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Cuba Offers Free Eye-Surgery

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http://www.ahora.cu/english/SECTIONS/speci...o/23-01-06b.htm

Cuba Offers Free Eye-Surgery for 150,000 US Patients

Ahora.cu / 23-01-2006

Cuban President Fidel Castro offered free eye-surgery for 150,000 poor US citizens including air transportation and their accommodations on the island.

President Castro made the announcement during a TV appearance on Sunday, which is part of a series of live appearances in which the Cuban leader provided details on the energy revolution underway in Cuba, an initiative he says will save one billion dollars annually.

He said the eye patients could travel to Florida from where they would be brought to Cuba by plane.

President Castro said he took on the offer of free eye-surgery for 100,000 US people made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a recent visit to New York. Fidel said he decided to add another 50,000 and ask the US organization Pastors for Peace to choose poor people from any religion, political trend or that simply need the treatment.

The Cuban leader said that by practicing 500 daily eye surgeries all those 150,000 US citizens can receive the benefit of recovering their sight in just a 300-day period.

Cuba has all the equipment and specialized personnel considered among the best specialists in the world, said Fidel. He asked if the US government would prohibit those people from traveling to the island and sentence them to blindness.

Fidel Castro said such eye-operations by no means bring any financial benefit to the Cuban government and he recalled that Florida is closer to Cuba than countries like Guyana or Grenada, also benefiting from the Operation Miracle eye-surgery program.

He recalled that tens of thousands of people from 22 South and Central American nations have been benefited by Cuban health services.

"Will the United States fine those sick US citizens for coming to Cuba for eye surgery?," Fidel asked in direct reference to the arbitrary fines imposed by the Bush administration on US citizens that have traveled to Cuba.

In that respect he recalled that during November the US Treasury sent letters to some 200 members of the Venceremos Brigade and to Pastors for Peace requesting information on their latest trips to Cuba, as an initial step that could lead to the imposition of heavy fines.

Thousands of other US citizens have been threatened with huge fines if they violate Washington's travel ban, said Fidel Castro.

The Cuban leader then went on to denounce ongoing US maneuvers to release terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, author of the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner that claimed 73 innocent lives.

Posada, 77, is only charged with illegal entry to US territory and he could be released following a hearing slated for January 24 in El Paso, Texas, where the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office will revise his status in the US.

Posada Carriles, a naturalized Venezuelan citizen, is wanted in Caracas to stand trial in the plane bombing, but the US government has ignored its longstanding extradition treaty with the South American country.

In his speech, Fidel described as a strange coincidence the recent exhibition of a German documentary that tries to accuse Cuba for the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy. He called the film a total fabrication of the CIA.

He also referred to other aggressions mounted by the Bush administration gainst the island, including a committee for the so-called democratic transition in Cuba, which has been assigned a huge budget for subversive activities against the island.

Fidel Castro said that Cuba is the most stable country in the world while the Bush administration has the largest number of criminals in an empire similar to the one Adolph Hitler dreamed of.

The Cuban President noted the 500 billion dollar war budget approved in the United States, a considerable part of the total 2.6 trillion dollar annual budget. He pointed out that the growing fiscal deficit is balanced with the money deposited in US banks by Third World Nations.

Fidel Castro also said that the US budget includes nearly 38 million dollars dedicated to anti-Cuba radio and TV transmissions, and includes a 10 million dollar increase in order to purchase a plane to beam such illegal transmissions to the island.

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http://www.ahora.cu/english/SECTIONS/speci...o/23-01-06b.htm

Cuba Offers Free Eye-Surgery for 150,000 US Patients

Ahora.cu / 23-01-2006

Cuban President Fidel Castro offered free eye-surgery for 150,000 poor US citizens including air transportation and their accommodations on the island.

President Castro made the announcement during a TV appearance on Sunday, which is part of a series of live appearances in which the Cuban leader provided details on the energy revolution underway in Cuba, an initiative he says will save one billion dollars annually.

He said the eye patients could travel to Florida from where they would be brought to Cuba by plane.

President Castro said he took on the offer of free eye-surgery for 100,000 US people made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a recent visit to New York. Fidel said he decided to add another 50,000 and ask the US organization Pastors for Peace to choose poor people from any religion, political trend or that simply need the treatment.

The Cuban leader said that by practicing 500 daily eye surgeries all those 150,000 US citizens can receive the benefit of recovering their sight in just a 300-day period.

Cuba has all the equipment and specialized personnel considered among the best specialists in the world, said Fidel. He asked if the US government would prohibit those people from traveling to the island and sentence them to blindness.

Fidel Castro said such eye-operations by no means bring any financial benefit to the Cuban government and he recalled that Florida is closer to Cuba than countries like Guyana or Grenada, also benefiting from the Operation Miracle eye-surgery program.

He recalled that tens of thousands of people from 22 South and Central American nations have been benefited by Cuban health services.

"Will the United States fine those sick US citizens for coming to Cuba for eye surgery?," Fidel asked in direct reference to the arbitrary fines imposed by the Bush administration on US citizens that have traveled to Cuba.

In that respect he recalled that during November the US Treasury sent letters to some 200 members of the Venceremos Brigade and to Pastors for Peace requesting information on their latest trips to Cuba, as an initial step that could lead to the imposition of heavy fines.

Thousands of other US citizens have been threatened with huge fines if they violate Washington's travel ban, said Fidel Castro.

The Cuban leader then went on to denounce ongoing US maneuvers to release terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, author of the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner that claimed 73 innocent lives.

Posada, 77, is only charged with illegal entry to US territory and he could be released following a hearing slated for January 24 in El Paso, Texas, where the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office will revise his status in the US.

Posada Carriles, a naturalized Venezuelan citizen, is wanted in Caracas to stand trial in the plane bombing, but the US government has ignored its longstanding extradition treaty with the South American country.

In his speech, Fidel described as a strange coincidence the recent exhibition of a German documentary that tries to accuse Cuba for the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy. He called the film a total fabrication of the CIA.

He also referred to other aggressions mounted by the Bush administration gainst the island, including a committee for the so-called democratic transition in Cuba, which has been assigned a huge budget for subversive activities against the island.

Fidel Castro said that Cuba is the most stable country in the world while the Bush administration has the largest number of criminals in an empire similar to the one Adolph Hitler dreamed of.

The Cuban President noted the 500 billion dollar war budget approved in the United States, a considerable part of the total 2.6 trillion dollar annual budget. He pointed out that the growing fiscal deficit is balanced with the money deposited in US banks by Third World Nations.

Fidel Castro also said that the US budget includes nearly 38 million dollars dedicated to anti-Cuba radio and TV transmissions, and includes a 10 million dollar increase in order to purchase a plane to beam such illegal transmissions to the island.

The irony is beautiful. Note that Castro's offer extends to the poor of America regardless of religion or political affiliation. What a poke in the eye for America's health system.

I wonder if the US media will give this offer extensive coverage? Doubt it, it's way too embarrassing.

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Well here is the real irony:

Information from an anti-Castro web-site never visited by any of the lefties on this Forum!

Czech supermodel Helena Houdova and psychologist Mariana Kroftova were detained in Cuba on Monday when Houdova was taking photographs of a slum in the capital of Havana.

This was reported on Reuters on Wednesday.

Houdova, Czech Miss 1999 has lived in New York and Los Angeles for 2 years doing modeling.

At the same time she has energetically tried to raise money to help children with social and health handicaps in nine countries around the world

One of its projects is the Sunflower Foundation Fund.

Houdova said that she went to Cuba to find out how she could help children in the communist country.

She said that during their detention neither she nor Kroftova were allowed to contact the Czech embassy.

Houdova said, they were released after they pledged in writing that they WILL NOT join any "counter-revolutionary activities" in the country, Houdova said.

They were also ordered not to leave Havana until Sunday when they are to end their stay in the country.

