By Luis A. Montero Cabrera
Doctor of Science and Chair of the Scientific Council of the University of Havana; Honorary member and coordinator of natural and exact sciences at the Academy of Sciences of Cuba.
The website of the United States National Institute of Mental Health provides a definition of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”
If we look at the definition and the description of the disease that follows, we see that it applies to certain policies that country displays toward Cuba and the Cuban people. A clear example of this is a March 25 tweet by the U.S. embassy in Havana:
"WE. State Department | Democracy, Human and Labor Rights @StateDRL · 25 Mar. The government of #Cuba retains most of the salary earned by its physicians and nurses while serving in international medical missions and subjects them to atrocious working conditions. The host countries that seek Cuban aid for #COVID ー 19 should examine the agreements and put an end to labor abuses.”
Apparently this is the opinion of the current U.S. administration towards the undeniably praiseworthy action Cuba is taking to help countries better manage the tragedy the entire world faces with COVID-19.
Their descriptions are absurd as they try to convince others that a doctor helping poor people in remote areas of the Brazilian Amazon are “slaves” of the Cuban government. Last September the U.S. State Department called Cuba’s international medical missions “a form of human trafficking and modern slavery.”
What strange “slaves” who, without anyone watching over them, work freely in a foreign country after signing, of their own free will, a contract that suits both them and the employer from their own country. These contracts date back to the presidency of Dilma Roussef with her “Mais Médicos” program that was arranged under the very neutral auspices of the Pan American Health Organization, which is apparently an “accomplice” to this modern slavery.
The strangest thing is that the “slave” label primarily comes from a third country that is not a party to the contract: the current U.S. administration. The government of Brazil submissively repeated the accusation.
How many Brazilians are dying and will continue to die due to lack of medical care because that contract was canceled? And how absurd is the political action of that North American government amidst the worst health crisis in a hundred years? This can only hinder the chances of survival of many human beings if a naïve government follows the recommendations of the State Department. Why do the corporate media call Cuba’s actions “medical diplomacy” rather than human solidarity?
The Christian Gospels all tell stories of Jesus’ followers being fed by just a few loaves and fishes that miraculously multiplied as they were distributed. That appeared on two occasions and in situations when large crowds were listening to the prophet. Every action has many components and it is undeniable that increased prestige for the Christian Messiah may have come from the multiplication of the loaves and fishes to feed a hungry multitude. If one wishes to discredit him based on this story, other arguments could be put forward because nothing multiplies on its own. One must work for his or her daily bread.
Fortunately, people of good will prefer to see that Christ’s charitable miracle satiated the hunger of a crowd. We always prefer to learn from positive values that reinforce the human condition. Cuba shares what little it has; it does not have extra to give away. And if such actions also earn it very well deserved prestige, and if the revenue generated helps to maintain its renowned national public health system, all the better.
One of the controversial but sound arguments of the Obama administration for changing the aggressive policy toward Cuba was its obsolescence. That was an administration that did not display as many pathological disorders that result in failed actions. Of course we Cubans in Cuba have much better arguments about how abhorrent and inhumane those policies are that have been imposed on us in a decades-long aggression. But this insistence on reversing the undeniable progress achieved by the previous U.S. administration, which accepted and even praised the utterly humanistic health support Cuba has been offering other countries, clearly marks a behavior disorder.
It is a clear example of “uncontrollable, recurring obsessions and compulsions” repeated over and over by some politicians in that country and their lackeys. One of our internationalist physicians who practices psychiatry would not hesitate to call this “obsessive-compulsive disorder on a political scale.” The victims are the 11 million of us Cubans who inhabit the island and several million more people of good will in the émigré community.
That embassy itself marks true progress by the Obama administration that tried to change the decades-old policy towards Cuba. It looked like the country was going to cure itself of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Unfortunately, among those who now hold power this sickness is much more severe than we realized.
Translated by Jill Clark-Gollub