Tag Archive | Cuba

Cuban Officials Visit Syrian Military Hospital, Offer Support*

Cuban Officials Visit Syrian Military Hospital, Offer Support*

Syrian Arab Army members patrol a liberated area. | Photo: Reuters


Syria and Cuba “are in the same trench fighting against imperialism and Zionism,” said hospital director Brigadier General Ghassan Haddad.

A delegation of the Cuban embassy in Syria, led by business manager Pablo Ginarte, visited the Yussef Azmeh military hospital in the Mezzeh neighborhood of Damascus, Syria on Thursday.

Hospital director Brigadier General Ghassan Haddad said that despite Western sanctions, military hospitals in Syria remain operational. He explained that numerous injured people were treated at the hospital between 2013 and 2015, adding that seven cases of military personnel injured by chemical attacks and toxic gases perpetrated by terrorist groups around Damascus were also treated.

“For Syrians, it is World War III,” said Haddad, who spent four years receiving medical training at Charing Cross Hospital in London.

He also lamented how depressed he felt when he saw several young men whose bones were destroyed by bombs and bullets from heavy weaponry.

One of those wounded by a bomb, 20-year-old Ali Ibrahim, recalled that he and seven other soldiers attempted to defuse a bomb in a Damascus building during heavy fighting. However, the bomb “blew up and one of us was killed and all the others wounded.”

During his tour of the Yussef Azmeh military hospital, the Cuban representatives met with medical personnel and wounded patients, including 25 soldiers in the recent fighting in Ein Tarma, near Damascus.

Haddad explained that Syria and Cuba “are in the same trench fighting against imperialism and Zionism.”

Cuba is renowned for having one of the world’s best healthcare systems, high-quality doctors and training and prevention programs. Medical programs initiated by the Cuban government as part of the country’s internationalist medical program, which includes disaster relief and disease prevention, have also been beneficial for countless others outside of the island.

Despite being crippled by decades of U.S. economic sanctions, the socialist-run island has sent thousands of medical professionals to foreign countries and has helped to train more than 80,000 doctors across the world for free.


Related Topics:

Cuba Delivers Vaccines against Meningitis to Syrian People*

Cuba Rejects U.S.-Style Neo-liberalism*

Cuba Ready to Provide All Needed Medicines for Syria*

Cuban Medical Internationalism*

Cuban Doctors Treat over 1,000 Peru Flood Victims in Two Days*

Cuban Doctors Treat over 1,000 Peru Flood Victims in Two Days*

Cuban doctors, part of the Henry Reeve medical brigade, arrive in Peru. | Photo: Twitter


The doctors had seen 1,046 people in their first two days of fieldwork.

In just two days after Cuba sent a medical brigade to Peru, where deadly floods have killed at least 94 and left at least 700,000 more homeless, more than 1,000 people received treatment from the visiting doctors known for their internationalism.

The leader of the brigade — which consists of 11 doctors, 10 health care professionals, an administrator and a lead doctor — told Prensa Latina Wednesday that they are working at five shelters where thousands of refugees were relocated when their homes were destroyed or left uninhabitable.

By Tuesday, the doctors had seen 1,046 people in their first two days of fieldwork. In addition, the brigade’s leader, Rolando Piloto, said that the group is also conducting 549 educational workshops among the refugees and 23 group health hearings.

The group’s epidemiologists have also carried out assessments to see if there could be disease outbreaks because of the physical environment and conditions.

Cuba has extended its solidarity to Peru in the past, most notably in response to earthquakes Peru experienced in 1970 and 2007.

In March, Cuban President Raul Castro sent his Peruvian counterpart, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a message to express his condolences over the crisis.

Peru has been dealing with severe weather since at least December, which has hit the poor hardest, most notably Peruvians who built their homes on cheap land near the river, which runs from Peru’s central Andes to the Pacific coast.


Related Topics:

Cuban Medical Internationalism*

Cuba Delivers Vaccines against Meningitis to Syrian People*

Ongoing U.S. Blockade on Cuba Is  Genocidal*

Child abduction in Peru but who are the kidnappers?

Trump to Send ISIS Fighters to Guantanamo*

Trump to Send ISIS Fighters to Guantanamo*

The prison is infamous for its past severe and illegal treatment of prisoners.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would expand Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and allow the United States to transfer fighters from the Islamic State group and other terror groups captured in battle there like it operated during the presidency of George W. Bush, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Drafts of the directive have been in circulation at the White House for days and the newspaper obtained the latest draft which sees the Trump administration reversing an initial plan to reopen overseas “black sites” prison facilities the CIA previously used for torturing terror suspects.