Cuban police also confiscated Houdova's film, but she said she had succeeded in hiding the memory card from her digital camera in her bra. (Thank god for her assets!)

Tim: Perhaps Castro ought first to clean up his own house. Then his security forces would not have to jail super-models in Cuba to assess the plight of Cuban children!

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Well here is the real irony:

Information from an anti-Castro web-site never visited by any of the lefties on this Forum!

Czech supermodel Helena Houdova and psychologist Mariana Kroftova were detained in Cuba on Monday when Houdova was taking photographs of a slum in the capital of Havana.

This was reported on Reuters on Wednesday.

Houdova, Czech Miss 1999 has lived in New York and Los Angeles for 2 years doing modeling.

At the same time she has energetically tried to raise money to help children with social and health handicaps in nine countries around the world

One of its projects is the Sunflower Foundation Fund.

Houdova said that she went to Cuba to find out how she could help children in the communist country.

She said that during their detention neither she nor Kroftova were allowed to contact the Czech embassy.

Houdova said, they were released after they pledged in writing that they WILL NOT join any "counter-revolutionary activities" in the country, Houdova said.

They were also ordered not to leave Havana until Sunday when they are to end their stay in the country.

Cuban police also confiscated Houdova's film, but she said she had succeeded in hiding the memory card from her digital camera in her bra. (Thank god for her assets!)

Tim: Perhaps Castro ought first to clean up his own house. Then his security forces would not have to jail super-models in Cuba to assess the plight of Cuban children!

I have to admit that when I was in Cuba in 1987 I was approached by two security men when I attempted to take photographs of the main public square in Havana. It was explained to me that this was where Fidel Castro made his public speeches and that they feared an assassination attempt might take place. Of course they had good reason to be suspicious of an American attempt to assassinate Castro. They became more friendly when they realized I was English and not American.

It was the only time I had any problems with the Cuban authorities. When I entered the country they did not stamp my passport as they said it would cause me problems in the future if I had ever tried to get into the United States. In fact, a few months later I did arrive in New York. I was delayed for sometime as they went through a large black book that contained the names of left-wing activists. Luckily for me I had not been listed. However, a few weeks later, a friend of mine was refused entry because his name was in the book. He was indeed a left-wing activist. He was a libertarian socialist who had been a leading opponent of the communist government in Hungary. He managed to escape to the west and taught at Sussex University (I met him as a result of doing a research degree at the same university). He was going to America to publicize a book that he had written on communist dictatorships. You would have thought he would have been welcomed in the United States. Not true as his critique was from the point of view of the libertarian socialist.

It is no coincidence that the American press actually supported the Stalin purges in the 1930s. The reason being that Stalin was following his policy of “communism in one country” and was purging those advocating world revolution.

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Well here is the real irony:

Information from an anti-Castro web-site never visited by any of the lefties on this Forum!

Czech supermodel Helena Houdova and psychologist Mariana Kroftova were detained in Cuba on Monday when Houdova was taking photographs of a slum in the capital of Havana.

This was reported on Reuters on Wednesday.

Houdova, Czech Miss 1999 has lived in New York and Los Angeles for 2 years doing modeling.

At the same time she has energetically tried to raise money to help children with social and health handicaps in nine countries around the world

One of its projects is the Sunflower Foundation Fund.

Houdova said that she went to Cuba to find out how she could help children in the communist country.

She said that during their detention neither she nor Kroftova were allowed to contact the Czech embassy.

Houdova said, they were released after they pledged in writing that they WILL NOT join any "counter-revolutionary activities" in the country, Houdova said.

They were also ordered not to leave Havana until Sunday when they are to end their stay in the country.

Cuban police also confiscated Houdova's film, but she said she had succeeded in hiding the memory card from her digital camera in her bra. (Thank god for her assets!)

Tim: Perhaps Castro ought first to clean up his own house. Then his security forces would not have to jail super-models in Cuba to assess the plight of Cuban children!

