Monday, June 8, 2020














The Nobel Peace Prize for the Henry Reeve Brigade
The International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity calls on the friends of Cuba and men and women of good will to support the nomination of the "Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics" for the Nobel Peace Prize for its significant contribution to humanity in the face of the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus.

More than 1500 Cuban health professionals, doctors, specialists and nurses were requested by 23 countries in Europe, Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Latin America and the Caribbean to help them in this global crisis and are now working in those countries.

Other requests for cooperation are underway, constituting the only international medical contingent to provide a scientific and humanitarian response to the pandemic on a global scale.

The medical cooperation that took place in Pakistan and Haiti after the devastating earthquakes, and the extraordinary success in the face of major epidemics such as Ebola in Africa demonstrates their great medical-scientific training, the capacity and experience to save lives in situations of natural disasters and serious epidemics, and underscores their great values of altruism, solidarity and humanism. "The Henry Reeve Brigade has spread a message of hope throughout the world. Its 7,400 volunteer health professionals have treated more than 3.5 million people in 21 countries in the face of the worst disasters and epidemics of the last decade," said the World Health Organization when it presented the Dr Lee Jong-wook Public Health Award at a ceremony for them in Geneva in May 2017 during the 70th World Health Assembly.

The initiative to nominate the Henry Reeve Brigade for the Nobel Peace Prize, that has appeared in social networks since March, has taken shape in groups of friendship and solidarity with Cuba such as the Association Cuba Linda, the Association France-Cuba and Cuba Cooperation of France; the Circle of Granma in Italy; the page created in the social network Facebook, on behalf of the Greek solidarity groups by the outstanding friend of Cuba Velisarios Kossivakis, under the name "Nobel Price for the Doctors of Cuba", which has more than 13 thousand endorsers in Greece and tens of thousands of messages and interactions; the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity of Brazil, Cubanismo of Belgium, the Movement of Solidarity and Mutual Friendship Venezuela-Cuba, Australia-Cuba Friendship Society, ACFS WA branch, the Association of Latin American Arab Solidarity José Martí of Lebanon and Madres Sabias of Spain. 

They are joined by solidarity groups in the US, such as the Network in Defense of Humanity - US Chapter, the National Network on Cuba (NNOC), IFCO/ Pastors for Peace, Code Pink and the US Chapter of the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity.

We ask you to strengthen the bonds between all of us to work in unity of action and achieve the nomination of the Cuban International Medical Brigade "Henry Reeve" for the Nobel Peace Prize.

While the US doubles the blockade, it prevents Cuba in the midst of a pandemic from even acquiring the health supplies to face it and puts pressure on other countries by launching a campaign of lies and slander against Cuban doctors.

The rhetoric of hatred, expressed by US President Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and servile OAS Secretary Luis Almagro, seems to have no end. Recently an additional two million dollars has been allocated to the USAID to attack Cuban medical collaboration. "Instead of wasting money on aggressions against international cooperation and the health of the people, the U.S. government should focus on preventing the illness and death of its citizens in the face of Covid-19," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said on Twitter.

In August 2019, to serve this same purpose, USAID, which provides resources to subversive programs against the Cuban government, allocated three million dollars. In less than a year, they have directed at least $5 million; taken from the pockets of American taxpayers to destabilize a program that's only purpose is to provide health to those who need it most, during this current pandemic, especially the countries of the Third World.

The small and besieged Cuba continues its heroic resistance, leaving no one behind, preserving its social conquests, its sovereignty and independence. Faithful to its principles of internationalism and cooperation, as recently expressed before the NAM summit by Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel.
Cuba and its doctors are giving the greatest example of giving solidarity and love to the world.

Nobel Peace Prize to the Henry Reeve Brigade

#CubaSavesLives
















CNC letter to the
Canadian Minister of  Foreign Affairs

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Dr
Ottawa
ON K1A 0G2

Dear Minister Champagne,

Re: April 30, 2020 Attack on Embassy of Cuba in the United States and Ongoing U.S. Aggression Against Cuba 

The world, including Canadians, were shocked by the attack on the Embassy of Cuba in the United States that occurred on April 30, 2020. The Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) resolutely and unreservedly condemns this terrorist act.       

