Cholera in Cuba
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Reponsibility is Not Remunerated

Reponsibility is Not Remunerated / Jeovany J. Vega
Posted on September 14, 2013

The story circulated recently on the Intranet: a Cuban doctor, a
recently graduated anesthesiologist, was sentenced to nothing less than
eight years in prison for the sad death of an obstetric patient. I don’t
know the anesthesiologist in questions and I’m not completely versed in
the details of the case, but I remain a priori convinced of some truths
about this case: she wasn’t absent from her post, she didn’t stop trying
the procedure until the last minute, she didn’t try to get out of
accepting responsibility, she did not fail through laziness or

Nor was it about some marginal profiting in the corner from under the
table goods, nor was she a functionary collecting the huge benefits from
the management circuits, customs, nor hoteliers, nor one of those who
emerges from those who hold the upper hand in this country. This young
woman gained nothing from this work shift, nothing to alleviate the
burden of her home, nothing to benefit her family, no food to put in the
mouths of her children, if she has any.

It is a universal rule that the salary received by an individual should
be proportional to the effort demanded for their training and,
especially, to the amount of legal responsibility assumed when
exercising a particular function.

But in this little island that principle is definitely broken: general
practitioners, particularly doctors, living as we do amid chaotic and
absurd dynamics, working for $25.00 USD a month for authorities who do
not blush when they sell a child’s toy for about $80.00 CUC (roughly
$80.00 USD). Meanwhile, a simple employee of that same store, just to
name one example, takes home five or ten times our monthly salary when
he lines his pocket from tips, from fiddling with the prices, and from
access to all the rebates and bargains; while this doctor and I earn a
little more than a dollar after a day of work, an incredible shift
facing influenza, dehydrating diarrhea — including cholera of course, or
the risk of meningococcal encephalitis; and this would be our entire pay
for assuming the greatest responsibility for the least expected mistake
— not necessarily out of neglect or incompetence, but from the logical
physical and mental exhaustion, or, and why not, for understandable
human error — which can put you behind bars and for what we don’t even
remotely perceive that we deserve.

All this sounds like mockery and would be laughable if it were not so
serious. The doctor’s previous merits counted for nothing, nor did her
desire to finish this most difficult of specializations, nor the five
years she was on a medical mission in Venezuela making the best of a bad

Although I respect the pain of the family and do not question their
right to channel such a loss to the last resort, as they have suffered
pain of unfathomable magnitudes, it would be very healthy, in situations
like this, to redirect their focus to those who have rigged the game
such that none of us, not this doctor nor the rest of our colleagues,
are guaranteed a way to survive in our country with a minimum of

by Jeovany Jiménez Vega

Source: “Reponsibility is Not Remunerated / Jeovany J. Vega |
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