Since March Cubans are also allowed to buy PC's and DVD's.
Even in 2005 the Cuban economy is still recovering from a dramatic decline in gross domestic product of at least 35% between 1989 and 1993 due to the loss of Soviet subsidies. To alleviate the economic crisis, in 1993 and 1994 the government introduced a few market-oriented reforms, including opening to tourism, allowing foreign investment, legalizing the dollar, and authorizing self-employment for some 150 occupations.
Cuba experienced a surge in foreign tourist visits over the following 15 years, from a few thousand in 1990 to 2.3 million (Cuban official estimate) in 2005. By the mid 1990s tourism surpassed sugar, long the backbone of the Cuban economy, as the primary source of foreign exchange. Tourism is a main part of the Cuban Government's plans for development, and a top official cast is at the "heart of the economy." Havana devotes significant resources to building new tourist facilities and renovating historic structures for use in the tourism sector. Tourism accounted for 41% of the monies flowing into Cuba last year (2004) and employed some 200,000 people, 9% of the country's workforce.
By necessity Havana actively sought foreign investment, which often takes the form of joint ventures with the Cuban Government holding half of the equity and management contracts for tourism facilities are given to foreign companies from Europe and the Caribbean. Cuban officials said in early 1998 that there were a total of 332 joint ventures (including other sectors than tourism).
The ideological problem that faced the Cuban regime was simple: how to explain this influx of millions of tourists and their preferential treatment to the Cuban people while "protecting" the people against the influence of these tourists.
The system of so-called "tourist apartheid" was set up giving foreign visitors who paid in hard currency preferential treatment over citizens for food, consumer products, and medical services. Tourist apartheid in Cuba prohibits Cubans from engaging with foreigners by barring them from places as hotels, clubs, and even large tracts of beaches like in Varadero or some of the "cayo's" (islands), which is reserved strictly for tourists.
This separation, the "petty apartheid" has been revoked as of April 2008 though we still have to see what happens on the ground.
As stated above Cubans can now:
Stay in luxury hotels or pay to use their gyms, hair salons and other facilities.
Visit beaches, which had previously been reserved for tourists.
Some examples of the "petty" apartheid that was in place until April 2008:
In Spanish: a Cuban calls to the "Habana Libre" hotel in Havana trying to reserve a room to spend his wedding night with his Cuban wife to be. Since both are Cubans a question asked by the hotel clerk - he is refused a room.
Some background and comments:
There is another social problem in Cuba closely related to the Bryden's "demonstration effect": Cuban citizens' resentment at being excluded from the new joint venture hotels, captured in the term "tourist apartheid." The government is aware that such exclusion undermines one of its main claims to legitimacy - egalitarianism - and reminds Cubans of the time when all but the elite were turned away from certain beaches and clubs. The exclusion also flatly contradicts Article 43 of the Cuban constitution, which guarantees all Cubans, "without regard to race, skin color, religious belief, or national origin," the right to "lodge themselves in any hotel," "be attended in all restaurants and establishments serving the public," and "enjoy the same spas, beaches, social clubs, and other centers of sport, recreation, and leisure" (author's translation).
The degree of citizen outrage is evident in the remark of a vigorous Castro supporter, who over a three-year acquaintanceship had never criticized the regime. This autumn he remarked that once while jogging on the beach he had been stopped by a guard for a joint venture hotel, who said only foreigners were permitted on the next section of sand. Furious, he told the guard that Cuban beaches are for Cubans, and kept on jogging.
The anger was also evident in an April 1992 article published by Lisandro Otero, vice president of Cuba's National Union of Writers and Artists in Le Monde Diplomatique. The article, viewed by many observers as a protest document, remarked that tourism has substantial drawbacks including "the appearance of tourist oasis to which the Cubans themselves, the victims of segregation, have no access, resulting in great discontent." A young hitchhiker used more straightforward language when he told Washington Post reporter Lee Hockstader in May 1992, "Obviously it's unfair. They get the best, we get what's left." A few months later a nondissident Cuban academic dining at a hard currency-only restaurant told another Washington Post correspondent, Douglas Farah, "Can you imagine, I cannot even eat here without a foreigner, and this is a revolutionary government. We are not even allowed to go to the best beaches - they took the best beaches from us. Of course this creates great tensions. If this is not tourist apartheid, what is it?"
See: "The Sociological Impact of Rising Foreign Investment", Gillian Gunn, Jan 1993.
"It's easy to forget when in this largest of the Caribbean countries that it's the 21st century, the digital era that has brought dizzying advances in technology, household furnishings and all things material. The complexities and amenities of modern life seem to have largely bypassed the inhabitants of the island, which is inescapably tied to its volatile political past. That's not to say vacationers don't enjoy the benefits of modern technology. Tourism is now the country's biggest industry, and visitors to the many three-to-five-star resorts can pamper themselves not only with sun-drenched white beaches, but also with nearly all the imported advances of the 21st century. Most hotels have air conditioning and offer their own Internet cafes, although connections are of glacial speed. Satellite television beams in the latest from CNN and HBO. Of course, under the watchful guise of Fidel Castro, Cubans aren't allowed to be "corrupted" by the values portrayed in American television, and must settle for rabbit-ear reception of state-controlled television -- if they can afford television at all. They aren't even allowed to set foot into many of the zones designated by the Cuban government as solely for tourists and resort staff. Indeed, Cuba is a tale of two worlds, one artificially created to resemble a sunlover's paradise and another engineered to be a socialist's paradise but in the end came up short. It's no accident the two remain out of sync. Beach resorts in the towns of Varadero and Cayo Coco feature guarded checkpoints to ensure the worlds don't collide."
A tale of two realities - Cuba, Darcy Keith, CanWest News Service, October 11, 2005
"Perhaps worst are the tourist hotels, beaches, and clubs that are simply off-limits to Cubans -- sort of a bizarre tourist apartheid."
"One of the most disconcerting aspects of contemporary Cuba is the government's creation of exclusive "foreigner-only" tourism zones where Cuban nationals aren't welcome. Effectively, there are two Cubas, a reality that reeks of something akin to tourism apartheid, as many observers have noted."
"A Bridge So Far--To declare that Cayo Coco and Guillermo are only nominally connected to the rest of Cuba is no exaggeration. One has to pass a guarded checkpoint ($2 toll each way) to access the pedraplén that bridges the distance between the mainland and the cays. The only Cubans allowed to pass the checkpoint are the 3,500 employees of the resort hotels or others with official work business there. If you are driving a rental vehicle, your car may be inspected to insure that you are not transporting any Cuban interlopers. A few Cubans who are the lucky beneficiaries of special vacations from the state are also allowed access. When people talk about Cuba's penchant for creating apartheid-like tourist sites, the northern cays are often cited as a prime example."
"The best beaches (Cayo Coco), even if deserted are between (Cayo Santa Maria), and closed to Cubans."
"The Government tries to limit the effect of tourism by keeping the population as separate as possible from the tourists. The tourist industry is made in a way that allows tourists to enjoy their vacation without ever leaving their isolated areas. As a result tourists often have no idea of the internal structure of society and conclude that Cubans are poor but generally happy. Some even find Cuba to be a paradise. When they ask the (almost exclusively white) personnel of a their hotel for good local places to eat or drink they are directed to state-owned venues and are driven in state-owned taxis. If they ask to visit local private establishments, they are told that these places are not up to international standards. Tourists who does not believe this argument has to resort to asking one of the lobby attendants or people on the streets, as hotels do not officially give out this information. Private accommodations, with a few exceptions, are not allowed to advertise and are not promoted by the Government. As a result the Government is able to take in most of the profit made from this industry.
Cubans are not allowed to enjoy the new tourist industry because it has become de facto the sole purview of foreigners. Through a series of physical restrictions imposed on Cubans, the government is able to maintain what is known as 'tourism apartheid'. As is generally known, Cubans are not allowed to visit most of the tourist areas or even enter a hotel; and if they do, they must be in the company of a foreigner. Cubans are even gradually losing their beaches and beautiful reefs because the Government continues to discriminate against them. The old and newly discovered beaches are being transformed into virtual Caribbean paradises that are only accessible for those who have dollars and are not Cuban. They are also not allowed to travel outside of their area of residence without official permission. Even if they had the permission, their income does not allow them to stay or eat in tourist places. One night in a hotel or dinner at a restaurant would cost them several months' income. In private, Cubans repeatedly expressed their anger at being treated like second-class citizens in their own country, and they accused the government of harassment when they are seen interacting too much with foreigners."
Source: Pax Christi
How to get around it:
"And this trick works the other way too! If I want to pass any Cuban friend into any hotel, or onto a prohibited beach area, or wherever- When we approach the guard, I get involved in a rapid fire conversation with my friend, something like, "If you're not feeling up to it right now, we could rest for a while before getting something to eat, or would you rather go out and look for something now?" The longer the sentence the better. My Cuban friend knows in advance to say 'not now' when I pause. Then I go on with another couple of hundred words, and when I pause, my friend says "OK then". The trick is to pay no attention whatsoever to the guy doing the inspection, like you are so involved in a discussion that as far as you two are concerned he doesn't exist.
It seems that very few guards dare to break up what seems to be an important conversation between 2 yumas, especially when the 'Cuban yuma' appears to understand really rapid fire English! (or Italian, French or even Dutch)"
"The Sociological Impact of Rising Foreign Investment", Gillian Gunn, Jan 1993.
Tourism apartheid in Cuba - Salon 02-2002
Tourist apartheid and jineterismo - Frommer's Guide
"Complaints of tourist apartheid are not unfounded" - Rough Guides Travel
Cuba 'apartheid' as Castro pulls in the tourists, Telegraph (UK), 07/06/2002
Tourist apartheid in Cuba, Kerala News
Recent News on tourist "apartheid" from our Blog
The Cuban Government has chosen to develop a two-tiered medical system--the deliberate establishment of a kind of "medical apartheid"--that funnels money into services for a privileged few, while depriving the healthcare system used by the vast majority of Cubans of adequate funding.
Following the loss of Soviet subsidies, Cuba developed special hospitals and set aside floors in others for exclusive use by foreigners who pay in hard currency. These facilities are well-equipped to provide their patients with quality modern care. Press reports indicate that during 1996 more than 7,000 "health tourists" paid Cuba $25 million for medical services.
Cuba's "Medical Technology Fair" held April 21-25, 1997 presented a graphic display of this two-tier medical system. The fair displayed an array of both foreign and Cuban-manufactured medicines and high-tech medical equipment and services items not available to most Cubans. The fair showcased Cuban elite hospitals promoted by "health tourism" enterprises such as SERVIMED and MEDICUBA.
Members of the Cuban Communist Party elite and the military high-command are allowed to use these hospitals free of charge. Certain diplomatic missions in Havana have been informed that their local employees can be granted access privileges to these elite medical facilities--if they pay in dollars.
The founder of Havana's International Center for Neurological Restoration, Dr. Hilda Molina, quit her position in 1994, after refusing to increase the number of neural transplant operations without the required testing and follow-up. She expressed outrage that only foreigners are treated. Dr. Molina resigned from her seat in the national legislature and returned the medals Fidel Castro had bestowed on her.
Servimed list of hospitals.
The Soler Hospital "tour" is almost a required stop for foreign visitors because it allows the government to boast about its efforts to care for all children.
At the same time, its disgraceful condition appalls visitors, who are told that the US Embargo is at fault. What state visitors are not shown, in the same hospital, are the air conditioned single-occupancy rooms reserved for foreigners with hard currency. These clinics perform organ transplants and cosmetic surgery and offer cancer treatments and orthopedic devices, along with other services and medicines denied to average Cubans.
Cuba's hospital decay can be linked to the government's decision to increasingly channel its limited resources toward those services that earn the government hard-currency payments from foreigners. The Cuban government makes no secret of this, at least outside the country, sending salesmen for the program abroad regularly and maintaining a Web site for promotion.
Servimed the government agency charged with promoting this program, markets medical services and products abroad and proclaims itself to be a system that "has turned out to be a tourist subsystem." Servimed's main function is to induce thousands of "dollar" patients to visit Cuba for what it calls "health tourism."