Under international law - specifically the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations - the United States is obligated to ensure the security of diplomats and diplomatic premises. Not only did Washington fail in that duty, it has failed to condemn the attack. The failure to condemn this act of terror is a flagrant violation of diplomatic norms, creating a situation in which Cuban diplomats in the United States will face the very real possibility of ongoing coercion or harassment. This is unacceptable.       

Moreover, the April 30 attack occurs within the context of increasingly hostile and belligerent actions against Cuba by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. Washington’s hostile actions extend to actively and openly denying the island nation access to the medical equipment, medicines and protective gear needed to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.       

Surely, in the face of the worldwide corona virus menace, now is the time put political differences aside in order to control the pandemic and save lives?!   
  
In 2014, the world rejoiced to see the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The world held out great hopes that relations between the two countries would be normalized. Canada helped by providing a venue for the talks which led to the improvement of those relations. However, under the administration of Donald Trump, we have witnessed an incessant and unabating policy of overt and ever escalating hostility and aggression against Cuba. The United States continues to zealously pursue and implement the extensive series of economic sanctions arrayed against the island nation. In short, Washington is waging an economic war – more than an embargo - and an overt campaign of subversion against Cuba, with the objective of negating and extinguishing Cuba’s right to self-determination, sovereignty and independence.      

For 28-consecutive years, the United Nations has rejected this policy of aggression and subversion by condemning the economic sanctions – a veritable blockade- imposed on Cuba by United States. Canada has repeatedly been counted in the vast ranks of the world’s nations resoundingly rejecting the coercive and unilateral U.S. policy      

Therefore, the CNC - representing, Canada-Cuba friendship and solidarity organizations across Canada, ranging from Vancouver to Halifax - calls on the Government of Canada to insist that the United States:

1. Investigates the April 30 attack with full transparency and disclosure;
2. Ceases its acts and policy of hostility and aggression against Cuba;
3. Ends its on going measures that prevent Cuba accessing and importing medical equipment and medicines to confront COVID-19; and 
4. Ends all U.S. economic sanctions against the island nation.     

In closing, I wish to thank you in advance for your consideration of these issues. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully,
Isaac Saney,
Co-Chair and National Spokesperson
Canadian Network On Cuba
Tel.: 902-449-4967

Mailing address:
Canadian Network On Cuba
209 Oakwood Avenue
Toronto, 
ON M6E 2V3



Cuba's potential virus vaccine

 has good results 

72% of critically ill patients, 90% sever cases recovered with treatment, says Verena Muzio

Beyza Binnur Donmez   |04.06.2020


ANKARA
A potential coronavirus vaccine in Cuba used to treat 58 patients, including those with severe and critical conditions from COVID-19, gave promising results, according to a Cuban expert.
The CIGB 258 vaccine has an 84% survival rate, Verena Muzio, chief of the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (CIGB), told the Mesa Redonda television program Wednesday.
Muzio said 72% of critically ill patients and 90% of severe cases recovered from the virus with the vaccine treatment.
Cuba has 2,107 coronavirus cases and 83 deaths, while recoveries neared the 2,000 mark, according to the data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, Brazil's Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) will participate in the testing phase of a vaccine developed by Oxford University, becoming "the first country where the vaccine was tried out of England," according to reports Wednesday.
The testing will involve 2,000 Brazilian patients.
Brazil is the epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America and shows a significant increase in cases and deaths while most of the world are on a downward trend. The country has more than 584,000 cases -- the second-highest count globally after the US, and more than 32,500 deaths.

