By Ernesto Pérez Castillo
From Opinión magazine
When the British newspaper The Guardian published secret documents of the U.S. Interest Section (USIS) in Havana, provided by WikiLeaks, it was just the tip of the iceberg hidden under the carpet.
You can read there that one of the missions of Washington’s (or Langley’s?) diplomats is to collect “stories and other news that can destroy the myth of Cuban medical superiority” for, they recognized, the island health care services “became one of the strong points of that country.”
A recent event shows that U.S. officials have proceeded much farther than the simple gathering of anecdotes and have gone on to stage direct provocations, more offensive because of its hypocrisy, such as the case of the organization of alleged auctions of works of art to help Cuban children with cancer.
With that purpose they handle (and finance) its puppet on the field, Carmen Vallejo, and as cover they could not find a worse place than the Embassy of the Czech Republic, one of the United States’ unconditional supporters of its anti-Cuban policy.
Ms. Vallejo herself has uploaded in her blog photos of her activities, where the previous head of the USIS’, Michel Parmley, presence sticks out. This is the same official that in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Le Temps threatened Julian Assange: “I would also be very unhappy if the many conversations I had with blogger Yoani Sanchez should be released.”
Yoani, who doesn’t miss an opportunity, has among the multiple missions assigned by Michael Parmly to publicize Carmen Vallejo’s provocations. So last weekend she twitted: “#cuba #GY An auction of 42 pieces by Cuban artists was held yesterday to raise funds for children with cancer.”
Parmley – and the money from the U.S. government -- is not the only thing that Sánchez and Vallejo have in common. As well as the former, the latter at some point decided to emigrate. Sánchez went hungry in Switzerland, and for that reason came back and cried at the airport so she would be readmitted. Ms. Vallejo’s luck was different, but at least she did not have to buy a ticket back home. But it’s better to read her own words:
“In 1981, during a trip to Moscow to treat an eye ailment, I fled to Stockholm, where I applied for political asylum. The Swedish authorities immediately deported me to Cuba.”
In other words, we are talking about someone who received all the benefits of the Revolution –including to be sent abroad for medical treatment -- and attempted by any means to remain on foreign soil, but was kicked back by direct flight, because in Sweden there is no Cuban Adjustment Act. Once back in her home country she found nothing better than to serve the same interests that tossed her out of the first world.
Indeed, there are some people who even when receiving eye treatment in Moscow will never be able to open their eyes.
The truly perverse thing about the provocation organized by the USIS was to use the pretext of raising funds for helping Cuban children stricken with cancer.
It is criminal, to say the least, that the same government that denies to those same children access to drugs and technologies on which their quality of life depends –and even their very lives -- organizes an auction for buying them candy.
Dr. Jesús Reno, head of Pediatrics at Havana’s Cancer Institute, claims that because of the U.S. blockade “we can’t give full first class treatment in malignant tumors of the retina because we are not allowed to buy radioactive iodine plates.”
The blockade has also caused many children to be amputated by denying the license for acquisition of endo-prosthesis for those diagnosed with malignant bone tumors.
Curiously, a few months ago a similar auction was held to help a little girl with cancer, as reported by the Univisión TV web site… on its entertainment section!
So Laura, a six-year-old girl who lives in Miami, underwent amputation of her right arm at Jackson Memorial Holtz Children's Hospital because of bone tumor. Now, in a struggle for her life against cancer, she must have treatment that costs $400,000. That was the reason for the auction with the attendance of numerous famous people, where among other things, a pair of sunglasses belonging to Thalia was sold. The total sum raised was approximately $20,000 dollars, about 5 percent of the cost of the treatment.
The worst part is that Laura is Cuban, and her condition was diagnosed in Cuba, where she had at her disposal full treatment at no cost.
In spite of the U.S. blockade, in Cuba 90 percent of children with leukemia are saved, as well as 94 per cent of those with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In recent years, there have been no deaths of children from several pathologies related to cancer. And all treatment and hospital stays are totally free.
On top of that, treatment of children with cancer extends beyond the island’s borders. Since 1990, Cuba has treated, at no charge at all, 24,000 children from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, victims of the nuclear accident of the Chernobyl plant in 1986.
According to Dr. Julio Medina, the coordinator of the Cuban part of the program, every year, between 700 to 800, boys and girls are treated in Havana, mostly of onco-hematological diseases. In the face of all this, what are Ms. Carmen Vallejo and her U.S. sponsors doing posing as benefactors of sick children? The fact is these children’s suffering is compounded because the U.S. prefers them sick or – better yet – dead.