According to Servimed the Soler Pediatric Hospital's large hospital facilities" boast 10 single-occupancy rooms ear marked for health tourism." Cuba buys medicines and other hospital needs, including US made pharmaceuticals, in Europe and Latin America. Indeed, the embargo does not block the Clinton administration from issuing licenses to American companies allowing them to sell medical and agricultural supplies to Cuba. So there is no lack of medicine, including antibiotics, for the health-tourism program. But these rooms are off-limits to Cubans and were not on Mr. Ryan's tour schedule.
This situation is replicated at hospitals throughout the island. Quoting from Servimed, the Cira Garcia Clinic specializes in a "wide range of pathologies" for foreigners, including executive checkups and cosmetic surgery. The Placental Histotherapy Center has provided services for more than 7,000 patients from 100 countries. The Camilo Cienfuegos International Ophthalmology Center "has 70 single-occupancy rooms with all the comforts of a medical institution and hotel." The Frank Pais Orthopedic Hospital "has earmarked, in its main building, 24 single-occupancy rooms for health tourism," offering "18 more rooms, restaurant, commercial center, bar and snack bar."
Source: Want a radical face lift? Try revolutionary Cuba. - Wall Street Journal 01-200
"I think medical services will have replaced tourism as our most important source of revenue in 2005," said Garcia, who directs the Cuban Economy Study Center at Havana University.
Source :"Cuba's medical services becoming major moneymaker", South Florida Sun Sentinel, Dec.18 2005.
These medical services are rendered both within Cuba and outside as doctors are rented out to countries like Venezuela, South Africa, Zimbabwe and lots of others.
"A distinction is usually made between the short-term temporary flows which occur when countries such as China and Cuba send health personnel abroad to earn foreign exchange"
As more and more facilities are turned over to the "tourist - dollar" part, less and less services become available to the Cuban people.
"One recent U.N. mission to Cuba found a clinic in the eastern city of Santiago where 60 of the 140 staff doctors were abroad, according to the Interamerican Dialogue, a think tank in Washington. And it's not just a problem for Cubans."
"Cuban doctors bring relief, but controversy mars their work.', Miami Herald, March 5, 2006.
Thousands doctors are now being "rented out" to various countries reducing further the quality of the health service for Cubans which created a lot of discontent. SO much that even Fidel Castro no longer could disregard it:
"But over the last 2 1/2 years, as Castro and Chavez's cooperation has blossomed, the Cuban assistance program has substantially increased the number of medical workers overseas, with the overwhelming majority in Venezuela.
Aware of early grumblings about the exodus, Castro acknowledged in a September 2003 speech that ''it could very possibly be true that in the midst of so much movement there is no doctor in a certain place for a short time. These situations must be immediately resolved."
But rather than being speedily rectified, the situation has gotten worse, ordinary Cubans complain, with the flight of family doctors who handle primary care, a shortage of specialists, and a longer wait for eye surgery, physical therapy, and dentistry.
As Cuba loans doctor abroad, some patients protest at home, Boston Globe, August 25, 2005.
This is what Cubans get:
Also see: Cuban health care in decline - Washington post photo gallery
"Moreover, in a country that is generally praised for its universal health care, hospitals are falling apart, patients must buy their own sutures on the black market and it is almost impossible to find common medications such as Aspirin and antibiotics."
Source: National Post - Canada
"MORON, Cuba - In this historic town of 70,000 people in central Cuba, a small bottle of tetracycline costs US$5 and a tube of cortisone cream will set you back as much as US$25. But neither are available at the local pharmacy, which is neat and spotless, but stocks almost nothing. Even the most common pharmaceutical items, such as Aspirin and rubbing alcohol, are conspicuously absent. In their place there is a neat display of green boxes of herbal diet teas from Spain. One of the myths Canadians harbour about Cuba is that its people may be poor and living under a repressive government, but they have access to quality health and education facilities. It's a portrait encouraged by the government, but the reality is sharply different. Antibiotics, one of the most valuable commodities on the cash-strapped Communist island, are in extremely short supply and available only on the black market. Aspirin can be purchased only at government-run dollar stores, which carry common medications at a huge markup in U.S. dollars. This puts them out of reach of most Cubans, who are paid little and in pesos. Their average wage is 300 pesos per month, about $12. "My parents are really old and suffer from heart problems, and they need to take an Aspirin a day, but even I have difficulty finding it," says Estela (not her real name), one of the pharmacists who works at a small shop off the main square, where school-children in maroon and beige uniforms sit on park benches sharing snacks. Still, the residents of Moron are luckier than most Cubans because many of them work in the nearby resorts, where they often receive foreign medications as tips."
