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Health Last Updated: Oct 1st, 2009 - 00:55:41

Health care: Ignoring the huge red elephant in the room
By William Blum
Online Journal Guest Writer

Oct 1, 2009, 00:31

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In the frenzied search of recent months for a better way of delivering health care to the American people, the American media has often discussed health-care systems in other countries, particularly Europe. Usually, little, if anything, is mentioned about Cuba�s system, where everyone is covered, for everything, where pre-existing conditions do not matter, and no patient pays for anything; i.e., nothing at all.

The reason the Cuban system is seldom mentioned in the mass media is probably that it�s kind of embarrassing that this otherwise poor country, laboring under the awful yoke of (choke, gasp) socialism, can deliver health care that most Americans can only dream of.

Now we have a new book by T.R. Reid, former correspondent for the Washington Post and commentator for National Public Radio. It�s called �The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.� Reid does not avoid giving some credit to the Cuban system, but he makes sure that the reader knows that he�s not taken in by any commie propaganda. He refers to the Cuban government as �a totalitarian Communist fiefdom,� and adds: �In every country (except, perhaps, a police state like Cuba) there is one group of citizens who are not bound by the unified health care system: the rich.� [1] Thus, the fact that Cuba has an egalitarian health care system is made to seem like something negative, something one could expect to find only in a police state.

In discussing the World Health Organization�s giving Cuba high marks for fairness in its system, Reid points out, �Of course, fairness and equal treatment extend only so far; when Fidel Castro himself fell ill in 2007, medical experts were flown in from Europe to treat him.� [2] Aha! I knew it! Americans, and not just the right-wing crazies, would never accept a medical system where everyone got completely free care for all ailments if the president ever got any kind of special treatment. Would they? We could at least ask them.

Speaking of the right-wing crazies, there was a report in the New York Times which said, �Tomorrow night, getting right into the thick of the battle,� the president will �carry his message to the people in a nationwide television and radio speech� fighting for enactment of his health reform bill, which opponents tagged as �socialized medicine� and �an entering wedge for the takeover of private medicine by the federal government.� The president was John F. Kennedy, the program was Medicare, the Times story was published on May 20, 1962. Despite the speech, the effort failed until passage in 1964. [3]

And speaking of the totalitarian communist socialist fascist Cuban police-state dictatorship, Mr. Reid and others might be interested in an article I wrote which demonstrates that during the period of its revolution, Cuba has enjoyed one of the very best human-rights records in all of Latin America.

But how to get past a lifetime of conditioning and reach the American mind with that message? At the recent convention of the AFL-CIO, the country�s leading labor organization, there was a very progressive resolution put forth calling for the right of all Americans to travel to Cuba and for an end to the US embargo against the island nation. But at the end of the resolution, the authors reminded us that they�re Americans, calling upon Cuba �to release all political prisoners.� [4]

To appreciate what�s wrong with that resolution one must understand the following: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer. Since the Cuban revolution, the United States and anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the US have inflicted upon Cuba greater damage and greater loss of life than what happened in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. Cuban dissidents typically have had very close, indeed intimate, political and financial connections to American government officials, particularly in Havana through the United States Interests Section. Would the US government ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and/or engaging in repeated meetings with known leaders of that organization? In the past few years, the American government has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents� ties to the United States, evidence gathered by Cuban double agents. Virtually all of Cuba�s �political prisoners� are such dissidents.


1. p.234 of Reid�s book

2. Ibid., p.150-1

3. Washington Post, September 9, 2009

4. PDF of resolution

William Blum is the author of �Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2,� �Rogue State: A Guide to the World�s Only Superpower,� �West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir� and �Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire.�

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