Sunday, April 19, 2020













YOUTUBE Interview in English. Meet Cuban doctor Luis Herrera, the creator of Interferon Alfa 2-B medication against COVID-19. In layman’s language he explains it, and answers questions.
Credit: teleSur English












https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGmyVPag0fg

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https://siempreconcuba.wordpress.com/2020/04/14/icap-message-to-the-world-movement-of-solidarity-with-cuba-in-the-time-of-covid19-blockadenosolidarityyes/

_________________________________________

















Cuba Business Report

https://www.cubabusinessreport.com/

 ____________________________

Letter written by Mr. Jack Harris, MP to Honorable F. P. Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in response to request made by Cuban Ambassador in Canada.



Tuesday, April 14, 2020

















Cuba is not alone: Unblock Cuba

http://www.cubavsbloqueo.cu/en/cuba-no-esta-sola/resolution-adopted-national-meeting-solidarity-organisations-cuba-held-auditorium
Colaboración entre EEUU-Cuba-Canada en la lucha contra covid-19














http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2020/04/13/colaboracion-entre-ee-uu-cuba-y-canada-en-la-lucha-contra-covid-19/#.XpXhr8hKiUn


Prensa Latina: Lanzan campaña en Canada para apoyar lucha de Cuba contra covid-19








https://www.prensa-latina.cu/index.php?o=rn&id=354699&SEO=lanzan-campana-en-canada-para-apoyar-lucha-de-cuba-contra-covid-19


















U.S.-Cuba-Canada Collaboration in Fighting COVID-19

-National Network On Cuba & Canadian Network On Cuba Campaign-


COVID-19 is ravaging the United States. Day by day, hour by hour, the infected and fatalities continue to spiral ever upward, with the most vulnerable communities, especially African Americans, disproportionately affected. The entire healthcare system is being strained beyond its capacity to provide adequate care and treatment, with doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers driven to exhaustion and beyond in their valiant efforts to save lives.

A pandemic is by definition global. Surely, in the face of this worldwide menace, now is the time for international medical cooperation and solidarity. A time for joint efforts to confront COVID-19. A time to put political differences aside in order to save lives. It is for this reason, that we are launching a campaign to call for medical collaboration with Cuba, to gain access to Cuban medical expertise to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

Many countries are now drawing on Cuba's expertise in fighting COVID-19. At the time of writing, Cuba has more than 800 medical personnel serving in 18 countries, including especially hard-hit Italy and Spain. In the coming days and weeks more Cuban medical missions will be dispatched to other countries. These missions reflect Cuba's long history of medical internationalism. Many of the medical personnel now intimately involved in the fight against COVID-19 are part of the specially trained Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade against Disasters and Serious Epidemics, which distinguished itself in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Cuba also offers treatment regimens, some of which are not available in the United States and Canada. A key component of the protocols being used on the island and in the medical missions is Cuba's Interferon Alfa 2B Recombinant (IFNrec). While IFNrec is not a panacea, preliminary reports are promising, pointing to IFNrec's efficacy (in combination with other drugs) in treating COVID-19. In the recently published extensive medical handbook by Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China on how to treat COVID-19, IFNrec is a crucial component of the anti-viral treatment to combat the coronavirus. It is also used as a preventative measure to protect healthcare workers from contagion. At least 45 countries have sought to use IFNrec for confronting the COVID-19 pandemic.

We call on the U.S. and Canadian governments to lift restrictions on access to Cuban medical expertise, including the importation of IFNrec, in order to more effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

A precedent for this opening and cooperation has already been established by the joint venture--facilitated by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo--between Cuba's Centre for Molecular Immunology and Buffalo's Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in developing CIMAvax, the Cuban lung cancer vaccine.

There was also the collaboration between medical personnel from Cuba and the University of Illinois on infant-mortality in Chicago. This campaign will also benefit Canada, particularly, Indigenous peoples and Black communities that are the most at risk from COVID-19. For example, the Canadian government has turned down the request for Cuban doctors by the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, representing the Anishinaabe and Dakota First Nations in southern Manitoba.

Join and support us in this call for medical collaboration with Cuba. Cuban medical expertise can and will save lives. As Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez stated: "Humanity faces a common challenge. This pandemic does not respect borders or ideologies. It threatens the lives of all, and it is everyone's responsibility to address it."

