NY bar association claims primitive Cuban healthcare is ‘world-class’

For most Cubans, health care takes place in crumbling hospitals that lack basic drugs readily available in the U.S. But the left-wing New York City Bar Association claims that Cuba “offers world-class health care to all Cubans”:

A top official of Cuba’s communist party — who has pledged eternal allegiance to her “commander” Fidel Castro — will be a featured speaker at the New York City Bar Association later this month — galling those who fled the brutal dictatorship.

Yamila Gonzalez Ferrer — the vice president National Union of Cuban Jurists and member of the Cuban National Assembly will discuss “the newest developments in Cuba’s public health law, which provides the legal framework for fulfilling health care as a right, not a privilege,” the bar gushed in a LinkedIN notice last week.

Cuba offers world-class health care to all Cubans, free-of-charge, emphasizing prevention, primary care and the active participation of the community. Cuba is also an innovator in the development of life-saving drugs,” added a description of the March 21 event at the association’s 44th street headquarters in midtown which also promised a Q&A with Ferrer.

The Cuban healthcare system has been bad for years. A 2014 news report noted that “hospitals in the island’s capital are literally falling apart.” Sometimes, patients “have to bring everything with them, because the hospital provides nothing. Pillows, sheets, medicine: everything.”

Left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders falsely claimed that communist dictator Fidel Castro “gave” Cubans “health care.”

In reality, Cubans had health care before communists took over the country, and Cuba has made less progress in health care and life expectancy than most of Latin America in recent years, thanks to communism.

Before the communist takeover, Cubans lived longer than people in virtually all other Latin American nations. But that changed under the communist regime that took over in 1959. Back in 1960, Chileans had a life span seven years shorter than Cubans, and Costa Ricans lived more than two years less than Cubans on average. But Cuba lost that advantage in life expectancy by 2012, according to the World Almanac.

By 2017, Costa Ricans lived five years longer than Cubans, and Chileans lived three years longer than Cubans, according to Google Public Data. And the difference could be even greater, because Cuban life expectancy is inflated by the rosy official statistics put out by Cuba’s communist government. Cuba has been credibly accused of hiding infant deaths, and exaggerating the life spans of its citizens. If these accusations are true, Cubans die even sooner compared to Chileans and Costa Ricans than official data indicates.

In 1960, Mexicans lived seven years shorter than Cubans; by 2017, the gap had virtually disappeared, shrinking to just four months, according to Google Public Data.

As Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler noted, “As for health care and education, Cuba was already near the top of the heap before” the communist “revolution. Cuba’s low infant mortality rate is often lauded, but it already led the region on this key measure in 1953-1958, according to data collected by Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a Cuba specialist and professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh.” But in more recent years, “Cuban hospitals” were “ill-equipped,” and by 2004, Cuban pharmacies stocked “very little and antibiotics” were “available only on the black market.”

Under communism, Cuba has fallen behind in basic living conditions. As the progressive economist Brad DeLong pointed out:

[Before communism, Cuba] was a developed country. Cuba in 1957 had lower infant mortality than France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had doctors and nurses: as many doctors and nurses per capita as the Netherlands, and more than Britain or Finland. Cuba in 1957 had as many vehicles per capita as Uruguay, Italy, or Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had 45 TVs per 1000 people — fifth highest in the world. …Today? Today the UN puts Cuba’s HDI [Human Development indicators] in the range of … Mexico.

As Michael Giere notes, Cuba was prosperous before Castro’s communists seized power:

A United Nations (UNESCO) report in 1957 noted that the Cuban economy included proportionally more workers who were unionized than in the U.S. The report also stated that average wages for an eight hour day were higher in Cuba than in ‘Belgium, Denmark, France, and Germany.’… PBS explained in a 2004 retrospective, that …

Havana [prior to Castro] was a glittering and dynamic city. Cuba ranked fifth in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. The literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Many private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba’s income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. A thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility.’

But after communist dictator Castro took over, the prosperity came to an end:

Castro’s destruction of Cuba cannot be over dramatized. He looted, murdered, and destroyed the nation from the ground up. Just one factoid explains it all; Cubans once enjoyed one of the highest consumption of proteins in the Americas, yet in 1962 Castro had to introduce ration cards (meat, 2 ounces daily), as food consumption per person crashed to levels not seen since the 1800s.

Hunger became so widespread that a visiting Swedish doctor, Hans Rosling, had to warn Cuba’s communist dictator in 1992 about widespread protein deficiency among Cubans. Dr. Rosling visited Cuba in 1992. Roughly 40,000 Cubans had been reported to have been experiencing “visual blurring and severe numbness in their legs.”Rosling traveled to the heart of the outbreak, in the western province of Pinar del Río. It turned out that those stricken with the disorder all suffered from protein deficiency, because the government was rationing meat.

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