Cuba steadfastly facing COVID-19, sanctions, and the double standards of imperial policy

Since December 2019The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world without distinguishing betwween social class, race or possession of wealth. It threatens to exterminate a large part of the world’s population. The rapid spread of the virus has made us reflect on new ways of living and cooperating in order to try to stop the effects that it has caused in all areas, especially health and the economy.

The world was surprised last August by the news that Cuba has a vaccine candidate against COVID-19. Soberana 01(Sovereign 01), the name of this vaccine candidate, is also the first in Latin America and the Caribbean to receive an authorization for clinical trials, and the 30th in the world to receive this authorization.

Cuba, which has a well-structured health system based on prevention and community work, has managed to demonstrate once again our high level of preparedness to face disaster situations and epidemics.

Based on this preventive approach, the government, together with the health authorities and the scientific community, has designed a plan to confront and control the disease based on the experiences and conditions of our country. In addition, tours and territorial meetings were carried out to train the entire first level of leadership in the country, and daily meetings were instituted on the world and national situation to evaluate the implementation of measures against the pandemic.

An important part of the plan was a study of the experiences of the first countries affected by the pandemic and those countries that faced critical situations, as well as a study of international protocols. The plan was designed and adopted in the pre-epidemic and epidemic stages, and includes measures commensurate to the complexity of each stage.

In this sense, Cuba managed to keep the virus contagion at low levels from March to the present, and today it has 5,597 accumulated cases, 4,893 recoveries and 122 deaths; a fatality rate of 2.17%, lower than the world average (2.99%) and the average among countries in the Americas (3.34%).

Based on Cuba’s experience in the field of health, requests were received from various governments to contribute medical brigades in situ or advice to local health systems to face COVID -19. Therefore in a deeply supportive and humanistic gesture, 3800 Cubans organized in 52 medical brigades responded to the call to help 39 countries and territories affected by the disease. For Cuba, access to health is a human right and nothing is more important than preserving it.

This effort by Cuba to globalize solidarity in the current context is striking. Take into account the “constant concern” of the United States government for the Cuban people, whom the United States considers oppressed and deprived of rights. The United States has reinforced its sanctions to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Cuba, and restricted supplies for the care of its population. Is this irony, or simply a contradiction between speech and action?

In a gesture of arrogance and hostility toward the prestige achieved by Cuban medical collaboration, and with the aim of deepening the blockade, the US government has orchestrated a campaign to discredit Cuban doctors dating back to 2019. The United States has even threatened sovereign countries and multilateral organizations with financial aid cuts If they were to accept Cuban specialists. Is this the kind of freedom and democracy is the imperial government professing? One recent target is the Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO) that will be subjected to an illegal audit on the program “Mais Medicos” (More Doctors), a collaboration between the Workers Party (PT) government of Brazil, Cuba and PAHO. This illegal audit was instigated by the United States.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 5, 2019, it is immoral and unacceptable to question the dignity, professionalism and altruism of the more than 400 thousand Cuban health collaborators who, in 56 years, have served missions in 164 nations.

The intensified economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, whose effects are particularly devastating in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, has not been able and will not be able to prevent our country from sharing its scarce resources with other peoples of the world. They need this help.

Defenders of democracy, who profess anti-terrorism in their absurd and aggressive actions against Cuba, have done everything possible to undermine the diplomatic relations that were re-established on July 1, 2015. We recall a scandalous event against the Cuban embassy in Washington on April 30, 2020, by a Cuban-American citizen who expressly said that he had gone “to kill”. The attack he perpetrated will go down in history.

The United States government must acknowledge and publicly denounce the terrorist nature of this attack and share with Cuba all the information it has about it. This would be the right thing to do. To do the opposite amounts to complicit silence and tolerance of terrorism.

There are more than enough examples of double standards such as those that apply to Cuba today. Tomorrow the US might apply such double standards against other countries too.

Cuba is committed to respecting human rights, to the principles of peaceful coexistence, and to respect for the sovereignty of all states. The island will not stop cooperating and expanding its solidarity despite any threat. With Cuba’s track record, no form of aggression against us is justified.

By: H.E Ibete Fernández Hernández, Ambassador of Cuba to Malaysia

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