The Chinese president, Hu Jintao, is in Cuba. The eight photographs about the visit that appear in yesterday’s (November 19) Granma newspaper are proof of our government’s determination to congratulate itself for its powerful creditor. For the occasion, they even carefully dusted and made-up the national mummy, who surely demanded to be photographed with the Asian. Three pages of one of the leanest newspapers in the world are dedicated to the praises and rituals surrounding the presence of the head of state, something that hasn’t occurred during recent visits by other presidents friendly to the Castros, such as the Brazilian Lula, for example. They, clearly, they are not as important as the son… of the Celestial Empire.
But, since this page is ours, not Granma’s, I will only be concerned with certain apparently minor details related to the “important accords” signed following the official conversation: extending the grace period (until the year 2018) granted for the payment of the balance of the commercial imbalance accumulated since 1994-95, and the deferment of the Chinese Government Credit granted in 1998—factors which increase our national debt to that country—as well as the Credit Agreement for the Reparation and Reconstruction of Cuba’s hospital network, for 70 million dollars. And this last one is what caught my attention the most: 70 million is an absolutely miserly figure if it is going to be spent on the reparation and reconstruction of a hospital network that is just about ruined. And that’s without counting the cost of the basic medical equipment and all of the technology that, one supposes, also needs to be renovated. I’ve been thinking about all of this and have arrived at the conclusion that the Cuban people won’t really see any benefit: simply building a center for the rehabilitation and physical therapy of the knees of our many leaders who have thrown themselves down in reverence to Hu Jintao would consume almost half of that money.