FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Values Are Weapons as Cuba Defends Doctors against US intervention

Photograph Source: Marco Zanferrari – CC BY 2.0

The George W. Bush administration initiated the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program (CMPP) in 2006. The idea was to persuade overseas Cuban doctors to abandon their posts and relocate to the United States. Cuba’s medical solidarity programs, in place for half a century, would suffer. President Obama ended the CMPP in January, 2017. Now the U.S. government wants to reinstate it.

Cubans defending medical outreach associate what the doctors do with ideals of human dignity and solidarity. U.S. rationales for their own interventions are either unconvincing as to humane purposes or not for public knowledge.

The U.S. government thus speaks of bringing democracy to Cuba and Venezuela. That those nations are under U.S. siege brings to mind the Vietnamese town Ben Tre. U.S. forces destroyed it in 1968 in order “to save it.” Otherwise, what many regard as the actual purpose of U.S. interventions, the commandeering of power and wealth, is unmentionable in mainstream circles.

Cuba demonstrates coherence between intervention in the health care of other peoples and values. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, speaking in Buenos Aires in 2003, stated that, “Our country is able to send the doctors that are needed to the darkest corners of the world. Doctors, not bombs!” He had just proclaimed Cuba’s unwillingness (and inability) to launch “preventative surprise attacks in any dark corner of the world.”

Marisnely Echemendía Concepción recently sounded a strong note of human solidarity. “[F]ormed by the revolution and following the teachings of Marti, Che, and Fidel,” the Cuban doctor carries out “health promotion and disease prevention” in Caracas.

“I believe in altruism, in humanitarianism, and in internationalism,” she states. “These make up the essence of medical education in my country and validate this teaching of the Apostle (Marti): ‘Helping someone in need is part duty and part happiness.’”

And, “I would have it known and widely so – by the peoples of Our America and throughout the world – that my humanist and solidarity-based vocation can be relied upon, always. My sole interest is to improve the health of those we care for. Political affiliation, race, and religious creed don’t matter.”

Besides, “We Cuban medical graduates take on an international commitment that remains and goes with us wherever we are needed. After all, a doctor is only a slave to his or her calling as a humanist.”

Revolutionary Cuba puts values into practice. Some 600,000 Cubans have provided medical services “in more than 160 countries.” Cuba has educated 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries at no personal cost to the students.

In assailing the Cuban doctors, U.S. officialdom has machinations, lies, and force at its disposal, but little else.

On May 7 Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey asked Secretary of State Pompeo to reinstitute the CMPP. Rubio and Menendez had previously introduced a Senate resolution to that effect.

That resolution cited “human trafficking,” “forced labor,” and “salaries directly garnished by their government” as characterizing Cuban doctors’ experience in Brazil. Some 8000 of them had joined former President Dilma Rousseff’s “More Doctors” program to care for destitute and underserved Brazilians. In late 2018 the Cuban government withdrew them due to President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s animosity.

U.S. ally Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, backs restoring the CMPP. He views Cuba’s pay arrangements with other states as “modern slavery.” Cuba uses its doctors for “cementing alliances with other countries.”

Serving abroad, the doctors receive their regular salaries to which are added bonuses for overseas work and coverage for living expenses abroad. Salaries are deposited in a Cuban bank or paid to a family member. Most countries hosting the doctors reimburse Cuba’s government at rates high enough for the funds to serve other purposes.

Funds received from Brazil paid for medical equipment and modernization of Cuban medical facilities. In return for the services of Cuban doctors, Venezuela guarantees Cuba delivery of low priced oil.

Thus U.S. meddling in Venezuela impinges upon Cuba. A recent New York Times report charged Cuban doctors in Venezuela with pressuring patients to support the government and political party of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The implication was that all the Cuban doctors did likewise.

National Security Advisor John Bolton and others in the Trump administration claim that 20,000 Cuban military personnel operate in Venezuela. The unspoken hint is that 20,000 Cuban health workers serving now in Venezuela are military people. Cuba’s Granma newspaper offers perspective: “140,000 Cuban health workers have provided … services in Venezuela” – which would have been lots of soldiers.

The Times article and the Bolton allegations are slanderous. Bolton is an old hand. As under secretary of state for arms control in 2002, he falsely charged Cuba with having ”provided dual-use biotechnology to … rogue states.”

Cuban journalist Randy Alonso Falcon explains why the U.S. government would revive the CMPP. He cites “barefaced brain drain” and disruptive effects leading to reduced income for Cuba’s government. He could have mentioned U.S. enthusiasm for sullying the image of Cuba as paragon of medical solidarity.

Weeks before he died in combat in 1895, emblematic Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti advised a young person in the United States: “Whoever has a lot inside doesn’t need much outside. Whoever is all display on the outside, doesn’t have much inside.”

Dr. Fernando González Isla, head of Cuba’s medical mission in Venezuela, tweeted the quotation. Dr. Marisnely Echemendía Concepción re-tweeted it. Identification with values and ethics must be Cuba’s special weapon in this conflict.

More articles by:

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail