US blockade to Cuba is incomprehensible, French senate president says

By Waldo Mendiluza

Paris, Apr 7 (Prensa Latina) Former President of the French Senate Jean-Pierre Bel on Tuesday described as incomprehensible that the United States maintains and intensifies its blockade against Cuba, when the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus demands international solidarity and cooperation.

I do not understand how a country that frequently talks about democracy and human rights does the opposite, and applies measures that endanger the lives of children, women and men, Bel, appointed in 2015 personal envoy for Latin America and the Caribbean of then President Francois Hollande, told Prensa Latina.

The former Senate president recalled the call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to lift unilateral sanctions to guarantee an effective fight against the coronavirus pandemic globally.

We are in a particular period of humanity, perhaps unprecedented in the last century, but the United States seems to yield to the temptation to take advantage of the crisis to go even further, he said.

According to the former influential politician, Washington’s inhumane stances against Cuba affect a country that stands out for its solidarity, again proven in the current circumstances imposed by the pandemic.

The island acts differently, sending doctors to several countries, including Europe, so there is no reason this country has a blockade that has been almost unanimously rejected by the international community, as the UN General Assembly has demonstrated year after year, Bel stated.


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Cuban doctors work in the Algerian desert

Havana, Apr 7 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban Medical Brigade that has been providing medical aid to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) since 1978 in the Refugee Camps in Tindouf, Algeria, is working in the desert area of Hamada (lit. ‘hell’), in the Sahara.

Currently made up of 13 specialists (nine doctors, three nursing graduates and one EKG specialist), the Cuban health personnel provide medical care for 263,000 inhabitants, according to data from the United Nations Refugee Agency, in five camps distributed in five provinces, in a very arid and sandy area of the Western Sahara

‘Our main function in the camps is to provide medical care to the refugees, which we carry out mainly at the Martir Brahim Saled National Hospital,’ Dr. Hector Aurelio Mendez, head of the Brigade, wrote in an email to Prensa Latina.

Mendez explained they have adopted protection and safety measures to prevent contagion and spread of the coronavirus.

The doctor, who has vast experience in internationalist cooperation in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Venezuela, and now in the SADR, wrote that in addition ‘we went to prepare conditions of the premises assigned for the isolation and care of the patients who might become infected.’

Mendez answered a question about the situation of the epidemic in the camps saying that ‘luckily, we have no cases so far’, and they are carrying out the training regularly, in order to keep both aid workers and the Sahrawis updated.

In addition to attending the Covid-19 emergency situation, the Cuban Medical Brigade has been fulfilling the ‘very important’ task of training the first specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine in the camps since last year.

This task is shared by ‘the faculty of Brigade professors and three Saharawi specialists who joined’, and it is chaired by the Postgraduate Department of the Cuban Ministry of Health and the Medical University of Havana.


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Cuba’s medical brigade travels to Mexico to fight against Covid-19

Havana, April 7 (Prensa Latina) A Cuba’s medical brigade travelled to Mexico at the request of that country’s government to fight against Covid-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, reported this Tuesday Cuba’s healthcare authorities.

Doctor Francisco Duran, national director of Epidemiology of the Public Health Ministry, set out that the group of healthcare professionals went to Mexico to join the local efforts of containing Covid-19, which has caused 11,137 deaths in the region of the Americas.

Mexico Cuba help

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on his morning press conference in the National Palace, recognized the quality of Cuban medicine.

Currently, Cuba has experts in 15 countries (16 counting Mexico now) in the face of the rapid and lethal spread of SARS-CoV-2 across the whole world, amounting to 244,424 confirmed cases and 68,976 deaths.


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Cuban Medical Team Arrives in Barbados to Help Fight COVID-19

Hundred intensive care specialists from Cuba arrived Sunday in Barbados.
Hundred intensive care specialists from Cuba arrived Sunday in Barbados. | Photo: Twitter (MINREX)

“We thank the people and Government of Cuba for their support in this time of great demand for their medical services,” Barbados Health Minister said.

April 6 (teleSUR) A team of Cuban medical professionals including 100 intensive care specialists arrived Sunday in Barbados to join the Caribbean nation in its fight against the rapid spread of the new coronavirus.

Barbados Health Minister Jeffrey Bostic held a virtual press conference Sunday in which he said the Cuban professionals will provide much-needed support to strained local medical teams that have been working grueling hours in demanding circumstances.

“We thank the people and government of Cuba for their support in this time of great demand for their medical services,” Bostic said expressing gratitude to Cuban authorities for helping the country.

The health minister also praised local physicians for their work and urged Barbadians to respect the measures in place to curb the spread of infections and reduce pressure on the health system.

