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Letter to Pope Benedict XVI / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Letter to Pope Benedict XVI / Jeovany Jimenez Vega
Jeovany J. Vega, Translator: Unstated

Artemisa, 20 February 2012

To His Holiness Benedict XVI:

Like most Cubans, I greatly rejoice in your announced visit to our
country, which will undoubtedly be welcome. You come to a country living
in the most complex moment in its history. When you come, certainly, our
authorities will show, among others, the achievements of our Public
Health and will ensure that this is a proof of the Cuban government
caring for its people.

So you must know, Your Holiness, that there is a part of the story that
will be hidden from You and from the world: the desperate economic
situation, bordering on poverty, which forces us to live the artifices
of the miracle. But the most degrading facet of the case – still more
grave, if you will, than the fact itself – is that our government does
not admit questioning and punishes, inexorably, anyone who dares to
criticize the poverty in which it forces us to live.

I write you as a Cuban doctor who graduated in 1994, barred from the
practice of medicine in my country indefinitely, since October 2006,
along with my colleague Dr. Rodolfo Martinez Vigoa. As unlikely it
seems, we never put at risk the health or life of any patient, nor did
we violate work discipline and we never failed in our Code of Medical
Ethics. To be deprived of the exercise of our profession it was enough
that we channeled, to the then Minister Public Health, the opinions of
300 healthcare professionals regarding a disrespectful wage increase
realized in mid-2005 under the government of Fidel Castro.

Your Holiness: Although our government assures us that their differences
with the Church are of the past, that we live in different times and
that they themselves have changed, however, the intolerance they created
during the 60's with the infamous UMAP forced labor camps — in which
tens of thousands of believers were also incarcerated — was exactly the
same as that which 40 years later disqualified us to speak to that
minister, hence we denounce that smile that they will show you today as
nothing more than pure simulation.

When our authorities talk about the laudable health indicators, Your
Holiness; when they comment on successful organ transplants; when they
show advances in genetic engineering and biotechnology applications in
medicine and speak about the medical missions supported by the Cuban
government in more than 70 countries, they will not say, however, this
miracle was achieved thanks to an army of professions who receive the
miserable monthly salary of $25.00 U.S., even though the medical
services provided in foreign countries — which have become the first
line export of this country — generate at least eight billion dollars a

Nor will they tell you that healthcare workers are forcibly retained for
five years by our ministry if we want to travel abroad and that we are
defenseless against the most outrageous abuses, that we do not have a
guild nor effective union representation, given that the powers-that-be,
in exchange for our admirable work, show us a complete lack of attention.

The proverbial injustice that motivates this letter – reported in my
blog "Citizen Zero", which is found on the portal "Cuban Voices" – was
committed with the consent of all the central institutions of our
country; this includes the Attorney General of the Republic, the Party
Central Committee, the President of the Parliament, the Council of State
– including four letters to President Raul Castro and two to Vice
President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura – and of course, the Ministry of
Public Health, to which we turned 20 times with no response.

About 80 documents sent over five years – including two serious attempts
at hunger strike – illustrate the insensitivity of the Cuban authorities
to the problems of their people. In addition, Your Holiness, as part of
our effort, since October 2010 we went to the Archbishop of Havana,
through documents sent to His Eminence Cardinal Jaime Ortega, where we
ask, in virtue of the role played by the Catholic Church as mediator
recent political events, it to intercede for our case to the Cuban
Government so that this injustice can be amended.

Your Holiness: The government that now receives You, which claims to be
respectful of Human Rights and does not hesitate to display doctors as a
trophy, is the same one that deliberately keeps is in poverty, while
perpetrating a villainy as this. The case that I outline here,
transcends mere personal interest and is highly illustrative of how an
intolerant government is projected to its people.

This affront to human dignity, which has remained unpunished for more
than five years, definitely belies the apertures that the Cuban
Government boasts of today. For all this, Holy Father, with all
humility, I ask You and thank You in advance to intercede with our
authorities to restore to us our profession that was usurped. Today I am
writing to you as the head of the Catholic Church and as the man in
Jesus Christ in whom we are compelled to feel in our own cheek the
outrage committed against the cheek of any man.

With all respect, thank You for Your attention,

Jeovany Gimenez Vega
Calle 54 # 2914. Artemisa.
Provincia Artemisa. Cuba.

March 6 2012


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