Trump Puts More Pressure on Cuba, Targets Cuban Doctors Program

The campaign against the doctors aims to strangle the revenue they bring in, much of which goes into Cuba’s health and social services, according to analysts.

Donald Trump’s administration is targeting the Cuban medical program that has helped some of the most impoverished communities worldwide, in a bid to exert more pressure on Cuba’s economy, according to a report published Tuesday by the Guardian.

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Washington is using a whole host of allegations to thwart the program. It has been accusing Havana of undermining democracy and interfering in the internal affairs of the countries where the doctors operate.

Among other allegations, the U.S. claims that the Cuban government is “exploiting” the medical staff deployed on the missions.

Officials in Cuba, backed by analysts who studied the work of the medical missions, retort that the U.S. is using this claim to enforce further its policy of asphyxiating Cuba’s economy in the hope of bringing down its regime.

The campaign against the doctors, which includes attempts to convince them to defect, is little more than an effort to strangle the amount of foreign revenue that they bring in, much of which put back into Cuba’s health and social services, the Guardian cited critics as saying.

“The [U.S. policy] is targeting the two main sources of external income for Cuba, first tourism and now medical services,” explained Pavel Vidal Alejandro, a Cuban-born academic at the Xavierian University in Colombia.

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“Medical services represent around 60% of Cuba’s total foreign income. It’s the old policy of applying a high-pressure cooker strategy in the hope it will produce social protests. That didn’t happen in the past and is not happening now.”

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is leading the campaign against the Cuban program. He has described the presence of Cuban doctors in countries from Venezuela to Brazil and Ecuador as a “sinister” interference in their affairs and praised countries like Bolivia that have expelled them.

Recent political changes in Latin America exacerbated Washington’s campaign against the Cuban doctors, leading to the withdrawal of the missions from several countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, and Ecuador, where far-right regimes aligned with Trump took over left-wing governments. The departure of Cuban doctors from these countries saw severe consequences for the most vulnerable populations.

USAID, the leading U.S. development agency, has also played an important role, offering to fund organizations to expose negative aspects of the Cuban scheme.

The program is known as “Cuban doctors” was founded more than 50 years ago after Fidel Castro’s revolution. It is currently active in over 60 countries.

It has provided healthcare across the globe, from indigenous Amazon peoples to impoverished areas in Africa to the victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

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USA-Blockade Cuba: Fifty-eight Years Later

On February 3rd, 1962 and under the umbrella of the Foreign Aid Act of 1961, John F. Kennedy decrees the Presidential Proclamation 3447 that imposed a commercial blockade on Cuba.


Four days later it came into force.


Subsequently its reach went even further, as we as in the financial ground.

However, since 1959 Washington already imposed obstacles to transactions between the two nations.


An example, when Havana needed to renew its old aviation fleet destined for agriculture.


He then withdrew inspectors who guaranteed the quality of fruits and vegetables destined for their territory.


What was the motive for this punishment? That Cuba since 1959 had left behind its status as a North American neo-colony.


But also, for the first time in its history, it began to govern in favor of the vast majority.


Washington did not resign and deployed their Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws, which unmasked the extraterritorial nature of its policy.

But not just that, its list also shows the attempt to sabotage medical assistance in Cuba.


With just remembering that out of the 6000 professionals living in Cuba at the triumph of the Revolution triumphed, Washington's machinations managed to reduce them by half.



But this is only an example.


The North American decision was to hit Cuba on all fronts, prioritizing brain drains, including celebrities.


And although famous artists and intellectuals have remained faithful to their culture, others, including some of less lineage, gave in to the pressures and offering of gifts.


As the colonialist style that centuries ago bought souls using shining and useless pieces of glass.

