Miguel Diaz-Canel says if we had globalised solidarity as the market was globalised, the story about the devastating coronavirus would have been different.
He stresses that, “COVID-19 has proven to be a global challenge. It goes beyond borders, ideologies or levels of development. Therefore, the answer to it must also be global and joint and it should put political differences aside. It is not possible to predict exactly the extent of its consequences. The high figures of infected persons and many human deaths are showing its devastating impact in an increasingly interconnected world which, still, has not been able to make use of such interconnection for the sake of solidarity and is paying today the price for its inability to correct serious social imbalances. It should be stated openly: Had we made solidarity global, as it was done with the market, the story would have been different. There is a lack of solidarity and cooperation. Those values cannot be replaced with profit-making, which is almost the only incentive for those who worship the market while forgetting about the value of human life. An analysis of the events that have disturbed humanity in the last four months must include the costly mistakes of neoliberal policies, which led to a downsizing of state management and capabilities, excessive privatizations and a neglect of the majorities. This pandemic has evidenced the fragility of a fractured and excluding world. Not even those who are most fortunate and powerful would survive in the absence of those whose work create and sustain wealth. The multiple crises it is bringing about foretell ravaging and lasting effects for the economy and all spheres of society. The pandemic is worsening the pressing problems in a planet riddled with deep inequalities and where 600 million people are living in dire poverty and nearly half of the population have no access to basic health services, whose management is defined by the market and not by the noble goal of saving lives. In the meantime, global military expenditures are over US $1.9 trillion, of which more than 38 per cent, or $732 billion, were appropriated in the United States in 2020…We must face selfishness and be aware that assistance from the industrialised North shall be scarce. We have to complement each other, share what we have, support ourselves mutually, and learn from successful experiences. A useful choice could be resuming in the future annual meetings of NAM health ministers in the framework of the World Health Assembly. Cuba is ready to share its experiences with the NAM countries to which it is bound by historic ties of friendship…In response to requests that were made, in the last month 25 new medical brigades of Cuban health professionals have joined the efforts in 23 countries to fight the pandemic. They have joined those who have been providing services already in 59 States, many of which are NAM members. Cuba shall not give up its solidarity vocation even when, out of political reasons, the US government continues attacking and obstructing the international cooperation being provided by our country, which jeopardises access to health services for tens of millions of people. We have a responsibility to combine our willingness and efforts to face this immense challenge. Let us promote international cooperation and solidarity. Our endeavour shall be decisive.”
We agree. And in doing so we recall the words of comandante Fidel Castro urging that, “Instead of spending so much in the development of increasingly sophisticated weapons, those having resources for that should promote medical research and put the results of science at the service of humanity, thus creating tools for health and life and not for death.”
In the last four months, the UN system has been urging solidarity as we face an invisible but common enemy. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exposed the rich North’s inherent healthcare system weakness. Whereas the disease has stretched the health systems of advanced countries like the US, France, UK, Italy and Spain, socialist states like China and Cuba have reminded the world of the imperative need not to privatise health just like education, water and sanitation.
Today Cuba tells us that, “The work resulting from years of resource appropriations to develop and strengthen health services and sciences has been put to a test and the evolution of the epidemic in Cuba in the last two months is showing the good impact social investment policies may have when facing the biggest and most unexpected challenges… In spite of the huge constraints being imposed on us by the protracted US economic, commercial and financial blockade, that are posing a big daily challenge to keeping our public health system in place and facing this pandemic in particular, we have ensured the right to health of the Cuban people with the involvement of society as a whole. Scientific development has allowed us to treat different communicable diseases successfully both in Cuba and in other nations. This time, the pharmaceutical industry has expanded the manufacturing of drugs of proven efficacy to prevent and deal with COVID-19 that we have shared with other countries.”
The COVID-19 fight can be won early enough with solidarity, unity and hope!
This is why we must equally heed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ plea: “COVID-19 continues its path of worsening destruction. We mourn the lives lost – more than 200,000. We despair that many more will follow, particularly in places least able to cope. I am particularly worried about the lack of sufficient solidarity with developing countries – both in equipping them to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which risks spreading like wildfire, and to address the dramatic economic and social impacts. As the virus rages, the United Nations has mobilised fully to save lives, stave off famine, ease the pain and plan for recovery. Our voice has been clear, calling for solidarity, unity and hope.”