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Havana.  November  6, 2014

The New Yorker article highlights Cuba’s Ebola Diplomacy

“In a sense, all of these countries are following the lead of Cuba,” wrote journalist Jon Lee Anderson in an article Publisher on November 4 in the prestigious magazine The New Yorker, entitled “Cuba’s Ebola Diplomacy,” in which he discusses Cuba’s contribution to the fight against Ebola.

The article recalls that on September 12, “President Raúl Castro’s health minister announced that Cuba would send nearly five hundred health-care professionals to West Africa.

“No other country, to date, has contributed as many trained health-care professionals to the Ebola crisis as Cuba has,” it adds.

“Cuba has long been known for its roving teams of medical doctors and nurses. Indeed, Cuba, an island nation of eleven million people, with eighty-three thousand trained doctors—one of the highest proportions of doctors in the world—has become something like the world’s first responder to international crises in recent years. It dispatched hundreds of Cuban medical personnel to Pakistan after an earthquake in 2005 and to Haiti following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake there, as well as to other far-flung emergencies.

This is the result of a long-term strategy that the Cuban government has pursued since seizing power in 1959.”

It continues reporting that hundreds of thousands of students from Africa, Asia, Latin America and even the U.S. have been educated at the Latin American School of Medicine. “In 2013, an estimated nineteen thousand five hundred students from more than a hundred countries were said to be enrolled there.”

Health is a source of revenue, and pride, for the country, the article states, adding that when the government called for volunteers to join the fight against Ebola, “It was deluged with more than fifteen thousand volunteers. In addition to deploying intensive-care doctors and nurses, the Cuban teams in West Africa include surgeons, anesthesiologists, epidemiologists, and pediatricians, in an attempt to provide a comprehensive range of health care.

“Cuba’s outsize gesture in West Africa has not gone unnoticed, and may pave the way for the start of some Ebola diplomacy between Havana and Washington,”  commented Lee Anderson.

“On October 19th, Secretary of State John Kerry named Cuba as a nation that had made an “impressive” effort in the anti-Ebola campaign.” It recounts that ten days later, two U.S. officials representing the CDC. attended a Havana conference on Ebola, organzied as a result of the ALBA-TCP Summit on the issue.

Raúl Castro said, pointedly, “Cuba is willing to work side by side with all nations, including the U.S., in the fight against Ebola.” UN ambassador, Samantha Power, after returning from a trip to the African countries affected, also emphatically praised the Cuban mission.

The Ebola diplomacy follows a friendly handshake that Raul Castro and President Obama exchanged at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa last December, and has added to anticipation that the Obama Administration may seek to finally lift the remaining restrictions in the United States’ trade embargo against Cuba,” the article states.

Lee Anderson concludes by stating that, removing the blockade “would pave the way for a full restoration of diplomatic relations.” (The New Yorker)
 

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