A year ago, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan called for an end to the unjust U.S. embargo against Cuba and urged the United States to look into and accept the island nation’s effective treatments and potential answers to the Covid-19 crisis. But after over 606,00 U.S. deaths, the embargo remains in place despite global condemnation and Cuba’s continued work to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
“We want what Cuba is developing against Covid-19. We want alpha interferon to be [available] if that is what is good against Covid. … We are looking into other therapies, but we definitely will not accept your (U.S.-made) vaccine,” said Minister Farrakhan, speaking July 4, 2020, from his home in Michigan, where he delivered a major and divinely inspired message, “The Criterion.”
Ambassador Pedro L. Pedroso Cuesta, Cuba’s permanent representative to United Nations, in a virtual July 7 press conference said Min. Farrakhan’s call for ending the U.S. embargo was quite relevant and support for ending the embargo is growing in the United States and internationally.
The Cuban diplomat denounced U.S. and Israel’s continued support for the embargo. Last month, for the 29th consecutive year, 184 countries voted in favor of a UN resolution to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on Cuba by the U.S. America and Israel voted to keep the blockade.
The courageous people of Cuba are fighting two viruses, Covid-19 and U.S.-imposed sanctions, but will continue to fight America’s cruel, criminal and genocidal policy, vowed Amb. Cuesta. He provided updates on Cuba’s arsenal of five homegrown Covid-19 vaccines under development, Soberana, Soberana 02, Soberana Plus, Abdala and Mambisa. Soberana roughly translates in English as sovereignty.
According to Amb. Cuesta: Abdala has been 92.28 percent effective against Covid-19 with three doses. Soberana 02 and Abdala are at stage 3 of clinical trials. Soberana Plus is now being used in clinical trials and, through July 4, 2021, more than 6 million doses had been administered. Soberana Plus is the only vaccine in the world developed to improve the immune system of people who have been sick, said Amb. Cuesta.
Cuba is also conducting an intervention study and other clinical trials, including one with children 3 years and older, to demonstrate the efficacy of its vaccines. No safety steps have been bypassed and all protocols have been respected and fulfilled, stressed Amb. Cuesta. Cuba has also signed agreements with several countries who are awaiting the vaccines. Trials are being conducted in Venezuela, Iran, and parts of the Caribbean, explained Amb. Cuesta. Some nations in Latin America and Mexico have also expressed interest, he said.
During the pandemic, between April and December 2020, the blockade caused Cuba to lose over $9 billion, dealing a blow to infrastructure, renewable energy upgrades, financial stability, quality of life, and confidence of foreign investors, shared Ambassador Cuesta.
The embargo has caused a shortage of essential consumer products, among them supplies for food preservation and drug manufacturing. Cuba must now pay 50 percent to 65 percent more for items over normal prices, the ambassador continued.
Despite these obstacles and limitations, Cuba has been recognized internationally and remains committed to providing and sharing its medical achievements with other countries, including the U.S., pledged Amb. Cuesta.
Cuba offered to help to battle devastating conditions after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the state of Louisiana and New Orleans in August 2005, but the U.S. rejected the help, he noted.
Cuba has sent 57 Medical Brigades to support the fight against the pandemic in 40 countries and territories, continued Amb. Cuesta.
One way to advance the movement to end the U.S. embargo is to highlight the work of students who have graduated from the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba, he argued. In an award-winning Final Call article, “We survived, now it’s time to thrive: Perseverance and passion to become doctors in Cuba,” published last year, Contributing Writer J.S. Adams wrote about the seven year-long process for Drs. Maryam and Ruqayyah Farrakhan.
They are the latest among youth in the Nation of Islam to take advantage of the opportunity to receive free medical training in by Cuba. The training is open to Black, Latino and other students who commit to working in their underserved communities upon graduation. Dr. Maryam Farrakhan and Dr. Ruqayyah Farrakhan are granddaughters of Min. Farrakhan and graduated from the medical school.
The virtual press conference was organized by Obi Egbuna, Jr., of the Get Out of Cuba’s Way Campaign and external relations officer for the Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association, and co-coordinated by Gail Walker, executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace and co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, and Bill Martinez of Martinez ATRS Consulting. Mr. Martinez moderated media questions with Marguerite Horberg, CEO of Hothouse, a cultural center in Chicago, which held a benefit concert for Cuba last year.
Ms. Walker shared joy of overwhelming support for ending the Cuba embargo expressed during a UN General Assembly vote June 23 but expressed deep sadness at the Biden administration’s failure to join the anti-boycott nations. “Cuba reports that one of the vaccines, Abdala has a 92.28 percent efficacy rate. Ironically, while Cuba has managed to produce effective treatments for Covid, the small island nation has a shortage of syringes to help get shots in the arms of the Cuban population,” said Ms. Walker.
A Syringes for Cuba campaign raised $400,000 to purchase four million syringes and is raising an additional $100,000 to purchase two million more, she said.
Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, urged Americans to get to know Cuba, its gifts and talents. “Cuba is here, and we are here to be with them and to walk with this. And to walk with people there so that we can become reconnected in the strength that is failing at some times because the United States is unwilling to let people come to Cuba,” said Rev. Campbell.
Mr. Egbuna ended the press conference with a scathing condemnation of Israel’s and the United States’ wicked agenda and announced next steps in the fight against the embargo. “Israel is no stranger to shaming themselves in the United Nations,” he said. “When they stood up in the United Nation solo and voted against Tunisia’s right to self-determination, they had no shame.
When they stood up and were the only nation to oppose Algeria’s right to self-determination, when they became independent, they had no shame. And when they took it upon themselves to support apartheid in what’s called South Africa … their (Israel’s) support of apartheid in Zambia and Zimbabwe and Mozambique and Angola, and in Namibia, who were colonized by the Germans, shows that Israel is consistent,” argued Mr. Egbuna.
“… For those in the U.S.-born African community who have propagated the notion that the last four and a half years for our people was worse than our first 396, Joe Biden is here to challenge that narrative,” said Mr. Egbuna. “Those of you who within his first 90 days, you gave him a passing grade, you were premature at best.” President Biden supports blockading Cuba, renewing sanctions on Zimbabwe, which he co-sponsored, favors sanctions on Venezuela, and is planning regime change in Eritrea, the activist added.
Cuba must have a permanent press corps in the Diaspora, and plans are underway for a meeting with Prensa Latina, Cuba’s official state news agency, by the end of 2021 to make that happen, said Mr. Egbuna.
The campaign first worked on pushing for the Henry Reed Medical Brigade to come to the United States. Now, it’s calling for the creation of a resource pool to support the 4,000 Cuban medical personnel strategically positioned all over the African continent, said Mr. Egbuna.
“There is an inextricable link between Cuba and Africa,” Amb. Cuesta said. “Wherever Africans are, we are seeing each other as sisters and brothers. If they are in Africa or in the U.S., there are a lot of reasons for us to continue engaging in our issues of interest for Africans and Cuba.”
And, as the Minister said in his Criterion message: “Cuba is ours. The Blacks of Cuba (are) our direct relationship. The Brown in Cuba, the mixture of the Black and the Spanish, that’s our family.”