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Michael Moore: Apologist for Apartheid

John on April 15, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Mike Moore is at it again. He’s taking ailing first responders from the twin towers to Cuba for free health care:

The trip was to be filmed as part of the controversial director’s latest documentary, “Sicko,” an attack on American drug companies and HMOs that Moore hopes to debut at the Cannes Film Festival next month.

Two years in the making, the flick also takes aim at the medical care being provided to people who worked on the toxic World Trade Center debris pile, according to several 9/11 workers approached by Moore’s producers.

But the sick sojourn, which some say uses ill 9/11 workers as pawns, has angered many in the responder community.

And well it should. Moore is coordinating with an aging dictator to make a Riefenstahl-esque propaganda piece denigrating America. What will wind up being depicted in the film will have absolutely no correspondence to the treatment ordinary Cubans receive, just as we’ve come to expect from Moore.

Even one of the people who aided Moore in this stunt notes of Moore’s patients:

They got the Elvis treatment.

No doubt Moore will wax eloquent about the free health care in Cuba. No doubt he’ll point to the low infant mortality rate, which rivals the US and Canada. He’ll suggest that all of this is a sign that a communist system is an excellent way to run things and, hey, maybe we should try it in this country. Hillary wanted to, after all, but the mean Republicans stopped her and called her names. [No, I haven't seen a script, but you can get a sense of how it will go by watching this clip from his TV show.]

Here’s what Mike Moore won’t tell you. Cuba had an excellent health care system prior to the glorious revolution:

In terms of physicians and dentists per capita, Cuba in 1957 ranked third in Latin America, behind only Uruguay and Argentina — both of which exceeded the United States in this measure. Cuba’s physicians and dentists in 1957 was the same as the Netherlands, and ahead of the United Kingdom and Finland.

As for the low infant mortality rate:

Cuba’s infant mortality rate in 1957 was the lowest in Latin America and the 13th lowest in the world, according to UN data. Cuba ranked ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, and Spain, all of which would eventually pass Cuba in this indicator during the following decades. Cuba’s comparative world ranking has fallen from 13th to last out of the 25 countries examined.

When it comes to infant mortality, things have gotten worse, not better:

[M]issing from the conventional analysis of Cuba’s infant mortality rates is its very high abortion rate, which, because of selective termination of “high-risk” pregnancies, yields lower numbers for infant mortality. Cuba’s abortion rate was the 3rd highest out of the 60 countries studied.

But, problems aside, it’s still free, right? Wrong:

According to former leading Cuban neurosurgeon and dissident Dr Hilda Molina, “The doctors in the hospitals are charging patients under the table for better or quicker service.” Prices for out-of-surgery X-rays have been quoted at $50 to $60 dollars. Such “under-the-table payments” reportedly date back to the 1970s, when Cubans used gifts and tips in order to get health benefits. The harsh economic downturn know as the “Special Period” in the 1990s aggravated these payments.

You get what you pay for in Cuba:

An article in Canadian right-wing newspaper National Post, based interviews of Cubans, finds that in reality even the most common pharmaceutical items, such as Aspirin and antibiotics are conspicuously absent or only available on the black market. Surgeons lack basic supplies and must re-use latex gloves. Patients must buy their own sutures on the black market and provide bedsheets and food for extended hospital stays.

As for the facilities, take a look at these pictures posted on Babalu Blog.

Of course none of this will make it into Moore’s shoddy propaganda piece. The fact that his patients were given the best possible treatment — the Elvis treatment — is a familiar situation to Cubans who’ve come to refer to it as Tourist Apartheid:

According to Dr. María Dolores Espino, professor of Economics at St. Thomas University, the phrase arose in Cuba itself as a result of the tourism policies of the Cuban government, and its efforts to isolate citizens from the resulting dichotomy of enclaves of capitalism within the larger framework of Cuban communism. “To further isolate international tourism from Cuban society, tourism was to be promoted in enclaves where, as much as possible, tourists would be segregated from Cuban society. The growing dichotomy was not lost on the average Cuban citizen, and the government tourism policy soon began to be referred to as ‘tourism apartheid.’”

Here’s what it looks like in practice:

Complaints of a tourist apartheid are not unfounded as Cubans are moved off tourist beaches, refused entrance to tourist hotels, and asked to wait in queues while tourists are ushered to the front – even walking the streets with foreign visitors is likely to get a young Cuban pulled over by the police. The health service itself has become an instrument of tourism, luring foreign patients with some of its specialist treatments, whilst transport services deteriorate for Cubans and improve for tourists. With such large numbers of relatively wealthy tourists traveling in and out of the country, Cubans have become more acutely aware of the restrictions on their freedom of movement and material wealth. Interestingly, these frustrations are not vented at tourists but at the government, though almost always behind closed doors.

Another area where Tourist Apartheid comes into play is Jinterismo:

A jinetera is a female sex-worker. However, a jinetero is a pimp, or a hustler.

And as this study of the issue notes:

A very financially hard-pressed Cuban government, facing an anticipated $4 billion trade deficit by the end of 1992, appeared to turn a blind eye in hopes the dollars jineteras earned would help overcome the Revolution’s worst economic crisis.

[snip]

The Cuban government today–in what is known as “legalizing reality”–appears to be using dollars earned by jineteras and other illicit business to help overcome the economic catastrophe caused by its own mismanagement, the demise of the its Soviet ally, and the U.S. blockade.

Read the whole thing. Castro’s management of Cuba has university students turning to prostitution in order to eat. That’s the reality of the Cuban miracle Moore is promoting.

Michael Moore is actually far worse than those who did business with South Africa in the 1980s. He isn’t just overlooking the evidence of human misery to make a buck, he’s actually out to justify the system in Cuba. He wants to convince you that a system in which foreign documentary makers get “the Elvis treatment” while regular people can’t afford to eat is a model for America. Michael Moore is an apologist for tourist apartheid. Very sicko indeed.

Moore’s not alone though. The Weinstein company should also be forced to own up to it’s part in funding this project. Ultimately, they’re the ones that make it possible for Moore to produce and promote this despicable stunt. What have you got to say for yourselves guys?

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Category: Secularism & Socialism |

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