Cuba’s international response to coronavirus could see a thaw in foreign relations – but the US remains stubborn, campaigner says

THE United States must end its blockade of Cuba in the wake of the international medical aid the socialist country has provided, a campaigner has said.

Cuban doctors have been deployed to several countries hit by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – including Italy, the country with the most deaths from the disease at time of writing.

The island nation also recently allowed the British cruise ship the MS Braemar to dock, a number of passengers of which had been afflicted by the disease.

Screenshot 2020-03-25 at 13.53.14
Image: Pixabay

Rob Miller, Director of the Cuba Solidarity Society, is calling on nations to help end the United States’ decades long blockade of the island nation – and says he hopes that nations may warm to Cuba diplomatically following their aid efforts.

He said: “Cuba has been brilliant in our opinion. They have an incredible health system with the highest doctor ratio in the world. They are an incredibly experienced team that can be deployed very quickly.”

“Trump has showed no inclination to change his policy with regards Cuba. It is very difficult to envisage domestic pressure on Trump to change that.

“The US policy is very much redundant and failed. We will have to see if there is any shift.”

This is not the first time that Cuban doctors have been sent to the front lines of medical emergencies throughout the world.

They have helped the most vulnerable following natural disasters and deadly outbreaks – such as the Haitian cholera outbreak and the recent West African Ebola crisis.

The nation has also given support to victims of the Chernobyl disaster.

Mr Miller said: “Cuba is now at the forefront of the international battle against coronavirus.

“They gave a wonderful humanitarian response to the plight of the infected passengers of the British cruise ship MS Braemar allowing it to dock in Cuba when other countries refused.

“Cuba has sent much needed medical brigades to Italy, Jamaica and Nicaragua amongst others, and a number of other countries are currently in the process of requesting Cuban medical teams for their countries.

“Cuba is also making its anti viral drug Interferon Alpha B available to countries around the world. The medicine has proved effective in the treatment of coronavirus patients.”

“With all these responses to the current pandemic Cuba is once again showing policies of internationalism and solidarity, which put the medical needs of people first regardless of race or country.

“It is a medical internationalism that Cuba has carried out for the past 60 years from the aftermath of the Kashmiri earthquake (2005), the  cholera outbreak in Haiti (2010), and the fight against Ebola in West Africa (2015).

“At the same time it shines a light on the disastrous United States policy of aggression and blockade that hinders the ability of Cuban health professionals to assist in the worldwide battle against coronavirus.

“Cuba has experience, skills, medical personnel, and medicines that could assist in the world wide battle against coronavirus. It is imperative that the demand for an end to the US Blockade is raised at this time.”

In spite of Cuba’s medical achievements, many observers and commentators continue to denounce the nation as an authoritarian regime.

Freedom House’s ‘Freedom in the World’ survey denotes Cuba as a ‘not free’ nation – one of the few countries in the Americas to be given such a designation.

However, in response to these criticisms, Mr Miller says that hopes more people and nations across the globe will recognise and applaud Cuba’s medical internationalism.

He said: “People across the globe are recognising Cuba’s response and applauding the decision of the Cuban government and its people to offer such incredible solidarity at this time.

“I am sure this will help in the struggle against the criminal and ongoing US blockade of the island which does such damage to the people of Cuba on a daily basis and hinders their ability to fight this pandemic at home and abroad.”

For decades, the United States has placed embargoes on Cuba – measures which have been widely condemned both at the UN and by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International.

The Cuba Solidarity Society has expressed its hope that – as a result the coronavirus aid – nations will now work to help end this blockade of the nation.

Mr Miller said: “I hope that people and countries will see that humanity needs to share and cooperate more and that this can be done despite any differences.

“It is always better to work together than against one another. We hope that the Cuban people will be allowed to develop their own society how they wish free from external aggression and hope that the US will finally end its illegal blockade.” 

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