[News] Cuba Calls for International Cooperation to Combat COVID-19

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 16 14:49:01 EDT 2020

Calls for International Cooperation to Combat COVID-19
Cuban Foreign Ministry April 16, 2020

The impact of COVID19 can already be measured and will be assessed in the
future by the striking numbers of people infected, the unacceptable numbers
of deaths, the unquestionable damages to the world economy, production,
trade, employment and personal income of millions of people.

It is a crisis that goes well beyond the scope of health. The pandemic has
emerged and spread amidst a scenario previously marked by overwhelming
economic and social inequalities within and among nations. With
unprecedented migratory and refugee flows, xenophobia and racial
discrimination have reemerged. The remarkable advances of science and
technology, particularly in the area of health, focus in the pharmaceutical
business and commercialization of medicine, rather than in securing the
wellbeing and healthy living of majorities.

Covid19 has come into a world overburdened by production and consumption
patterns, especially in highly industrialized countries and among the
elites of developing countries, that are unsustainable and incompatible
with the finite character of natural resources upon which life on the
planet depends. Before the first case was identified, there were 820
million people suffering from hunger worldwide; 2.2 billion people with no
access to fresh water; 4.2 billion without access to safely managed
sanitation services and 3 billion lacking basic amenities for hand washing.

This scenario becomes more inadmissible when it is known that globally
around 6.7 billion dollars are spent on a yearly basis only in advertising,
while military expenditure amounts to 1.8 trillion dollars that are
completely useless in the combat against the COVID19 threat, which has
already taken the lives of tens of thousands of people. The virus does not
discriminate. It does not distinguish the rich from the poor.

However, its devastating effects multiply there where people that are most
vulnerable and get the lowest incomes live, in the poor and developing
world, in the pockets of poverty of large industrialized cities. Its impact
is specially felt where neoliberal policies and social spending cuts have
limited public administration capacities of the State.

Covid19 has taken more lives where governmental public healthcare budgets
have been cut. It has caused more economic damages where the State has
little or no options to bail out those who lose their jobs, close their
businesses and suffer the dramatic reduction or loss of their personal and
family income source. In most developed countries the death toll is higher
among the poor, migrants and, in the specific case of the United States,
among African Americans and Latinos.

To top it all off, the international community has to deal with this global
threat while the biggest military, economic, technological and
communicational power of the world implements a foreign policy that seeks
to incite and promote conflicts, divisions, chauvinism and supremacist and
racist positions.

At times when the worldwide combat against the Covid19 pandemic requires
boosting cooperation and the leading role of international organizations,
particularly the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization
(WHO), the current US administration attacks multilateralism and seeks to
disqualify the established leadership of WHO.

It also insists in its petty strategy of taking advantage of the
circumstances to impose its dominance and attack countries whose
governments it has discrepancies with. Some examples serve to illustrate
that, like the recent and serious military threats against the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela and the announcement, the day before yesterday by the
US president, of the Pan-American Day and Week from April 14 to 18,
accompanied by Monroe-Doctrine-inspired neocolonial statements against
Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, reminiscing of the Pan-American Conference,
condemned 130 years ago by José Martí. Around those same days; but in 1961,
the Bay of Pigs invasion took place. Another example is the immoral and
persistent attack against Cuba’s selfless efforts to assist countries that
have requested cooperation in the fight against COVID19.

Instead of promoting cooperation and a collective response, top officials
of the US State Department devote their time to issue statements
threatening governments that faced with the drama of the pandemic exercise
their sovereignty and decide to request Cuba’s assistance. The United
States officials are knowingly committing a crime, when in the midst of a
pandemic they attack Cuba’s international cooperation, seeking to deprive
millions of people from their universal human right to healthcare services.
The magnitude of the current crisis compels us to cooperate and practice
solidarity despite political differences. The virus knows no boundaries or
ideologies. It threatens the lives of all and therefore it is up to all of
us to fight against it.