Specifically, we call for:
1. Incorporating Cuba’s Interferon Alfa 2B Recombinant in clinical trials in the U.S. and Canada.
2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Cuba’s Interferon Alfa 2B Recombinant.
3. Allowing U.S.-Cuba-Canada medical collaboration.
4. Ending U.S. economic and travel sanctions against Cuba, including its extraterritorial nature and the attempts to stop all other countries accepting Cuban medical brigades.

Please endorse this campaign at: savinglives@us-cubanormalization.org

Use this letter by sharing and sending it to medical personnel, unions, elected officials, community, faith-based and political

Wednesday, April 1, 2020






Nadie se va a morir...menos ahora -Cancilleria de Cuba

Follow the link for a video of how Cuba is dealing with covid-19:

https://www.facebook.com/CubaMINREX/videos/910930402679510/UzpfSTQ2MTg5NDk0MzkyODAzMjoyODA1NzYyNDU5NTQxMjU3/

Thursday, March 19, 2020



What the Covid-19 virus revealed about national mindsets across the world and how Cuba came out on top by helping...
In a sign of true global solidarity, writes Ahmed Twaij, Cuba allowed the MS Braemer, a British cruise ship, to dock on Cuban shores despite carrying at least five confirmed coronavirus cases on board and 52 additional passengers showing symptoms. The ship carrying over 600 mainly British passengers had no Cuban nationals on board. Nevertheless, Cuba accepted their plea for help and allowed the MS Braemer to dock. The MS Braemer had been anchored in the Caribbean for five days searching frantically for a place to dock with no positive response. Diplomats from the British Foreign Office urged US officials to allow the ship to dock on American soil but they found obstacles. Cuban officials, however, accepted the request saying stopping the pandemic must be “a shared effort.” The Cuban response added that humans were suffering, and, regardless of the passport they held, they deserved help. Until then Cuba had only five confirmed cases of Covid-19 and was aware that the ship docking could threaten to increase that number exponentially.
This is not the first time the Cuban government and Cuban health care providers stepped in to help during global emergencies: Cuban doctors deployed in West Africa during the Ebola crisis and also during the Haitian earthquake emergency in 2010. This government program which emerged in the wake of the Cuban revolution sending Cuban healthcare professionals across the world during humanitarian situations and crises, has been recently at risk because of the US unrelenting blockade, made more virulent by the Trump Administration.

The coronavirus pandemic is serious and should unite the world. Cuba has for years run a celebrated universal healthcare system with outcomes equal to those of developed countries, argues Twaij, and Cuba has one of the world’s highest life expectancies. On the other hand, Twaij argues, the US continues to push profiteering from coronavirus through a private healthcare system that abandons its most vulnerable citizens. The US health care system early failure to even provide adequate testing kits to its population speaks volumes, he said.  Spain, in a dramatic announcement, nationalized all its private hospitals this week in an effort to contain the impact of the virus and showing privatization is not a good option. A public health care is more effective, affordable and accountable than a private one.  This crisis proves that a nationalized public system works better and keeps citizens safer.
Rather than battling to close borders and fueling xenophobia, by referring to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus,” the president of the US should show leadership during time of crisis proving he is capable.  Still, Mr. Trump continues to ask for wall building achieving nothing, Twij argues. Is there still room for humanitarian goodness? Remember he says when we treat others, regardless of where they are from, as we would wish to be treated. Well Iran has borne the brunt of US protectionism and sanctions which had accelerated the spread of the virus in the country. One thing to learn about a global world: global economies and global epidemics cannot be treated in isolation. A car bomb in Iraq affects the stock prices in the US. Covid-19 has caused a financial contagion worse than the 2008 credit crunch. This is no longer about making America great again, says Twaij, a theory that has already collapse. It is about saving the world again. If this US Administration fails at this, other countries have proven they can and will step in.  

