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Situating “el trato humano”: the role of Cuban medicine for political discussions of value in Potosi, Bolivia

  • Kirsten FrancesconeEmail author
Article
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Abstract

This paper examines the general state of health care provision for small-scale miners in the city of Potosi, Bolivia. Then, I present an overview of the contrast between the “usual” form of treatment and their experiences with Cuban doctors. I follow this with an examination of the Potosino General Strike in 2015 which included demands to change the current state of the health care system. Here I argue that part of that “re-examination of societal values” which Feinsilver (Cuban Studies 41: 85-104, 2010) argues necessarily occurs in countries who host Cuban doctors, that miner’s experience with a kinder, more humane, form of public health care, shaped their ongoing demands for dignified forms of care. Finally, I conclude with some comments on their use of the concept “trato humano” and its relevance for political discussions about value for heath. This paper demonstrates that beyond simply providing a fundamental service, the kinds of medical practice that Cuban doctors provide in Potosi, is what makes them truly revolutionary, in the context of a hyper for-profit medical health care system. It is constructed from fieldwork I completed in Bolivia with small-scale miners for several trips from 2011 to the present, and 18 months intensive fieldwork in the city of Potosi with small-scale miners, from 2016 to 2017, and again with retirees for a month in 2018.

Keywords

Mining Health Value Cuba Bolivia 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Marco Quiñones a medical student in Potosi, and Juana Silveria Miranda, a lawyer and daughter of a cooperative miner, for their very capable assistance with research for this paper. Thanks to Bernhard Leistle and the graduate students who were involved in the Special Topics tutorial which examined the CASCA conference in Santiago de Cuba for their stimulating discussions about Cuban health which pushed me to review my own work. Special thanks to the reviewers for their thoughtful contributions and to Lindsay DuBois and Daniel Salas Gonzales for their hard work and initiative in organizing the panel and special edition.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

The author declares that there are no conflict of interests.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carleton UniversityQuebecCanada

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