Fifty-eight years later, Cuba continues to resist U.S. blockade

The blockade is real and has lasted more than five decades. Generations of Cubans have suffered its consequences. Its impact is felt in all sectors of society and constitutes a flagrant violation of the human rights of our people, an act of genocide and of economic warfare, the main obstacle to our development, violating international law, the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and the principles of free trade.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States began February 7, 1962, reaching increasingly extreme dimensions recently. At current prices, the accumulated damages over almost six decades of this policy, through March of 2019, reached the figure of 138,842,400,000 dollars and, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar as compared to the price of gold on the international market, the blockade has caused quantifiable damages of more than 922,630,000,000 dollars - although its cost within households, neighborhoods and communities is incalculable, given the harm caused to human lives every day.

Yesterday, February 3, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, tweeted: "We condemn the genocidal, cruel, murderous blockade. The blockade violates our human rights," on the occasion of the 58th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's signing of Presidential Proclamation 3447 (27 fr 1085), imposing the blockade on trade between the United States and Cuba.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla likewise posted a message stating: "58 years after its imposition, the U.S. blockade against Cuba constitutes the most unjust, severe and prolonged system of unilateral coercive measures ever applied against any country. It is genocidal, violates the human rights of an entire people, and must end.

The blockade persists and harms families, but it has failed to achieve its central objective of defeating the Cuban Revolution. The unity, perseverance and dignity of our people, our unbreakable spirit has resisted all coercion and pressure.

Twelve U.S. administrations, since 1959, have only managed to isolate themselves, as evidenced by universal rejection of the blockade, evident in many sectors of U.S. society that favor respectful, mutually beneficial ties, and in the international community’s rejection of the hostile policy, including 28 consecutive resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, since 1992, condemning the blockade.

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Despite US blockade, tourism markets reaffirm their presence in Cuba

It is known that Cuban tourism was affected in 2019 by the travel bans imposed by the White House, whose only purpose is isolating Cuba to cause economic losses. However, the criteria of specialists suggest that despite this tightening of the blockade, several markets were strengthened and others grew up.

In this regard, the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI by its Spanish acronym) recently published that last December the tourist sector in the country registered a decrease of 9,3%, with 4,275.558 visitors arriving in the country, which means 436,352 less than in the same period of the previous year.

However, although in general terms the figures show a decrease due, among other causes, to the reduction of cruise ship arrivals in Cuba, it is valid to point out that the Canadian market continues consolidating as the main issuer of visitors to the Caribbean island, with 1,119.853 arrivals, figure higher than the 1,109.339 of the same period in the previous year.

Russa also joins this significant increase, since 176,964 Russian tourists visited Cuba, figure that exceeds 136,613 in the previous period.

Likewise, the Cuban community living abroad has increased its presence in the country, since 623,922 people visited the archipelago, exceeding 600,306 in 2018, even though Cubans living in other nations, mainly the United States, are the most affected by the measures of the US State Department.

During 2019, the Ministry of Tourism launched the Authentic Cuba campaign in various nations of the world, including Bulgaria, Argentina and Romania, with the aim of strengthening the country as a safe destination for those who seek to enjoy the modality of sun and beach but also the well-known city tourism.

(ACN)

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Cuban solidarity groups demand Swiss government to reject US blockade

Solidarity and human rights organizations in Switzerland submitted to the government and the federal parliament a demand for the authorities of that country to oppose and denounce the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba.

More than 2,200 people signed the document denouncing that this American policy constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people, and the main obstacle to the development of the Caribbean island.

They criticize the main Swiss banks, which surrender to Washington's directives for fear of reprisals, thus joining the blockade against Cuba.

Swiss banks are participating in this opportunistic game, succumbing to pressure from the U.S. government and participating in this criminal war, instead of committing to ethical principles, respect for international law and the defense of their clients' rights, they added.

The signatures collected on the Unblock Cuba complaint were officially presented at the Federal foreign office in Bern, the capital, by representatives of the Swiss-Cuba Association and MediCuba Switzerland, along with six other organizations that co-sponsored the petition.

This initiative was developed as part of the Unblock Cuba campaign, deployed in October and November by solidarity organizations with Cuba in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and also included the posting of flyers in public spaces in the cities of Bern, Geneva, Ticino, Basel and Vaud.

