CNN Lies about Identity of Doctors in HaitiCuba Solidarity Campaign
February 10, 2010
MATANZAS.—One of the many Cuban doctors currently assisting the Haitian victims of the earthquake granted an interview to the CNN a few days ago and was strangely presented to the public as a Spanish doctor.
In a phone conversation with the Juventud Rebelde newspaper, Doctor Carlos Guillen —that is his real name and not Carlos Arguello, as the CNN reported— said that it was really difficult to specify if it was a mistake or was done intentionally.
“We are so deep into our work here,” said Guillen, “that we don’t have time for anything else. However, the CNN team did know we were Cubans. They knew that the doctors at La Paz Hospital were all Cubans because the Spanish doctors had left two days before. We told them so, and they didn’t have any reason to think otherwise,” said Guillen.
Guillen, who also holds a Master’s Degree in Health Economics, has been working in Haiti since 2008 as the manager of Miracle Operation —a Cuban program aimed at helping people with cataracts recover eyesight. This is his first mission abroad.
When the earthquake shook Haiti on January 12, he was on his way back to the Cubans’ residency. He was in a market when the tremor began. A huge cloud of dust covered the city afterwards, and from that very moment Guillen started helping the victims, for he had to assist an injured woman near him.
Back in Cuba, Guillen’s family was desperate because there was no communication at all. About midnight that very day, his wife Lilia Fuentes Alfonso contacted him: “All he said was that the 16 members of the brigade were fine, and he asked me to inform the rest of the families. We communicate more frequently now and I brief him on the situation here, as they do not have much time there for anything else.”
Carlos graduated in 1991, in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, where he was born. He has worked in many health care centers in Santiago and Matanzas; he has also worked as a professor of postgraduate courses; he speaks English and Creole; and he has also participated in many scientific events. In 2006, he was head of the Nelson Fernandez Hospital in the municipality of Jaguey Grande, where the Operacion Milagro experience was first developed.
How will you remember Haiti?
“I’d like not to see anything like this again. I keep trying to forget but the images come back to me again and again, even at my busiest hours.”
Is this the most terrible event you have experienced as a doctor, despite your long professional experience?
“This is a disastrous situation. We spent the first days of the catastrophe amputating people’s limbs, operating the victims. It is something so hard that we would not like to experience it again. But on the other hand, we’ve witnessed the power of Latin American integration. And we Cuban doctors are very happy to help the Haitian people in this terrible moment.
Work at the hospital is very well organized. We wake up at 5:00 am and resume work at 7:00. We work for over 12 hours every day, by shifts, and we have conditioned some tents to rest. We have also improved hygienic conditions, organization, discipline and control of contaminating materials.
Last Saturday, CubaDebate published a note in which the CNN apologized for having presented the Cuban doctor as a Spanish professional. Following the report by the CNN correspondent in Port-au-Prince, the anchor said that it had been an evident mistake, and apologized, although he did not make it clear that the interviewee was not a doctor who was just passing by, and that the CNN staff had found him at the hospital where only the Cuban doctors were working.