But the latest draft would see Trump ordering Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to use Guantanamo to detain suspected members of “Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces, including individuals and networks associated with the Islamic State,” the New York Times reported citing the draft.

The executive order would also reverse another order by former President Barack Obama that called for the closure of the prison. Obama made closing Guantanamo one of his 2008 elections campaign promises, however, he failed to do so during the course of his eight-year-long presidency.

During his presidential bid, Trump repeatedly vowed to keep it open, expand it and “load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we’re gonna load it up,” as he said just days after winning the elections in November.

The prison is infamous for its past severe and illegal treatment of prisoners. The U.S. military and other agencies operate under different regulations outside the U.S. territories, thus allowing them to use torture, hold prisoners without trial and other illegal practices otherwise not permitted in the U.S.

During the Obama administration, most detainees were transferred to other countries. Official figures reveal that nearly 800 prisoners have been held at Guantanamo since the prison opened after the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Of those, more than 700 have been released or transferred and nine have died, while 41 men are still held there without internationally recognized charges or trials.

Cuba has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. return the occupied territory as part of the normalization of relations between the two countries that kicked off in Dec. 2014, which now faces an uncertain future as Trump and many of his Cabinet maintain hostile attitude towards the Caribbean socialist nation.


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U.S. Refuses to Return Guantanamo to Cuba*

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Cuba Rejects U.S.-Style Neo-liberalism*

The CIA’s New Deputy Director Ran a Black Site for Torture*

This is America: Guantánamo Detainee Requires Rectal Surgery Following CIA Sodomy Torture*

Cuban Medical Internationalism*

Cuban Medical Internationalism*

By Stephen Bartlett


600 doctors, trained and sponsored by the Cuban government, are providing free, high-quality health care to vulnerable populations throughout Haiti. 
 Photo Credit: Tory Field

Cuba’s medical intervention in international health crises is unparalleled among nations. As of 2014 there were 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses working in 60 developing countries. This outstanding legacy of Fidel Castro demonstrates what can be achieved when a very high value is placed on human life, every human life.

Many people will never hear about how at the end of 2016 on December 19, 38 medical professionals from Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade returned home after more than two tireless months of treating Haitians. They were sent to lend support to Cuba’s permanent medical teams in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Following the death of 90-year-old revolutionary Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016 corporate media has been fixated on depicting Fidel as the mastermind of a two-dimensional “dictatorial regime.” For those with a three-dimensional perspective, however, Fidel Castro’s death provides an opportunity to celebrate victories from the 56 years of the Cuban Revolution for which many people around the world are profoundly grateful and even owe their lives.

Reports from Haiti, Chernobyl, West Africa and many other places recount the extraordinary contributions of what some call Cuba’s “medical internationalism.” In 2014 there were 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses working in 60 developing countries, according to the research of Canadian author John Kirk published in his book “Cuban medical internationalism has saved millions of lives.” But this unparalleled solidarity has barely registered in the western media.

“Good God, Cuba has done so much for Haiti!” said Ivon Rebelisa, a 46-year-old Haitian from Semillera, Artibonite department, working on a farm as a day laborer in the Dominican Republic.

“Several of my neighbours were treated successfully for cholera in [the city of] Gonaive by Cuban doctors. Others who didn’t make it to the Cuban clinic in time, my cousin and his wife, both died. The Cubans taught us how to avoid contagion, about frequently washing our hands, boiling or treating water, about not eating street food that had not been reheated enough.”

In 1999 Cuba founded the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) and offered 10,000 scholarships to students “in countries where Cuban medical teams were assisting the local health systems…. The idea behind the ELAM is for graduates to eventually replace the Cuban doctors in their countries,” according to MEDICC, a non-profit which promotes Cuba’s public health program.

The ELAM currently has 19,550 students from 110 countries, making it one of the largest medical schools in the world. All students receive a full scholarship. The ELAM includes the U.S. in its outreach, among youth aspiring to become doctors from the ranks of the “global south” within the north. More than 100 U.S. students have attended the ELAM for free, in exchange for a non-binding promise to serve low-income communities for two years upon their return.

