Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Help Cuba fight COVID-19 and the US blockade

Cuba Solidarity Campaign
Cuba Update 28 March 2020

Help Cuba fight COVID-19 and the US blockade

Dear friend,
Please sign our open letter asking for the US blockade to be lifted to help Cuba fight the coronavirus at home and abroad.
Cuba has shown international solidarity to Britain and other countries during this global pandemic. Now is our chance to show our appreciation.
Join the call on the British government to make urgent representations to the Trump administration to lift the blockade today.
Add your name to the open letter below:
As the world fights an international battle against the coronavirus pandemic, Cuba has once again proved itself a paragon of internationalism and solidarity.
In recent days the island has sent highly skilled medical brigades to many countries including Italy, Grenada, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Venezuela to support foreign health services overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis.
On 18 March the Cuban government offered safe haven to passengers of the stricken British cruise ship MS Braemar allowing it to dock in Havana when many other countries had refused. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab publicly thanked Cuba for this assistance in a statement to the UK parliament.
It has also made its anti-viral drug Interferon Alpha B available to nations around the world to help in the treatment of patients infected with COVID-19.
The island’s altruistic response to the global emergency continues a long history of Cuban humanitarianism. In the last 56 years 400,000 Cuban health workers have responded to natural disasters and helped build health services in 164 nations. This includes sending medical brigades to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Kashmiri earthquake (2005), to Haiti to assist with the devastating cholera outbreak following the earthquake (2010), and to West Africa in the region’s fight against Ebola (2015). Cuba has also trained 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries at its Latin American Medical School since 1998.
At the same time the island has suffered the effects of the 58-year old criminal United States blockade which causes daily shortages of food, fuel and other basic necessities. Last year the cost to the Cuban health sector alone amounted to more than $104 million.
As we write, Cuba is itself combating the spread of coronavirus within its own population and needs access of medical equipment and resources to safeguard the well-being of its most vulnerable citizens. Cuba has always put the humanitarian needs of people first, regardless or borders or politics. At this time of international crisis, the US blockade is criminal, not only for its impact on the Cuban people, but also for hindering their ability to assist in the worldwide battle against the virus.
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign sends its eternal gratitude to the Cuban medical teams for their inspirational example of global solidarity. At the same time we call on the British government to make an urgent representation to the US to end its blockade immediately, or at the very least to temporarily suspend it to allow vital supplies of food, fuel and medical equipment to the Cuban people. The Cuban people supported the British people in a time of need. This is a chance to demonstrate our appreciation.
Help Cuba fight COVID-19 and the US
Coronavirus update
Stories on Cuba’s international response to coronavirus
At the time of writing Cuba itself has had 67 cases of coronavirus, resulting in one death, and more than 1,000 people in quarantine. Doctors and medical students throughout the country are taking place in door to door health check ups and reminding people of what symptoms to look for and the importance of social distancing. On 20 March, when the island had less than twenty cases, the government took the decision to close its borders, except for residents and foreign nationals wishing to return. Tourists in the country at the time were quarantined in hotels for fourteen days or until their flight home.
At the same time the island provided inspirational international solidarity around the world.
Cuban medical brigades were sent to help beleaguered health services in several countries including Italy and Jamaica, the island allowed a British cruise ship to dock so that infected passengers could be flown home. And Cuban anti viral Interferon Alpha 2B was made available to help with treatment.
Cuba’s response was mentioned in the British parliament both by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and by Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn who said: “The internationalism of the doctors from Cuba who have gone to fight the virus in Italy is inspirational."
International praise also came from former president of Brazil, Ignacio Lula da Silva, who said “the Cuban people showed the world an example of solidarity.” In an embarrassing U-turn, Brazil’s health minister, begged for Cuban doctors to come back, less than eighteen months after they were expelled by President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018.
Cuba’s inspirational humanitarian response to COVID-19 came despite the country facing shortages and difficulties at home as a result of the tightening of the US blockade by President Trump.
On 26 March, the Cuban Foreign Ministry was forced to issue a strongly worded protest in response to “particularly offensive statements” and “lies” against Cuba’s international medical cooperation from the US Department of State which unbelieveably attempts to pressure countries to reject Cuban aid during the coronavirus pandemic.
CSC joins the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other international organisations and groups, in calling for an immediate end to the US blockade in the light of the current global emergency.
Further reading
We hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well during this difficult time.
In solidarity
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign team

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