No country should assume it is big enough, rich enough or powerful enough
to defend itself, isolating itself and ignoring the efforts and needs of
others. Sharing and providing valuable and reliable information is urgent.
Steps have to be taken to allow for the coordination of the production and
distribution of medical equipment, personal protection equipment (PPE) and
medicines, with a sense of justice. Countries with more available resources
should share them with most affected countries that are least prepared to
cope with the pandemic.

That is Cuba’s approach. The humble contribution of a small nation with
limited natural resources and submitted to a long and brutal economic
blockade. For decades we have accumulated experiences in the development of
international cooperation in the area of health, as generously acknowledged
by the World Health Organization and our counterparts. In the last few
weeks, we have responded to cooperation requests without hesitance to
consider political coincidences or economic advantages.

So far, 21 brigades of healthcare professionals have been deployed to join
in the national and local efforts of 20 countries, that are added or
strengthen existing medical collaboration brigades in 60 nations that have
now joined efforts to combat COVID 19 in the countries where they were
already providing services. We have also shared some medicines produced by
Cuba that according to our practice have proven effective in the prevention
of or therapy against the disease. In addition, our healthcare personnel
has taken part from Cuba and via teleconferences in consults and
discussions on specific treatments for patients or groups of patients in
several countries.

All these actions are undertaken without neglecting the responsibility of
protecting the Cuban population, duty that is rigorously fulfilled despite
the huge limitations imposed by the US economic, commercial and financial
blockade. Those who are interested may find the data supporting this
assertion as they are publicly available.  Anyone with a shred of decency
will understand that the blockade poses remarkable pressure over Cuba to
ensure the material inputs and equipment that support the public healthcare
system and those specifically required to address this pandemic.

A recent example was an aid cargo from China that could not be shipped to
Cuba because the carrier claimed the US blockade banned it. On that matter,
top US State Department officials had the nerve to say that the United
States does export medicines and medical devices to Cuba. Nonetheless, they
have failed to support those fallacies with a single transaction between
the two countries.  It is common knowledge and widely substantiated that
the economic blockade is the main obstacle for Cuba’s development,
prosperity and for the wellbeing of Cubans.

That harsh reality due solely to the obstinate and aggressive behavior of
the United States government does not prevent us from providing our help
and solidarity. We don’t deny anyone our assistance, not even to the
country that causes Cuba so much harm, if  necessary. Cuba is convinced
that these times require cooperation and solidarity. Cuba pursues a
politically unbiased international endeavor that seeks to develop and share
the scientific research results and experiences of several countries in the
prevention of the disease, the protection of the most vulnerable and social
behavior practices that will contribute to shorten the duration of the
pandemic and slowdown the loss of lives. Cuba strongly believes the role
and leadership of the United Nations and the World Health Organization are
indispensable. If we act together, the propagation of the virus will be
halted, in a faster and more cost-effective manner.

Then we will have to deal with the economic and social crisis the pandemic
is causing, the dimensions of which nobody has dared predict yet. However,
we cannot wait for that day to come to join efforts to overcome the huge
problems and threats we shall find ahead and deal with those that were
piling up before the pandemic took the first lives. If developing countries
are not guaranteed access to technologies that are mostly available in
highly industrialized nations, especially in the area of health, and if
they fail to share science developments and their products in an unimpeded
and selfless manner, the vast majority of the world’s population will be as
exposed or even more exposed than today in an increasingly interconnected

If politically motivated coercive economic measures against developing
countries are not lifted and if they are not exempted from the payment of
the burdensome and unpayable foreign debt and freed from the ruthless
tutelage of international financial organizations, we cannot delude
ourselves into thinking that we will be in a better position to respond to
the economic and social disparities that, even without a pandemic, kill
millions of people every year, including children, women and elders. The
threat against international peace and security is real and constant
attacks against some countries only made it worse. It can hardly be
expected that the eventual end of the pandemic will lead to a more just,
secure and decent world if the international community, represented by each
country’s governments, does not press forward to agree and adopt decisions
that have proven stubbornly elusive so far. Similarly, questions will arise
as to how well prepared is humanity to face the next pandemic.

There is still time to act and mobilize the will of those who are
responsible. If we leave it up to future generations, it may be too late."
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