Documentary film maker Michael Moore used this pharmacy to contrast drug costs, US/Cuba. But he didn't explain that this is a cash-only center for foreigners, diplomats and the Cuban elite. The regular pharmacies nationwide do not have these supplies.
Safe Drinking Water
Every Driver Has to be a Mechanic
After a Storm, Havana
I Spoke at a Conference in Havana
There is a health clinic in every neighborhood and village nationwide. That's the good news. The bad news is that are not adequately supplied, and hand-washed syringes and equipment are left to ari-dry, and then used on another patient -- a hygienic practice that would be considered appallingly dangerous in the US.
Except for streetlights much of Havana, away from the tourist core of the Old City, is dimly lit at night. People cannot afford the electricity.
This university trains hundreds of foreign students every year, in addition to Cubans. Cuba made medical training a central core of its global diplomacy.
Americans Studying in Cuba
American medical students studying in Cuba. They get Cuban medical degrees, but face at least a year of additional training and testing in the U.S. for accreditation.
Sometimes it's hard to believe people live in these homes. For decades it was illegal to remodel property, and any significant repair work required State approval.
Theoretical Seat of Government
The Parliament rarely convenes.
Viva los Yanquis!
No Roof but it's Their Casa
For more than 20 years the family has lived in this third story walk-up. Te final flight of stairs to their home collapsed more than a decade ago, so entry is via a rickety ladder. The roof caved in long ago, and they have awaited government approval to build a new roof for more than a decade. When it rains, they have a 2-bedroom apartment. When it is dry, they have 3.
Informal Food Market
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and loss of economic support from the USSR, the Cuban economy has been dismal. Once all food was dispensed from government stores, and families had vouchers and designated allotments. But the government can no longer afford to feed everybody, so it is forced to allow rudimentary capitalism. A designated list of food commodities can legally be sold for profits by private small dealers working in designated market sites.
All Cuba's economic travails get blamed on what the government calls "The Blockade" -- the US embargo on trade.
Pres. George Bush was designated a "terrorist"
In the early days of the HIV epidemic Cuba was the only nation in the world to institute mandatory testing of the entire population, and forced quarantine of all HIV+ individuals. The largest qurantine site -- effectively, pre-1996 an AIDS prison -- was Los Cocos. Today residents are in Los Cocos on a voluntary basis. Some told us they faced homophobic discrimination "on the outside," while others conceded the generous free meals, with meat every day, kept them living in Los Cocos.
The same devastating hurricane system that wiped out New Orleans with Katrina spawned Category 1 and 2 hurricanes that slammed the northwest coast of Cuba. The Cuban civil defense system is excellent, however. This hospital was shredded, its windows twisted right out of their frames, but not one life was lost in the district, and despite lashing rains and lost electricity all surgical procedures continued and were successful.
Beautiful Rural Cuba
In 2010 I traveled around Cuba with research associate Sebastian Chaskel, looking at the country's healthcare system and economy. A key outcome of the journey was a piece published in Foreign Affairs entitled "Castrocare in Crisis."