Guyana has joined the rest of the world in remembrance of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, the Cuban revolutionary leader, who died aged 90 on Friday. Castro is known for his defiance of the United States, and survived half a century of assassination attempts by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).Cuban President Fidel Castro (L-Front) is seen with former President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo (R-Front), along with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (back left) during ceremonies in La Habana, Cuba in December 2002The Guyana Government in a statement Saturday reflected on the relations shared between the two countries and how Guyana has benefited tremendously under the reign of President Fidel Castro 1976-2008.Guyana hails Dr Castro, globally renowned as ‘El Commandanté’ or, simply, ‘Fidel’ as an outstanding friend and genuine partner, even before the country attained independence. It was under his leadership that Guyana-Cuba friendly and fraternal relationship had been placed on a solid and unbreakable footing.Former President Forbes Burnham and late Cuban President Fidel CastroWhen an unjust embargo had been imposed against Cuba to isolate the Castro Government, Guyana, in 1972, joined three other countries in the region toCheddi Jagan and Fidel Castro share a light moment in Cubaestablish diplomatic relations with a fellow Caribbean state.Since that time, Castro embraced those countries as partners and responded to their critical needs, especially in the health and education sectors.To this day Guyana benefits from scholarship and training opportunities afforded to its young people in becoming doctors, engineers and other specialists. We continue to benefit too, from Cuban doctors and medical experts serving our people in the healthcare system.Guyana’s President Forbes Burnham had visited Cuba in 1975 as diplomatic relations strengthened over the years.The Guyana Government expressed that Castro was an exemplar of unparalleled generosity, revolutionary commitment, national dignity and unyielding patriotism.“Though he was ailing for many years and had prepared his people for the inevitable, the passing of this colossus whose greatness is indelibly written in the history of the world across both the 20th and 21st centuries, will evoke an immeasurable pain and loss in Cuba and beyond. Guyana mourns the death of a dear friend, a revolutionary icon and a giant of international humanitarianism.“The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana conveys to the Government and people of Cuba sincere condolences and assures that at this time of collective global grief, the people of Cuba are not alone,” Government expressed.Parliamentary Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, in its statement, said it was deeply saddened over the passing of the revolutionary leader:“This is indeed a great loss not only to the Cuban people but for freedom loving peoples throughout the world. The late Dr Castro was undoubtedly one of the greatest revolutionaries of all times who during his lifetime had demonstrated that no sacrifice can be considered too great when it comes to defending the rights and dignity of the Cuban people.”Castro led Cuba for decades and transformed the country into a one-party socialist state. He courted controversy throughout his reign, with the United States becoming increasingly alarmed in the early 1960s with his friendly relations with the then Soviet Union.Castro became a central figure in one of the defining moments of the Cold War by allowing the Soviets to place nuclear weapons on Cuba.It sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, leading to fears of all-out nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the US.Guyana-Cuba relations dates back to before 1972.In 1962, Cheddi Jagan’s PPP Administration – in the throes of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the fierce geopolitical rivalry which made the Caribbean a zone of conflict in the second half of the 20th century – embarked on ambitious commercial and political relations with Communist Cuba.Jagan entered office in 1957, two years before the triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution in 1959, and proceeded to forge a friendship between Guyana and Cuba.Relations with Cuba became central to Guyana’s new strategy to preserve its territorial sovereignty in the wake of a series of provocative incidents perpetrated by Venezuela. Particularly, the seizure of Ankoko Island in 1966, the promulgation of Decree No. 1152 (Leoni Decree) in 1968 and the instigation of the Rupununi rebellion in 1969 all occurred while friendly western powers stood by.It is believed that by embracing Cuba in 1972 Guyana was seen to be aligned with Communism and Castroism. This was confirmed by Fidel Castro’s visit to Guyana and Forbes Burnham’s visit to Cuba where he was presented with the Jose Marti National Award. When it provided landing rights to Cuban military aircraft ferrying troops to Angola in 1975, Guyana aligned itself with a geostrategic posture which was to have dire consequences.Cuban intervention in Angola, arguably, saved the MPLA Government from being overrun by the South African army and Western-supported FNLA and UNITA guerrillas.The