Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba

Oct 3, 2020 by

Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba, Sep 30 (ACN) The United States is strengthening its campaign against Cuba’s international medical cooperation, and as part of that offensive has unleashed pressure and blackmail against the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), denounced Wednesday the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX by its Spanish acronym).
Due to its importance, the Cuban News Agency broadcasts below the MINREX Declaration, in which Cuba ratifies its firm commitment with the development and sustainability of its health system, for the benefit of the Cuban people and the cooperation with the nations of the region and other parts of the world.
 “The United States deepens its campaign against Cuba’s international medical cooperation”
 The people of Cuba and the international community know about the dishonest campaign that since 2019 the United States government has unleashed to discredit Cuba’s international medical cooperation, to pressure the governments that receive it and to deprive the people of those health services.
 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounces that, as part of this offensive, the US government has unleashed pressure and blackmail against the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
 Under the threat of not spending the financial contribution that corresponds to the United States as the main contributor to the Organization’s budget, the PAHO Secretariat was forced to accept what they call “an external review of PAHO’s role in the Mas Médicos Program in Brazil,” in which thousands of Cuban professionals had the opportunity to participate at the explicit request of the popular government of the Workers’ Party, and which has been the target of the crudest smear campaign by the United States and the current Brazilian government.
 The alleged US concerns about Cuba’s cooperation, in this case about the “Mas Médicos” program, are not justified, nor relevant to be discussed at PAHO. The “Mas Médicos” program, which has received previous auditing with positive results, was established under a tripartite agreement between the Cuban government, the then Brazilian government and PAHO. The Program made it possible for Cuban doctors in Brazil to attend 113,359,000 patients in more than 3,600 municipalities from August 2013 to November 2018, providing permanent health coverage to 60 million Brazilians. Thanks to the Program, the basic care and health coverage of Brazilians was expanded; access to and supply of health actions were increased; and the population’s health indicators were improved, reducing hospitalizations due to the preventive work of doctors.
 The level of satisfaction and approval of patients, doctors and managers of the Program was high. According to a study by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), 95% of patients were satisfied or very satisfied with the Program.
If Cuba had not been forced to withdraw its doctors from Brazil, they could have contributed to the control and confrontation of the COVID-19 pandemic in that country, the second most affected worldwide.
 As reported in the Declaration of the Ministry of Public Health of November 14, 2018, Cuba took the decision not to continue participating in the Program in the face of the servility of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who, with a threatening and disrespectful attitude towards our collaborators and in disrespect for PAHO and what it had agreed with Cuba, imposed modifications on the terms of the Program, which led to a breach of the guarantees initially agreed upon and to unacceptable conditions for the permanence of our professionals.
 It is repulsive that the US government tries to manipulate international and regional organizations at its will. It is known there is no document adopted by PAHO’s governing bodies that provides a mandate or guarantees from the legal point of view to carry out this review or to draft its so-called “Terms of Reference”.
This drafting was in charge of a group composed by the United States, Brazil, the PAHO Secretariat itself and Canada, the latter acting as mediator between the parties. To make matters worse, this entire review process is carried out under PAHO’s regular budget.
 Without any mandate, an American law firm was hired which, in 180 days, must issue an accurate and, therefore, predetermined evaluation according to the “Terms of Reference” that the select group led by the United States has already defined.
No one with a fundamental sense of honesty, with an understanding of the purposes and conduct of the United States government, or with a minimum of common sense can doubt it is a frontal attack against multilateralism, a crude manipulation of PAHO for political purposes and an extension of the aggression against Cuba.
 After the denunciation of this move by the Cuban minister of public health, Jose Angel Portal Miranda, at the 58th Directing Council of PAHO on September 28, it was demonstrated in the speeches by representatives of the State Department that the US government is behind the pressures against the Organization, against Cuba’s cooperation programs with member states in the region and the so-called “external review” of the Mas Medicos Program for Brazil. The United States has gone further by opposing Cuba’s election as a member of PAHO’s Executive Committee, an action that failed in the face of the unanimous support that Cuba’s candidacy received. During the Council sessions, several countries recognized and thanked the solidarity and cooperation of Cuban health personnel in the confrontation with the Covid.19
 The Ministry denounces that a dishonest and false evaluation is being prepared, instigated by and for the aggressive purposes of the United States in its eagerness to discredit Cuba’s international cooperation.
 It is regrettable that through this new action, the United States government intends to damage Cuba’s relations with PAHO, which have historically been based on cooperation, respect, the common identification of humanist goals and values, and the effort to guarantee quality health services to the population. On these premises, a relationship has been built that Cuba has been proud of.
 The ministry of public health ratifies Cuba’s firm commitment to the development and sustainability of its health system for the benefit of the Cuban people and cooperation with the nations of the region and other parts of the world.
It has the capacity to do so, built with its own efforts. It is a reality that no one can change.
Access to health is a human right and the United States commits a crime when it seeks to deprive millions of people of that essential right.
As expressed in the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 5, 2019, it is immoral and unacceptable that the dignity, professionalism and altruism of the more than 400,000 Cuban health workers who, in 56 years, have carried out missions in 164 nations be questioned.
 The tightened economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, whose effects are particularly devastating in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, has not and will not be able to prevent our country from sharing its scarce resources with other countries in the world that need them.
 Beyond confronting the pandemic in Cuba, and guided by the supportive and humanistic vocation of our people, the country has reinforced its international medical cooperation by sending more than 3,800 collaborators organized in 52 medical brigades to 39 countries and territories affected by the disease, who joined those already providing services in 59 States before the pandemic.
 As the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, expressed in his reflection of October 2, 2014, entitled The Hour of Duty, “medical personnel who march to any place to save lives, even at the risk of losing their own, is the greatest example of solidarity that human beings can offer.
Havana, September 30, 2020
Abel González Alayón
Chief-Editor Language Department
Cuban News Agency



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