In his book, In Cuba, Father Ernesto Cardenal — the famous Nicaraguan priest, revolutionary and poet who is known to don a black beret a la Che Guevara – described Cuba as a giant monastery, with the residents living austere, but meaningful lives in service to others. While this a romantic portrait, of course, and Father Cardenal said as much, there is still much truth in it. Certainly, it is more true than the portrait of the island gulag which the U.S. and its compliant press would have us believe Cuba to be. (Of course, there is a gulag on the island of Cuba, and it is called Guantanamo Bay and it is owned and administered by the United States. Meanwhile, in Cuba proper, according to a January 27, 2012 Financial Times article, entitled, “Freedom comes slowly to Cuba,” “there are currently no prisoners of conscience”).
Nowhere is this monastic spirit of true Christian giving and solidarity better seen than in the doctors and medical staff which Cuba sends to minister to the poor throughout the world. As I recently learned in reading Conflicting Missions by Piero Gleijeses, Cuba began this medical solidarity work in Algeria where it sent 29 doctors, three dentists, fifteen nurses, and eight medical technicians in 1963 – that is, just after Algeria’s independence from France and just 4 years after Cuba’s own revolution.
For more on this story, visit: Cuba and International Solidarity » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.