Cuban healthcare, the US and George Galloway

Guardian:

The US sought out stories of Cuban medical malpractice in order to discredit the island’s free universal healthcare system, a leaked diplomatic cable shows.

The US interest section in Havana (Usint) said in a 2006 cable that it considered such stories a weapon against Cuba’s “self-congratulatory propaganda”:

NEWS: Usint is always looking for human interest stories and other news that shatters the myth of Cuban medical prowess, which has become a key feature of the regime’s foreign policy and its self-congratulatory propaganda. Two articles appeared this week in our roundup of news about Cuba that we collect and disseminate daily:

• Dateline 31 May: Jamaican Dr Albert Lue has publicly denounced Cuban medical incompetency in handling Jamaican patients who traveled to Cuba for eye surgery. Of 60 such patients he surveyed, three were left permanently blind and another 14 returned to Jamaica with permanent cornea damage.

• Dateline 1 June: 14,000 Bolivian doctors are on strike to protest the 600 Cuban doctors who have been shipped into the country, with no concern as to displacement or unemployment among the Bolivian doctors, or qualifications of the Cubans.

The quote came to light on a user-requested search for George Galloway. Of the former Respect MP, US diplomats write that their UK counterparts told them they were put in what the same cable calls an “embarassing situation” on his recent visit to Cuba.

Galloway had just given an interview to GQ magazine where he had said that while he would not call for it, Tony Blair’s assassination by a suicide bomber would be “morally justified”. The cable said of the British embassy staff: “On the one hand they wanted to at least go through the motions of offering assistance to an MP; on the other hand they thought it better not to be seen or photographed next to Galloway, who had just released a statement saying that it would be just fine if somebody killed Tony Blair.”

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