May 19, 2020 marks 125 years since the death in combat of Cuba’s national hero, poet, writer, and anti-colonial revolutionary, José Martí. At events in Cuba to mark this anniversary, Cuban President, Miguel Díaz-Canel expressed that when Martí died, "in an unfinished letter, he warns of the dangerous plans of the empire against Cuba and Our America. History confirms his prediction and affirms our rebellion."
José Martí famously proclaimed, “patria es humanidad” (homeland is humanity). Martí’s call for unity has inspired Cuba’s dedication to struggling for human dignity and independence around the world.
However, as José Martí warned, these important projects have come under attack, further revealing what President Díaz-Canel called, “dangerous plans of the empire.” On May 1, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, attempted to scold countries accepting Cuban doctors. He stated, "The regime in Havana has taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to continue its exploitation of Cuban medical workers. [...] Governments accepting Cuban doctors must pay them directly. Otherwise, when they pay the regime, they are helping the Cuban government turn a profit on human trafficking."
Pompeo and the Trump administration have been slandering the work of internationalist Cuban doctors consistently. They have often referred to Cuban health professionals as ‘modern slaves’ or ‘victims of human trafficking’. But while the U.S. attempts to demonize Cuba, the U.S. is leading the world in Covid-19 deaths. Despite the fact that population-wise the U.S. is the 3rd largest country in the world. How do President Trump and Secretary Pompeo dare to accuse Cuba of crimes when the wealthiest country in the world has left its own people to die?
Humanity in the Face of a Global Pandemic
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally declared the outbreak of Covid-19 a pandemic. At that time, a British cruise ship, the MS Braemar had five confirmed and dozens of suspected cased of Covid-19 on board. The ship had over a thousand passengers and crew aboard on its journey in the Caribbean Sea. The Braemar needed to dock urgently to fly its passengers home before the virus continued its deadly spread throughout the vessel. The cruise was denied entry to multiple countries – Cuba alone stood up and invited the ship to dock in its port, despite the risks.
One of the ship's passengers, Steve Dale, expressed on Twitter, “Thanks once more to the people of Cuba for their generosity and humanity.”
When asked why Cuba welcomed the MS Braemar and its sick into Cuba – Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, simply expressed, “Let’s reinforce healthcare, solidarity and international cooperation.”
Send in the Reinforcements!
The comments of Cuba’s Foreign Minister are not just words, they have been matched by Cuba’s deeds. 2,579 Cuban medical professionals are working in 26 countries throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. These are special emergency medical teams tackling the Covid-19 global pandemic, with the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigades (HRIMB). Cuban medics are famous for working free of charge with their patients and for working in communities that often lack healthcare necessities.
While Covid-19 is a new virus, Cuba’s medical internationalism is decades old. In fact, Cuba is marking 57 years since its first international medical brigade. That brigade left Cuba in May 1963 bound for Algeria, where 56 Cuban doctors, nurses, dentists, and medical technicians lent a hand to the newly independent country.
While the work of the HRIMB is truly impressive, Cuba actually has much more to offer humanity – from its focus on preventative medicine, to its biotech and new medicines, to its other forms of internationalist solidarity, to other lessons and gains of the Cuban revolution.
Building Solidarity with Cuba
During this time of global pandemic, humanity is being forced to revaluate the societies in which we live. We are questioning our priorities, our lifestyles, and the foundation of our global economy, capitalism. One country which has been questioning the inequality and inhumanity of capitalism for over six decades, is Cuba and its revolutionary socialist leadership. During this time of questioning who we are and where we are going, undoubtedly Cuba is shining a light on the path forward for humanity.
If you have found this article and these stories compelling, please speak out for Cuba. The important work being done by Cuba to the benefit of humanity is under consistent attack by the U.S. government, which is seeking to destroy Cuba’s example. Why? Because Cuba’s example exposes the U.S. government’s own lack of care for its citizens. Imagine the richest country in the world is the first nation to reach over 100,000 dead from Covid-19! Why are they trying to protect capitalist corporations and their profits, instead of using their wealth for humanity?
Just as Cuba is reaching out to help humanity, Cuba needs our help. There are many ongoing efforts to support Cuba today in Canada and the U.S. Please consider supporting them!
Follow Tamara on Twitter: @THans01
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