End the US Blockade Against Cuba
End the US Blockade Against Cuba
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States, once said that “friendship among nations, as among individuals, calls for constructive efforts to muster the forces of humanity in order that an atmosphere of close understanding and cooperation may be cultivated.” The historical context under which President Roosevelt made this statement was during a time when such cooperation was tantamount to the survival and expansion of social justice on earth. Indeed, the defeat of fascism in Europe would not have been possible without a tremendous degree of sacrifice and solidarity, above all else.
The spirit of solidarity is something that highlights the best of humanity. Now, during our own unique historical context fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, solidarity and cooperation is needed more than ever.
One particular country has brought to the foreground this innate human spirit of solidarity and altruism: Cuba.
Fifty-seven years ago, in 1963, Cuba began its internationalist medical program in Algeria and has not stopped ever since. Fidel Castro, historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, once said in a speech given on December 5th ,1988 that "To be an internationalist means to pay our debt to humanity. Whoever is unable to fight for others will never be able to fight for himself." Today, we see more than ever the fruits of Cuba's labor in its investment to medical internationalism and human lives.
On March 13, 2020, the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland asked Cuban authorities for permission to dock the British cruise liner MS Beamer with a small number of travelers affected by the coronavirus. Given the urgency of the situation, the Cuban government allowed them to make port in Havana, where they additionally received medical attention.
Not long after, Cuba began sending medical brigades to countries most affected by the coronavirus outbreak, most notably in Italy, where the Cuban doctors were received with cheer and applause for their commitment to humanity. Leonardo Fernández, a Cuban intensive care specialist, was quoted by Reuters saying “we are all afraid, but we have a revolutionary duty to fulfill, so we take out fear and put it to one side. He who says he is not afraid is a superhero, but we are not superheroes. We are revolutionary doctors.”
On March 29, 2020, Cuba expanded its medical internationalism in the Principality of Andorra at the request of the Andorran government. In their travels, the Cuban medical brigade made a stop in Spain, where just like in Italy, received thunderous applause and cheer.
Sadly, the United States' response to Cuba's international mission of solidarity and cooperation has been met with deceit and hostility. From slandering the way in which Cuban doctors work and their relationship with the host country they are operating in, to pressuring other sovereign nations not to solicit and accept Cuban assistance, the United States has shown its disdain for Cuban medical internationalism.
All of these sentiments ultimately stem from the nearly six decades-long policy of economically blockading Cuba with the intended purpose of bringing about “disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship."
As a result of the United States blockade against Cuba, Cuba has not been able to freely and fully exercise its right to national self-determination. Additionally, many international organizations, enterprises, and even governments can be sanctioned by the United States for engaging with Cuba in any political or economic capacity. It should also be mentioned that the United States blockade against Cuba is not merely an “embargo,” a legal barrier to impede trade, as many have argued, but a blockade, which is an act of war against an entire country, and a genocidal act as defined by the 1948 Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The people of the United States also suffer as a result of the economic blockade against Cuba by limiting or oftentimes curtailing their freedom to travel to the island. The people of the United States also suffer from not having access to the kind of medical internationalism that Cuba has to offer, especially those who are most in need. To name one example, after hurricane Katrina devastated much of the state of Louisiana, Cuba offered to send 1,610 doctors, but the United States government refused.
Despite these difficulties, Cuba’s dedication to solidarity and altruism has never wavered. In fact, they can only be emboldened in the face of adversity. The US blockade against Cuba must end, especially during a time when international cooperation is required more than ever.
We, the Cuban-Americans in Florida and other States of the Union, demand an immediate end to US blockade against Cuba, an end to all social, political, and economic sabotage against Cuba, and a beginning to a new era of friendship, cooperation, and solidarity between the peoples of the United States of America and Cuba.