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Cuba works to improve its immigration policy despite blockade

Ernesto Soberon, Director General of Consular Affairs and Cuban Residents Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday that the Cuban government is working to continue improving the country's migration policies, despite the prohibitions of the U.S. administration.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Soberon said that the 4th Conference on the Nation and Emigration will take place in Havana between April 8 and 10, 2020.

He described the meeting as an unequivocal demonstration by the Cuban government of maintaining stable and fluid ties with its nationals in other latitudes, their descendants and relatives.

The meeting coincides with the intensification of the aggressiveness of the current U.S. Government against Cuba, which has increased the impact of that nation's criminal economic, commercial, and financial blockade on the Cuban people.

Soberon added that many Cubans living outside the country are members of 166 organizations in 79 nations, from which they defend the sovereignty of their homeland and speak out against the blockade.

The Foreign Ministry official also reported that over the last six years, Cubans had made more than four million trips abroad for personal reasons. Those residing abroad have made more than three million entrances into the national territory.

In this context, he also denounced the entry into force today of the new flight restrictions imposed by the White House towards the island nation. It consists of the suspension of commercial flights between the U.S. and provinces in Cuba except for Havana.

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Cuban leader slams 'unjust, arrogant' US sanctions

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Wednesday railed against new "unjust and arrogant" U.S. sanctions, this time penalizing ships supplying oil from Venezuela.

"Trump strikes again: 6 vessels sanctioned for shipping oil from Venezuela to Cuba. Enough of unjust and arrogant sanctions," Diaz-Canel said via Twitter.

Diaz Canel sanciones EU Venezuela 06042019

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday announced it was including six vessels -- five sailing under the Venezuelan flag and one, under the Panamanian flag -- on its list of ships penalized by its Office of Foreign Assets Control for doing business with the island.

U.S. President Donald Trump has unraveled his predecessor's rapprochement policy toward Cuba and reimposed sanctions on the island.

His administration has also accused Cuba of supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose government is also the target of U.S. sanctions.

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Cheryl LaBash's speech on a panel organized by the Cuban Embassy in the United States as a tribute to Fidel Castro's life

I am humbled and honored to be on this panel today. I do not have a deep personal story like we have heard in the past two years about working together with Cuba’s historic leader Fidel Castro whose life, work and example we remember here today. Really I have been the young woman in the back row, who though now no longer young and often no longer in the back row, still tries to absorb lessons from the Cuban revolution, to understand the world and act to change it.

My work in solidarity with Cuba was interrupted when I began a new job in the 1990s. Inspecting Detroit road construction required me to work overtime from April to November -- sun up to sun down and weekends, too. But when I heard Fidel was coming to Riverside Church on September 8, 2000, I had to go.

People who know me will not be surprised. Instead of going to work that Friday morning, I got into my car and hit the highway for the 10 hour drive to New York City. Then driving around and around lower Manhattan hoping for a free parking spot, and onto the subway up to Harlem. The mass of people already trying to get in was overwhelming, but I was one of the lucky thousands who did get inside the church. My seat was high in the balcony -- to hear Fidel speak to us.

When Fidel physically left us three years ago, even in the U.S. we were able to watch the caravan that returned his ashes to Santiago de Cuba. Live internet television broadcast from Cuba showed us the assemblies in Havana and Santiago. I will never forget hearing Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega asking where is Fidel? And the quiet, mourning crowd answered “here” beginning a chant that became a roar Yo soy Fidel.

I couldn’t imagine such technology that would let me see a live broadcast from Cuba when I traveled there for the first time in 1985. At that time Fidel’s speeches and interviews explained the external foreign debt was an unpayable burden for developing countries. Then it seemed a topic very removed from daily life in the U.S.

But today it has become very close -- it is not only the IMF external debt, Debt extracts the life itself out of workers and families, student debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, payday lenders -- all unpayable. From Puerto Rico to Detroit, we have learned that our debt is very much like what Fidel taught.

More interesting to me in 1985 was Cuba’s health care system that demonstrated it was possible to reduce infant mortality with little resources but with maximum will. Detroit was headline news then. Scandalously, in Detroit, a city where nearly 90 percent of the people were Afro-descendent -- babies died at a rate more than twice the US national statistics. In 1990, a stunning 23 per 1000 births and in 2017 still 15.5. Now maternal mortality for Black women is rising, too.

