After the events in the Havana psychiatric hospital (Mazorra), and under pressure from the international press coverage, the State admitted in a brief press release that twenty-six patients had died from hypothermia (doctors and family members believe the figure exceeds forty). The press release was silent about the hunger, desolation and overcrowding they endured in their windowless pavilions, and about the food. Generally they had soup or oatmeal, with any luck it was hot, at five o’clock in the afternoon; this was dinner, the last food until breakfast.
Days earlier, at the Superior Institute of Art (ISA), the students rioted because of starvation. Enduring the hardships in exchange for graduating became a distant, perhaps impossible, goal; their organisms demand food. And these are the children nobody wants, young, inexperienced and defenseless, in many ways like the mental patients and the rest of the Cuban population, with only one weapon: art. They rebelled and demanded better attention. They ignored the Rector and the rest of the faculty who demanded they return to their right minds. They had, in fact, been a little crazy to confront the machinery of the State. These young people, literally, were crazy from hunger. But they used whatever sanity their hunger had left them to launch a protest; perhaps, had they not seized the moment, today they would be a cipher, cold and forgotten like the twenty-six mental patients.
There would have to be a study done to know whether hunger makes us crazy, or crazy people are hungry. Cuban society has become crazy hungry people, or vice versa. the truth is that starvation touches the people more and more strongly.
In both cases, something happened. The day following the riot at ISA the food improved as did the interior lighting in the buildings. And at the Mazorra hospital, they also began bringing in trucks with supplies: food, blankets, medicines, maintenance workers, etc.
And everything coincided with our planes providing doctors, field hospitals, food and medicine for our Haitian brothers. What one can infer is the existence of warehouses with these supplies, saved for use only the case of emergencies. Like when a baby cries: it is given the breast.
In fifty years, the Cuban “Revolution” has been more concerned with its image abroad than, in reality, the welfare of its people. The internationalist policies have been no more than a justification for attracting converts to the cause, a positive and humanitarian image with a huge dose of hypocrisy and deceit, rather than a selfless endeavor to help others.
Ultimately, a State that respected itself could not bear the weight on its conscience of not having saved the mentally ill; the only honorable course is to resign. And those who support it, its ministers, repressive forces and acolytes in general should have the moral obligation to resign and give up their perks; but of course this alone would make them fear ending up on the list of the unprotected. Those who are afraid to pay the same price as the mental patients.
And in this government, I for one, fail to see the selfless, those who are disposed to give up their advantages out of shame. Perhaps we will wake up one morning to find eleven million Cubans dead of hypothermia and hunger. Though something makes me believe that a great part of these people have already lost their neurons to hypothermia and Statism–that is the State’s determination to exercise complete control over all things Cuban.
Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo