When a Cuban Mother Sacrifices Herself for Venezuelan Mothers

By Yosdany Morejón Ortega – May 9, 2021

May 13 (Orinoco Tribune) The plane took off and a lump tightened in her throat as she evoked the figure of a son who had said goodbye to her minutes before. She was 27 years old and, until that moment, the separation between herself and her family would be limited to a few days; but this time it would be very different.

She thought of birthdays that she would not be celebrating, dinners where her presence would be a mere evocation, empty cutlery at the end of the table, laughter, hugs and tears that would dissolve into the nothingness of a prolonged absence.

She thought and thought until her soul was reduced to pieces, then an idea allowed her to overcome her sorrow: as a mother she would be paving the way of life for the new offspring; she would go from house to house assisting those most in need.

With such speculations, Dr. Isiliurkis Milián Cantillo landed in Venezuela in February 2017. “I came here as a community doctor and I confess that it was very difficult to leave my family, my son. However, when I saw the humility of this town, I got over it right away and gave myself to work,” she says with emotion.

She had doubts like any human being, fears in the face of the challenge of facing the culture of a different country in body; but not in soul—if I may use the expression.

She was excited by the idea of ​​leaving the hospital to reach the most remote corners of the communities. To walk in pursuit of well-being of the citizens, she would tell herself.

“The reception I received in the community was magnificent,” says the woman from Santiago de Cuba. “We have different cultures, but they accepted us because they knew that it was a Cuban doctor and they bring light to the people, they have the greatest professionalism in the world,” she explains.

The specialist assures that today she is a better person thanks to being with the Venezuelan people every day. Photo: Yosdany Morejón

From her experience, Isiliurkis recalls visits to bedridden patients and pregnant women whose delivery was in danger because they simply could not travel to a health center. She took a smile and a helping hand to all of them. Readers of these lines will surely think: “Cuban medicine for all and for the good of all.” And I would add: Cuban heart for all and for the good of humanity.

“We reach the remotest communities, check their health, and irrespective of financial resources, their origin, or the distance from big cities, we diagnose them free of charge and prescribe treatment,” she continues.

“Ciudadela de Sucre” is the name of the modest public clinic in Caracas, from where the doctor attends a population of over 2000 people.

Throughout this time, the clinic has been characterized by timely diagnosis of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, bronchial asthma and obesity. From there, the clinical monitoring of pathologies keeps her busy everyday.

The presence of Cubadebate in the community arouses curiosity, so the Venezuelan Maritza Isabel Guzmán, a patient of Dr. Isiliurkis, approaches me, and without thinking twice asks me if she could tell Cuba and the world: “I want everyone to know that the doctor, and other Cuban specialists like her, have an excellent way with this people, especially with the children. We love her very much for her charisma and affection, we are very happy to have her here with us.”

Here, mothers are taken care of so that they have a safe pregnancy and a healthy child, the doctor says. Photo: Yosdany Morejón

The words gushed out like spring water from her mouth, no one forced her to give the Cuban doctors a certificate for the world to see. In fact, in the presence of the journalist, many came forward to speak about the achievements of the Cuban Medical Mission in Venezuela. That sums up a lot.

As goes the grandmother’s saying, for a quick learner…

Although nostalgia fills the spaces, you save lives.

Dr. Isliurkis arrived in Venezuela 4 years ago, and since then she has worked to attend, especially, to pregnant women. Photo: Yosdany Morejón

No one doubts that medicine is a profession of infinite love. Good doctors not only heal wounds, but also the soul. Perhaps that is why being a community doctor demands something extra that one does not feel until one lives the experience and it fills one to the core.

Community doctors need high therapeutic, research and innovation skills for diagnoses. Comprehensive medical care through promotion, prevention and rehabilitation actions, including for families or entire communities, is required of them.

This work demands a deep social focus because the doctors have to be bearers of ethical, humanistic and solidarity values. “I have grown as a human being and as a professional,” continues the young doctor. “I have faced many diseases about which I had only read in the scientific literature, and this has been a real challenge for me. For Venezuela, Cuban doctors are like gods or titans who come to save lives, even at the expense of their own.” This is how the young woman expresses what she feels.

And it cannot be different when one has grown up with the values ​​of such universal beings like Martí and Fidel; when the Cuban medical school is governed by Che’s precepts, when the economy of an entire country is made available to fight a pandemic.

Sometimes a human being may doubt their intellectual capacities, says Isiliurkis, they may limit themselves, but the truth is, when it comes to working for others, one grows, and in the soul the capacity and the necessary tools are born to overcome any obstacle, whether they are scientific, academic or personal.

That is why the human spirit rises from the humility of the office of a small public clinic that does not exceed 20 square meters, but whose miles of love and altruism exceed an entire galaxy. “I try to give love and trust to my patients, apart from taking care of their physical well-being, and that is putting into practice what my teachers taught me in Cuba,” says Dr. Isiliurkis.

Today she is a better person thanks to her daily life with the Venezuelan people. Sometimes the bare bricks of the space that serves as a doctor’s office reveal a deep look behind the mask.

This mother longs for reunion with her 11-year-old son. Photo: Courtesy of the interviewee

Other times the gaze is lost and one can sense that she is back home with her little one. “If it were not for social media, I would be shocked by how much my son has grown when I return home. Fortunately I can see him, through the screen, every day. I miss him so much that sometimes I feel like I’m going to die, but my country gave me this mission and I try to fulfill it with dignity.”

The restrictions that COVID-19 imposed on the world’s airlines also apply in Venezuela, which has delayed the much longed-for reunion. Finally Isiliurkis gave up her annual vacation to continue in the community with the patients. She is a mother who sacrifices herself for mothers.

“I have not been able to touch, kiss, or hug my son for two years.” Tears spring to her eyes now and I feel an infinite longing in her words. “But I know that my mother (her son’s grandmother) takes care of him as if he were I. I can overcome my sorrow because here I am helping other mothers so that they have a safe pregnancy and eventually a healthy child, which is the wish of all the doctors in the world.”

The doctor separated from her son when he was 7 years old, and today at 11, he is about to enroll in junior high school. That is why she is surprised by how quickly he has grown, how much he has matured and, above all, how much he understands his mother’s decision.

“I am a Cuban doctor, and as such I am susceptible to the pain of others, to the simplicity of this wonderful town, the cry of a child or the plea of ​​a pregnant woman crying out for the life of her baby. I’ll continue here as long as they need me,” emphasizes the doctor.

Featured image:  Isiliurkis Milián Cantillo has won the affection of an entire community in Venezuela through her dedication to patients. Photo: Yosdany Morejón


Translated by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.

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Former Uruguayan President Mujica values Cuba’s vaccine for Covid-19

Montevideo, May 14 (Prensa Latina) The former Uruguayan President, Jose Mujica, valued today that the development in Cuba of vaccines against Covid-19 will allow progress with immunization in the Latin American region.

Mujica praised the production of the vaccine candidate Soberana 02 in the third phase of testing during an interview with the Argentine radio station Radio 10, was broadcasted here again.

‘Now the Cuban vaccine appears, from a country punished and surrounded by a great power and that shows that we Latin Americans can do important things’, he said.

For the veteran leader, the Cuban vaccines ‘will remember the poor people of Haiti and Central America,’ of whom he said that none of the dominant pharmaceutical companies ‘talk about them because they are not good business.’

When asked about the legal problem to release vaccine patents, he pointed out that the powerful companies are going to put all kinds of obstacles, but ‘the siege is being broken.’

Mujica stressed the importance of public health and education systems, favoring science, taking care of its people and advocated that ‘the State should multiply resources to make scientific-technical training massive, which is the substantive engine of societies.’


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US blockade affects education sector in Cuba

Havana, May 14 (Prensa Latina) US blockade against Cuba amid the Covid-19 pandemic has a negative impact on the country´s education sector and also hinders its development.

According to official data, from April 2019 to March 2020 – before health emergency was declared in Cuba –blockade´s impacts on education sector reached over US$21 million.

Cuba´s report to be presented to the United Nations on June 23 to demand the lift of US blockade lays out that such a policy limits the country´s teaching and learning process at all educational levels.

Among main drawbacks, the report points out difficulties accessing international financing and impacts on fuel due to US sanctions on Cuba.

The document details that fuel shortage forced to readjust syllabus as well as school schedules in 52 educational centers, while 100 boarding schools had to extend the departure of students to their homes for up to 45 days.

Regarding higher education, blockade´s impact is easily seen fundamentally in difficulties accessing technology and equipment for teaching and scientific research.

The accumulated damages in a six-decade blockade exceed US$144 billion, and from April 2019 to March 2020 this unilateral and punitive policy caused losses of over US$5 billion, a record figure for just one year.


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The United States and the subversion against Cuba through Internet

Havana, May 14 (Prensa Latina) The United States government tried since 2007 to create illegal Internet access points in Cuba to subvert order on the island, the local press reported today.

According to the national daily Granma, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent agents and contractors to the Caribbean country to investigate illicit satellite television connection networks and propose ways to convert them into Internet access networks.

‘As part of the program, they ordered to put into operation ten BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) equipment in Cuban territory, which according to their calculations, would allow reducing expenses for other activities,’ says the text.

