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Cuban specialists deny information from the Ministry of Health on Luis Manuel Otero

Cuban specialists deny information from Ministry of Health on Luis Manuel Otero

Cuban specialists deny information from the Ministry of Health on Luis Manuel Otero.

A group of medical and biological science professionals, inside and outside the island, discussed the note issued by the Havana Provincial Health Directorate regarding the case of Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, who was involuntarily transferred to a hospital after eight days on hunger and thirst strike as a peaceful protest against the authorities' repression.

The group of specialists met in several places to analyze details of the note, as well as the values of the blood tests performed on Otero Alcántara. Watch the video in Spanish: 


Oppositionist Eliécer Ávila gathered forensic doctor Lucio Enríquez, based in Spain; doctors Liset and Idalma Leyva Domínguez, resident in Brazil; and doctors Manuel Guerra and Alexander Pupo, expelled from the Ministry of Public Health in Cuba for their political positions.

The Cuban doctors agreed that the note does not seem to have been written by a professional of the profession, given the terminology, the spelling mistakes, the inconsistencies in the diagnosis, and the lightness with which the picture presented by Otero Alcántara is described.

Manuel Guerra, a physician from Holguín, pointed out that it is the obligation of every health professional to sign the legal documents that are processed in Cuba with personal stamps and signature.

"Everything is endorsed and coined by the health professional. It is a mockery", referring to the non-existence of a specialist's credit in the footnote. On the other hand, the communiqué was published in the name of the Havana Provincial Health Directorate, which exempts the health workers from receiving any claim or demand.

Dr. Liset, whose last name was not specified during the debate, referred to the description of Otero Alcántara's physical condition.

"The description does not coincide with medical terminology. If statistics are normally manipulated, results are made up, can anyone believe that this is real?", the physician questioned.

Idalma Leyva, for her part, alluded to the lack of ethics that the note represents. "It is a farce. It goes against all precepts of ethics. There is no byline from a health professional. The note was fabricated by the State Security organs. We do not agree with it, we denounce it. We do not understand how a system that in the eyes of the world claims to be the most humane, waited until the seventh day to break into Otero Alcantara's house", the professional interpellated.

The forensic doctor Lucio Enriquez addressed the incorrect use of some terms, and considered the note an insult to the guild.

"Whoever wrote it should know that it says starvation, not 'innanition'. I hope it was not written by a physician. A doctor should sign a note. It speaks of malnutrition, a misused term in that case. In the acute condition that Luis Manuel could present, we should not speak of malnutrition but of dehydration," said Enriquez.

"Based on the few data they give, I can establish a hypothesis: they have taken Luis Manuel out of there, I don't know if he was unconscious or semi-conscious, they have taken him at 5:00 a.m., as they always do. They were not able to film Luis Manuel in that good state of health they proclaim. Why didn't they film the raid? Put Luis Manuel to speak on camera if he is in such a favorable state. Do they make a note for an illiterate people? This is a joke. There is nothing serious about it", he alleged.

For its part, the magazine Las mañanas de CiberCuba also managed to gather the criteria of two more professionals in the debate: that of the outstanding Cuban scientist Ariel Ruíz Urquiola and that of psychiatrist Emilio Arteaga Pérez.

Arteaga began by cataloguing the note as an "insult to any level of medical knowledge".

"It leaves the medical profession in a very bad light. Enough of using our profession and our guild in illegal, unconstitutional, barbaric actions, which are detrimental to the prestige of the profession," added the mental health specialist.

For his part, Ruiz Urquiola addressed specifics about the bodies that are subjected to hunger strike. Among the most relevant arguments, the biologist mentioned that "cases of hunger and thirst strike are exceptional, they are not statistical cases, they are not widely described in the literature".

In addition, the scientist explained elements of the environment that could aggravate or alleviate the symptoms of dehydration. The fact that Otero Alcántara received baths or put his feet in water could have helped to diminish the physical deterioration.

"The skin is the organ par excellence, the generalist organ. The skin is all of that as a whole. Luis Manuel could still be fully conscious of his actions when State Security raided his home," said Ariel Ruiz.

In addition, he cited as mitigating factors the fact of being in a walled-in place, and the low energy expenditure of the striker when resting, lying on a bed.

"It is not possible to have access to a clinical study in events of hunger and thirst strike because the political police of the country is controlling the case in an absolute way", he explained about the possibility of submitting the clinical examinations of Luis Manuel Otero to a neutral investigation.

The specialist also doubts that the coordinator of the San Isidro Movement is in the "Calixto Garcia" Hospital.

"Its facilities are in a dilapidated state. From one moment to another an avalanche of young people may come looking for Luis Manuel. It is a facility with many access points, which would allow young people to penetrate it until they find Luis Manuel. I suspect that they took him to Hermanos Ameijeiras or Cimex," he said.

According to Ruiz Urquiola, the latter have a solid, hermetic infrastructure with few access points, easy to control.

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