Nurse Dalila Martinez, trainer of the Cuban medical team to travel to Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, washes her gloved hands during a practice drill at a training camp in Havana

Nurse Dalila Martinez, trainer of the Cuban medical team to travel to Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, washes her gloved hands during a practice drill at a training camp in Havana

Cuban doctors and graduates of ELAM are known for their emphasis on field experience and preventative medical practices. Fifth-year Haitian student Stephanie Voyard told Cuba Health Reports she likes the Cuban method of teaching.

“From the first year, we have a class on community medicine to help us get to know the population, where we learn alongside family doctors. In the second year we work with doctors in polyclinics and from the third year on, in hospitals. Before we get our diplomas, we’ve already learned from experience.”

Due to Haiti’s notable impoverishment, low health indices, inadequate medical services, and proximity, Cuba began sending medical personnel to Haiti in 1998. According to a presentation following the catastrophic earthquake in January 2010 at a conference hosted by the University of California’s Washington Center, 6,000 Cuban medical staff have treated over three million Haitians. Some 400 Cuban doctors had served consistently in Haiti since 1998. Conference presenter Cuban Ambassador Jorge Bolaños said:

“In the first 72 hours after the quake, Cuban medical personnel were among the first responders. …The Cubans have treated many more patients than any other foreign medical team.”

In fact, the Cuban medical team in six months post-earthquake provided more than 341,000 patient consultations, 8,700 surgeries, 111,000 vaccinations, and many other forms of care to hundreds of thousands. In addition, according to Gail Reed, international director of MEDICC, approximately 550 Haitians have graduated from ELAM and nearly 300 of Haiti’s doctors present in the country at the time of the earthquake were trained on full scholarships in Cuba, another side of Cuba’s medical internationalism.

Ten months after the devastating 2010 earthquake, Cuban doctors in Mirebalais, Central Plateau department, first identified the arrival of cholera into Haiti. In the 13 months following the outbreak, the Cuban mission in Mirebalais had treated more than 76,000 cholera cases, with just 272 fatalities. Over the 6 years since the outbreak Cuban doctors across Haiti have treated an estimated 40% of the 1 million cases registered. The official death toll is now nearing 10,000, a figure rising quickly due to the uptick in cholera cases following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and the floods that followed.

The cause of the cholera epidemic turned out to be the reckless contaminating of the Artibonite River by untreated sewage from a barracks of Nepalese soldiers deployed to Haiti as part of the United Nations “stabilization force”  (called MINUSTAH by its acronym). These were the first documented cases of cholera in Haiti’s history. The Cuban government immediately sent additional doctors and medical personnel to Haiti to try to stem the tide of the epidemic, with an emphasis on education and prevention through water purification. Recently, after years of denial of legal accountability, the U.N. has finally admitted its responsibility for introducing cholera into Haiti, and is under pressure from Haitian and international social movements to pay reparations.

The expanse of Cuba’s medical interventionism in international health crises is unparalleled among nations, as is their care provided for medically underserved nations. The generous Cuban offer announced by Fidel Castro in 2005 to send a large brigade of Cuban health professionals to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina had a short media shelf life. The Henry Reeves Brigade—the same brigade that just returned from Haiti on December 19—was named after the Brooklyn-born internationalist who fought in the Cuban revolution. The brigade consisted of 1,500 Cuban health professionals trained in disaster medicine and infectious disease containment. Built on 40 years of medical aid experience, the volunteer team was outfitted with essential medicines and equipment. (The offer was rejected by the Bush administration).

The University of South Dakota, in the United States, is offering students a program to take Health Service Administration in Cuba and learn from the island´s reality, culture and people

The University of South Dakota, in the United States, is offering students a program to take Health Service Administration in Cuba and learn from the island´s reality, culture and people

It was the Henry Reeve brigade that was later deployed in Haiti following the earthquake and in October 2014, it was the largest medical team on the ground in West Africa battling Ebola. Cuba sent 146 specially trained doctors and nurses to the impacted West African countries, the largest international contingent to risk their people in the deadly centre of the epidemic. Cuba held a major international conference in October 2014 on preventing an Ebola outbreak in the Americas, attended by 32 countries including the U.S. Another extraordinary achievement was Cuba’s treatment of 21,874 radiation victims of the Chernobyl, Ukraine, nuclear disaster in the 1990s.

