Fidel Castro slams U.S. for battle over healthcare
Wed Aug 19, 2009
HAVANA, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro criticized the United States on Wednesday for being willing to spend billions on its high-tech military but finding it difficult to approve healthcare reform that would protect its poor people.
He wrote in a commentary published on a state-run Internet site that huge military budgets are approved easily by the U.S. Congress but U.S. President Barack Obama is struggling to convince federal lawmakers to pass a bill that would "deliver health services to 50 million Americans that don't have them."
"What hope can that society offer the world?" he asked.
Obama's plan, aimed at making healthcare less expensive and more broadly available, has come under fire in the Congress, primarily from Republicans who argue, among other things, that it is a step toward socialism.
Castro pointed out that a free health clinic in Los Angeles recently attracted 8,000 patients, some coming from hundreds of miles away because they said they could not afford to go to a doctor or dentist.
The Cuban government prides itself on providing free healthcare to all Cubans.
"The lobbyists in Congress spend their August working against a simple law that would offer medical assistance to dozens of millions of poor people, the biggest majority of them blacks and Latinos," wrote Castro.
"Even a blockaded country like Cuba has been able to do that," he said, referring to the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba that the communist-led Cuban government blames for its fragile economy.
Castro, 83, has not been seen in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006. He resigned the Cuban presidency last year so his younger brother Raul Castro could succeed him. He retains a high public profile through his columns, which are published in Cuba's state-run newspapers and websites and read on state-run television and radio.
Fidel Castro slams U.S. for battle over healthcare | Reuters