Is it a miracle that infant mortality in blockaded developing Cuba is 4 per 1000 live births? No it is Cuba’s will to prioritize human beings, in Cuba and everywhere through internationalism and an economic system that makes it possible to do it.

It was there in Riverside Church that Fidel explained how the Latin American medical school and scholarships for U.S. students came about. ELAM -- the Spanish acronym for Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina -- had been founded not even a year before Fidel spoke that night. He noted there was a “3rd world” inside the U.S. without doctors.

Twenty years have passed since ELAM was founded on Nov. 15, 1999. In those 20 years, 29,749 new doctors from 115 countries have graduated -- including 182 from the United States. Of the 466 doctors graduating this past summer from 82 countries, 10 were from the U.S. [go to ifconews.org/medicalschool]

US students at ELAM volunteered and went to serve in Haiti after the massive January 2010 earthquake. A US graduate raised her own funds and volunteered to fight the West Africa Ebola outbreak.

ELAM is only a part of Cuba’s internationalism that encompasses medical, literacy, sports, culture and much more. The Henry Reeve Emergency Medical Brigade mobilized to save lives five years after Riverside, when Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans. Blocked by the U.S. government, they went to the Hillsides of the Himalayas after Pakistan’s earthquake. The Yo si puedo literacy tool developed by Cubans in Haiti was also explained by Fidel at Riverside.

What Fidel means to me today.

An ideological campaign is being carried out against Cuba. It aims to cast doubt on Cuba’s ideals by trying to reflect capitalism’s crimes of exploitation, racism, human trafficking on Cuba. It is what Fidel called a Battle of Ideas.

This propaganda campaign zeroes in to discredit the very points mentioned in Fidel’s speech at Riverside Church -- Cuba’s medical internationalism, that Cuba does not torture and disappear people, that Cuba actually practices equal rights for all regardless of gender, gender identity or skin color, and democracy for all to participate in elections and the direction of their country.

It is calculated and intentional, a weapon to justify the very real genocidal blockade. It is a propaganda campaign to create doubt, uncertainty and divide the millions of people who have come to know Cuba, its people, its socialism through going to Cuba to experience it for themselves.

This campaign regurgitates the same lies that permeated popular US culture about Cuba after the revolution, lies refuted by the solidarity movement especially in Black communities each time Cuban delegations and leaders came to the United Nations in New York.

Those lies cannot be reinserted into the minds of the people who have traveled to Cuba who have studied in Cuba, who have noted that Cuba has no foreign investments, bases or extractive concessions anywhere. Or the climate justice movement that knows Fidel spoke at Riverside about the danger of mass extinction due to climate change. But the lies can push Cuba lower on the list of concerns. It is why we in the U.S. must act in every sector and platform to #unblockCuba.

There are powerful tools in the battle of ideas, not only spoken or written, but deeds. Why else would the U.S. restrict visas for medical professionals to speak at conferences; for Cuban academics to participate at LASA?

The scholarships at the Latin American School of Medicine, the development of medicines to improve human life for example taking away the horror of limb amputation due to diabetic ulcers which is costly and profitable. Is there a working class family whose relative or friend who doesn’t have diabetes and fear amputation? The very cities where human services have been cut to push debt service to banks and tax dollars directed to feed the military and police, are looking to Cuba.

Cuban doctors came to Chicago to help improve maternal and infant outcomes. Detroit is investigating health collaboration. And this month New Orleans signed a memorandum of understanding with Cuba.

For me, and I would humbly suggest for us in the U.S., engaging in the battle of ideas is the important message for today.

But why Cuba? The example of Fidel, the Cuban revolution, and the generations who were raised to be like Che, are the powerful antidote to the dehumanizing, divisive, consumer culture driven by capitalism and its mass media.

It is a legacy of Fidel we can all build with for the better world that is possible and necessary.

  • Published in Cuba
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