According to the article, the agents had to safely send daily reports on the capacities to detect this type of connection by the Ministries of Communication and the Interior.

‘They also required information on the movement of troops of the FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces) in certain regions of the country and characterization of leaders and cadres of the Revolution,’ says Granma.

The newspaper emphasizes that the CIA decided to guarantee access to the network of networks to successfully carry out media campaigns against Cuba and strengthen control, through technological and content dominance, of Big Data studies, among others.

In addition, the northern government created a survey program as a ‘strategic planning tool that can emphasize the attention that the island’s leaders offer to issues that are really important to the population.’

Granma reports that this research on public opinion, carried out by the International Republican Institute, constitutes an important source of information for the Internet Operative Group for Subversion in Cuba, created by the US government.

Different specialists and former agents of the Cuban State Security demonstrated that Washington uses technology and the recruitment of young people to achieve social destabilization that leads to an eventual change in the political system in the Antillean country.

The United States reported expenditures of over 261 million dollars in subversion projects against Cuba from 1990 until this year.

In this sense, the Cuba Money Project assures that over 124 million dollars were allocated to the purpose described as ‘democratic participation and civil society’, around 38 million for the issue of ‘human rights’ and 25 million dedicated to ‘media and free Information flow’.


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CubaCoop asks Biden to stop criminal measures against Cuba

Paris, May 13 (Prensa Latina) The Cuba Cooperation France Association (CubaCoop) on Thursday urged US President Joe Biden to eliminate the measures adopted by his predecessor, Donald Trump, to tighten the blockade against Cuba, which he described as criminal.

If Biden really wants to help the Cuban population, he has a good way to do it: putting an end to Trump’s criminal measures and ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade, CubaCoop stressed alluding to the traditional Washington’s speech that its objective is ‘to support the Cuban people.’

In its weekly publication, la lettre electronique Hebdo, the association founded in 1995 to promote collaboration with Cuba from France recalled the 240 hostile actions adopted by Trump to suffocate the Caribbean country and the continuity of each of those measures with Biden, who took office on January 20.

CubaCoop also insisted on the global repudiation generated by the US blockade imposed against Cuba more than 60 years ago.

We have seen expressions of rejection in France, with events, petitions and a recent letter sent to President Emmanuel Macron, among other activities, in a battle in which law has not yet won and we know it will be long, but it is worth fighting it, the association stressed.

CubaCoop denounced that successive US governments have developed a real economic war against the island, with dramatic consequences, without this is the only instrument to destroy the Revolution.


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Venezuela To Receive Sputnik Light, Speed up Vaccination Drive

Venezuela will manufacture the Cuban COVID-19 vaccine Abdala.
Venezuela will manufacture the Cuban COVID-19 vaccine Abdala. | Photo: Twitter/ @NicolasMaduro

“In May, vaccination will accelerate and have widespread growth, and June, July, and August will be the months of a vaccination offensive,” the Venezuelan President said on national television as the authorities aimed to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population by August.

May 12 (teleSUR) Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday that his country would receive Russia’s Sputnik Live vaccine to advance the inoculation amid a COVID-19 upsurge.

“In May, vaccination will accelerate and have widespread growth, and June, July, and August will be the months of a vaccination offensive,” the Venezuelan President said on national television as the authorities aimed to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population by August.

Nicolás [email protected]Inició en Venezuela la Jornada de Vacunación de las Américas 2021 y estará hasta el #31May de manera gratuita. Invito a los padres, madres, abuelos y abuelas para que lleven a sus niños y niñas a vacunarse. Pueden acudir a los centros de salud más cercanos a su comunidad.


The Vaccination Day of the Americas 2021 began in Venezuela and will be free of charge until #31 May. I invite fathers, mothers, grandparents, and grandmothers to take their children to get vaccinated. They can go to the health centers closest to their community.”

On the other hand, the Health Minister reported the country had received around 1.4 million vaccines from Russia and China. This, as Venezuela signed up to participate in the COVAX scheme for vaccine distributions.

In addition, the country will manufacture the Cuban COVID-19 vaccine Abdala. On April 12, President Maduro said he expected his country to produce 2 million Abdala vaccines per month starting in August or September.

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Cuba hosts Latin American and Caribbean Theater Players Meeting

Havana, May 13 (Prensa Latina) About 20 artists and scholars are participating on Thursday in the virtual Meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Theater Players, convened from Cuba by Casa de las Americas in Havana.

The virtual meeting replaces the Mayo Teatral Latin American and Caribbean Theater Season, whose biennial edition was postponed until 2022 due to the health emergency caused by Covid-19.

