14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 10 July 2021 — Cuban citizens have mobilized to help Matanzas, the province with the most serious situation due to COVID-19. Cuban emigrants, opponents, activists and international organizations are compiling donations and also advocating for the creation of a humanitarian corridor to Cuba in the face of the acute health crisis that the country is experiencing.
Dozens of complaints in different provinces, mainly Matanzas, have shown the collapse of hospitals, deaths of covid patients in homes, lack of medicines and medical supplies and insufficient attention from the Cuban health system. With the hashtag #SOSCuba, social networks have made dozens of these cases visible.
For its part, the Council for Democratic Transition in Cuba, recently created in Cuba, issued a Declaration of Humanitarian Crisis this Saturday in which it states that “the chaotic health situation in Matanzas” reflects “a triple crisis” in Cuba: of leadership, of model and of human rights.”
“It is cruel nonsense that many of our countrymen don’t have the necessary and basic resources to successfully face the COVID-19 pandemic and that the Government prevents others from helping, and even persecutes those who try to help the ones who need it most,” denounced the Council, made up of opponents, activists and independent journalists.
In addition, they expressed their support for the position of the Free Cuban Medical Association that requests “an urgent humanitarian intervention” in Cuba, and for the campaign promoted by Cuban emigrants who “ask the Government of Cuba, solely responsible for this crisis, to create a humanitarian aid corridor to alleviate the consequences of a self-inflicted disaster situation.”
“It is cruel nonsense that many of our countrymen don’t have the necessary and basic resources to successfully face the COVID-19 pandemic”
Contrary to accepting aid from Cubans outside the island, from international organizations or from other countries, “the government continues to be stuck in a mixture of arrogance and immature petulance, believing that only it can face a complex situation.” The result of this refusal, continues the Council, is “the combination of a potential famine with a health crisis on automatic pilot”, denounces the Council.
From Spain, with the tags #SOSCuba, #SOSMatanzas and #CorredorHumanitarioYa, several activists have created, on digital platforms such as Change.org, appeals to request logistical support and diplomatic mediation in the creation of a humanitarian corridor to Cuba. This is the case of the initiative managed by Massiel Rubio to send medicines and medical supplies from Madrid.
According to Rubio, the donations “are used to buy and pay for supplies and shipments that go directly to the neediest people.” He also assures that the aid is reaching Cuba thanks to people who “have donated their kilograms(i.e. luggage weight allowance)” when flying to the country.
Since last April, Rubio, along with other activists and artists, had demanded this corridor from the Government of Miguel Díaz-Canel. They demanded the opening of “humanitarian flights” in view of “the serious health crisis, shortages of medicine, food and cleaning products” that Cuba is undergoing.
In midweek, the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC) advocated for international solidarity and the support of Cubans living abroad, in the face of “the COVID-19 catastrophe in Cuba” that “has exposed the nation’s pre-existing problems and plunged the country into an extreme humanitarian crisis.”
The NGO (Non-Government Organization) calls on Cuban authorities “to enable and support the cohesive flow of material and human resources” of Cuban emigrants and to help implement a “civic and solidarity chain” that includes humanitarian naval flights and transportation. It also affirms that “this tragedy can be an opportunity for everyone to demonstrate in practice their love for the country above their mutual differences. To block shipments would be a crime against humanity.”
The regime’s response has not been long in coming. The official press and voices related to the Government have described these campaigns as “opportunistic,” and consider them an instrument for “discrediting” the Cuban health system.
“The COVID-19 catastrophe in Cuba has exposed pre-existing national problems and precipitated the country into an extreme humanitarian crisis”
Official journalist Arleen Rodríguez Derivet, one of the directors of the Roundtable, insisted that the “#SOSMatanzas” initiative is “a campaign that looks very well organized” and that it tries to “raise alleged humanitarian motives to carry out humanitarian aggressions” and then “military interventions.” Rodríguez made her statements on her program Chapeando Bajito, which is broadcast on Radio Rebelde station.
Johana Tablada, Cuba’s Deputy Director General for the United States in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also posted on Twitter that “the real objective of some who today promote” such campaigns as the humanitarian corridor for Cuba is “to divert attention from the main responsibility of the US blockade that threatens the well-being, integrity, life and health of our population every day.”
This Saturday, at a press conference, Dr. Francisco Durán, National Director of Epidemiology, considered it an “important” measure to extend, from seven to fourteen days, the isolation of travelers arriving through the Varadero and Cayo Coco airports. The provision, which will begin to be implemented on July 15th, was also confirmed by the Civil Defense, which clarified that these travelers are limited to entering the country with only one piece of luggage “to reduce handling.”
Durán also specified that 6,750 positive cases of covid and 31 deaths were confirmed this Friday, figures that represent two new records in these daily reports. Of the total number of cases, 2,657 were registered in Matanzas, the province with the highest number of infections at this time.
Translated by Norma Whiting
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