Cuba: internationalism and the vaccine against Covid-19

Havana - Forty-one years ago, Cuba hosted the Sixth Summit of Non-Aligned Countries (Noal) and by then Cuban collaborators provided services in 28 countries of that Movement, a practice multiplied today in the face of Covid-19.

In the opening speech of that meeting, President Fidel Castro stressed that his country offered 'solidarity with deeds, not with beautiful words'. Cuban professionals currently work in 28 member countries of the Movement, said the Caribbean president.

'In the vast majority of them, considering their economic limitations, this collaboration is carried out for free, despite our own difficulties,' he added.

As he told the leaders of the Movement, at that time Cuba had twice the number of doctors deployed by the World Health Organization providing services abroad to date.

Twenty-six years later, the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution created the Henry Reeve Medical Contingent, specialized in attending to serious epidemics and natural disasters.

It happened in the days after Hurricane Katrina, when the Cuban head of state offered the United States the assistance of a medical contingent to attend to the thousands of victims of the meteor, especially in New Orleans.

Cuba's offer was rejected by Washington, but the Henry Reeve Contingent was born there, to which a growing list of personalities, activists and organizations from different parts of the planet are currently proposing for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

From 2005 to date, its members have saved thousands of lives in nations hit by hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other calamities.

Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Chile, Pakistan (it premiered at the Noal Havana summit) and Sri Lanka, among other countries, received Cuban doctors when they needed it most.

Members of the health contingent also fought Ebola in West Africa and today are deployed (or completed missions) in some 40 countries and territories to face the pandemic that is keeping humanity in suspense.

Just to mention the Cuban contribution to fight Covid-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, suffice it to mention that Henry Reeve members responded to requests from the governments of Grenada, Barbados, Dominica, Venezuela, Mexico and Saint Lucia.

Also from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Honduras, Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, Suriname, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The same thing happened in Martinique, under the sovereignty of France; and in Montserrat, Turks and Caicos, Virgin Islands and Anguilla, British Overseas Territories. From those nations and territories they observe with hope the progress of clinical trials of the Cuban vaccine project against the disease, Sovereign 01.

Especially when anticipated and large-scale purchases of other vaccines from large pharmaceutical companies have already begun certification processes by countries of the so-called First World.

When in September 1979, Havana hosted the VI Noal Summit, Cuba was already recognized for its medical cooperation and its internationalist contribution to other peoples of the world.

At that time, it was difficult to foresee that, in the face of a pandemic like the current one, that the small Caribbean island would be able to send dozens of medical brigades to places as different as Port-au-Prince, in Haiti; Turin and Crema in Italy, or Baku, Azerbaijan, a bridge country between Europe and Asia that today holds the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement.

And above all, in 1979, it was unthinkable that Cuba could dream of being one of the first countries on the planet to create its own vaccine against Covid-19, immunize its population and help other peoples.

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Selected Speeches by Fidel Castro

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