Bostic reported the first coronavirus death in the country; an 81-year-old man who had recently traveled to the United Kingdom. 

Barbados has so far 60 confirmed cases, the majority of which have been imported. The second death due to COVID-19 was registered Monday.

As part of the efforts to control and contain the spread of the virus on the island, the government imposed a 24-hour curfew until April 14.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean region, Belize also recorded Sunday its first coronavirus death, a 55-year-old man with pre-existing health conditions.

In Saint Maarten, a 24-hour curfew has been imposed for 15 days. The country has reported 25 cases and four deaths.

Trinidad and Tobago has recorded seven COVID-19 deaths. It has 105 confirmed cases of which 49 can be traced back to individuals who recently returned from a cruise.

As of Monday, Jamaica had 58 confirmed cases, while three people died.

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Nearly 60 Groups Demand End to Sanctions During COVID-19 Crisis

The U.S. has sanctioned Venezuela's primary airline.
The U.S. has sanctioned Venezuela’s primary airline. | Photo: EFE

In the document, they said that in the midst of a global emergency due to the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, the U.S. has ‘inhumanely’ increased the economic siege against Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, and Israel against the Gaza Strip.

April 6 (teleSUR) Approximately 60 organizations in Spain on Monday demanded the suspension of sanctions and blockades against Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and Palestine so that they can face the COVID-19 outbreak with full force. 

In a joint statement, the political groups indicated that these coercive measures are preventing various international organizations from supplying food and medicine to the population of these countries. 

The entities sent their complaint to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to the President and Vice President of the Government of Spain and to the respective embassies. 

In the document, they said that in the midst of a global emergency due to the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, the U.S. has ‘inhumanely’ increased the economic siege against Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, and Israel against the Gaza Strip.

The severe restrictions imposed on these nations impede the flow of food and medicine to these four countries and others, for fear of threats and retaliation from the United States, they indicated. 

In addition, the Venezuelan government is unable to rescue Venezuelan citizens who are being held in other countries due to the sanctions imposed against the Venezuelan airline CONVIASA, they said. 

In their appeal, they demanded urgent action in the face of this inhumanity and breach of the most elementary human rights because, after all, “it is the citizens of these peoples who suffer such atrocious consequences.”

The almost 60 groups request that the Spanish government and the United Nations organization send a request to the U.S. administration to suspend said blockades and sanctions immediately.

Lifting the coercive measures would allow these nations to attend to the needs of their respective peoples, in moments of extreme need, as they are being solidary in the rest of the world.

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Blockade against Cuba is genocide, assures FM Rodriguez

Havana, April 6 (Prensa Latina) Cuba’s Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez assured this Monday that blockade against the country is genocide, much more in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.

On Twitter, the FM ratified that ‘blockades and sanctions do not have ethical or legal justification,’ and criticized that in a context where nations must help each other, the US ‘tightens its aggression against a supportive country.’

Rodriguez added to his message the tag#TheBlockadeKills, which appears in social networks along with plenty of messages demanding the end of this policy.

In the face of the world health emergency due to the novel coronavirus, several organizations, institutions and personalities have requested the US government to lift sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela and other countries.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is one of the voices that have called for putting an end to unilateral coercive measures to guarantee the access of food, health and assistance supplies.

On Sunday, the African National Congress requested the Trump administration on a message, to immediately lift all sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Palestine, and acknowledged Cuban medical collaboration with other nations.

Recently, Puebla’s Group also pronounced to remove the blockade that reaches new dimensions by stopping the arrival of humanitarian aid to Cuba, as it occurred with Alibaba Chinese company’s donation.

On 28 times, the UN General Assembly has condemned this policy, which costs 104 million dollars to the country’s health sector from April 2018 to March 2019.


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Cuban Medical Aid in Italy Shows Positive Results

Cuban doctors in field hospital in Crema, Lomabrdia, Italy
Cuban doctors in field hospital in Crema, Lomabrdia, Italy | Photo: Twitter/@Arelys_Cuba

The Cuban medical brigade, composed of 52 doctors, arrived in Lombardy, Italy, on March 26.

April 6 (teleSUR) One out of three patients with COVID-19 that were treated by Cuban doctors in Lombardy have already recovered and been discharged. 

According to Dr. Carlos Pérez Díaz, head of the Cuban medical brigade in Italian territory, 12 of the 36 affected by the virus in Lombardy have already recovered.

Perez Diaz explained that the Cuban medical team received 16 cases on the first day of work. These patients came from the Intensive Care Unit of the Crema Hospital in the Lombardy region.

According to his statement to the Cuban press, the medical brigade, as of April 3, had served 428 people. Of those infected with COVID-19, 5 were transferred to intensive care at the hospital. Only one of those infected died.

