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Group urges CARICOM to support Cuban Health Care Programme

3 August 2020

The St. Lucia-based Humanistic Solidarity Association (HSA) Monday called on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to push back against efforts by the United States to introduce legislation targeting Cuban healthcare workers assisting countries to deal with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a statement, the HSA said that since 1959, Cuba has actively supported developing countries around the world in the health, education, and other sectors, through scholarship programmes, extensive medical assistance, and numerous other initiatives.

“As regards the health sector, Cuban medical doctors and other healthcare personnel are present today in over 40 countries, helping with the fight against COVID-19 and many other ailments, while simultaneously contributing to the strengthening of those nations’ healthcare infrastructure,” it said, noting that in St. Lucia and the Caribbean, citizens are benefiting from surgical interventions under the Operación Milagro (Miracle Operation) programme, with Eye Care Units run by Cuban ophthalmologists.

Te Association said that the Henry Reeve Brigades are actively engaged all around the world, providing medical care to millions of human beings. It added: “In this context, the HSA also adds its voice to the numerous calls by the international community of sovereign States and international organizations, in condemnation of the egregious and criminal actions by the United States administration under President Donald Trump, to further undermine the noble and sterling achievements of the Cuban Revolution in the vital arena of free medical assistance to numerous needy countries and their millions of disadvantaged citizens.

“The HSA is therefore deeply alarmed that Washington should want to criminalize Cuba’s medical assistance to the Caribbean by associating the thousands of Cuban medical personnel in Caribbean and Latin American countries – and indeed the world – with “human trafficking.”

The HSA said that it wanted to condemn “most vociferously” the efforts by three Republican legislators seeking to “coerce sovereign governments of the international community, to align themselves with their unrelenting, reactionary and archaic anti-Cuba shenanigans, in flagrant violation of all the principles of the United Nations Charter on the sovereignty and dignity of independent UN Member States, as well as contrary to the Inter-American Charter and other relevant regional and international sovereignty protocols.

“The Humanistic Solidarity Association calls on CARICOM governments to continue to stand in defense and support of Cuba’s health sector assistance to the Caribbean, as these sovereign Caribbean governments have done at every CARICOM Summit, in appreciation of the priceless Cuban contribution to the lives and well-being of the people of the Caribbean,” the HAS said in its statement.

In June, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, urged CARICOM to condemn the move by Washington and the three Republicans.

“They have decided to file a bill in the US Senate in which they will be punishing countries who utilise Cuban experts, the nurses and the doctors to buttress the health services and what they will be doing will be classifying those engagements as a form of human trafficking.

“We think that this is extremely unfortunate…that for over 30 years we have been utilising Cuban specialists, Cuban nurses and doctors to augment our health facilities. In fact, Cuban nurses and doctors are a significant part of the health infrastructure of many Caribbean countries and if they were to force us to get rid of these Cuban professionals, then they will dismantle our health system,” Browne said.

Republican Senator, Rick Scott, recently introduced the legislation classifying Cuba’s humanitarian assistance to countries across the world as “human trafficking” and wants to extend punitive measures to countries that participate in the programme.

Among other things, the Cut Profits to the Cuban Regime Act introduced by Scott and his colleagues Republican Senator, Rick Scott, seeks to require the Department of State to publish a list of countries that uses government-controlled Cuban medical mission programmes and for the department to consider this as a factor when ranking countries in its annual Trafficking in Persons report.

Since it was first detected in China last December, the coronavirus has killed 693,154 and infected 18.2 million others worldwide.

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