The US crusade against Cuba’s international medical cooperation

The US crusade against Cuba’s international medical cooperation

Declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba

As was stated in the Declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba on August 29, 2019, the government of the United States has deployed, as from last year, an intensive and defamatory campaign against the medical cooperation offered by Cuba, which adds to the threats of sanctions against Cuban leaders and pressures exerted on recipient States to make them dispense with said cooperation.

Such campaign, meticulously directed from the White House National Security Council, has counted on the active participation of senators and members of Congress associated to the anti-Cuban mafia in Florida and frenzied State Department officials.

Cuba is being accused of allegedly engaging in “modern slavery” and “trafficking” in persons working in Cuba’s health system for the purpose of exploitation or for being used to allegedly interfere in the internal affairs of the States they have been assigned to.

The US government is likewise attempting to re-instate the so called “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program which was in force until January 12, 2017 in support to an active operation to incite defection, which included the funding of air tickets and legal services, as well as the issuance of US visas and traveling documents for Cuban cooperation workers in third countries, with the purpose of sabotaging the bilateral agreements signed with these nations, deprive those countries from these services and divest ourselves from highly qualified human resources.

In May, 2019, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States convened a Conference at the headquarters of this organization to discuss the alleged crimes against humanity committed by Cuba, in reference to Cuba’s medical cooperation abroad.

In June, in its 2019 Trafficking in Person Report, the State Department denigrated Cuba’s international medical cooperation, and one month later, imposed restrictions on the visas of Cuban officials involved in medical missions.

Later on, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an institution that funds subversive programs against the Government of Cuba, allocated 3 million dollars for projects against Cuban medical brigades abroad.

The US persecution started in Latin America and has forced the termination of cooperation programs in Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia.

The fascist and subservient Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, denigrated and actually expelled our medical specialists who, by virtue of a tripartite agreement signed with the Pan-American Health Organization, had assisted 113 359 000 patients from August, 2013, to November, 2018, in more than 3 600 municipalities and had provided permanent health coverage to 60 million Brazilians.

In our country, 1 214 Brazilian students graduated from Medicine.

That decision gave the Brazilian president an opportunity to please the US government and dismantle a program designed to assist low-income families as part of a brutal policy to revert the social achievements attained under the progressive governments of the Workers’ Party.

Several US high officials have slanderously claimed that the Cuban medical brigades in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are military troops, something that Bolsonaro repeated in a parrot fashion in September, 2019, in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, when he ridiculously trebled, either by wickedness or ignorance, the deceitful and unfounded figure claimed by Washington.

Officials from the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and US embassies have approached national authorities, as is the case of Guatemala, to peremptorily and suspiciously inquire about precise data on Cuba’s medical cooperation in order to find a way to eliminate it.

In May, 2019, the US embassy in Ecuador asked top officials from the government to provide detailed information about the agreements and the services offered by Cuban cooperation workers.  Five months later, the Ecuadorian government decided to promptly terminate said agreements, despite their imminent expiration, claiming economic reasons.

Since the beginning of the medical cooperation in that country, 3 565 Cuban health professionals have offered their services.  A total of 6 749 666 medical consultations have been offered; 212 360 surgeries have been performed; 3 548 child births have been assisted and 100 084 vaccines have been applied.  One hundred and fifty three cooperation workers participated in “Operation Miracle”, a program by which 168 543 eyes surgeries were performed.  As a result of the solidarity mission “Manuela Espejo”, 825 576 persons were assisted, 35 257 of them were assisted by neurophysiology and ear-nose-and-throat specialists and 21 062 patients underwent clinical genetic studies.

A total of 2 093 Ecuadorian youths also graduated in Cuba.

In October, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador asked to know the purpose of a trip to that country by a group of Cuban citizens bearing diplomatic and official passports.  After that, the Minister of Government slanderously declared that several Cubans, associated to the cooperation agreements, had participated in the protests that the Ecuadorian people carried out against the implementation of neo-liberal measures during that period.