Brazil’s far-right government requested the return of thousands of Cuban doctors to help fight the coronavirus. Months ago, President Jair Bolsonaro smeared the doctors as “terrorists” and expelled them.

By Ben Norton, Greyzone
The coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed the health infrastructure of countries around the world. Desperate to contain the deadly virus, hard-hit countries, including even rich European nations like Italy and Britain, have reached out for expert medical help from Cuba, China, and Venezuela.
Even Brazil, currently under the control of a far-right administration that has joined the US in demonizing Cuba’s socialist government, has fallen back on the small nation for much-needed medical support — requesting help from the very same Cuban doctors it expelled months ago.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly called for the restoration of the military dictatorship, threatened his political opponents with violence, and backed terrorist attacks on Venezuela.
Bolsonaro has also taken aim at Cuba, praising the far-right military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet for supposedly preventing Chile from becoming like Havana.
Before Bolsonaro was elected president in 2018, 10,000 doctors Cuban doctors were inside Brazil, working in some of the poorest, most remote regions of the country. Their assistance arrived thanks to an agreement between Havana and the country’s left-wing Workers’ Party government, which sought Cuban help to treat those that the Brazilian health system had long failed to reach.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro slammed the Cuban doctors in his country as a nefarious fifth column, denigrated them as “terrorists,” and pledged to expel them.
When he took power following a US-backed soft coup against the Workers’ Party government, Bolsonaro made good on his promise. He kicked out many of the Cuban doctors, leaving impoverished rural regions without medical personnel.
By February 2020, however, the Brazilian government began to reverse course. The Bolsonaro administration had been unable to find doctors who would serve in these remote areas, so it agreed to allow the 1,800 Cuban doctors who remained in the country to return to the communities they had previously served.
And now, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Brasilia’s right-wing occupant has done a complete about-face.
In a press conference on March 15, Brazilian Secretary of Health João Gabbardo beseeched Cuba to send back the doctors who were expelled to prevent the country’s health system from collapsing as it battled a spreading pandemic.
Gabbardo declared that 5,000 of the Cuban doctors re-deployed to Brazil will be assigned to primary care centers across the massive country.
The Bolsonaro administration’s reversal was particularly embarrassing considering that, just last year, the president claimed the Cuban doctors were not real medical experts, but ideological brain-washers training poor Brazilians to become communist guerrillas.
“The PT [Workers’ Party] sent about 10,000 costumed doctors to Brazil here, in poor places, to create guerrilla cells and indoctrinate people. So much so that, when I arrived, they left, because I was going to go after them,” Bolsonaro claimed in a conspiratorial screed in 2019.
The grim reality of the coronavirus crisis has forced even Cuba’s sworn enemies to seek help from its world-renowned medical system.
Brazil has the fifth-largest economy on Earth, as well as the sixth-biggest population, with more than 210 million people. Cuba, meanwhile, is a relatively poor country with just around 11 million people, and is suffering under a suffocating US sanctions regime. But thanks to its socialist system, Havana has highly skilled and ethically committed doctors to spare – even to nations that have assisted the US bid for regime change against it.
The Workers’ Party responded to the news in an official statement: “President Bolsonaro owes apologies to the Brazilian population and to all the Cuban doctors who were practically expelled from Brazil facing attacks, lies, and fake news.”
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Sunday, February 2, 2020


Cuba's revolutionary cancer vaccine builds bridges between the island and the United States
A documentary on the two countries' research into a lung cancer vaccine proves that no political feud can "block" progress.

https://aldianews.com/articles/cultura/health/cubas-revolutionary-cancer-vaccine-builds-bridges-between-island-and-united

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In Cuba, cleaner rivers 
follow greener farming

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990's, food production on the island of Cuba was disrupted—as the supply of Russian fertilizers, pesticides, tractors, and oil dried up. Under the stress of an imminent food crisis, the island quickly rebuilt a new form of diversified farming—including many urban organic gardens—that depended less on imported synthetic chemicals. Over the last two decades, Cuba blossomed into a world-class showcase of conservation agriculture, with improved soils and cleaner water.
At least that's been a popular story among journalists.
Now—for the first time in more than fifty years—a team of Cuban and U.S. field scientists have worked together to rigorously test a key aspect of this story: the impacts of contemporary agriculture on water quality in Cuba's rivers. Despite centuries of sugarcane plantations and other intensive farming, the international team discovered that none of the rivers they explored show deep damage.
Instead, the scientists measured much lower nutrient concentrations in all the twenty-five Cuban rivers they studied than are found in the U.S.'s Mississippi River. And they think Cuba's transition toward sustainable agriculture—and its reduced use of fertilizers on cropland—may be a primary cause.
"A lot of stories about the value of Cuba's shift to conservation agriculture have been based on fuzzy, feel-good evidence," say University of Vermont geologist Paul Bierman, who co-led the new research, "this study provides hard data that a crucial part of this story is true."
Bierman and geoscientist Amanda Schmidt from Oberlin College led the American half of the international team, while Rita Yvelice Sibello Hernández, a scientist with CEAC (Centro de Estudios Ambientales de Cienfuegos), an ecological research group, headed up the Cuban effort with CEAC science director Carlos Alonso-Hernández.
The new study, "¡Cuba! River Water Chemistry Reveals Rapid Chemical Weathering, the Echo of Uplift, and the Promise of More Sustainable Agriculture," was published January 30, in the early online edition of the journal GSA Today, the leading publication of the Geological Society of America.
Conversely, "Cuba has been having a forced experiment in organic agriculture since the late 1980s," says Oberlin's Amanda Schmidt. "So Cuba is a very interesting place to look at the effects of both conventional agriculture and the effects of organic agriculture at a national scale,"—and may suggest pathways to improve U.S. agriculture. Fertilizer use in Cuba peaked in 1978 and has been lower since, according to World Bank and other data. U.S. fertilizer use spiked after the 1960s and has remained at more than twice the Cuban use rate.
"There's a takeaway we bring back to the U.S.: our river waters do not need to look the way they do," says Paul Bierman—a professor in UVM's Geology Department, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, and Gund Institute for Environment—"we can manage fertilizer differently." There are, of course, complex questions about yields, farm policy and more, but this newly reported data on the low levels of nutrient pollution found in twenty-five Cuban rivers, "suggests the benefits of Cuba's shift to conservation agriculture after 1990," the US/Cuban team writes, "and provides a model for more sustainable agriculture worldwide."


Saturday, February 1, 2020

1961 Literacy Campaign in Cuba:
The first Brigadistas







Monday, January 6, 2020

From Havana:
Arnold August, Trudeau: Venezuela,
Cuba, Chile, Bolivia, Haiti.






















