Ernesto Perez Javier was a child passionate about medicine. Because
he thought it was a noble profession, the most beautiful profession
in the world he said. There is no more beautiful job than saving
lives, and favoring the arrival of a human being on earth.
he grew up, like most Cubans, he already knew what will be his
specialty at the University: Medicine. Having developed a particular
affection for this profession, it was completely normal for Javier to
pass his assessments brilliantly, with very good honors. Once his
studies as a general practitioner ended, Javier wanted to specialize
in a given field. Hence, he chooses Surgery. Associate Professor of
Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery Javier was very good at what he did and
had no equal in his country at the time.
he practiced his profession in his country, Javier started to have
desires elsewhere. Because according to him, Cuba did not really need
him, since there were many certified and qualified doctors to do the
work that he did.
the United States embargo on Cuba, the country was underdeveloped.
Aside from the medical field, they hadn't really made much progress
towards development. Hence, they were considered an underdeveloped
country, despite their advanced medicine.
day, Javier spoke to himself saying: If we here in Cuba we are
considered as an underdeveloped country, but we are lucky to have an
advanced medicine, what about other underdeveloped countries that
don't have advanced medicine like ours?
reflected for months and months. On end, he did not know what he as
an individual could do or provide as a solution to this. One day, one
of his friends (Vladimir, half-Cuban, half-Russian) having studied
with him and living in the West contacted him (by telegram) to
inquire about the state of the country.
told Javier that he now worked at Doctors Without Borders. And Javier
answered him: It is very good, I hope that you find satisfaction in
what you do?
replied to Javier: Yes, my friend. Through Doctors Without Borders, I
went to the depths of remote corners to help people in need. And
Javier said to himself, that's what I need. But he did not share the
urge that boiled in him with his friend Vladimir. And the two lost
did everything he could to leave Cuba and go to practice elsewhere,
in remote corners of the world where people really needed him. But
the restriction of the country and the barriers placed by the regime
of Fidel Castro did not allow the executives of the country to go to
a handful of people had successfully crossed over to new horizons
(new countries). Years passed, and Javier had acquired great renown
in his field. One day, Vladimir was back in Havana to see his Cuban
mother who had divorced from his Russian father.
soon as he arrived, he wanted to make contact with his friend Javier
and asked his mother if he knew him. Well obviously I know him,
replied his mother. And she added: Do you remember, last year when I
sent you a telegram saying that I was in the hospital and that I had
to be operated on? Vladimir replied: Yes mom, I remember that.
his mother replied: It was Professor Javier who had operated on me.
Vladimir replied: So tomorrow you would drive me to the hospital to
see him? His mother replied: Yes, my son.
next morning, Vladimir and his mother went to the hospital to see
Professor Perez. Once there, they asked the hospital secretary if
Professor Perez was there. One of the members of the secretariat said
to them (to Vladimir and his mother): Do you have an appointment with
Professor Perez? They replied: No, we do not have an appointment.
taking the floor said to the members of the secretariat: I am one of
his old friends from the University; I work at Doctors Without
Borders; I am here in Havana only since yesterday. Please could you
do me the favor of seeing him without an appointment?
of the members of the secretariat replied: No, we cannot make an
exception, because the rules were made to be followed. Imagine (She
said to Vladimir.) if we granted everyone a right pass, what will the
rules that have been established here be used for? And ended her
speech by saying: The rules are the rules for everyone regardless of
disappointed that he couldn't see his old friend asked what he could
do to meet him. And she said to him: It's easy, make an appointment!
Vladimir wanted to take one, Professor Perez was passing by. Having
seen Vladimir's mother, he came to greet her. To his surprise,
someone called him from his nickname of the University (Pepe).
closer inspection, he saw that the man who called him like that was
next to the mother of his old friend Vladimir. Due to the years,
Javier had a little trouble guessing who he was? Since Vladimir had
changed a lot. But eventually Professor Perez recognized Vladimir.
Then invited him and his mother into his office to talk about the
rain and the weather.
their conversation, Vladimir spoke to Javier about what Doctors
Without Borders was and invited him to join them. Javier had seen
this opportunity as a way to fulfill his dream of helping other
countries, that were poorer than theirs, and of helping the sick who
could not get proper and adequate medical assistance.
Javier accepted Vladimir's invitation. And a few months later, and
thanks to his friend Vladimir, Professor Perez was enrolled in
Doctors Without Borders. Thus began his international renown,
particularly in developing countries.
first mission was in 1997 in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(ex-Zaire). A country that was in the grip of war. On the one hand
there was Laurent Désiré Kabila with his AFDLR
(insurrectionary movement) and on the other, the legitimate President
Joseph Désiré-Mobutu with his party, the MPR. His role
was to provide assistance to those injured by gunshot wounds.
children wounded by gunshots coming to him (they came to the front
and were used as shields.) his heart bled inside. And said: Why so
much cruelty? Why the heart of man is so wicked? How far will man go
by his thirst for power? These children have the right to a future;
they are not shields of war; they have the right to life.
Perez started to cry because of his inability to save lives since the
cases which came to him for most of the children, were in a very
critical state. And their chance of survival was minimal. Professor
Perez was still doing his best, but still couldn't save one. Since in
his pavilion there was no slight injury, only serious and very
critical cases. And most of these cases were already between life and
not getting discouraged and doing his job, Professor Perez managed to
save the life of a ten-year-old boy who had been brought to the
battle front. He decided to adopt him as his own son and gave him a
new name: Javier Ernesto Perez Junior.
all the humanitarian actions he had to carry out, that of the
Democratic Republic of Congo was the one that had marked his entire
existence, since it had given him a son. Professor Perez died in 2016
at the age of 81. His life was marked by his kindness, his generosity
to always want to save a life, one more life he said with each
his son Perez Junior wants to follow in his father's footsteps and
studies medicine at the University.
to Javier Ernesto Perez 1935-2016.
author's name in
of the message we
won't know where to send it.)