Tim,

You are priceless. Castro's offer of free eye surgery, while admittedly opportunistic, has the potential to grant the gift of sight to thousands of poor Americans and the best return of serve you can offer is that a supermodel was temporarily detained in Cuba and had her film confiscated. Big bloody deal.

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Mark:

Surely you understand that this is only ONE example of the repression of freedom and dissent in Cuba.

Don't you?

I cannot afford medical care myself (for a knee problem) but I would sure rather live in a country where I can criticize my political leaders (including leveling baseless charges against them) than in a country like Cuba, routinely judged among the most repressive by nonpartisan organizations.

If you'd choose Cuba for Australia, be my guest. A few years later you'll risk your life in the Florida straits to reach the United States.

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Mark:

A few years later you'll risk your life in the Florida straits to reach the United States.

Personally I'd rather permanently stick my head in a bucket of hippo snot than live in Florida. Surely Cuba can't be that bad? :):)

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Andy, having visited Miami in the middle of a hurricane I can understand that sentiment.

Cuba looks like a beautiful island.

Castro gave hope of a democracy to people tired of living under crooked dictatorships.

How different things could have been had he kept his promises!

P.S. I am not sure I would ever want to live on the Florida mainland but the Keys are located "somewhere south of the mainland". A popular bumper sticker reads: "Slow Down. This Ain't the Mainland."

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Guest Stephen Turner
Mark:

Surely you understand that this is only ONE example of the repression of freedom and dissent in Cuba.

Don't you?

I cannot afford medical care myself (for a knee problem) but I would sure rather live in a country where I can criticize my political leaders (including leveling baseless charges against them) than in a country like Cuba, routinely judged among the most repressive by nonpartisan organizations.

If you'd choose Cuba for Australia, be my guest. A few years later you'll risk your life in the Florida straits to reach the United States.

Tim, perhaps, just perhaps maybe if you guys would remove the twin screws of economic sanction, and threatened invasion the levels of paranoia might drop in Havana,and something truely Socialist might take root...But I am forgeting, thats the last thing Washington wants, better United Fruit, Gangster casino culture, and a leader who is little more than a American doormat than that horror..Someone once said "God grant me the wisdom to see myself as others do"In your countries bullying, and hectoring attitude towards Cuba you appear a foolish,yet brutal giant in the eyes of the World community.And just remind me, which country is it that still executes minors, and the mentally ill, Cuba or the USA. Which country is it that deny's basic health care to its poor, Cuba or The USA, which country is it that has a basic illiteracy rate of over 20% Cuba or the USA. I could go on, but it becomes tiresome. Please remove the mote from your own eye.

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Stephen, I am sure you are wrong about the illiteracy rate but even if you were correct, it is an insignificant issue compared to political freedom. What good does it do you to be able to read and write when if you write the wrong thing you may end up imprisoned for a lengthy period of time.

Why do you think hundreds risk their lives to get out of that paradise?

"Hectoring attitude (re civil liberties in Cuba)?" Well, that, my friend, is the position of every human rights organization that has looked at Cuba: that Cuba is one of the most repressive societies that now exists. I would appreciate your advising me whether you have ever read a single report of one of those organizations. I am sure the answer is no. So your defense of Cuba is one based on ignorance of the facts. (I am sure you are too good a man to defend Castro's civil rights abuses if you were really aware of them.)

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Guest Stephen Turner

Tim, I wrote the above more in sorrow than in anger, I actually care what happens to America, and not just in a global sense. there are many things about Castro's regime that are indefensible, Rampant homophobia for one, but America's, or certain communities therein, obsession with Cuba, does make you appear both brutal, and foolish to outside eyes, and as per usual the good dictator, bad dictator (IE friendly, or unfriendly to American interests)political tango dominates the Washington mindset, much as it dominated the British a generation before. As regards prisons, are you happy with yours? or are they built with Oscar Wilde's "bricks of shame"Who do you think makes up the vast majority of the inmates, young, ill educated Black and Latino males is who. In their own way as much political prisoners as any Havana detainee, caught up in a vast private, industrialised process, that has become its own justification. I promise to read the reports you suggest, perhaps you could return the favour and study America's abysmal illiteracy rates, and deeply racist justice system. Who knows, we might both learn something...Regards, Steve.

