Reflection by Comrade Fidel
PHILIPS’ DOUBLE BETRAYAL
Public health has been one of the areas in
which our country has advanced the most, despite the fact that the
I that area, the Cuban Revolution wrote
one of the most beautiful pages of international cooperation, which started
with a group of doctors who were sent to
No one should think this was an easy
At the time when the socialist block
collapsed, and some months later its main bastion, the
In 1992, Hugo Chavez headed the military
uprising against the bourgeois oligarchic government that resulted from the Punto Fijo pact, which for more
than three decades had been plundering Bolivar’s homeland. He went to prison,
as we did. He visited
Soon after that, the people of
By then our country had no less than 60 000 specialized doctors, more than 150 000 experienced teachers and a people with a brilliant internationalist history. After the oil coup, rivers of Cuban collaborators started to flow into the education and health programs of that country; they cooperated with the Bolivarian Revolution in one of the deepest and fastest social programs ever implemented in a Third World country.
I refer to these antecedents because they
are indispensable to judge the perfidious attitude of the imperialism and
understand the topic I will discuss today: how a well known and relatively
prestigious European multinational, the Dutch transnational Philips,
specialized in the manufacturing of medical equipment, gave in and betrayed
I wrote a Reflection on this topic two
years ago, on
We had been cooperating with the people of
Based on that request made by the Venezuelan President, we bought the necessary equipment for 27 High-Tech Diagnostic Centers distributed in all 24 Venezuelan States. Three of them required the installation of two such Centers given their high population density.
As a rule, we usually buy medical equipment from the most prestigious and advanced firms in the world. We even try to buy the most complex equipment from at least two of the most specialized firms.
Thus, the most sophisticated and expensive
imaging equipment, such as the Multislice Computed
Tomography (MSCT) scanner, the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance scanner, the ultra-sound
equipment for diagnostic purposes and similar ones were bought from the German
firm Siemens and from the Dutch firm Philips.
Of course, none of the two manufacture all these equipment, but they do
produce the most complex and sophisticated ones. Both of them should compete in quality and
price. We bought diagnostic equipment
from the two of them for
From both firms we bought equipment for more than 10 different specialties to support the services in the two countries. I will not refer to the equipment supplied by the German firm Siemens, which honored its commitments. I will just focus on Philips, which supplied equipment for 12 different specialties. Philips and the other firm supplied the most important and expensive equipment: Fifteen
40-slices tomography scanners, twenty eight 0.23 Tesla nuclear magnetic resonance scanners, eight urology telecommand tables, thirty seven 3D diagnostic ultrasound equipment, two neurological angiographers, two cardiology angiographers, two polygraphs, one double-headed Gamma Camera, three single-headed Gamma Cameras, 250 portable X-Ray equipment, 1 200 non-invasive monitors and 2000 defibrillator monitors.
All in all there were 3 553 equipment for a total value of 72 762 694 dollars.
I personally participated in the negotiations of these purchases with the two firms.
We discussed the price of each piece of
equipment, which led to a significant reduction in the cost, since they would
be paid for in cash and would be bought in high quantities because they were
destined to both
The most complex equipment were to be installed at the High-Tech Centers; the least complex and abundant were to be sent to the ‘Barrio Adentro’ Diagnostic Centers, although they would not be the only ones to operate in those centers. Almost all of them were bought early in the year 2006.
I got seriously ill by the end of July of that same year. Philips supplied spare parts until the end of 2006. In 2007 supplies came to a complete stop: not a single spare part was delivered.
On March that year some Cuban
representatives were sent to
The head of the Philips office in
“I know that this affects the Commander’s program. Our organization is being affected and threatened. All our organizations are very scared.” And right after that he repeated: “they are very scared.”
Finally, they added that they wanted to cooperate and that they would find the way to do so.
By mid July, 2007, during a so-called
White House Conference on the Americas, Bush, the secretary of State and other
US Government officials “talked nineteen to the dozen”, as described by the AP,
about education and health. It seemed
something unreal. They promised to
deliver health care all over
They made emphasis on the Comfort, and old aircraft carrier that,
according to Bush, was turned into the biggest hospital vessel of the world”,
which for ten days would be visiting every in this hemisphere, South to the
Despite the coincidence in the dates, at that moment I did not want to directly address Philip’s problem. On March that firm had promised to solve the problem. I still entertained some hope that it would amend its behavior.
I limited myself to write in that same
Reflection the following: “The problem is
Despite the solemn promise made by Philips
In June, 2009, after paying a fine of 100 000 Euros to Barack Obama’s government, something not far removed from the rules established by his illustrious predecessor, Philips deigned to communicate that very soon they would supply the spare parts for the equipment they had sold to Cuba.
However, no one has compensated Cubans or the Venezuelan patients assisted by our doctors in the ‘Barrio Adentro’ program, or the patients at the High Tech Diagnostic Centers for the human damage this situation has caused.
Obviously, we have not bought a single piece of equipment from Philips ever since we made our last purchase early in 2006.
Besides, we have cooperated with
An of course, we have sent to the Venezuelan Diagnostic Centers, the High-Tech- Centers, and others operated by our doctors, equipment from firms recognized in the world as the best in their specialty, such as Siemens, Carl Zeiss, Drager, SMS, Schwind, Topcon, Nihon Kohden, Olympus, and others from Europe and Japan, some of which were founded more than 100 years ago.
Now, when Bolivar’s homeland –the one Marti asked to serve- is threatened by imperialism more than ever before, we should enhance, more than ever before, our organization, work, and the efficiency of our efforts, not only in the health sector but also in all other spheres of our cooperation.
Fidel Castro Ruz