Cuba was recently mentioned during a July 12 interview Pope Francis gave to Televisa Univision’s ViX streaming service. His remarks cannot help but cause consternation to those suffering in this communist island prison.
“I love the Cuban people very much,” Francis said. “I also confess that I maintain a human relationship with Raúl Castro.” His reference to Raul Castro is like saying that although he loves the inmates in this prison, he gets along well with the warden responsible for their suffering. Adding to the confusion, the pope called Cuba “a symbol” and a country with “a great history.”
The commentaries come a little over a year after the largest anti-government protests the country had seen in decades, asking for freedom from communism. The protests were so intense that many thought the end of the regime might be in sight. However, the communist regime brutally suppressed the peaceful demonstrations. Many protesters were subjected to arbitrary arrests, torture and draconian prison sentences. The Vatican and the West let that anniversary pass without commentary.
Meanwhile, the misery continues. A recent dengue outbreak demonstrates how bad things are and how indifferent the West is to Cuba’s suffering.
Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitos that leads to fever, vomiting and even death. Prevention and treatment of dengue are not complicated in most modern countries. Mosquito fumigation and eradication programs usually prevent any significant spreading of the disease. While there is no specific treatment for dengue, early detection and proper hospital treatment mitigates its effects and minimizes fatalities in most normal countries.
However, Cuba is not a normal country. Everything seems to conspire against proper treatment.
To begin with, most governmental agencies have conflicting reports on the extent of the disease. No one knows how many have it since the health system lacks testing supplies. Government statistics are notoriously unreliable. Videos shared on social media by suffering Cubans present a more accurate picture of the disease’s devastation and strain on the public health system. Dramatic scenes at emergency rooms and hospitals show the helplessness of most sufferers as doctors have nothing to offer.
Contributing to the dengue epidemic is the unavailability of simple products and services. There are no screens for the windows to keep mosquitoes out. People use improperly stored water in their houses since most have limited access to running water. Mosquito repellents and netting are not readily available to the population. Larvicide and diesel needed for fumigation are also lacking.
Things only get worse when the dengue-inflected person gets to the hospital. Patients have to bring their own bedding. Many hospitals lack running water and basic supplies like gloves, syringes and other materials. Medicines that are readily available in pharmacies elsewhere are in short supply. Lack of gas affects ambulance services to transport patients needing urgent care.
Slowing things down generally are electric blackouts that last several hours every day. Officials blame a “power-generation deficit,” which means several generating plants are off the grid because, like most other things in the country, they lack maintenance or repair. Chronic food shortages and civil unrest also contribute to the disaster.
This is clearly a country living in a state of emergency that needs help. However, it has lived in this state for decades, and its officials insist it needs no help. The poor communist country is only worsening as it spirals downward with its broken ideology, which can never produce prosperity.
Indeed, even worse is that liberation theologians and Western leftists point to Cuba as a model—even a paradise—for the world. They have propagated the myth that Cuba has one of the best health care systems in the world. Meanwhile, its people are dying.
Indeed, Cuba is a symbol. On the one hand, it symbolizes the continuation of communist tyranny, misery and brutality. For the West, Cuba is a painful symbol of its indifference and hypocrisy. Those who yet resist in Cuba are a symbol of Christian courage and long-suffering anticipating the day when they will be free to write the “great history” that awaits them.