Full text: For Cubans a bitter pill.
Audio version: Access to medicines in Cuba
"No aspirin in Cienfuegos' pharmacies
CIENFUEGOS, Cuba -June 22 (Luis Miguel González, Cubanacán Press / www.cubanet.org) - Aspirins have disappeared from Cienfuegos' pharmacies in the last few months.
Enrique Toledo, a resident of the Pueblo Grifo subdivision, learned recently that there haven't been any aspirins sold in local pharmacies after he went looking himself. He said he has to take aspirin daily for a cardiac condition.
"If I don't find the medicine, my health will get worse," he said.
Toledo said that visiting several pharmacies, he was repeatedly told to look for aspirin in the hard currency pharmacies, a suggestion he found insulting, as he doesn't have access to hard currency.
A man who works in the medicine warehouse in Cienfuegos, who asked that his name not be used, said the reason there are no aspirins in the local pharmacies is that lately the stocks have been shipped to Venezuela, Haiti, and Perú."
This is what happens if a tourist ends up in the "Cuban" side of the system:
Patient set to return from Cuba nightmare
ANXIOUS supporters of a Rugby man stuck in an 'awful' Cuban hospital are hoping for his imminent return.
As reported in last week's Advertiser, Stephen O'Neill, of Railway Terrace, suffered a heart attack while holidaying last month.
It's hoped the 41-year-old will now be back home by Saturday. His carer, Sue Hartland, of Ambleside, Brownsover, said: "It's been a nightmare for us. But he is looking forward to coming home and we just want him back."
The 41-year-old - who suffers from Friedreich Attaxia, an inherited condition which attacks the nervous system - took the holiday last month.
After previous trips to Central America, wheelchair-bound Stephen decided to go to Cuba with Sue and her husband Graeme.
However, just days into the break, Stephen - who had earlier complained of feeling unwell - was found 'screaming for help' in his bed.
Sue - who has cared for him for seven years - took him to hospital close to Holguin, where they were staying.
She said: "There was blood and urine in the wards and graffiti everywhere. If someone had sent your loved one into a hospital like that, you would get them out there and then. It was awful - seeing him linked up to tubes in a hospital you wouldn't put your dog in."
After contacting his parents, the couple then made sure he could recover in an intensive care unit before returning home themselves.
Travel company representatives are in regular contact with Stephen, who is now recuperating.
Meanwhile, his father Pat O'Neill said the family were going through 'hell' waiting for him to return safely.
As reported last week, Mr. O'Neill and his wife Coral claim they face bills totaling thousands of pounds after it was revealed Stephen had no insurance.
Mr. O'Neill and Mrs. Hartland thanked everyone helping the efforts to get Stephen back.
Last Updated: 24 May 2007
Archive copy: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaVerdad/message/31261
Socialized Medicine in Cuba (2002) – Part II: Other Hidden Faces of Cuban Medicine
Socialized Medicine in Cuba (2002) – Part I: A Poor State of Health!
And just when you thought things couldn't get worse: they do.
The constant drain of Cubans doctors to their foreign "rental stations" had created a strain on the Cuban system.
The regime was forced to admit that it had strained the "family doctor" system to such an extent that lots of family doctor stations were no longer manned.
It therefore "re-organized" the system closing more than half of local "family doctors" practices and tripling the work load of family doctors and increasing the distance for Cubans - already lacking basic transport - to get medical assistance.
"President Raul Castro's government will close more than half of Cuba's family doctor offices and boost staffing at the rest in a major reform of its vaunted free health care system, medical sources said."
"Cuba's family doctor program began with much fanfare in the 1980s with a family doctor for every 500 to 700 residents, coordinated by larger community-based clinics.
