The following statement was released on March 28 by the National Network on Cuba, a coalition of 40 groups, based in the United States.
In recent weeks, Cuba has deployed hundreds of medical providers to over a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, as well as to their neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean including to countries that had recently ended cooperative agreements with Cuban medical missions ; for example Brazil. The Cuban members of the Henry Reeve international medical brigades have been welcomed with cheers of appreciation as one can see on various YouTube videos such as those documenting their arrival and work in Italy.
The U.S. reaction to the Cuban humanitarian response has been beyond disgraceful and irresponsible. The U.S. Department of State has warned countries to not seek help from Cuba stating: “Cuba offers its international medical missions to those afflicted with #COVID-19 only to make up the money it lost when countries stopped participating in the abusive program.”
The National Network on Cuba and its nearly forty U.S. organizations forcefully condemn this false and misleading characterization of Cuba’s medical solidarity. Cubans served in Haiti after the earthquake, in Africa combating Ebola, even offering aid to the U.S. victims of Hurricane Katrina. Cuba is cooperating not only in treating patients, but also has shared its pharmaceutical drug; Interferon Alpha-2B Recombinant (IFNrec). The United States not only criticizes Cuba, it has not offered any medical cooperation or solidarity to affected countries dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuban medical solidarity is a pillar of its society and is founded on the concept of health care as a human right. This is in sharp contrast to the United States where 27 million people have no health insurance, where there is no guaranteed sick or family leave thus forcing many people to work while ill, and where families can easily be burdened with obscene medical debt.
How many U.S. physicians were able to obtain their medical education at United States colleges at no cost including books, housing, a stipend and nutrition? Safe to say: None! Compare this with Cuba’s system which provides full education at no cost and even educates medical students from all over the world, including the United States — the very country that has imposed more than 60 years of brutal sanctions on its people. Since 2000, Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) has granted medical degrees to nearly 200 young people from the United States. Their only obligation is the moral one of serving in needy communities.
Again compare what Cuba does with any fees that it may obtain from its medical missions. Cuba uses those funds to provide for the general health and well-being of all its citizens while U.S. pharmaceutical, insurance and for-profit hospital executives amass individual fortunes leaving most of our population to struggle for adequate, culturally competent, affordable health care and doctors are forced into assembly line conditions by for-profit “managed care” corporations
We join the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs in protesting the U.S. State Department statements: “The United States Government’s smear campaign is immoral in all circumstances. It is particularly offensive to Cuba and the rest of the world, in times of a pandemic that threatens us all, and when we should all be striving to promote solidarity and help those who need it.”
We join with Congressman Jim McGovern and others in the call to end the genocidal U.S. policy: “I agree with those who ask the United States to suspend sanctions on Cuba to facilitate humanitarian aid in the middle of Covid-19.”
For an additional example of Cuban health care please watch the PBS documentary on the Cuban cancer vaccine CimaVax which is scheduled to be broadcast starting on April 1, 2020.
Now is the time to end the U.S. blockade of Cuba.