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Nice post, Stephen.

Of course, I am sure you are aware that former Nixon aide and convicted felon Charles Colson deeply believes in prison reform and his life is dedicated to a ministry to inmates.

I suggest Colson's conversion from a hard-nosed political operative who once famously remarked that he would walk over his grandmother for Richard Nixon to a man who would give up a lucrative career for the prison ministry is a proof of the existence of God.

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Guest Stephen Turner
Nice post, Stephen.

Of course, I am sure you are aware that former Nixon aide and convicted felon Charles Colson deeply believes in prison reform and his life is dedicated to a ministry to inmates.

I suggest Colson's conversion from a hard-nosed political operative who once famously remarked that he would walk over his grandmother for Richard Nixon to a man who would give up a lucrative career for the prison ministry is a proof of the existence of God.

Thank you Tim, John Profumo, Conservative secretary for War, is a similar case to Colson, Caught up in the Mandy Rice Davis/ Christeen Keeler sex scandal, he resigned his post, left Government, and spent the next 40 years working for various charitable causes. It appears to me that sometimes a mirror is held up to certain individuals, and the reflection is so grotesque as to compel a Saul type conversion on their own road to Damascus. But I fear we stray from the path.

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Stephen, I am sure you are wrong about the illiteracy rate but even if you were correct, it is an insignificant issue compared to political freedom. What good does it do you to be able to read and write when if you write the wrong thing you may end up imprisoned for a lengthy period of time.

I have spent time in Cuba and the people are definitely not afraid of criticizing their government. This was not the case when I was in China, whose record on human rights is far worse than that of Cuba. Yet the U.S. does not impose an economic blockade of China.

I suppose Tim prefers the pre-Castro Cuba when the country was run on behalf of the Mafia and U.S. corporations. That was a time when Cuban women were forced into prostitution in order to satisfy the demands of American tourists and Mafia pimps (one of the major reasons why the Catholic Church supported Castro’s revolution). The Cuban people who are old enough to remember what life was like in pre-Castro Cuba are not risking their life to go and live in the U.S.

Tim, if you did a bit of travelling (or reading), you would realize that America is in many ways like a Third World country. Only in America in the advanced world do you have a large percentage of the population without health-care cover. America might be a great place to live if you have money but your lack of a welfare state makes it a hell of a place if you are poor.

Based on the analysis provided by the United Nations agencies, America is very much at the bottom of any league tables on education. It is of course not ion the interests of the powers to be to provide a decent education for the poor.

It is also questionable if America is a democracy. True you can vote, but your only real choice is between two right-wing political parties that are completely under the control of the large corporations. Is this so different from the choice that the people of Cuba have in elections? People in America have realised they no longer live in a democracy and that is why such a low percentage bother to vote.

As Bush showed in 2000, if you can’t get the necessary votes, you can always rely on political corruption in the South to deliver the right result.

As we know from the deaths of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, etc., if the power elite cannot get their own way by conventional methods, they will resort to murder. They know that their control of the mass media will enable them to cover-up their crimes.

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I will reply in greater detail later but for now, in response to this statement:

I have spent time in Cuba and the people are definitely not afraid of criticizing their government.

Somehow I think the formal investigations by human rights organizations (that have unanimously condemned the Castro regime's record on civil liberties) are more accurate than John's anecdotal evidence on the basis of one or two trips to Cuba. Moreover, I assume John did not read any political dissent in the press (Castro abolished the free press in the summer of 1959). He therefore concludes that Cuba is free because a few peeople criticized the government to his face?

Would be interesting to hear just what those criticisms were.

If we want to go by anecdotal evidence, however, I think the routine arrival of Cubans in the Keys, Cubans who have risked their life to escape the Castro regime, is strong strong evidence of what life is like in Cuba. I will try to find a statistic on the number of people who have died trying to escape Cuba.

And Stephen is right that the Castro regime is homophobic.

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