Push to end the embargo, Caricom!

Push to end the embargo, Caricom!

Monday, September 21, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The following is an open letter to Dr Ralph Gonsalves, chairman, Caricom:

Warm and fraternal greetings.

As a region, we have experienced hardships so frequently and at times only few friends come to our rescue. We live in a world in which the developed countries, 13 per cent of the world's population, set the rules. At this movement there is a dangerous pandemic that threatens all of humanity. The complexity of the virus poses great challenges for the development of antiviral vaccine.

The pandemic is creating havoc across the globe and especially in the United States of America. There is a race in the world to produce a vaccine for the pandemic. It has been gleaned from policymakers of the North that they planned to buy all vaccine which can be produced for 13 per cent of the world's population.

Against this background, I am requesting that Caricom explores making an alliance in the United Nations, with Britain and Spain, to call on the USA to lift the embargo temporarily on humanitarian grounds and permit countries from the remaining 87 per cent of the world, the developing countries, to purchase this medicine from Cuba. As our neighbour Cuba, with such little resources, has helped us in our time of need. We must stand together.

According to the British newspaper The Morning Star (April 2020), “Over 50 British Members of Parliament called on the British Government to demand a suspension of the illegal blockade which is preventing the delivery of medicine and equipment to combat COVID-19 globally. They urge their Government to join the international outcry against the US embargo against Cuba.

In February 2020 the French newspaper Le Monde reported that the American Government chided [US] Senator Bernie Sanders for his acknowledgement of the high level of scientific development in education and high achievement in health care. The newspaper highlighted two of Cuba's global commitment and humanitarian services: Firstly, the Chinese National Health Commission listed the Cuban antiviral Inteferon Alfa 2B among the treatment for its used for COVID-19 patients; and “effective and safe in therapy of viral disease including hepatitis B and C, Shingles, HIV-AIDS and dengue”. Its promise in China has inspired 45 countries to request the product. Secondly, Cuba took the world by surprise when it sent a contingent of 256 medical professionals to West Africa to deal with the Ebola challenge. The medical professionals were deployed, with medicines created in Cuba, to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. There are just a few of Cuba's global medical and humanitarian insurgencies abroad.

We, the like-minded peoples of the developing world, must develop into a “critical mass” to challenge this illegal embargo against Cuba. It has kept that country in a poor state for six decades. We observe from history how the American blockade against the new revolutionary Republic of Haiti condemned that country into a life of persistent underdevelopment and poverty. We observe today that countries like Jamaica have been experiencing rapid spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths from the epidemic; hospitals are running out of space. I have read morbid stories of earlier pandemics and how people in both rural and urban areas died in the street; ships in harbour with dead bodies. We cannot stand by and watch people die because of this American embargo.

This age of pandemic requires cooperation on humanitarian grounds. It is also a proper setting within which to request of the United States to lift the embargo temporarily in order for us to save the lives of our peoples.

Louis E A Moyston, PhD

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