Subscribe to eTOC

CUBAN NEUROLOGY AND THE EMBARGO

Dr. Lewis Rowland's editorial regarding neurology in Cuba and the US embargo brought back some memories of well over 40 years ago when I was a resident at the University of Michigan, along with a neurosurgeon named Dr. Antonio Rodriguez from Havana. Initially, Tony was in favor of the revolution and ridding of the country of the then-dictator. However, after he had been there for a year or so, he decided this wasn't what he thought Cuba was all about.

He therefore started to print handouts to the public trying to explain to them what was going on under the Communist regime. He was promptly arrested and spent well over 20 years in the Isle of Pines Prison.

At that time, Fidel Castro would allow prisoners to emigrate to the United States if they agreed to supply a tractor. A number of us tried to arrange this including his best friend, Dr. Manuel Gomez, who at that time was head of the pediatric neurology section at the Mayo Clinic.

I saw Manny some years ago and he told me that Dr. Rodriguez got out of Cuba after 20 years of torture and that he was in a nursing home in Tennessee.

I agree with President Bush's decision not to lift the embargo until Mr. Castro decides to turn his dictatorship into a democratic country. When several individuals tried to escape Cuba recently, they were captured and promptly executed.

One can only feel sorry for the Cuban people, but as long as they put up with a dictator I don't see that we should recognize them at all, anymore than we should recognize Yassir Arafat as a peace-loving Palestinian.