Following the recent protests in Cuba, which highlighted the lack of resources and the impact of the pandemic on the island, several governments of Latin America and the Caribbean announced and put into practice delivery of humanitarian aid of medicines, hospital supplies and food for the Cuban people.
In July, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke out against a campaign of international assistance promoted by different artists. The Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the country was going through a “very complex” situation, but pointed out that the proposed route for help was distorted “and possibly ill-intentioned.”
The Cuban government asked donors to send donations through official channels. The director general of Consular Affairs and Cuban Residents Abroad of MINREX, Ernesto Soberón, explained that donations, whether in cash or materials, can be made through the embassies of Cuba, the official associations of Cubans abroad, or through an account opened by the Government, published on its official web pages.
More recently, new infections and hospitalizations have increased and overwhelmed the medical centers. Added to this situation is the serious shortage of medicines and basic products of the family basket and hygiene products, which has worsened in recent months. The government has since opened their borders to receive humanitarian help from neighboring countries and has been distributing them to the people.
In the beginning of August, humanitarian supplies arrived in ships, boats and airplanes. The Mexican government has sent several shipments of food, medicine, sanitary material, among other necessities.
Nicaragua’s Vice President Rosario Murillo also announced that Nicaragua would be sending cargo with food to be distributed among the people during this time of the pandemic.
#Nicaragua,Vicepresidente Rosario Murillo anunció que en los próximos días enviarán un barco con alimentos al pueblo y gobierno de Cuba, para contribuir en estos momentos de pandemias. @teleSURtv pic.twitter.com/DYq2h7LETD
— María JosE Díaz (@MariateleSUR) July 27, 2021
Bolivia’s President Luis Arce stated in a tweet that “Bolivia has benefited from Cuban solidarity in the past, in the form of medical brigades, eye surgeries through the program, Operacion Milagro and alphabetization programs.” Bolivia donated 20 tons of humanitarian assistance; among them, 16.5 tons of food and a ton of biosafety supplies.
Hoy #Cuba atraviesa dificultades por el criminal bloqueo. Mañana aprobaremos un decreto para enviar un avión con jeringas y alimentos para el pueblo cubano. Aprendimos de Cuba que la solidaridad es compartir lo poco que se tiene con quienes más lo necesitan. ¡Viva el 26 de julio! pic.twitter.com/fFGN1LiEsg
— Luis Alberto Arce Catacora (Lucho Arce) (@LuchoXBolivia) July 28, 2021
The official press stated that there were other countries sending aid including Russia, Vietnam, and Venezuela. Latin America is not the only area where efforts are being made. In Europe, there are preparations being made to send cargoes of humanitarian aid where medical supplies are primarily being sent to support the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Cuba.
The July protests stirred Cubans across ideologies. Internationally, there have been declarations against police repression of citizens who participated in the protests and support for the right to protest, which has allowed Cubans to voice their concerns about their country.
The crisis in Cuba still continues and supplies of aid are greatly needed. One particular donor, the Catholic charity, Caritas Internacional is one of the few independent organizations in Cuba with connections abroad. The organization has been flying in personal protective equipment, face masks, medicine, among other medical necessities. Other countries helping Cuba include, Venezuela, Russia, and China providing ventilators.
A recent, U.S. Department of State Fact Sheet commented on the U.S. stance on the embargo:
“The embargo remains in place, but U.S. law and regulations include exemptions and authorizations relating to exports of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods to Cuba.” The U.S. government expedites requests of humanitarian aid to Cuba through the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, and Transportation and other options.
“As we hold the Cuban regime accountable, our support for the Cuban people is unwavering and we are making sure Cuban Americans are a vital partner in our efforts to provide relief to suffering people on the Island.”–statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
There is a general policy of approval for the following categories of exports, subject to certain conditions:
- Medicines and medical devices, whether sold or donated.
- Telecommunications items that would improve communications to, from, and among the Cuban people.
- Items necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation and the safe operation of commercial aircraft engaged in international air transportation.
- Items necessary for the environmental protection of U.S. and international air quality, waters or coastlines, including items related to renewable energy or energy efficiency.
There is a case-by-case review policy for the following categories of items:
- Items to meet the needs of the Cuban people, including items for export or reexport to state-owned enterprises, agencies, and other organizations of the Cuban government that provide goods and services for the use and benefit of the Cuban people.
My name is Nancy Ortega and I am a current undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Animal Science and Spanish, but began my studies at Rio Hondo College. I am the proud daughter of two immigrants and the sister of a Dreamer. My interest in Latin America emerged due to the passion from my high school Spanish teacher. I became interested in the variety of cultures, the unique people, and the history still to be uncovered from underrepresented countries. In Latina Republic, I want to expand the beauty and complexity of Latin America and enrich my mind, as well as that of the readers, throughout this new experience. I look forward to meeting interesting individuals, hearing new stories, and coming out with a fresh mind set.