bombing of the Cubana airliner in October 1976 in which 11 Guyanese were killed, an act of international terrorism, was part of the penalty for this new strategic connection. Guyana’s complaints of ‘destabilisation’ during the 1980s were attributed to the attempts by western states to undermine this assumed socialist solidarity.The collapse of the USSR, the ending of the Cold War and the faltering of Cuba’s economy drained the strategic vitality from Guyana-Cuba relations. (Excerpts from www.guyanachronicle.com, www.parliament.gov.gy, www.landofsixraces.com)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. State Highlights: Health Insurance Changes Catch Detroit Teachers Off Guard A selection of health policy stories from Michigan, Tennessee, California, Wisconsin, New York and North Carolina.Detroit Free Press: Detroit Teachers Union Challenges Health Insurance ChangesTeachers union officials in Detroit say recent changes to medical insurance caught union members off guard and violate a collective-bargaining agreement. District officials say the new insurance plans, which take effect Aug. 1, are expected to save the financially troubled Detroit Public Schools more than $13 million annually. The changes were necessary and allowable under emergency manager law, a district spokeswoman said. The changes eliminate a more expensive Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO option and require members to sign up for one of two Health Alliance Plan HMO plans: One that requires people to use Henry Ford Health System doctors, or a more expensive premium plan that lets people chose any HAP provider (Zaniewski, 7/15).The San Francisco Chronicle: S.F. Supervisors Pass Budget, Easily And EarlyIn a vote that was void of the controversy of last year, board members also unanimously approved 2015 health care rates for city workers, a package that will cut Kaiser members’ rates by 2 percent, keep rates for Blue Shield static and reduce the rates for employees covered by the city self-funded plan by 18 percent. Supervisors in 2013 threatened to reject health care rates, saying Kaiser hadn’t done enough to justify a 5.25 percent increase (Lagos, 7/15).The Tennessean: United Cuts Providers For Medicare, Medicaid PatientsUnited [Healthcare]is cutting 500 Tennessee physicians from its Medicare Advantage network, and an additional, undisclosed amount from its TennCare product in 2014. According to the Tennessee Medical Association, these doctors were not cut because of performance issues or poor conduct, but unrelated network changes. United has made similar network changes in states besides Tennessee. United is not doing this out of the blue. Reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid members are declining. Major insurance companies like United are looking for ways to keep costs down and to negotiate quality incentives with doctors (DuBois, 7/15).The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Losses Mounting At Wheaton Franciscan-St. JosephA decline in the number of patients, combined with an increase in the percentage covered by government health programs, has resulted in huge losses at the Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph Campus and given the hospital little or no hope of breaking even in future years. The hospital is one of two that serve Milwaukee’s lowest-income neighborhoods, and both now are consistently losing money. Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph, on the city’s west side, is expected to post a loss of more than $30 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30, after losing $14.8 million in its 2013 fiscal year (Boulton, 7/15).The New York Times: At NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Its Ex-C.E.O. Finds Lucrative WorkWhen Dr. Herbert Pardes retired as president and chief executive of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in 2011, the institution honored him at its annual “Cabaret” fund-raiser. More than 1,000 guests dined on wild mushroom soup catered by the restaurateur Danny Meyer and listened to Kelli O’Hara, a star of “South Pacific,” serenade them with Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim and Berlin. But there were more thanks to come. The next year, Dr. Pardes earned $5.6 million … Three years after retirement, Dr. Pardes is still employed by the hospital (Hartocollis, 7/15).Bloomberg: Sterilized Women Would Get Reparations Extension in N.C. A Democratic legislator in North Carolina is fighting to give people forcibly sterilized by the state four decades ago more time to file for compensation under a 2013 law that gave them a year to come forward. Fewer than half the estimated 1,800 living sterilization victims, most of them poor, black women, filed claims by the June 30 deadline. The state is closing the door on the rest, a stance that undermines the first and only eugenics reparations in the U.S., said Representative Larry Hall, a 58-year-old who represents Durham. North Carolina’s decision to pay sterilization victims, more than a decade in the making, exemplifies challenges faced by states trying to address their misdeeds of the past. In the U.S. South, legislators have resisted eugenics compensation for fear of setting a precedent for reparations for slavery and civil-rights violations (Newkirk, 7/16).