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez✔@DiazCanelB

Uno de cada tres enfermos atendidos por cubanos en Lombardía ya recibió el alta médica #CubaSalvaVidas #SomosCuba … Via @Granma_DigitalUno de cada tres enfermos atendidos por cubanos en Lombardía ya recibió el alta médicaToda la capacidad profesional y humana que disponen los miembros de la brigada médica cubana emplazada en la región de Lombardía, al norte de Italia, se emplea a fondo en salvar vidasgranma.cu3,786Twitter Ads info and privacy2,921 people are talking about this“One out of three patients treated by Cubans in Lombardy has already been discharged”

Among other information, Perez Diaz explained the order of work of the doctors and the establishment of shifts that the team carries out.  Rendering to his statements, the Cuban medical mission intends to fulfill the task of saving lives, a mission that the Cuban doctors demonstrated to “the high degree of morale, firm, and willing.” 

On the other hand, he stressed that the rigorous biosecurity measures are taken to “all return and return well” to Cuba.

The Cuban medical brigade, composed of 52 doctors, arrived in Lombardy, Italy, on March 26. This brigade is part of the Cuban Health Contingent “Henry Reeve” for the attention of disasters and serious epidemics. The contingent currently has brigades deployed in 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe that have requested Cuban assistance to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, with a total of 600 health professionals.

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Cuba receives China’s donation to fight against Covid-19

Havana, April 6 (Prensa Latina) Cuba received a donation from China’s government to contribute to the fight against the novel coronavirus, causing Covid-19, confirmed this Monday Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

‘Our government and people thanked it. It is an example of the deep friendship that unites us. In times of pandemic, solidarity and cooperation save lives,’ tweeted the minister of Foreign Affairs.

Last week, Cuba denounced that another Chinese delivery did not manage to enter the country because of the US blockade.

Washington’s unilateral sanctions stopped China’s private Alibaba company to deliver a load of facial masks and kits to diagnose Covid-19 since the company in charge of transportation declined the task due to the White House’s regulations.

In the midst of the pandemic, many voices urge the US to lift unilateral measures against Cuba and other nations to guarantee them the access to humanitarian aid and products they need for their respective peoples.

However, the White House dismisses the calls and even threatens with the tightening of its coercive politics.

In Cuba’s case, the Trump administration tightened lately the blockade by strong limitations to family remittances, restrictions on people-to-people contact and a growing harassment to foreign companies with businesses in the country.


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Cuban doctors fighting coronavirus around world, defying US

Medics and paramedics from Cuba gather upon arrival at the Malpensa airport of Milan, Italy, on March 22. 53 doctors and paramedics from Cuba arrived in Milan to help with coronavirus treatment in Crema. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. – AP Photo/Antonio Calanni

April 4 (The Sentinel-Record) HAVANA — For two years the Trump administration has been trying to stamp out one of Cuba’s signature programs —- state-employed medical workers treating patients around the globe in a show of soft power that also earns billions in badly needed hard currency.

Labeling the doctors and nurses as both exploited workers and agents of communist indoctrination, the U.S. has notched a series of victories as Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia sent home thousands after leftist governments allied with Havana were replaced with ones friendlier to Washington.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a reversal of fortune for Cuban medical diplomacy, as doctors have flown off on new missions to battle COVID-19 in at least 14 countries including Italy and the tiny principality of Andorra on the Spanish-French border, burnishing the island’s international image in the middle of a global crisis.

“I am aware of the position of the United States, but we are a sovereign country and we can choose the partners with which we are going to have cooperation,” Andorran Foreign Minister María Ubach said.

In the city of Crema in the hard-hit Lombardy region of northern Italy, 52 Cuban doctors and nurses set up a field hospital with 32 beds equipped with oxygen and three ICU beds.

“This is a strongly symbolic moment because the Crema hospital has been going through an extremely complicated situation from the start,” Lombardy’s top social welfare official, Giulio Gallera, said at the inauguration last week. “The number of patients who have filled and continue to fill the emergency room and departments has truly put the medical personnel to a hard test.”

The Trump administration has sought to cut off income to Havana as part of a long-term tightening of sanctions. And it continues to discourage countries from contracting Cuban medical workers despite the pandemic, arguing that their pay and conditions fall short of industry standards.

“The government of #Cuba keeps most of the salary its doctors and nurses earn while serving in its international medical missions while exposing them to egregious labor conditions,” the State Department said on Twitter last week. “Host countries seeking Cuba’s help for #COVID-19 should scrutinize agreements and end labor abuses.”

