- by Vinnie Molina
- The Guardian
- Issue #1969
The Communist Party of Australia recently sent a diplomatic delegation to Canberra. During their stay, they paid a visit to the Cuban Embassy to share their thoughts with the Cuban ambassador Ariel Lorenzo Rodriguez. We expressed the full support of the CPA to the Cuban revolution and its revolutionary government led by president Miguel Diaz-Canel.
The recent vote on the Cuban motion to end the US blockade on Cuba at the UN General Assembly on the 23rd of June 2021 gave a resounding victory to Cuba. The 2021 vote saw for the 29th consecutive time countries around the world say enough is enough. 184 countries voted in favour of Cuba’s motion, with only the US and Israel voting against and three countries, Brazil, Colombia, and Ukraine abstained.
The US blockade is an act of war that has been in place since the Kennedy administration in 1961 tried to suffocate the successful young Cuban revolution. The establishment of a socialist revolution in the Caribbean at only eighty miles to the US coast was something the US would fight against by all means including armed intervention, sabotage and paying millions of dollars for subversive activities in and outside Cuba that continues to this day.
Cuba and it’s people exercised their right to self-determination which is part of the UN Charter. They not only overthrew the Batista dictatorship in January 1959 but Commander in Chief Fidel Castro declared the socialist character of the revolution.
Cuba had been a victim of US intervention even before the first struggle for independence in the 1900s. The US administration treats Cuba as if it is a matter of internal affairs since the Platt Amendment gave the US the right to intervene in Cuba after the first Cuban independence. The US also refuses to return the Guantánamo Bay territory illegally occupied and against the will of the Cuban people. The US has converted Guantánamo Bay into a centre of torture which it refuses to close or to free a number of detainees whose rights have been violated for decades.
The Trump Administration repealed most of President Obama’s executive orders, which had alleviated some of the difficulties faced by the Cuban people from the criminal blockade. Those changes included more access to goods and better diplomatic relations like the establishment of embassies in both Washington and Havana. After taking over the US administration, Trump introduced 243 executive orders tightening the US blockade on the island. He was also the only US president who implemented the Helms-Burton Act Title III, which punishes third countries for trading with Cuba. The administration implemented the illegal extraterritoriality of the economic and financial blockade. This aims at the punishment of an entire people and gives it the character of an act of war. Biden has done nothing to wind back the Trump attack.
The COVID-19 pandemic is currently hitting the Cuban people hard. During the first wave in 2020 Cuba with its free universal access to health care got covid under control with only a few cases and about 150 deaths. The second and third waves in late 2020 and the first semester of 2021 saw a spike of cases reaching over 200,000 cases and some 1400 deaths. The number of cases and deaths is still lower than other Latin America and Caribbean countries.
The great legacy of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution was establishing Cuba’s biotechnology. Cuba has produced most of their own vaccines for the last thirty years; it has also developed a number of immune promoting treatments against lung cancer, meningitis, diabetes treatments preventing the amputation of the limbs, and cure for skin cancer and vitiligo. In the 90s Cuba also developed interferon Alpha 2, which has been successfully used in the treatment of Covid-19.
During the pandemic, several organisations worldwide have called for the elimination of coercive economic measures and blockades on thirty-nine countries currently under economic and political sanctions.
The blockade is a virus which starves and kills people. Despite the obstacles, Cuba has developed 5 candidate vaccines (Sovereign 1, 2 & Plus; Abdala and Mambisa). Two of them, Soberana 2 and Abdala, being authorised to be used under the emergency provisions by the health authorities. To date, more than 6mil doses have been administered. 2.5mil people have received two doses, and 1.5mil have received the third dose. The vaccines have shown over ninety per cent effectiveness. Cuba will be one of the first countries in the world to fully immunise its population by the end of 2021 and first semester in 2022.
Cuba has produced 100mil doses of those vaccines providing Venezuela with 12mil doses and the Vietnamese expect 30mil doses plus the transfer of the technology for local manufacture.
How is it possible that a blockaded country like Cuba, with all the unimaginable sacrifices, was able to develop their own vaccines?
The Cuba medical system, which is free and universal, is one of the best in the world. It has more doctors per capita than any other country including the wealthiest.
During the worst times of the pandemic, Cuba sent the Henry Reeve medical brigades to forty countries, including developed countries such as Italy. Cuba has never asked for anything in exchange from those peoples who have received their medical and other solidarity help. This has been the background to the nomination of the Henry Reeve International medical brigades for the Nobel Peace Prize 2021.
The Cuban revolution will overcome the current crisis that is being worsened by the pandemic. In the words of their communist leadership, they trust the unity of their people and their determination that Cuba will never relinquish their independence and sovereignty.
The current campaign to inoculate the entire population has new challenges. First, the economic and financial blockade means Cuba cannot purchase the necessary medical supplies and raw materials for the production of vaccines and the vaccination program.
More than 30mil Syringes are required for the vaccination of its people with three shots per person. They can’t be purchased on the international market where the US controls the financial system. Even having the money means Cuba can’t use the US dollar to pay for their goods. Third countries are fined if they breach the tight rules of the blockade. Even donations are made difficult as ships touching Cuban ports are banned for six months from visiting US ports.
International solidarity is getting organised around a campaign named Syringes for Cuba. Millions of syringes are being collected in several countries including Australia.
I encourage all CPA members and Guardian readers to contact their local Australia-Cuba Friendship Societies and donate in-kind (Syringes and other medical supplies or money to purchase syringes) as soon as possible. The Socialist revolution in Cuba will survive and provide the world with an example of sovereignty and self determination to emulate.
For more info on the campaign and how to get involved in Cuba solidarity feel free to contact the CPA at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vinnie Molina is the president of the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society WA Branch.