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Cuba – What 50+ Years of Neglect Hath Wrought

January 16th, 2013 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on Cuba – What 50+ Years of Neglect Hath Wrought

Latin America is usually high on the list of target destinations for American expatriates: Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, and Cuba are a

few of the options. It’s easy to see why. A substantially lower cost of living, tropical climate, and laid back lifestyle are just a few of the benefits. However, we at the JetSetter Show don’t want to be accused of fostering a blithely Pollyanna-ish attitude towards the sometimes nasty reality of life outside the developed world.

A recent post from frequent Jetsetter Show guest (interviewed twice by Jason Hartman) and novelist, Robert Landori, reminded us that sometimes these “paradise” spots can be downright medieval. What are we talking about? In particular, cholera in Cuba.

From Mr. Landori:

In increasing numbers Americans see Cuba as a desirable vacation destination.

In this context I wonder how many of them are aware of Cuba’s sewage, sanitation and water issues.

We are constantly reminded about that country’s global health humanitarian efforts because the Cuban government uses them as cloaked tools of diplomacy. (Cuba- trained medical doctors work all over the world, many sponsored by the regime.)

As a result, local health

demands are neglected.

Few would-be t

ourists realize how outdated, obsolete and insufficient the Cuban water and sanitation systems are. According to J.A. Belt and L. Velazquez, two researchers who studied the situation, in 2008 piped drinking water was reported at 65% for people and sewerage services reached only 38% of the population.
Cholera, a deadly and acute intestinal infection is spread by drinking or eating contaminated water or food. Absent since the 1880’s it re-emerged in Cuba in the summer of 2012.

“The Oriental region, where the cholera deaths were reported, has had a long history of inconsistent potable water. Residents still use their bathtubs as reservoirs to store clean water.

Cuba must confront its sewage, sanitation and water issues as part of good public health practice, rather than romanticize about their global health humanitarian efforts abroad. Today, the evidence suggests a clear paradox in Cuba’s cloaked global health diplomacy while the local public health demands remain neglected.” (Sherri L. Porcelain: Cuba in the Time of Cholera and Dengue)

One only has to scratch a fingernail lightly against the remains of Fidel and Raul Castro’s Cuba to see that this particular paradise is only skin deep. Before expatriating (or even visiting), think long and hard. (Top image: Flickr | Nouhailler

The JetSetter Show Team