Public Comment

Cuba & the Ebola Crisis

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday October 24, 2014 - 06:03:00 PM

While much of the world is finding it difficult to recruit trained medical staff to dispatch to West Africa to combat the Ebola epidemic, one nation is responding to the crisis. Cuba has already dispatched 165 health workers to Sierra Leone and is sending 91 additional staff to Liberia and Guinea. This brings the total to 256 people, more than a third of all foreign medical staff. Cuban President, Raúl Castro, offered to work with the United States to help combat the Ebola epidemic. 

Cuba deserves credit for its show of compassion and it is heartening that after some hesitation, the US agreed to work with Cuba. It is encouraging that Cuba offered an olive branch to the US in spite of suffering from decades of crippling economic sanctions. Cuba has an excellent health care system and highly trained medical professions and has trained many Latin American students to become doctors, free of charge. The Cuban embargo has been a complete an utter failure; it has not forced the Castro’s out of power and indeed Cuba was once a close US ally. The continued embargo is politically motivated to pander to a relatively small number of ex-pat Miami Cubans. If we have had several successful rapprochements with autocratic governments such as Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia China, Russia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and others, why not normalize relations with Cuba and lift the crippling embargo which disproportionately hurts the poor?