The family doctors were given the task of preventing illness by getting to know every family under their care and identifying health problems early on for referral to medical specialists.
Now each family doctor office will cover up to three times as many residents, between 1,500 and 2,000, a doctor said."
Source: Cuba reorganizes family doctor program.
Now the regime has realized the economical value of the cheap pool of (medical) labor at it's disposal it is relentlessly reducing services to the Cuban people.
A Canadian doctor that gathered a "huge collection of medical equipment" from the East Central Health Region in Canada for needy Cuban hospitals stated: "In Cuba, a lot of the hospitals haven't had
their equipment modernized since Castro (came to power in 1959). We're putting equipment
with lots of life left in it back in hospitals."
Source: Cuba-bound supplies to aid hospitals, Edmonton Journal, April 2008.
While tourist hospitals overflow with equipment and while 40,000 doctors are rented out to other countries Cubans face doctor shortages and outdated hospitals. that is the reality in Cuba.
There is no freedom speech in Cuba. There is no free press. Foreign media are not accessible to Cubans that are not allowed to own a satellite dish while the only terrestrial channel TV beamed to Cuba, TV Marti, and the radio signals of Radio Marti are blocked. Access to internet is restricted. E-mails are controlled. Even access to cell phones was restricted up to April 2008 and from then on still prohibitively expensive. The Cuban government goes out of it's way to ensure that it maintains it's monopoly on information in Cuba. From April onwards Cubans will also be allowed to purchase computers in state ships. These PC's have to be paid in CUC (convertible Cuban peso). With Cubans earning less the equivalent of 16 CUC on average a P4 PC costs the equivalent of 40 monthly salaries.
"Digital apartheid" - Cuba tightens access to the Internet, e-mail, telephones"
""How many satellite dishes are in Cuba? Cuba is a country in which it is a crime to have a satellite dish unless you are a high-ranking official of the government or unless you are a tourist in one of the hotels. Otherwise, you are sent to jail. The same goes for computers. You cannot see the Internet in Cuba unless you belong to the government or unless you're hiding it from the government."
"20.2.2004 18:31 MSK
Cuban police confiscates satellite dishes as "subversive weapons"
CUBA, Havana. After a two-hour search in the flat of Havana resident Rene Barcely, police confiscated a satellite dish, a video recorder and several videotapes, marking the objects as "subversive". Mr. Barcely was also fined 500 pesos (about $20).
According to CubaNet agency’s information, four police officers under the command of the head of police department Rey Rodrigez and officer Alberto Falcon, visited Mr. Barcely on 13 February.
The man said that he had bought the dish for $800 about a year previous. He showed the policemen the receipts confirming that the satellite dish and the video recorder were purchased legally. Next day after the search, he was called to the police station. He was asked what channels he had watched and for what purpose he had recorded television programmes. The policemen stated that he should have obtained a permission to own such equipment, and despite the produced receipts, they said that he lied.
In the end, Mr. Barcely was released after being fined another 1000 pesos. "
Foreigners resident in Cuba are allowed to own satellite dishes. They are also allowed access to internet, ... Under Castro Cubans are second class citizens in their own country.
In March 2006 a Cuban living in the USA, Carlos Valdés, and some locals were arrested trying to smuggle 28 satellite receivers (with cards and all equipment needed) in to Cuba. He now risks up to 20 years in jail. The Cuban government referred to the information that could be received via these receivers as "venom for the revolution".
"Cuba contra TV satelital y justifica redada.", El Nuevo Herald, March 8, 2006.
All part of a recent new offensive against freedom of speech.
"Cuba endurece las leyes para prohibir la instalacion de parabolicas", www.sateliteinfos.com.
"Tres cubanos podrían ir a la cárcel por fabricar antenas para captar
señales de televisión satelital", cubaencuentro.com, jueves 8 de febrero de 2007
"Cuba y la guerra de las antenas", americaeconomica.com, viernes 9 de febrero de 2007
"Guerra a muerte contra las parabólicas en Cuba", ABC- ES, 02/12/2007
"Cubans hooked to illegal cable TV", AFP, 2/14/2007 3:32:59
"Dragnet targets satellite TV antennas", Cubanet, Feb. 21 2007.