by Mumia Abu-Jamal
The U.S., Haiti’s wealthiest northern neighbor, is a country which has had an outsized history of political, military and economic intervention, rushed in armed troops, like the 82nd Airborne – young men with weapons and war training – to a land facing a natural disaster from earthquake.
Cuba, although its next largest neighbor, is a country of modest means, with a GDP closer to African states than European ones. It sent 500 doctors, equipped with medical supplies, who helped to mobilize nearly 400 Haitian doctors, all graduates of their Latin American Medical School. The Haitians, like students from all over the world, trained for free in this Cuban medical school, now had the opportunity and chance to help their people.
Fidel Castro, a fervent writer since leaving office, wrote within days of the Jan. 12 earthquake:
“Hour after hour, day and night, the Cuban health professionals have worked nonstop in the few facilities that were able to stand, in tents and out in the parks and open air spaces, since the population fears new aftershocks. Cuban doctors worked to find and help their Haitian colleagues who lived in earthquake ravaged neighborhoods.”
In a pithy end to his essay, Fidel summed it up thus: “We send doctors, not soldiers!”
Source: “Fidel Castro on Haiti: Cuba Sends Doctors, Not Soldiers!” Labour & Trade Union Review, February 2010, pages 3-4. [London, England]
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