Cubans tend to blame their hardships on the U.S. trade embargo. It’s had a crippling effect for sure, but these days even president Castro talks openly about Cuba’s long lists of economic mistakes. But everyone approves of at least one investment the government has made: in free universal healthcare.
Take Havana machine mechanic Ronaldo Caravallo. One day when he was a kid he started throwing up blood.
“When I was four, I caught Meningitis B. My parents took me to the doctors. And they saved me. Here I am. In other parts of the world there is no cure for Meningitis B. Here with a vaccine, they saved me.”
In fact, Cuba is the first country to have developed a vaccine against Meningitis B. That was back in the 80s. Since then tens of millions of kids have received it worldwide. But not American kids, due to the embargo.
Caravallo gets pretty worked up over healthcare. Turns out it isn’t just his life that the docs saved.
The Caravallos, it turns out, are poster children for the Cuban healthcare system. Besides Ronaldo’s Meningitis, his mother-in-law’s lung, doctors saved his daughter when her appendix burst. His wife, Gislay, an economist who paints nails for extra cash? Cured of thyroid cancer.
“The only expense I’ve paid during her illness was the gas I used in my car to take her to the hospital.”