By Isaac Saney, Co-Chair & Spokesperson, Canadian Network on Cuba – November 14, 2014
The Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) is launching the Cuba For West Africa Campaign to raise funds to assist the ongoing Cuban medical missions in the West African nations of Guinea-Conakry, Liberia & Sierra Leone that are engaged in fighting the Ebola epidemic. The Cuban medical mission is by far the largest sent by any country. Standing side-by-side with the peoples of West Africa, 461 Cuban doctors and nurses – chosen from more than 15,000 volunteers – have gone to West Africa and joined the struggle against Ebola. Jose Luis Di Fabio, a representative of the World Health Organization, underscored that “there are more human resources from Cuba than from many, many NGOs put together.”
Such is the magnitude of Cuba’s solidarity with Africa that even the corporate media, usually unduly harsh in their views concerning Cuba, had to give the Caribbean nation plaudits for its actions. For example, the New York Times, recognizing at last Cuba’s virtue, has been moved to editorialize its position that the U.S. economic embargo against the island should end and the three Cubans still imprisoned in the U.S. as fighters against terrorism should be freed. Also, on October 9th, the Wall Street Journal stated: “Few have heeded the call, but one country has responded in strength: Cuba.” As Jorge Lefebre Nicolas, Cuba’s ambassador to Liberia, declared: “We cannot see our brothers from Africa in difficult times and remain there with our arms folded.” Havana’s contribution is to be contrasted with that of Washington, which dispatched thousands of soldiers, instead of more desperately needed healthcare personnel and resources.
The Cuban doctors serving in West Africa are motivated not by financial gain but by the profound internationalist values of solidarity inculcated since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Since 1959, more than 300,000 Cuban medical workers have served in 158 countries. Currently, 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses are serving in 66 countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia. Indeed, before the Ebola epidemic there were more than 4,000 Cuban healthcare personnel treating people in 32 African countries. As Dr. Jorge Perez Avila, the director of the Pedro Kouri Institute for Tropical Medicine in Havana – where those going to fight Ebola get three weeks of intensive specialized training before going overseas – noted: “Our principle has been to share what we have.”
In 2010 Cuba rose to the immense challenge of helping the heroic people of Haiti after the earthquake that inflicted such horrendous suffering. In response, the CNC launched the Cuba For Haiti Campaign as the best way by which Canadians could help Haiti. The success of the Cuba For Haiti Campaign demonstrates the confidence and respect that Canadians have for the people for Cuba. The respect and confidence increase the better we know Cuba.
In 2014, as it has always done, Cuba is taking up the cause of humanity in Guinea-Conakry, Liberia & Sierra Leone. Africa has called and Cuba has answered.
At the September 16, 2014 meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Cuban representative Abelardo Moreno declared: “Humanity has a debt to African people. We cannot let them down.”