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The MINSAP calls for more blood donations, omits any mention of their exportation

This time, the health authorities are distributing brochures to 'raise awareness' amongst potential donors.

La Habana

In April the organization Archivo Cuba censured the Cuban Government for pocketing some 34,5 million dollars from the sale of blood plasma in a single year.

As an apparent response to this complaint, which Archivo Cuba presented in a report sent to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, María Grazia Giammarinaro, the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) has initiated a campaign that includes the distribution of brochures on the importance of the blood donations gathered, but without mentioning their sale.

"It is incredible how we were never informed, by any means, whether by the press or any health institution, about export as an ultimate destination of many voluntary donations," said Esther, Secretary of the Communist Party (PCC) at her workplace.

"Why this silence on such a sensitive subject? Why do the people have to find out last, and through unofficial means, that they were manipulated? What the Archivo Cuba report says "leaves me perplexed," said Cañizares.

For more than five decades MINSAP has called on the population to make massive blood donations, under the motto: "Donate Blood, Save a Life." These campaigns are often activities for members of the PCC, the Union of Young Communists (UJC) and the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR).

According to the details revealed by Archivo Cuba, between 1995 and 2014 the Government exported a total of 622.5 million dollars in human blood derivatives.

Aníbal Henríquez, a port worker, questioned the final whereabouts of those millions, which have never been reported as export revenues in nearly 20 years.

"Where did all that money go and what is the justification for keeping silent about those exports?" he asked.

"They won’t offer any explanations, and they won´t even blush. Like they always do," said Lietis Ronda, a Library Science student. "They will allege that it is a new lie by the enemy to discredit revolutionary victories. And they will also say that the independent media that leveled these allegations are pawns of the CIA and paid by USAID. "

"More than deception, this is another way of exploiting the people," Ronda said.

Blood donation, a "revolutionary duty"

In recent decades the Ministry of Education (MINED) has also included, as part of "school emulation" programs, blood donations from relatives with children in primary school.

This was announced by Jose Ernesto Rodríguez, a municipal historian, who criticized that the State's campaigns for massive donations of blood, "involve children and adolescents."

"In schools our children are required to be part of the ‘socialist emulation’ programs. Among the parameters to comply with this emulation is parents' making of blood donations. The children, pressured to win the emulation competition for their classrooms, urge their parents to give," he explained.

Being a blood donor, along with the accumulation of hours of "volunteer work", surveillance shifts, and participation in "marches of the fighting people," continue being "theoretically voluntary but, in reality, obligatory tasks and a demand of the revolution", he explained.

A doctor, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said that she did not understand "this astonishment" at the fact that the Government has never informed people about its commerce in blood, condemned by Archivo Cuba, which is based in Puerto Rico.

"This is not the only form of exploitation practiced by the Government, however painful it may be to accept that," she said. What did surprise the doctor is the millions that these exports generated.

Workers at several municipal blood banks in Havana confirmed that a new blood donation campaign has been launched, and that for the first time they are distributing brochures with information for donors.

"But they say nothing about the destination and use of the blood," they pointed out.

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