This time however, the unenviable task falls on the shoulders of the US State department staff, who answers to former CIA head turned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and in their desperate effort to undermine the impact of Cuba’s unparalleled internationalism, tweeted on March 24, that countries that currently receive Cuban medical aid to stop the spread the SARS-2 COVID-19 pandemic , should reject our sister country’s contribution, for reasons that only the former spy-chief could conjure.
Interestingly though, this callous, reckless and inhumane stance is being displayed against a back- drop of NATO’s (North Atlantic Treaty Alliance) which is military alliance of 30 countries led by the USA, urging the members of this pro-western alliance, to go to the assistance of their member states, in order to stop spread of this global contagion.
There has been wide-spread repudiation and condemnation of this jaundiced proposition by the spokespersons of the empire. In addition, in the same spirit of proletarian internationalism that has guided the heroic people from the homeland of Fidel, they have offered medical assistance in the aftermath of the earthquake in Chile where millions of lives were saved and improved.
In addition, there were the “ Children of Cherynobyl’ nuclear disaster where 22, 000 children and 4,000 adults received treatment, shelter and were fed for free between the years of 1989- 2013, their final year. Cubans were merely affirming the words of the apostle of Cuban independence, Jose Marti that ‘homeland is humanity’ .
In 2005 a devastating earthquake in Pakistan administered Kashmir region which killed 89, 000 and left over 3 million persons homeless and during the ensuing 7-month period, the Cuban medical brigade of 2400 treated 1.7 million patients within 32 field hospitals that were constructed.
We can also never forget the fact that our sister country was among the first responders to the indescribable destruction which was wrought on Haiti the earthquake of January 2010 that resulted in 230, 000 deaths and 15% of the population rendered homeless in its deadly aftermath.
The contingent of 344 medical professionals who were already on the ‘ground’ alongside hundreds of Haitians doctors, also trained in Cuba, within 24 hours, were joined by a contingent of the ‘Henry Reeves brigade', a specialised team of medical professional, trained in disaster response.
Additionally by April first of the same year another contingent of 748 Cubans along with 481 Haitian graduates from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) and a group of 278 ELAM graduates from 28 other countries joined their Cuban counterpart in a practical demonstration of the biblical concept of being your ‘brother’s keeper’.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was another occasion where Cuba stood out as a giant and demonstrated its true mettle in global health leadership, in their response to an appeal from the World Health Organization (WHO) for ‘compassionate doctors and nurses, who will know how to comfort patients despite the barriers of wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
The response was overwhelming from the Cuban medical personnel, growing up in revolutionary society in which they are taught that Africa was the cradle of humanity and where they are now being provided with an opportunity, to impact the lives of their brothers and sisters in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, who were bearing the full brunt of this virus.
A group of 256 out of 10,000 medical professionals who volunteered for the mission were chosen, with a preference for those who had prior experience in those countries and in short order reduced the mortality rate from 50 % to 20%, while introducing a programme to prevent any further contagion.
President Obama lauded the action of our sister country during his remarks in the historic rapprochement between both countries in December 2014, while highlighting the fact that “Cuban and American health workers should work side by side to stop the spread of the deadly disease (Ebola)” which was the essence of that cooperation.
That enlightened statement by Obama, is in stark contrast to what obtains with the pronouncements from the current occupant of the White House whose bellicose, insular, narcissistic and xenophobic postures are best suited for the reality show from which he came.
Evidence of this is clearly demonstrated by the fact that despite being urged by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on March 24, to ease the unilaterally imposed sanctions “as at this crucial time, both for global public health reasons and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eases or suspended. In a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us’’.
This appeal by the former Chilean president fell on deaf ears as Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe are still resisting under these illegal and draconian sanctions and in the case of our sister nation of Venezuela, 40, 000 lives were lost between 2017-18 due the imposition of these criminal sanctions which prevented them from purchasing life-saving medical supplies.
Regarding Cuba, President Trump has also not learnt the lessons of his predecessors, that a revolution forged in the crucible of close to 60 years of the most inhumane, genocidal and illegal economic blockade known in the history of mankind, can never be defeated.
The struggle against the Corona virus requires cooperation at all levels of our society and his best reflected in the words of the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Bruno Rodriguez Parilla at the video conference- First Extraordinary meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Health of the Association of Caribbean States on COVID-19 held recently, ‘ The rapid spread of the disease requires uniting wills to develop joint actions of cooperation that allow us to confront COVID-19, to which all human beings are exposed.
We are motivated by the solidarity values that characterize Cuba, including the premise of sharing what hat we have, even if it is scarce. More than 400,000 Cuban professionals have carried out missions in 164 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia. Cuban medical cooperation has more than half a century of experience”,
As the undeclared “war” to contain the dreaded COVID-19 virus continues unabated, Cuba is writing another indelible chapter in honouring the legacy of the apostle of its independence Jose Marti and the historic leader of its revolution Fidel by showing in very practical ways, that another world is indeed possible.
Trevor G Brown
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