FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Cuban Light Brigade

by

Caracas.

The Ebola epidemic… whereas most of the world tightens border controls and essentially flees from the problem, Cuba opens a new chapter of solidarity and faces the danger. By sending 255 doctors and nurses to West Africa to deal with the latest Ebola outbreak, the heroic island – with few resources except courage, decency and education – has once again given the world a lesson in internationalism.

This latest chapter in Cuban solidarity should be added to a list of episodes that includes medical assistance to numerous countries, but perhaps most saliently Cuba’s central role in defeating South African apartheid. Despite fierce internal struggle and the international boycott, the end of South Africa’s racist regime would not have happened had not massive numbers of Cuban volunteers fought in Angola and Namibia in the 1970s and 1980s.

The latest group of Cuban medical professionals – which arrived last week to Liberia and Guinea Conakry – will not be receiving the privileged medical evacuations that Spanish and North American doctors and priests have benefited from. If they fall ill they will be treated in situ, in the same circumstances as the resident population. Already one Cuban internationalist’s life has been claimed: Jorge Juan Guerra Rodríguez succumbed to cerebral malaria on Sunday in Guinea.

The Cuban doctor Ronald Hernández Torres wrote in his facebook account from Liberia: “I am here carrying out my duty as a revolutionary doctor, helping the African people in the fight against the Ebola epidemic. We arrived yesterday and soon will be in the front line, paying off the debt that all of humanity has with Africa. The only way to prevent the epidemic spreading to the entire world is stopping it here. We are helping so that there will be no more deaths from Ebola in this great continent.”

It hardly needs to be mentioned that the U.S.’s sending soldiers to the area – which harks back to the military occupation of Haiti in the wake of its 2010 earthquake – is both ridiculous and irresponsible (and not only by comparison with the Cuban effort). These days most epidemics, whatever their biological dimension, have social and political bases. In the case of the Ebola epidemic, the root problem is that Sub-Saharan Africa’s medical systems have been weakened by the neocolonial sacking of these countries. Rectifying this type of problem, like any other “war on poverty,” is not a job for the armed forces.

“Riflecracy” could be the name for the U.S.’s latest plan for solving Third World disasters. Tested first in Haiti and applied now in West Africa, it is something far more degenerate than the old-style “latrinocracy” (assistance through latrine building) that Che Guevara denounced in Punta del Este some 50 years ago. Yet it makes Che’s internationalism all the more relevant. That Cuban-Argentinian doctor wrote in a goodbye letter to his children about how a revolutionary “should be always capable of feeling, in his deepest self, any injustice anywhere in the world.” Fortunately, as the Cuban medical brigades have shown us, there continue to be people who live up to this legacy.

Chris Gilbert is professor of Political Science in the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela.

Chris Gilbert is professor of political science in the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail