Castro's "Doctor Diplomacy"

Ileana Fuentes
Article Type: 
Spring 2001
Volume Number: 
Issue Number: 

Dear Editor,
I just read the article, "Castro's 'Doctor Diplomacy,' " published in the November/December 2000 issue of the Medical Sentinel. Congratulations and thank you for prioritizing the subject of Cuba's health care in your publication, and for exposing, through this article, the fraudulent claims Cuba makes about its system and its alleged "medical achievements."

Toward the end of the article, the authors mention the cases of three other Cuban physicians brutally treated by Castro's government: Drs. Oswaldo de Cespedes, Oscar Elias Biscet, and Dessy Mendoza Rivero (the last two are of Afro-Cuban descent, by the way, a detail that, conveniently, no one mentioned to the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus representatives).

It is about Dr. Mendoza that I wish to speak to you at this time. Dr. Mendoza Rivero, a 45-year-old physician who founded the Independent Medical Association of Santiago de Cuba, was the physician responsible for revealing to the world in 1997 that there was a Dengue Fever epidemic in eastern Cuba, a serious health hazard that the Cuban government kept hidden so as not to scare away tourists from that area of the country during Carnival and the Caribbean cultural festival season (May through July).

After Dr. Mendoza broadcasted the news through the foreign press and media, he was arrested, tried, and sentenced to eight years in prison for "enemy propaganda."

Afterward, the Cuban government had no choice but to officially confirm that there was a serious epidemic...But Dr. Mendoza still went to prison.

Under sponsorship of the Center for a Free Cuba (a Washington, DC-based non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes human rights and democracy for Cuba), Dr. Mendoza and I are co-authoring Dengue Fever: Castro's Secret Epidemic (¡Dengue! : La Epidemia Secreta de Fidel Castro). The book will be out this year.

Ileana Fuentes
Author and translator
via e-mail,

Correspondence originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2001;6(1);1-4. Copyright©2001 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

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