“We have more physicians working abroad than practically any other country in the world, not because we are exporting anything but simply because we want to participate in building a world with better health conditions and living conditions,” Cuban doctor Luis Herrera declared in an exclusive interview with TeleSur.
Dr Herrera is credited with developing the Interferon Alpha 2B 40 years ago, which is being used to prevent medical complications that could arise from contracting the COVID-19 strand of coronavirus.
As governments worldwide dedicated to neoliberalism struggle to contain the virus spread, closing borders and imposing military control, Cuba has maintained its internationalist approach, leading by revolutionary example. The Cuban government has allowed a British cruise liner stricken with the virus to dock in its port and the passengers to disembark until chartered flights can return them home. Cuba has been able to take such decisions knowing the country is well prepared in preventive medicine to keep any possible virus transmission under control. And yet, the West often reminds us that socialism doesn’t work; to justify, perhaps, the incessant forms of foreign intervention designed to maintain the West’s supremacy.
COVID-19 has exposed the exploitative systems of capitalism and neoliberalism. In Italy, hospitals cannot keep up with the number of patients requiring intensive care. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed the steps taken by other countries in Europe and internationally to curb the virus spread, callously speaking about developing herd immunity while neglecting the segment of the population that can develop complications from the virus.
Cuba is now receiving international requests to supply the Interferon Alpha 2B. The neoliberal West is seeking the aid of a communist country under blockade to solve its problems and true to its revolutionary spirit, Cuba will be complying with the requests. The Director of BioCubaFarma, Eduardo Martinez Diaz, stated, “We currently have requests from a large number of countries, which we are responding to because we have sufficient capacity, without putting at risk the amounts required by the country,”
Not only Cuban medicine is in demand by Western countries. Italy has requested the aid of Cuban, Venezuelan and Chinese doctors to help in the Lombardy region, which is the most affected by the coronavirus. For now, at least, the duplicity over socialist countries in Latin America has been pushed aside to accommodate what is severely lacking in Europe – politics that prioritise the people.
Clearly, neoliberalism has failed humanity. Yet mainstream media is not yet enamoured of the need to shift its focus upon Cuba’s internationalist example. This would not be the first time that Cuban internationalism has provided a stark contrast to the militarisation methods employed by the West when faced with humanitarian predicaments.
The Cuban Revolution was never about privilege. Indeed, it maintained the principles outlined by Fidel Castro as regards education and healthcare, building a responsible society. By the end of 1960, all Cubans had access to free healthcare, despite the exodus of the medical elite to the U.S. in the aftermath of dictator Fulgencio Batista’s downfall. In Cuba, healthcare forms part of social responsibility and it is this value which enables the country to remain at the helm of providing medical aid internationally. Cuba had also offered to send its doctors to the U.S. in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – an offer that was turned down by the president at that time, George. W Bush, who dismissed the Cuban offer as propaganda. In Bolivia, Cuban doctors treated Mario Teran, the executioner of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, for eye surgery.
In 2010, Fidel spoke out against decisions to militarise humanitarian situations. With reference to Haiti, he declared, “In my view, such events will complicate and create chaos in international cooperation, which is already in itself complex.” Again, the West has emulated the only response plan it is capable of, ensnared as it is in the capitalist predicament. “We send doctors, not soldiers!” Fidel emphatically differentiated.
When the coronavirus urgency is over, will the international community repay Cuba by standing up against U.S. imperialism until the blockade is completely lifted?