As has been corroborated, no Cuban participated or helped to organize those mass demonstrations; and not a single official or diplomatic passport was improperly used. Those who manipulated these facts have not been able to present a single piece of evidence.

The Cuban State issues diplomatic, official and service passports in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations and sees to it that holders make an adequate use of those passports.

During the coup d’etat in Bolivia, the US embassy in La Paz incited, conducted and directly participated in the hostile actions carried out by police forces and, quite surprisingly, the fire brigade, against Cuban cooperation workers.  As was publicly denounced, American officials directly participated in such actions using the US diplomatic car with plate 28 CD-17.

During those days there were 26 serious incidents perpetrated against our cooperation workers, which included the beating given to two of them; the open incitement to violence by putschist authorities; the brutal searches of persons, belongings and residences; the false accusations, the arbitrary temporary arrest of 50 health cooperation workers –four of them remained under detention for several days.

In view of that situation, the Cuban government was forced to immediately pull back our staff and strongly rejected the deceitful statements made by the putschist and so-called minister of Health who shamelessly exaggerated the amounts of the stipends earned by Cuban medical specialists, which were in fact lower than the ones earned by Bolivian general practitioners.  He failed to mention that Cuba did not receive a single cent from that cooperation.

The Cuban Medical Brigade in Bolivia was made up by 406 medical doctors (54 per cent of them women) in the specialties of General Comprehensive Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Anesthesiology and Resuscitation, Ophthalmology, General Surgery, Orthopedics and Traumatology, Intensive and Emergency Care, Neonatology, among others. Also carrying out an outstanding work there were 258 university graduates in health technologies, such as imaging, endoscopy, electro-medicine, clinical laboratory, physical therapy and nursing.

During all these years of work, they offered 73 330 447 medical consultations and performed 1 529 301 surgeries.  They assisted 60 640 childbirths, applied 22 221 vaccines and performed 508 403 eye surgeries.

A total of 5 184 Bolivian doctors have graduated from Cuban universities.

The persecution and search for information has also included the attempts by US “diplomats” to interrogate the Cuban staff at the very health centers where they work abroad, even in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

It is both immoral and unacceptable that the dignity, professionalism and altruism of the more than 400 000 Cuban health cooperation workers, having accomplished missions in 164 countries during 56 years, are called into question.

Their contribution in the struggle against the Ebola virus in Africa, blindness in Latin America and the Caribbean, cholera in Haiti as well as the participation of 26 brigades of the International Contingent of Medical Professionals Specialized in the Management of Disasters and Extensive Epidemics “Henry Reeve” in Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Venezuela, among other countries are quite a feat.

With a similar selflessness and dedication, Cuba has trained, free of charge, 35 613 health professionals from 138 countries.

In those nations faced with the most unfavorable economic condition, Cuba covers almost the full cost of this cooperation. Likewise, and in line with the UN concepts about cooperation among developing countries, this is being offered in other nations based on the principle of complementarity and partial compensation for the services rendered.

Cuban technicians and professionals take part in these programs on an absolutely free and voluntary basis.  During the fulfillment of their mission, they continue to receive their full salary in Cuba and also receive a stipend in the country where they offer their services, in addition to other benefits.

In those cases in which Cuba receives a compensation for the cooperation offered, those workers are also worth of credit, for they offer a just and absolutely legitimate contribution to finance and ensure the sustainability and development of the mass and free of charge health care system that is accessible to all Cubans and also to fund the cooperation programs that our country offers in many countries of the world without receiving any payment.

Just as was stated on August 29 last, access to health care is a human right.  The US crusade against Cuba’s international medical cooperation is an infamous and criminal action against those peoples in need of medical assistance.  That could never overshadow the humane and fraternal contribution of the 29 000 Cuban health professionals who, with an enormous sacrifice and a high level of understanding on the part of their families, are currently offering their services to 65 nations.

The attitude of the US government in these matters is despicable.  Cuba’s response is firm: we will continue saving lives and offering health care and wellbeing throughout the world to the extent of our possibilities, wherever we might be required to do so.

Havana, December 5, 2019.

(Cubaminrex - EmbaCuba-Polonia)

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