Sunday, April 19, 2020

US Attacks on Cuba During Covid 19 Morally Bankrupt

Personal thoughts     I was in Cuba just before the self imposed lid came down.  The official St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration were canceled by the Cuban and Irish governments.  However I was lucky to enjoy on the day itself a program at the Provincial Library on the Plaza de Armas, the original US embassy.  An Irish Franciscan priest based in Havana taught children some basic dance steps.  He also talked about the shamrock as an illustration of the Trinity.  You can feel the spirit here

There are lots of things to be angry about in the way the Trump Administration has handled the corona virus crisis.   Especially unconscionable is their position on international sanctions, and in particular their aggressiveness against Cuba and Venezuela.  The sophistry that US sanctions do not block medical supplies is itself not always true.  But more important at a time of profound world wide crisis, a common sense of humanity dictates that we should suspend embargoes and other forms of punishment that damage daily life for entire populations and undermine the ability of their governments to purchase supplies and equipment to enhance normal existence.   That does no geopolitical harm as foreign investors are not going to initiate large scale projects with the knowledge that sanctions are temporarily lifted for humanitarian reasons. 

For me the same moral logic applies to all countries sanctioned unilaterally by the US.  However, the most outrageous blows have been directed at Cuba and Venezuela.

Anonymous trolls in the  Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor @StateDRL   tweeted nasty and unwarranted attacks on Cuba's provision of medical teams to assist countries afflicted by Covid 19.

Mar 24
#Cuba offers its international medical missions to those afflicted with #COVID 19 only to make up the money it lost when countries stopped participating in the abusive program. Host countries seeking Cuba’s help for #COVID 19 should scrutinize agreements and end labor abuses.

Mar 25
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. Host countries seeking Cuba’s help for #COVID 19 should scrutinize agreements and end labor abuses.
Cuban medical teams have been a long term target of Miami hard liners and their right wing allies in US politics.  Not only do the doctors and nurses earn good will politically for Havana but their work has been a major source of national income from countries that needed the aid and could afford to pay for it.  Cubans volunteer for assignments and in normal times receive economic and professional benefit over counterparts at home.  That the government which completely funded their medical education receives compensation seems reasonable and analogous to Americans who undertake lower paid military or public health service work in return for our government paying for their education.  There is no reason to believe that Cuban government initiatives and participation in anti-Covid work are any less motivated by compassionate feelings than U.S. government assistance to afflicted countries.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I have often wondered whether we or Cuban doctors received lower compensation.   I was particularly struck by the irony that while the U.S. government was criticizing Cuban assistance, as reported in the Washington Post, the Trump Administration had abruptly forced all PCVs to return to the US and terminated their service with no regard for their host country role, its opinion or personal commitment.

For whatever it is worth, this was my tweet to Assistant Secretary Robert A. Destro

@DRL_AS Your department is disgraced by the tweet against Cuba sending doctors to assist with corona virus at same time as Peace Corps withdrew and terminated all volunteers. US looks small. For us to look large help people by suspending all unilateral sanctions worldwide.

Caribbean leaders say Cuban doctors vital in COVID fight, condemn U.S. blacklist attempts   BY JACQUELINE CHARLES    JUNE 22, 2020

On a larger and more dangerous scale was US exploitation of the Covid-19 crisis as a justification for provocative military escalation in the Caribbean. Unexpectedly on April 1 the first part of the widely watched daily White House press conference on the virus was devoted to publicizing military patrols to combat sea borne drug smuggling.  It suspiciously followed by a few days a politically motivated dubious indictment of President Maduro and other Venezuelan leaders on drug smuggling charges.   It was hard not to fear a parallel to the use of drug related accusations against Manuel Noriega to justify the invasion of Panama during the Reagan Administration.

The Washington Office on Latin America did an excellent brief on the issue.

My own thoughts are here

Wiser heads than mine doubt that this was a wag the dog plot to create a military diversion from the Administration's Covid-19 debacle, but I am still worried.

Anthony DePalma has written a good Op Ed for the New York Times  "
Trump’s Pandemic Tactics Hurt Cubans, Too"

In any case, here is a more uplifting approach to the life changing situation that afflicts every person on the planet.

Stay safe and stay well,



John McAuliff
Executive Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Coordinator, Cuba-US People to People Partnership

1 comment:

  1. Comparing Cuban doctors working abroad for 20% of what the Cuban gov. charges for their services, to the US military personal working for less than market value because the respective governments paid for their education is the dumbest comparison imaginable. When the US military man returns from service, he is able to get a job at a competitive salary. When a Cuban doctor returns to Cuba, he has to again return to his Cuban salary of $30/mo. He has to continue to work for this salary for the rest of his life. Do you think that is a success story. That is why Cuban doctors and engineers work as taxi drivers. Don't tell me about the success stories of "free" Cuban education. There are none. Cubas problems have nothing to do with the US embargo. It has to do with the total stupidity and incompetence of their dysfunctional gov. If the Cubans and their gov. want US help, all they have to do is make changes and treat their people the same way which all civilized country do. VERY SIMPLE, but their gov. prefers to hold 11 million people in slavery and maintain power. Their only excuse for their failure is to blame the US Gov. 60 plus years of stupidity and still counting. GO CASTRO GO, U DA MAN.