After decades of being spoken about historically in terms of the Cuban Revolution and ideological anti-imperialism, the coronavirus pandemic has thrust Cuba onto the international arena and as a formidable opponent to capitalism. While Western countries struggle to cope with increasingly failing healthcare systems that account for a high death rate among coronavirus patients, Cuba is managing the situation at home while also maintaining its internationalist outreach. No longer isolated, Cuba and its doctors are very much in demand by the same governments that pander to U.S. foreign policy.
For the time being, however, the U.S. is fighting a lost battle. Since 2018, the Trump administration embarked upon a smear campaign against the Cuban government, alleging exploitation of the revolutionary medics who offer their services globally and in remote areas.
Unable to stem the growing need for Cuban doctors in Western countries, the U.S. has retaliated by preventing medical supplies from abroad to reach the island. Medical equipment and necessities sent by Chinese entrepreneur and founder of the website Alibaba were embargoed by the U.S. by means of the Helms-Burton Law, which regulates the illegal blockade imposed upon Cuba in retaliation for its commitment to the revolution. The U.S. is also lobbying countries to reject the medical aid Cuba is offering to combat the pandemic – a call which is encountering increased rejection as more countries seek the expertise of doctors who have been at the helm of internationalist medical solidarity in times of pandemics or natural disasters.
Over 45 countries have so far requested the Cuban medication Interferon, developed in the 1980s to treat respiratory infections and which is proving crucial in controlling the virus and, on a long-term basis, prevent its spread.
The U.S., which influences global opinion through state terror and foreign intervention, is no longer a reference point. Perhaps this form of socialism in action was envisaged in the 1960s when the U.S. was funding right-wing influence to prevent the Cuban revolution from influencing Latin America. Yet Cuba has merely remained steadfast in its values and committed to the principles outlined by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Leading by example instead of coercion, Cuba has eclipsed the U.S. on the world stage.
Even Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose allegiance to the U.S. is integral to his politics and whose attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic has been one of disdain, has requested the return of Cuban doctors to the country months after expelling them for alleged subversion.
The Bolivian coup leaders have rejected Cuban medical aid, stating that such an agreement would “mock Bolivian doctors.” The statement has been rejected by Bolivian doctors who have admitted that the country lacks the necessary resources to halt the pandemic. Like Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, Fidel and the former Bolivian President Evo Morales had signed medical cooperation agreements in 2005, which included 5,000 scholarships to train doctors and specialists.
However, it remains to be seen whether the countries that are requesting Cuba’s aid will unite in internationalist solidarity with Cuba against the U.S. for a permanent lifting of the illegal blockade. At the moment, the international community is experiencing the consequences of capitalism. However, it is possible that once the pandemic subsides, world leaders will once again resort to the drive for economic exploitation. This would rewrite the narrative of what we are currently experiencing, which means that politically, the global elite will dismiss internationalist solidarity as humanitarian aid. It is a degrading tactic that is currently used to prevent the oppressed from gaining their political rights.
Cuba is operating from socialist political principles that are proving to be the answer to the ills which Fidel incessantly warned about. The world would do well to remember this.