Friday, February 16, 2007

Charlize Theron - Typical Clueless Celebrity

Charlize Theron, a gifted actor who recently made a documentary about Cuban rappers, has compared Cuba with the United States. She believes and states in a CNN interview that both countries have a "lack of freedom". Hmmmm. In a way, she is right, of course. We are not free to do whatever we want, whenever we want to, and with or to whomever we want. Same with the Cubans. As far as I can see that is the extent of the similarities.

We are, however, free to say whatever we want, disagree with anyone we want, including and especially, our government and its policies and leaders, with only a few limitations on the situations. (Libel, slander laws come to mind, as does the famous "yelling fire in a crowded theater" situation.) We can also do our disagreeing with no fear of retribution from the government.

Cubans are free to say very little against their government. The prisons there are chock-full of those who took a chance and spoke their minds against the sixty-odd year-old totalitarian communist regime under Fidel Castro. Miami is chock-full of those who took the chance to "git while the gittin' was good". They were not "free" to leave, but preferred the very real risk of death to staying in the virtual prison that is Cuba. They arrived one by one and by the score, floating across the sea in life rafts, rowboats, Jerry-rigged arks with little more than hope to keep them afloat. I don't remember scores, let alone thousands, of US citizens fleeing to Cuba's Promised Land, or anywhere else for that matter, and the luxurious life of freedom to be had there, not to mention the world's best health care system.

Speaking of Cuba's health care system, check out this to see some photos of what the average Cubans have for medical facilities. I keep hearing and reading about Cuba's "world class health care". In actuality, it is a two-tiered of system similar to what the US would have under Hillarycare - top rate care for high government muckety-mucks and tourists with dollars or euros to spend, and the leftovers, if there are any, for the average and poor Cubans.

During Fidelissimo's recent illness, there was a spate of reporting on the most excellent healthcare system in Cuba. The following quote is from guardianabroad.

While the global media's focus...usually rests on Cuba's often poor human rights record, its lens does not reflect the fact that Cuba's health system is praised by British and American health care managers alike as one of the world's best. Indeed it is the envy of public health officials in many developed countries, both for its effectiveness and cost efficiency.

That article goes on to highlight the impressive doctor/patient ratio, some 1/150, compared to Britain's 1/1000, and Canada's 1/2000 to 1/4000, depending on geographical location. The US, as of 2003, had approximately 800,000 active physicians for a population of roughly 300 million, for a ratio of 1/375, if my math serves me well. That makes us a lot better than Britain or Canada, and maybe not as good as Cuba in that respect. But a great doctor/patient ratio doesn't amount to a hill of pills if there are no pills to give the patient.

There is a chronic shortage of needed drugs available in pharmacies while a good supply is maintained for the select recipients of Cuba's top-tier medical services. For Cubans in the tourist industry with US tips in dollars, obtaining the drugs they need can be easy. But often such basic supplies as aspirin and bandages must be supplied by US relatives, or bartered for with whatever is available, including prostitution. See this for more examples.

Dr.Hilda Molina, an esteemed Cuban physician, honored by Fidel for contributions to Cuban medicine, resigned in protest of the preferential treatment given to foreigners while denying Cubans the basic and sometimes critical care they needed. After speaking out and returning the medals awarded to her, she tried to travel to Argentina to visit family and was denied a visa. I guess Dr. Molina's freedom to travel from her country was not as available as the freedom to travel that Charlize has from hers. See here for more on Dr. Molina.

But if Ms Theron is ever in Cuba once again, I am certain that she would be free to partake in the health-care system reserved for high echelon people should she be unfortunate, or fortunate, enough to require it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...not to mention the fact that any official information about Cuba (about its health care, literacy rate, or anything else) comes from a tyrannical government--not a free and critical press. It kills me to hear people proudly cite, for example, Cuba's stellar infant mortality rate...who exactly do they think is supplying those statistics?