Correspondent in Havana
One year and three months after reporting in Cuba the first cases of Covid-19, the island is going through the third and worst outbreak of the pandemic. In recent months, several consecutive records of active cases have been registered and, in the last 15 days, more than 18,000 infections and an average of five deaths per day were reported.
Despite the worsening of the health crisis, the regime rejected the COVAX mechanism, through which it could have prevented hundreds of deaths, and has latched onto its vaccine candidates, two of which are in the third and final phase of clinical trials.
The regime blames this health crisis on social indiscipline because, according to them, the town does not comply with sanitary measures oriented. However, a count of the last year shows that the outbreaks have been caused mainly by an opening of the borders and international tourism, as well as by the shortage of supplies in the markets, which causes agglomerations.
For Mariela, the problem is in the queues, even of several days, to buy basic supplies: “If the government wants to reduce infections, it must start by guaranteeing food, avoiding crowds in the markets, which they have never done.” The young woman, mother of two minors, worked in the tourism sector and due to its almost total closure, she has had to resort to other forms of subsistence, such as queuing and then reselling on the black market the products acquired in the state stores. “I know I am at risk, especially contagion, but it’s that or starving, I have to feed my children,” he says.
Only the Cuban capital, Havana, has been in isolation for more than five months, closed access to other provinces and with a curfew from 9 at night to 5 in the morning. And the regime intensifies the measures more and more. Several provinces also announce the closure of their borders.
Although the information is not transparent, it has been reported the collapse of several hospitals In the country, terrible conditions in the isolation centers, lack of medicines and statistics manipulated by the health authorities, which do not register deaths due to the consequences of Covid, such as pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.
In turn, the Cuban regime uses the pandemic to justify the repression of opponents and control of the population at times also of an acute economic, social and political crisis.
Politicization of vaccination
In Cuba, the mass vaccination process officially began on April 24. The problem is the country does not yet have a vaccine. The politicization of the vaccine candidates is announced from the names given to them (Soberana, Abdala, Mambisa). The propaganda has even used children as a way to generate empathy or awareness about it, ignoring the fundamental thing, which is that they are using the people as a guinea pig and many do not even know it.
“Has been a political maneuver to obtain an economic benefit. They need to sell Cuba’s image as a medical power, they need to sell these vaccine candidates, they need to make a business out of this. Politics is once again taking over the people, the health of the people. These vaccine candidates are far from offering the guarantees offered by many vaccines in the world; In addition, there is no transparency regarding its side effects, “said Dr. Yoasnel Barroetabena Riol, a member of the Free Cuban Medical Association.
Faced with doubts, misinformation and a lack of transparency, doctors like Esperanza Suárez Venzant only want to be vaccinated without fear: “The people who came to my house to persuade me to vaccinate do not realize that I do not refuse, I only need information and not it. I find nowhere. Cuba has a vaccine tourism projectThat is fine, but I am neither a mouse nor a rabbit (…). We confront each other without reasons, just because the orientation is to vaccinate, without caring or respecting your doubts and, worst of all, without the slightest knowledge on the subject ». Due to this questioning on her social networks, the doctor received threats from the Cuban State Security.
While, on the one hand, the regime spends millions on vaccine candidates and clinical trials, pharmacies are almost empty and many report a lack of drugs and surgical supplies in hospitals, or even deaths due to lack of medical supplies.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism