At last… President Obama moves towards Cuba

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The first members of a team of 165 Cuban doctors and health workers unload boxes of medicines and medical material from a plane upon their arrival at Freetown’s airport to help the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, on October 2, 2014. (PHOTO: AFP)

FINALLY, there has come the dawning of basic common sense on the part of the superpower, United States of America. It has taken more than half a century for a president of the United States of America to come to terms with a reality that the rest of the global community has long recognised, warmly embraced, and continued to applaud.

It is the reality of the little Caribbean island of Cuba, whose 1959 revolution had placed it among the more renowned revolutionary movements of the world, that it has been ready and committed to share the remarkable medical capacities and facilities of the Cuban people in helping to resolve very threatening diseases and health problems in various nations, starting in Africa.

Some two months ago, the Administration of President Raul Castro briefly announced its readiness to send teams of medical doctors, nurses and technicians to help battle the spreading scourge of the dread Ebola killer disease.

The World Health Organisation and the Secretary General of the United Nations lost no time in applauding this most welcome gesture, while governments in developed, developing, and poor nations scrambled to cope as best they can for effective readiness.

More than a week ago, the Wall Street Journal was highlighting in a special report on how Cuban doctors were “at the forefront of the Ebola battle in Africa” as President Obama’s Administration was urging nations to send emergency aid to combat the spreading horrors.

In the weeks since President Obama sent the first nearly 4,000 troops to West Africa, said the Journal, the struggle to quell Ebola has created odd bedfellows. Perhaps none is quite so odd as the sight of Cuban doctors joining forces with the US military to combat Ebola in West Africa…”

Well, by last Thursday, the US State Department opted to go on record in unabashedly declaring, “Cuba, as a welcome medical support in the fight against Ebola,…”

Welcome anti-Ebola batle

Better late than never in acknowledging what nations across the global community have been graciously noting in multiple examples of practical, timely medical assistance from the Government and people of Cuba.

Cuba, which has already dispatched some 450 medical and support staff to combat the Ebola epidemic in Africa, has now organised a regional medical summit to address the implications of the dread virus during this week in Havana.

Governments in Latin America, traditionally supportive of Cuba, will be participating in the medical summit, among them Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador. It could not be confirmed whether any Caricom government or the Georgetown-based Community Secretariat will be in attendance.

The Wall Street Journal has taken the opportunity to make the political observation that “aspiring global heavyweights, China, India, and Russia have done plenty of business in Africa, but their contributions to fighting the Ebola epidemic have been underwhelming, thus far…

“And nations with some of the world’s most advanced health systems have come too late with too little to the crisis…,” according to leaders of Ebola-affected countries.

Meanwhile, the New York Times, in an editorial released on October 11 by its Editorial Board, has called on President Obama to pursue an effective policy shift to end the now 52-year-old United States embargo against Cuba.

As articulated by the Times, “for the first time in more than 50 years, shifting politics in the United States and changing policies in Cuba make it politically feasible to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and dismantle the senseless embargo…

President Obama, the Times Editorial Board has reasoned, “should seize this opportunity to end a long era of enmity and help a population that has suffered enormously since Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961, two years after Fidel Castro assumed power…”

Well, now that he has so openly and warmly welcomed Cuba’s involvement in the battle against the dread Ebola epidemic, perhaps President Obama could well seize the opportunity to announce his commitment for an end to the very costly embargo that has failed in its primary objective to destroy the Cuban Revolution.

Rickey Singh, Jamaica Observer

Rickey Singh is a Barbados-based noted Caribbean journalist.


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