Cuba’s Revolutionary Origins: a Personal Reflection

 
January 2nd, 2020.
Some time ago in another late December my partner in life commented that she liked beginnings in reference to the approaching new year. I became immediately aware that other traditions may have a calendar different from the Gregorian calendar and the beginning of their new year may take place at a different time. But the notion of “beginning” intrigued me, especially because I had another upcoming beginning in my political mind.
A beginning can mark any event, like for instance the start of a special day that we acknowledge with some ritual. There may be beginnings that are ominous like those of natural disasters or traumatic experiences; others can be unique and personal like the beginning of life at birth; yet others are uplifting like the beginning of a relationship. Whichever event we go through, often we remember its beginning as an anniversary or worthy of celebration.
For me at this time of the year it is inevitable to remember the momentous day when the protracted revolutionary process in Cuba came to fruition on January 1, 1959 marking the triumph of the Cuban Revolution with the ousting of the dictator Fulgencio Batista and the attaining of the long overdue independence from foreign and oligarchy dominance. That is an historic beginning that I inevitably remember and personally celebrate every year. My celebration is not with fireworks or public display but more like a time for introspection and reflection on some of the events that led to that new start. Although I was too young to have been aware of that historical moment at the time, I am quite acquainted with Cuba and I have come to know some of the historical leaders of the Cuban Revolution. I consider myself privileged to be a contemporary of those personalities.
The modern history of Cuba is quite rich and full of human episodes. Its retrospective study gives an insight in the determination of Cubans to resist any foreign intervention. After long years of fighting the Spanish colonisation in the 19th Century, Cuba was close to achieving its independence goal militarily, but a false flag incident of the explosion of the US battleship Maine in the Havana Bay in February 1898 – blamed to the Spanish – was used by the US as a pretext to intervene in the Spanish-Cuban war. “False flag” acts are frequently used today but it’s an old military tactic. There is another infamous false flag act committed later in April 1961 when the US-sponsored invasion of Cuba at Bay of Pigs was carried on with planes painted with the colours of the Cuban air force to deceive the population and the revolutionary government itself as if it were a mutiny. The invading mercenaries were eventually defeated and taken prisoners in less than 72 hours.
In 1898, despite the Cuban troops’ advantage over the Spanish, and despite the Cuban troops’ protection of the US landing of its army, Cubans did not receive any recognition. They were in fact ignored. Spain surrendered to the US in the Paris Treaty of December 1898. On January 1, 1899 the possession of Cuba was transferred from Spain to the United States. An inauspicious beginning that would rather be forgotten, but history is there so we don’t forget. And Cubans didn’t.
The importance of Cuba for the US was, and still is, mostly strategic for its geographic position as a virtual protective gate to the gulf of Mexico. Cuba also was used for economic exploitation of its vast sugar cane and other produce plantations mostly in the hands of US corporations. That was sufficient for the US government to turn a blind eye to the extensive mafia gambling activities, tax haven and other illegal dealings taking place in Cuba. The different puppet regimes governing the country had a total disregard for the well-being of Cubans who lived in extreme poverty and abject conditions especially in the rural areas.
This was the social situation under the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista that the revolutionary movement of Cuba in the mid-20th century was attempting to overturn. The first major attempt took place on July 26, 1953 when Fidel Castro led an attack at the military garrison in Santiago de Cuba that failed. The struggle continued including more than two years of guerrilla warfare. In the words of Fidel Castro “five years, five months and five days” passed from that day until victory was finally achieved liberating the whole country of six million Cubans.
In my personal reflections I always respect the moral qualities of Fidel Castro exemplified by his modesty. He always discouraged the personal idealisation towards him and I think that he set the standard from the very beginning. While revolutionary commanders Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos entered into Havana on January 1 and took over the two large military garrisons without resistance winning over the majority of the soldiers, Fidel was still in Santiago de Cuba, almost a thousand kilometers away. He did not rush to the capital to be acclaimed. He took the trip by road stopping at every major Cuban city to connect with the people who had been his supporters and had been the most ignored historically. He arrived in Havana eight days later.
Following his death in November 2016 a funeral procession carried the casket with his ashes symbolically travelling the same route back from Havana to Santiago de Cuba. Large crowds stood along the way to pay their final respects. His brother, Raul Castro, stated one of Fidel’s dying wishes: that his image and name never be used in public places, from streets and parks to government institutions. Legislation to that effect was passed by the Cuban National Assembly.
January 1, 2020 will mark the 61st anniversary of this legendary revolutionary beginning, and the term beginning is very appropriate because it indicates a continuous process of transformation of what is called today: a Revolution in motion. At every step, a true social advancement is made. The human and social development of this small nation is outstanding by any stretch of the imagination while subjected to the most crushing economic and financial blockade by the United States from 1962 to this day. The UN Human Development Report of 2019 states, “Cuba’s HDI [Human Development Index] value for 2018 is 0.778— which puts the country in the high human development category— positioning it at 72 out of 189 countries and territories…above the average of 0.750 for countries in the high human development group and above the average of 0.759 for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
I am truly convinced that be it a personal change or a social revolution a true transformative beginning must be marked by a creative process and a radical change with the profound conviction that a better world is possible.