Cuba vs. COVID-19: U.S. State Dept. Forms Deadly Alliance
In the battle between Cuba and COVID-19, the U.S. government has officially taken the side of COVID-19.
As COVID-19 spreads to poorer countries, where it could surpass its devastation of Italy, Spain, China and the USA, one country has looked beyond its borders to send out medical volunteers: Cuba.
As various countries receive direct help from Cuban doctors, including Italy, the U.S. State Department has urged countries to reconsider asking Cuba for help, lest this become a way for Cuba to make money.
In the battle between Cuba and COVID-19, the USA has officially taken the side of COVID. As the author of two nonpolitical books about Cuba, I find it troubling that my government can politicize the good fight against the bad virus.
Even CNN’s Cuba correspondent has questioned the State Department position.
Cuba’s Record of Fighting Contagion
Cuba’s disaster relief history is legendary. In 2004, interviewed Asian victims of the deadly tsunami declared that the most efficient disaster relief had come from the Cubans.
During the 2014 Ebola epidemic Time Magazine ran an article, “Why Cuba Is So Good at Fighting Ebola.”
The largest medical force on the Ebola front was Cuba, with 461 doctors, while fewer than 10 doctors came from the USA. The Time article notes, “Cuba’s global health crisis response system is a Doctors Without Borders-like program, but it’s instituted by the government.”
When the British cruise ship Braemar was in distress with coronavirus victims aboard, its requests to dock were refused by the USA, Bahamas and Dominican Republic. Cuba allowed the ship to dock. “A sense of humanity was required to halt the pandemic,” stated Cuban officials.
With dozens of Italian doctors dying from the coronavirus, Italy requested medical help from Cuba. Cuba sent Italy at least 52 health professionals, some of whom had experience fighting Ebola. That Cuba has legitimate self-interest in its medical humanitarianism should not be a reason for rejecting Cuban aid. No nation is altruistic, but the legitimate self-interest of some coincides with the well-being of others.
America’s Two-Party Duopoly Shares One Policy Toward Cuba
Recently, Democratic candidates lined up to criticize Bernie Sanders for accurately mentioning good things about Cuba’s heathcare and education. These Dems reflected the same world view that prompts Trump’s State Department to try to block Cuban medical aid to other countries.
A few unlikely voices came to Bernie’s defense.
“If praise for Cuba’s health and education systems could produce a comparable Sputnik moment that would push the U.S. to spend more on schools in poor neighborhoods and fix the country’s broken health-insurance system, that would be a good thing,” wrote Noah Smith for Bloomberg News.
Poorer countries desperately need Cuban medical assistance during this pandemic. One way to enable Cuba to come to the rescue is for Americans to join 187 United Nations member states and demand the USA end its criminal embargo against Cuba. This embargo, which hampers Cuba’s humanitarian actions, was supported in the UN only by the U.S., Israel and Brazil.
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil recently expelled Cuban doctors. But now, with the country besieged by COVID-19, the Brazilian Secretary of Health has implored Cuba to send back the doctors who were expelled.
No matter how you view Cuba’s internal politics, in the arena where Cuba battles COVID-19, stifling the efforts of Cuban doctors and nurses is tantamount to supporting the deadly virus.
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