Protests take toll on strained system

Health Care in Cuba

In a health care system not subject to market demands, Cubans were already encountering shortages and lack of choice. Now, with the protests raging, COVID is spreading, and other health problems are going untreated, according to various sources.

Hans Bader wrote in The Daily Wire that Cuba’s already inferior health system appears to “be collapsing amid the coronavirus epidemic, even though Cuba, an island, was far less impacted by the epidemic than countries like Brazil, Argentina and Peru.”

According to Cuban America Valdez, the “healthcare system has crumbled, and they are unequipped to contain the COVID outbreak,” with people deteriorating in filthy hospitals. As she said, “For years now the Cuban health care system has been suffering due to a lack [of] proper infrastructure, medicine, equipment and personnel. The government simply doesn’t fund the healthcare system.”

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler reported, “As for health care and education, Cuba was already near the top of the heap before” the communist revolution. Cuba led the region in low infant mortality during the 1950s, but, more recently, Cuban hospitals and pharmacies lacked supplies. Under Castro’s Communist regime, people lacked nutrition. The lack of protein in some areas caused widespread cases of numbness in the legs, noted a visiting Swedish doctor, Hans Rosling.

Now Cuban leaders are claiming that COVID-19 and the current protests are responsible for shortages in supplies. While COVID-19 disrupted supply chains around the world, countries with free markets were able to accommodate these changes much more quickly than Communist regimes.

“As a wholly planned economy — meaning all the means of production are calculated and dictated by the government — Cuba should have been poised to outperform most of the world in combatting the pandemic,” said Kevin D. Gomez of the Devoe Moore Center on Health Care and Politics.

Bureaucracies can work well in predictable social environments with explicit goals are explicit, unambiguous tasks and easily accessible knowledge, Gomez explained. He acknowledged that the Cuban administration efficiently locked down the nation and kept COVID from spreading for most of the last year. “The deadly shortages that triggered the mass protests in Cuba, however, are not due to bureaucratic error. Instead, they are a consequence of embracing bureaucracy over markets to provide key services and serve basic needs,” he said.

While market-oriented economies also have problems of high costs, consumers can shop around for alternatives in the marketplace. Competition drives the prices down. “The more economic freedom a country has, the easier it is to access productive resources,” Gomez added.

Now Cubans are encountering shortages, because other countries find it an unattractive investment. Its refusal to embrace market-oriented institutions and silencing of all political diversity are keeping will the country in the dark and its cupboards empty. Cubans are ready to move on from being kept in the dark.

Gomez concluded, “Thousands of Cubans across Florida are not waving flags and using #SOSCuba as a smoke signal for more help. Rather, it is about shining the light on the alternative — freedom.”