Carlos Trejo Sosa: We Have Native Doctors in Cuba Like Nigeria - THISDAYLIVE
Read more about Cuban history from Christopher Columbus to Cuban Revolution. The more the US pushed, the closer Cuba's ties with the Soviet Union became. . the largest numbers, however, originated from West Africa, today Nigeria. Relations between the US and Cuba have long been intertwined. Since , the US has maintained an economic embargo against Cuba. Here are key. For more than half a century, relations between Washington and Havana “ Cuba A commercial, economic and financial embargo by the US.
There was water and there was electricity and city roads were well paved. The only thing Havana shares with most Nigerian cities is the lack of decent public toilets. Even in nicely maintained cultural institutions like museums, the toilets were a horror. Only in hotels could one find clean toilets. One story my husband told me over the years, which I could not comprehend at all, was that medical doctors drive taxis in Cuba. Nothing in my experience prepared me for this possibility.
I was to find out one evening. We were in Central Havana all day, exploring the city. We visited La Floridita, a historical pre-Revolution watering hole for the American jet set in midth century. Daiquiri was supposedly their specialty, so like all tourists who willingly fall into this kind of trap, we faithfully had some at very steep prices, and I posed for a picture with the statue of Ernest Hemingway, prominently displayed in the bar.
On our way back to our hotel, we hailed a taxi, one of the old American beauties.
Timeline: US-Cuba relations - BBC News
While its white leather interior was spotless, it was not the most comfortable ride. We struck up a conversation with our taxi driver, and to my shock, I found we were being driven by a gynecologist who said he had stopped practicing medicine three years earlier to take up taxi driving full time, because it was more lucrative to drive taxis.
He told us he made more money in a day driving taxis than he made for a whole month as a doctor. We asked him about the possibility of emigrating but he said the government would not allow it. Some time in the past, doctors were not allowed to travel so they started a protest. The government then lifted the ban and thousands of doctors promptly left for Ecuador, Argentina, and other Latin American countries, never to return.
Consequently, the government resumed the ban. He said his wife and brother went out for a dinner of lasagna and a few drinks and it cost seventy-seven cucs Cuban currencyabout eighty U.
This experience of being driven by professionals was repeated again and again during the course of our stay as we went around the city.
Education is free in Cuba and the country sends its doctors and other professionals to countries in Africa and Latin America to help with disaster relief and development. It is painful and disorienting to see highly-trained people on whom the state has invested so much resources reduced to doing low-level unskilled jobs unrelated to their training and expertise.
There is no doubt socialism under Castro redistributed wealth in Cuba so that all the people of Cuba could benefit. Cubans are some of the best educated people in the world and probably one of the healthiest. They look healthy and look much younger than their age. In spite of privations, it has a great health care system, alongside education which is free for everyone.
At the end of long rides on city buses, which were great opportunities to interact with Habaneros, it was not uncommon to find that the old black lady interlocutor was a retired microbiologist or some high-ranking professional.
There are no rich people but we did not see any homeless, raggedy people or beggars on Havana streets. Central Havana could be grimy and dusty and you could see piles of trash that was not yet picked up. Food is rationed, along with other necessities, therefore the sumptuous breakfast buffets served to tourists in the hotels were an anomaly. The travel package deal to visit Cuba included breakfast and dinner at the hotel.
Another feature of Havana that commands attention is its gorgeous colonial architecture… I finally understood the implacable anger and hatred of the Cuban elites who fled to Miami after the revolution in They left a great city with beautiful homes and many asset behind.
This great colonial architecture is decaying because the resources to maintain it are just not there. On our first night in Cuba, we went to see a Rhumba show suggested to us by an American friend who studies Cuban music. The band was mostly Afro-Cuban and it gave a great performance. A Japanese woman was one of the vocalists. The venue was packed with Cubans and tourists, dancing joyously to good music.
Cubans were eager to make friends. My husband told them the purpose of our trip, research into Afro-Cuban religious practices, Santeria, which is the worship of Yoruba gods and other African gods. A young man approached and claimed to be a Babalawo. He promised to take us to a bembe, a special festival celebrating the gods. He gave us an address to meet him the following afternoon but he was not there. We waited for a long time and he suddenly appeared and said the bembe was no longer taking place.
He was going to take us to Ballet Folklorico which was having a performance of Afro-Cuban dances. Ballet Folklorico is the Cuban state dance company. We got there and found that tourists were charged a five cucs entrance fees, and Cubans two cucs.
