Part 1: An interview with Dr. Melissa Rose – meet her Wednesday, April 21, 6:30 p.m., at the Jazz Heritage Club, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco, for a life-transforming evening of films and in depth discussion about the challenges facing the Haitian people and how we can help
by POCC Minister of Information JR
This interview, which is broken into parts, was for us to discuss her experience so that we, the people, do not have to rely on the U.S. propaganda spin-doctors euphemistically called the media for information on a country that Amerikkka has been at war with, in one form or another – a country that has protected Assata Shakur and so many other revolutionaries internationally who have had to flee their oppressive governments.
Dr. Rose is a revolutionary Cuban-trained medical professional not just in theory but in action. The time she served in Haiti was a revolutionary act that she said she is willing to repeat. It speaks volumes about her convictions, especially looking at the fact that she had to raise money to pay her rent while she was gone. I was inspired to the point of transcribing this interview because this is truly something beautiful to aspire to …
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell the people how you are a U.S. citizen who came to be trained in Cuba to become a medical doctor?
Dr. Rose: Well, Cuba has been involved in training people from all over the world for a long time now. Just a few years after the revolution and just recently actually in 1999, Fidel (Castro) opened the offer up; he initially made the offer for 500 students [from the U.S.] to study in Cuba, keeping in mind that although this [the U.S.] is one of the richest countries in the world, we do have third world populations.
M.O.I. JR: How long was the program, and how were you chosen for the program?
Dr. Rose: It is a six-year program, so I was actually there for six and a half years. I went a semester early to learn Spanish. The organization that sponsors us or does the applications and the interview process is called IFCO Pastors for Peace. And they are based out of New York.
M.O.I. JR: Why did you pick Cuba to be trained to become a doctor?
Dr. Rose: There’s a lot of reasons but primarily because of the opportunity to study social and community medicine, and the type of medicine that Cuba offers and that Cuba teaches, which is very different than the type of medicine that is practiced here.
M.O.I. JR: What is the difference between the United States health care system and the Cuban healthcare system, for those who may not know?
Dr. Rose: Well, there is a lot of differences, but fundamentally that healthcare is looked at is very different; healthcare in Cuba is considered a human right. It is available to all. They have what you call universal healthcare socialized medicine, which means that every citizen can receive healthcare at any time at any level, be it primary care or specialized surgery, free of charge.
M.O.I. JR: What was your experience like in Cuba for six years? I imagine that you stayed on the island for most of the six years. Can you speak to what was everyday life like? And what was the six year experience as a total like?
Dr. Rose: Well, that is a hugely broad question, but life in Cuba is different in the sense that you have a lot less responsibilities. I went from paying rent and working full time and all of the responsibilities that go along with living in the U.S. to my only responsibility being to get up and go to class every day. That’s a huge difference.
M.O.I. JR: Did the Cubans or did any other international students have questions for you particularly about ghettos in Amerikkka or where Black people live in Amerikkka? Or what is it that they wanted to know about the Black experience in Amerikkka?
Dr. Rose: I think you had two extremes: You had people who were very well versed on the struggles of underserved people, marginalized populations. Then you had people who didn’t believe or care to believe that that type of thing existed. I found usually they were one of the two extremes, either they were very well informed or they didn’t care.
Dr. Rose: Well that again is a broad question. I think that I definitely was very well accepted – the U.S. students in general. When we first got there we were such a novelty. It was huge for the country and huge for us to be citizens of the country that is imposing the blockade, to be there studying, living, carrying out our lives with these same people that our government has been punishing.
But after a few years went on, they got used to us. And again, Cuba has such a large population of foreign students, and they have a lot of exchange with other countries and so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Like I said, I think that they got used to us as the days passed on.