Since its emergence in 2001, the Mayo Teatral festival became the show season that brings together a representative sample of the regional stage work and arranged different biennial training strategies.

This year, the theatrical event welcomes specialists and scholars, who will debate themes such as Scene and challenges inherent to the artistic expression, the affirmation of identity, professional training, organizational methods and the strengthening of inter-regional ties.

Amid the pandemic isolation, the meeting will strengthen a vision of hope for the scene of the future, said the organizers from Casa de las Americas.

The days of the meeting will open as of 10:00 hours, local time.

Founded in 1981, the theater players meeting brings together the movement’s critical planning and multiple themes.


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Some 70,000 Cubans receive Abdala’s 1st dose against Covid-19

Havana, May 13 (Prensa Latina) Some 70,000 Cubans have already received the first dose of Abdala vaccine candidate against Covid-19, with which the health intervention began on Monday, informed the country’s Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP).

The process, which is being carried out in stages, is expected to reach some 400,000 Havana residents and includes at-risk groups, students of medical sciences, workers of the Biotechnological and Pharmaceutical Industries Group and the health sector of the whole country.

To that end, the intervention with Abdala started on Wednesday in the municipalities of Regla, Guanabacoa, Habana del Este and San Miguel del Padron.

The immunization period will be later extended to the areas of Arroyo Naranjo, Boyeros and Cotorro, with which health authorities expect to vaccinate some 383,000 subjects.

‘During the second stage of intervention in Havana, scheduled from the second half of June until August, Sovereign 02 will be applied to the population of the municipalities of Plaza, Playa, Centro Habana, Habana Vieja, Cerro, Diez de Octubre, La Lisa and Marianao,’ the press release referred.

Cuba’s Minister of Public Health Jose Angel Portal Miranda recently pointed out that all the processes comply with the ethical standards approved for research on human beings.


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Cuba reiterates repercussions of US blockade on families

Havana, May 13 (Prensa Latina) Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez emphasized on Thursday that the United States blockade affects Cuban families in their daily lives.

On his Twitter account, the minister stressed that Washington’s blockade was intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic, under the previous administration of Donald Trump.

‘Just like Covid-19, this inhumane policy harms Cuban families. It must stop,’ he noted.

According to the Cuban Foreign Ministry, the blockade is the biggest obstacle to national development and a violation of human rights.

‘The accumulated damages in six decades amount to 144.413 billion dollars, and between April 2019 and March 2020, this policy caused losses of more than five billion dollars, a record figure for one year,’ it stated.

The US administration insists that the blockade seeks to affect only the Cuban government; however, every year the economic siege causes millions in losses in sectors with high social impact such as education, health care, transportation, and technological development, among others.

On June 23, Cuba will submit again to the United Nations the resolution on the necessity to end the United States blockade against Cuba, in which it mentions the damage caused to the population.


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Dark interests behind campaign against Cuba denounced

Havana, May 12 (Prensa Latina) Dark interests are behind the campaign on the alleged Havana Syndrome, Johana Tablada, Deputy Director General for the United States Department at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), denounced on Wednesday.

No report or study released to date in the United States, Cuba or the world provide scientific evidence that radio waves of great intensity existed in the area where the diplomats who reported health symptoms were located, the MINREX official said.

The only ones who won with this story are the members of a minority and reactionary group of desperate politicians, willing to resort to any resource to try to impose and perpetuate the course of confrontation, lies and injustice in Washington’s policy against the Cuban people and US citizens themselves, she said.

In statements to Prensa Latina, Tablada stated that the group of Cuban experts who investigated this issue explained why the most recently thesis is an ‘unlikely hypothesis and certainly not a proven fact’ as they try to fix in the imaginary of unidentified people and sources.

The ‘Cuban Academy of Sciences disagreed on this possibility that it described as a speculation presented as one more hypothesis, not supported by arguments in the body of the report issued by the United States Academies of Sciences,’ she added.

The United States cannot be sure what the cause of the reported symptoms is, and the lack of information requested to the Washington Government, which limited the study, is critical.

The diplomat reiterated that the Academy of Sciences and the team of Cuban experts reject the politicization of the issue and recently reiterated the call that both countries collaborate to solve the matter and establish the truth.

Tablada stressed that until this Wednesday ‘the most concrete and factual thing we have seen is that symptoms with such a diversity were reported that even doctors from the Department of State and Cuban scientists explained, and not so many elements can be attributed to a common cause.

The official recalled that the unfounded accusation against her country on those attacks was a pretext for the withdrawal of most of US Embassy personnel in Havana, in 2017, along with an unprecedented sequence of hostility and setback actions in the relations between both countries and peoples.


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