There were bands playing and most of the performers were Afro-Cubans. The young man had become a fixer of some sort. He brought his girl-friend and they hovered around us most of the time, taking photos with us, and drinking beer and other libations with us, while we paid. I thought that was a kind and generous offer until my husband, who speaks Spanish well and understood everything that was being said, told me we were supposed to pay for all the food.
That had been his experience in Cuba, people on the make, hustling. Cubans experienced extreme hardship starting from the s when the Soviet Union collapsed and withdrew subsidies. They call it the Special Period. Many relatives who fled to Miami send dollars and materials back to Cuba, so Americans are generally seen as very wealthy.
Post-Revolution Cuba | American Experience | Official Site | PBS
Some Cubans feel the priority is to extract as much resources as possible from them while cultivating their friendship. It is not unlike what Nigerian immigrants feel when they go back home, with some family members and friends asking for money and goods which they imagine are flowing freely on American streets.
Our relationship with the young man ended as we parted ways that night after he escalated his demands. My suspicion is that he was not a Babalawo and did not have any information about a bembe.
He was out to take advantage of foreigners. Another feature of Havana that commands attention is its gorgeous colonial architecture. At a first glance, this is beautiful real estate, but in reality rows and rows of buildings are falling gradually into disrepair and literally crumbling on the pavements all over the city.
I finally understood the implacable anger and hatred of the Cuban elites who fled to Miami after the revolution in Enslaved Africans built much of the wealth of Cuba. From the early part of the 19th century, enslaved African labour was imported to grow sugar and tobacco on the island.
It made the Spanish settlers of the island very wealthy. At a certain point, the population of Africans was higher than that of European settlers. After slavery, Cuba, like Brazil, paid Europeans to emigrate to the island so the country could be whitened.
The original inhabitants of Cuba — the Arawaks and Tainos — have been wiped out by enslavement and diseases brought by European settlers. Afro-Cubans, as they are called, continue to practice the ancestral religions brought by their forebears, such as Yoruba Orisa religion and Abakwa, known as Ekpe from Cross River State. I was fortunate to witness the practice and celebration of our Orisa in Havana. Someone took us to a bembe. Cuban socialist leaders claim to have slain the monstrous dragon of racism in Cuba, but this is a myth.
The reality is that there is a distinction in how resources are distributed between the descendants of Africa and those of Europe. The white ruling elites fled after the revolution, so Castro and his peers had the opportunity to reset the race button.
This means black and white Cubans who remained there after the revolution were starting at more or less the same line. The health system is free and accessible to all Cubans through polyclinical centers, hospitals and some 1, medical centers spread across the island. Cuban medical facilities perform sophisticated interventions, including organ transplants kidney, heart, bone marrow, corneal, liver, pancreas, etc.
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- Timeline: US-Cuba relations
- Cuba–United States relations
Other social services available to the Cuban population include sickness, maternity, and work-injury benefits and old age, disability, and survivors pensions. Culture Cuban culture is strongly linked to Cuban history, so it is necessary to know the history in order to understand the culture. Cuba was rapidly conquered and colonized by the Spaniards during the early s. The founding of the first seven towns culminated on November 16, with the founding of the town that later became Havana.
The founding of Havana was also the occasion for the first Catholic mass, which was performed underneath a massive silk-cotton tree. On the same site there is now a colonial building that houses a collection of paintings by the French artist Jean Baptiste Vermay, who roamed the Island and captured on canvas the images of early colonial life.
Illness hitherto unknown in the New World combined with slavery conditions in the exploitation of the riches of Cuba caused the near extinction of the aboriginal Indocubans during the early years of colonization.
The fast disappearing labor force prompted the Spanish to import African slaves from all over the vast continent, the largest numbers, however, originated from West Africa, today Nigeria. Due to their numbers, the Yoruba influence left a marked imprint on Cuban customs and even today their religion, mixed with Catholic and other rites, known as Santeria or the Rule of Ocha, is practiced in certain areas of Havana and other parts of the country.
The rebels from La Manigua, or the Mambisa Brigades, who already identified themselves as Cubans, sought to break away from Spain and rejected the leanings towards annexation to the emerging United States. At about the same time, on October 20,Perucho Figueredo, a musician and a patriot on horse back, facing the gates of the city of Bayamo, composed with his guitar, the most revered and best known musical piece of Cuba, the National Anthem, moments before the city was set alight by the rebels to keep it from falling intact into the hands of the advancing Spanish armies.
Their work influenced a generation of painters and writers through the Spanish-speaking world. Although the list of writers, poets and painters is long and continues to grow, the Cuban musicians and composers also left a deep mark along their way, introducing rhythms and beats based on African percussion instruments, principally the drums, that are now famous around the world.
Cuban dance is summarized eloquently by the National Ballet, directed by the undisputed Cuban prima ballerina assoluta, Alicia Alonzo, whose fame has transcended Cuba to become a household name in Latin America, Europe and even the United States. Cuban theater also has produced outstanding works and performers, was recognized with several international awards and has been a strong influencing force in the development of film and television in the Island. The African slaves, brought by force to the New World, were not only able to preserve their traditions and religion through songs and dances, they were also successful in influencing and shaping the development of the cultural expression of the newly emerging countries.
Present Cuban artistic talent includes Manuel Mendive, whose paintings of Afro-Cuban nude dancers are successfully exhibited throughout Europe. Havana is a city endowed with many culture-oriented institutions and organizations and Old Havana is home to a great number of them. Architectural treasures are not limited to Havana, nor are they limited to the colonial period. Other cities and towns, like Trinidad, on the southern coast of central Cuba, possess well preserved colonial buildings and are in the process of restoring others.
Cuba is, in other words, a country with over years of history and with a well-defined sense of culture and most Cubans are all-too-aware of the riches of their country. Visitors to Cuba, for business or for pleasure, will find that Cubans represent a country with an energy and vitality that will endure not only in the works of its writers, painters, musicians and other artists, but also in the imagination and vigor of its people.
Religion The Roman Catholic religion was brought to Cuba by the Spanish colonizers and was practiced by nearly half of the population prior to the Revolution. At present, fewer people practice religion than did prior to Catholicism, the largest religion in the country has seen the number of its followers decrease, witness the empty and deteriorating old colonial Catholic churches.
A growing number of Cubans, however, are to be found attending Christian Protestant services on Sunday mornings. Religious practice in Cuba tends to be relatively independent from institutionalized and structured forms.
At present there are approximately 55 recognized identified religious denominations practiced in Cuba, the more important being: Roman Catholic, traditional Christian Protestant and Evangelical, such as Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and less traditional ones such as the Pentecostal.
The Catholic Church is considered the main religion. It is reported that in Cuba there are approximately secular and ordained Catholic priests and more than nuns, there are also Catholic churches and chapels in use. In addition, according to latest Cuban Ecumenical Council reports there are 1, protestant churches; missions; ministers and students in seminaries. Excerpted from Doing Business with Cuba. Our Cuba tour organizers are always available to answer questions about Cuba prior to your trip.
Ask a question now! More than 10 per cent of the Cuban population holds university degrees. We have a good number of doctorate degree holders in sciences, which gave us the raw materials to produce and do very well in research. The money was put to achieve results. For instance, in biotechnology and genetic engineering, Cuba is well advanced. I will say without being immodest, Cuba is well placed in these areas.
The things we have produced in Cuba are not only for the Third World countries but also for countries that consider themselves highly developed.
In Cuba, at the moment, we are producing the only vaccine against lung cancer which is now being tested in the United States and studies in many countries have been turning to be very good.
We are now engaged in research with our partners in the US and some other countries. We also produce another drug which saves the legs of those who would rather have been amputated when they suffer ulcer provoked by diabetes.
We have successfully saved them by more than 85 per cent. They have equally gone back to their normal lives. We are offering the services to Nigeria. A Nigerian company is working with Cuba and they are very near to obtaining the license to import and use the products here. It was a big hit on the Cuban people. Cubans were used to being with him, solving all the problems for six decades. He died and left a legacy. We are trying to make the best out of his legacy.
To use his teachings and apply the teachings because any country or generation looks more like there must be changes. Cuba is undergoing this process of changes quietly. And no issue of self-perpetuation since he has already declared that he will not run again. He has proposed that Cubans and all elected bodies should not stay longer than two terms.
Then there is also the proposal to the National Assembly to legislate on that issue. So to be a President in Cuba, they guy has to contest local elections, elected as a Deputy, then elected to the National Assembly and elected there as a member of the council of states and then the Council will nominate him for post of President.
Foreign relations of Cuba
There is no possibility whatsoever that previously chosen people can be. If that guy is not elected from the grassroots he cannot contest any post. In Cuban democracy, Sosa says Deputies are not paid any salary.
I will not touch any resources. You cannot have corruption because nobody touches the money and nobody receives. That is why it is sometimes hard for the people to accept to be elected as Deputy because they know they have to fulfill their duties. Then after that it is not very easy to win the Presidency of Cuba. Of course, the President and the Ministers are paid. He adds that Obama could not solve all the problems of the embargo.