BOOK REVIEW/Seth Sandronsky
From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2012
I live in California, where a fledgling public health insurance marketplace is ushering a new gold rush of sorts. A driving force is of course President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Under such reform, capital cheers when the commodity of health care grows. A different kind of health-care system concerns author Steve Brouwer. In Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care, he details that alternate way ahead for medicine and people to improve social equity and solidarity. It’s moving ahead now in Latin America. Brouwer’s book teems with his first-hand accounts from a village in Monte Carmelo. His focus amplifies the model of de-commoditized health care that rules the roost stateside.
The author, with rigor and style, informs readers about the doctors and health professionals pursuing a post-capitalist way of living and working. This is no mean feat. Why? Look no further than US anti-socialist propaganda against Cuba and Venezuela. Oh, and don’t sidestep the straw man politics of this tendency. That is opponents of President Barack Obama insisting that he is a closet socialist. Meanwhile, he aims to raise $1 billion for re-election from those reds in hedge funds pulling down seven-figures and up annually.
Brouwer, in chapters two through four, details the root and flower of Cuba’s medical missions on and off the island nation. A notable case, heroic is the term that comes to mind, involves aid to Haiti after the horrific earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010. In brief, Cuban doctors and nurses led the relief effort. Then they stayed to build up the infrastructure of primary and preventative care so lacking in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to unceasing US and French aggression, financially and politically, since a successful slave revolt over two centuries ago.
The life and labor of Che Ernesto Guevara, Argentinean medical doctor and revolutionary, runs a red line through Brouwer’s book. He explores Che’s legacy over a past half-century of developments in Cuba and Latin America. This narrative runs counter to the US government’s demonization of such figures who saw the widespread inequality and poverty in the Third World as an outgrowth of capitalist imperialism and worked to lessen its harsh effects on ordinary people.
Read the entire review in The Progressive Populist