Cuba currently has about 37,000 medical workers in 67 countries, most in longstanding missions. Some doctors have been sent as part of free aid missions, but many countries pay the government directly for their services. In some other cases international health bodies have paid.

The most recent deployments of at least 593 doctors from the Henry Reeve Brigade — founded by Fidel Castro in 2005 and named after a 19th-century American volunteer who fought for Cuban independence from Spain — have also been to Suriname, Jamaica, Dominica, Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Venezuela and Nicaragua, some of them reinforcing existing medical missions.

All have been billed as tied to the coronavirus epidemic, even though some of the countries have few confirmed cases so far. None of the agreements or financial terms have been made public.

Havana has said it receives about $6 billion a year from the export of public services, and medical services make up most of that. When Brazil expelled Cuban doctors in 2018, a few details emerged including that the country had been paying $3,100 per month for each doctor with 70% of that going into the pockets of the Cuban government.

Doctors typically make less than $100 per month working on the island, so doing an overseas mission means a significant pay hike even if those salaries remain low by international standards.

Andorran newspaper Diari d’Andorra reported Wednesday, citing Health Minister Joan Martínez Benazet, that one of the 39 Cuban doctors in the country had tested positive for coronavirus and was quarantined in a hotel. The Cuban government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Infection is a serious risk for those on the front lines. In Italy alone, over 10,000 medical workers have contracted the coronavirus and more than at least 69 doctors have died.ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOWADVERTISEMENT

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For most people the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe, life-threatening symptoms like pneumonia.

Cuban officials have been proudly posting videos of doctors being applauded as they arrive to begin work, and blasting the Trump administration for its criticisms.

“Shame on you. Instead of attacking Cuba and its committed doctors, you should be caring about the thousands of sick Americans who are suffering due to the scandalous neglect of your government and the inability of your failed health system to care for them,” Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s ambassador to Canada, wrote on Twitter.

Argentine officials have also said they are discussing possible coronavirus help from Cuba, and another mission should leave soon for Angola.

Cuba has a relatively high number of medical workers per capita — officials say there are currently about 90,000 in the country of 11 million.

The Henry Reeve Brigade has deployed previously on infectious disease missions, famously helping fight Ebola in West Africa in 2014.

That effort took place in cooperation with the administration of then-President Barack Obama, seen as easing relations ahead of the diplomatic thaw between the two countries later that year.

International on 04/04/2020

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US Weaponizing COVID-19 Against Venezuela, Iran: Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and author, but also an outspoken defender of left-leaning politics.
Oliver Stone is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and author, but also an outspoken defender of left-leaning politics. | Photo: EFE

“It is accurate to say that the U.S. is weaponizing the virus against these countries,” Stone said.

April 5 (teleSUR) “As a number of religious scholars have warned, ‘plagues expose the foundations of injustice’ in our societies,” film director Oliver Stone wrote in an op-ed Saturday exposing the United States (U.S.) government “profound lack of human decency” amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

In the piece published by the New York Daily News, Stone denounces the U.S. government for refusing to remove murderous sanctions on Iran and Venezuela in the context of a global health crisis. He urged for a “serious moral self-reflection,” and warned that countless lives were at risk unless there is an “immediate change in course.”

The award-winning filmmaker highlighted the differences between the government of the U.S. and those of Cuba or China which have sent doctors and medical supplies to a number of countries around the world to help fight the pandemic.

“These actions represent the type of international solidarity and show of humanity that the world needs right now,” he said.

“Sadly, the federal government in Washington is demonstrating the very opposite at this time (…) It is accurate to say that the U.S. is weaponizing the virus against these countries.”

Due to the illegal U.S. sanctions, Iran has been paying a heavy price because of the pandemic. The Islamic Republic is “reportedly the only country in the world that cannot buy medicines needed to fight the pandemic.” 

According to reports from Iran, one person is dying every 10 minutes, while Iranians along with international health experts fear that millions could die. “If this happens, the U.S. government will bear a great deal of moral and legal responsibility, for it is knowingly contributing to the spread of the pandemic in Iran,” Stone said.

Likewise, the outspoken Hollywood director condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to maintain, and in some cases, to increase economic pressure on countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua as the virus is straining healthcare systems across the planet.

In the case of Venezuela, U.S. “coercion” led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to refuse the South American country a US$5 billion loan to help fight the pandemic, Stone recalled. 

Moreover, the U.S. has taken up its pressure on Caracas amid the global health crisis, accusing the government of drug trafficking and calling for a “transition government” to replace President Nicolas Maduro.

Iran has registered nearly 3,500 COVID-19 deaths, with 19,700 confirmed cases, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, while Venezuela has so far 159 confirmed cases and seven deaths.