While corporate media has ignored stories of Cuban medical internationalism championed by Fidel Castro, much of the world recognizes that Cuba´s achievement transcends geopolitics altogether. It demonstrates what can be achieved when a very high value is placed on human life, every human life. With Fidel now gone, will humanity strive to follow the example the Cuban revolution has so courageously shown?

* Stephen Bartlett is the Land Rights and Food Sovereignty Coordinator of Other Worlds. Stephen is an organizer and agro-ecological farmer, with history in food and land movements in Honduras, Haiti, and the US, among other places. He is the founder/coordinator of Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville, is active with the Community Farm Alliance and National Family Farm Coalition, and is the U.S. representative of La Via Campesina.


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Ongoing U.S. Blockade on Cuba Is Genocidal*

A Year of Achievement for Cuban Healthcare*

No Cheap Cuban Lung Cancer Vaccine For U.S. and Europe*

Cuba Has Officially Eradicated HIV Transmission to Babies*

Cuba Sends ‘Largest Medical Contingent to Liberia from any Country not Soldiers*

The Devastating Facts About Hurricane Matthew in Haiti Versus The Media’s ‘Poetic Truth’*

This is America: Guantánamo Detainee Requires Rectal Surgery Following CIA Sodomy Torture*

U.N. Offers ‘Half Apology’ to Haiti for Cholera Outbreak*

Katrina: A Reason to be Angry*

Cuba Delivers Vaccines against Meningitis to Syrian People*

Cuba Delivers Vaccines against Meningitis to Syrian People*

The cooperation between the two countries has a 51-year history.

Syrian authorities announced Sunday the arrival of 293,650 doses of Cuban vaccines against meningitis, for an estimated value of US$930,000, as the Syrian people are affected by a Western trade blockade.

The delivery was part of an agreement signed by Syria and Cuba, which includes bank settlements for Syria’s recent debts and the importation of a variety of Cuban medicines, according to the Public Establishment of Foreign Trade in Syria.

In 2016 the Cuban government sent vaccines meant to fight diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hepatitis B and influenza.

The Syrian government also imported vaccines against five communicable diseases affecting children from other sources.

The war-torn country has suffered six years of conflict, which may be coming to an end after the Syrian army liberated Aleppo from anti-government forces.


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Rumba for Fidel: Cubans Celebrate Music, Culture and Revolution*

Rumba for Fidel: Cubans Celebrate Music, Culture and Revolution*

A couple dances to rumba music during an event dedicated to late Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana, Dec. 11, 2016. | Photo: EFE


Cuban rumba has roots in African culture and historically has developed in some of the island’s poorest and most marginalized neighborhoods.

Cuban rumba performers dedicated a day of music and dance Sunday to late Cuban President Fidel Castro as they celebrated the recent announcement that rumba, one of the country’s most iconic musical genres, has been added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

“Rumba for Fidel,” as the Sunday’s events were dubbed, brought together stars of Cuban rumba in the capital city Havana, while other events in other cities also echoed the celebrations on smaller stages.

Amid singing, drumming and dancing, rumba artists also commemorated Fidel Castro’s legacy, which they said included a revolution of the concept of cultural policy on the island in the early years after the fall of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

The celebration of Cuban rumba, which has its deepest roots in African culture and has historically developed in some of the island’s poorest neighborhoods, comes after UNESCO declared the traditional music part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during a meeting in Ethiopia on Nov. 30.

UNESCO recognized Cuban rumba as an expression of “self-esteem and resistance,” especially for a “marginal layer of Cuban society and identity,” that fuses the traditional and contemporary in a genre built on “verbal and nonverbal” heritage.

“The dances and chants evoke a sense of grace, sensuality and joy that aims to connect people, regardless of their social and economic background, gender or ethnicity,” explains UNESCO.

“The practice of rumba in Cuba has been transmitted over generations by imitation within families and neighborhoods.”

The UNESCO announcement on Nov. 30 came while Cuba observed nine days of official mourning for the former president and as his ashes traveled across the country from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, where his remains were interred alongside national heroes.

Fidel Castro was particularly popular among Afro-Cubans, who greatly benefited from his advances in universal education, health care and the reduction of extreme poverty.



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Revolutionary Icon Fidel Castro Dies Aged 90*

Revolutionary Icon Fidel Castro Dies Aged 90*

The leader of the movement that won Cuban independence and champion of the Global South has died in Havana.

Fidel Castro, former president and leader of the Cuban revolution, died Friday night at age 90, Cuban state television confirmed.

Raul Castro, Cuba’s President and Fidel Castro’s brother, announced that Fidel would be cremated on Saturday.

“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died 10:29 p.m. tonight,” said Castro.

Born in 1926 to a prominent landowner in Holguín Province, Cuba, Fidel went on to lead Cuba’s revolutionary independence movement, defeating the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959.

Soon after his movement took power, Fidel adopted an explicitly socialist model of development and forged strong ties with the Soviet Union, earning the wrath of the United States.

For the next 48 years, until resigning in 2008, Fidel led the tiny island nation to historic levels of development, leading the world in many social indicators including literacy and public health rates.

Influence and Internationalism

The success of Cuba’s revolution also meant facing down more than 50 years of a hostile and destructive U.S. blockade, while also surviving multiple CIA assassination attempts. Fidel and Cuba inspired a growing decolonization movement throughout the world, one which Fidel actively supported by creating networks of mutual aid throughout Latin America, Africa, and the rest of the Global South.

Under Fidel’s leadership, Cuba’s internationalism expanded beyond support for liberation movements such as Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, with the small island sending thousands of health and education professionals across the world. Cuba’s literacy program is credited with having taught millions to read outside of Cuba, while Cuban doctors earned even the admiration of the United States, who recently lauded their “heroic” contribution to combatting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Fidel was also vital in the upsurge of left-wing government in Latin America, beginning with the election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 1998. Fidel and Chavez not only developed a famous friendship, but the two leaders pushed for a radicalization and coordination of regional movements which yielded left-wing victories in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, along with left-leaning governments in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.

The two leaders also founded the Bolivarian Alternative for Our America, or ALBA bloc, which promoted an alternative to neoliberal free trade.

Fidel Recently Turned 90

Revered by many and loathed by others, the Cuban leader remained influential and was highly regarded even by his detractors as a keen analyst of world affairs.

His native Cuba recently celebrated his 90th birthday, where in typical Fidel style, he foreshadowed what was to come with elegance and dignity.

“I’ll be 90 years old soon,” Fidel said at an April 2016 communist party congress where he made his most extensive public appearance in years. “Soon I’ll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof that on this planet , if one works with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need and that need to be fought for without ever giving up.”


In Havana, many were enjoying regular Friday evening strolls along the Malecon when news of Fidel Castro’s death broke.

While much of the U.S. media focuses on the reactions of world leaders and the right-wing of the Cuban-American community in south Florida, initial reactions among Cubans themselves was a mix of shock and sadness.

Carlos Rodriguez, 15, was sitting in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood when he heard that Fidel Castro had died. He told the AP

“Fidel? Fidel? That’s not what I was expecting. One always thought that he would last forever. It doesn’t seem true,” he said, slapping his head in shock.

“It’s a tragedy,” said 22-year-old nurse Dayan Montalvo. “We all grew up with him. I feel really hurt by the news that we just heard.”

“It’s a normal life process (but) it’s news that no one is ever ready to receive. Even less so, news of the Comandante’s death,” said one woman.

Another told Reuters, “Well, I feel a bit shaken. He was a public figure that everybody loved and respected.”

Another young woman told AFP, “As a Cuban, and like everyone else in the country who loved him, I’m sad. He was a man who did a lot for the Cuban revolution, for the country, for all of the Cuban people. He is an idol, he is the man of the country, as they say.” Another said ”

Officials declared a nine-day mourning period early Saturday, canceling public festivals and official events. On Monday and Tuesday gatherings are planned throughout the country so Cubans can pay homage to the former President and sign books of remembrance.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time there will be a mass rally at the iconic Plaza de La Revolucion in Havana – site of countless Fidel speeches – and the next day Fidel’s ashes will be transported along the route of the 1959 “Caravan of Liberty” which marked the victory of the Cuban revolution.

The procession will continue until Dec. 3 and end in Santiago de Cuba. There, on Dec. 4, Fidel’s ashes will be ceremonially placed in the national hero’s Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, home to the memorials of legendary Cuban independence leader Jose Marti, and the martyrs of the 1953 Moncada Barracks attack, which marked the beginning of uprising that led to the triumph of the 1959 revolution.


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Cuba Rejects U.S.-Style Neo-liberalism*

Ongoing U.S. Blockade on Cuba Is Genocidal*

A Year of Achievement for Cuban Healthcare*

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