Italian Friends of the Cuban Regime Finance the Sending of Ambulances With the Sale of Cuban Coffee and Rum

The official press announced the donation to Santiago de Cuba of four Italian ambulances, two of them still waiting to be picked up at the port.  (Sierra Maestra)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 September 2023 — The left-wing Italian association Filorosso has financed the shipment to Cuba of used ambulances and medical supplies with the sale, in Italy, of coffee, rum and food made on the Island. The most recent shipment provided by the organization, based in the city of Lavis (province of Taranto), arrived last Tuesday in Santiago de Cuba.

Founded as a “non-profit” and “social and health assistance” entity in 1997, Filorosso sells a dozen Cuban products that are almost impossible to obtain on the Island itself.

One kilogram of coffee beans from the Frente Oriental brand – which is produced in Santiago but is not marketed on the Island – is sold for 15 euros, while a 250-gram package of that product, ground, costs 4.50. Tierra Libre chocolate powder, made in Villa Clara, is worth 3 euros, and a jar of honey of the same brand reaches 4.50. There is sugar at 3 euros, guava candy bars also at 3, habanero chili at 4 and peanut nougat, made by the private company Bormey de Santa Clara, at 2.50. The most expensive product is the bottle of Varadero rum – 3, 5 and 7 years old – which rises to 18 euros.

Filorosso sells a dozen Cuban products that are almost impossible to get on the Island itself

The purchase of these items is made by calling and picking up the product at the organization’s headquarters. In a promotional video, Tiziano Giongo, executive secretary of Filorosso, says that the money resulting from the sale of the products “will facilitate the economic situation of Cuba.”

Filorosso, in collaboration with other Italian organizations such as the Agency for Cultural and Economic Exchange with Cuba, maintains regular contact with the Government of the Island and with the authorities of those provinces from which it extracts most of its products: Villa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.

On Tuesday, the official press announced the donation of four ambulances – two of them still waiting to be picked up at the port – to the Department of Medical Emergencies of the Santiago municipality of Contramaestre and the provincial capital. These are used vehicles in “excellent state of conservation.” They also have cardiovascular monitors, pulmonary ventilators, resuscitators and equipment for intubations, all funded by Guido Gasperotti, president of Filorosso, said one of the ambulance drivers.

Although the authorities affirmed that this is “the first of the shipments that are being made as a contribution to the health system,” Filorosso had already sent two other ambulances to Villa Clara on April 15. As in the case of Santiago, the cities benefited were two: Sagua la Grande and Santa Clara.

Several posts on Filorosso’s Facebook page show that the shipment of ambulances is paid for with the benefits from the sale of Cuban products. An announcement by the association in March asked its members to buy an Easter egg, made with Cuban chocolate, for a price of 15 euros. The total amount of the purchase, they promised, would be dedicated to the project “Health emergency: ambulances for Cuba,” which plans the delivery of seven vehicles in total, with “residual utility.”

The purchase of these items is made by calling and picking up the product at the organization’s headquarters

In 2017, Filorosso invited Aleida Guevara, daughter of Ernesto Che Guevara, to give a lecture on “Economic Reform, the Blockade and Health in Cuba” to the members of the Italy-Cuba Friendship Association, which has a Che Guevara Center in Trento.

Last May, Filorosso sponsored the presentation of the book Sol y Revolución, by the writer Roberto Vallepiano, dedicated to “discovering the spell” of Fidel Castro’s Revolution and its impact on Latin America. Finally, this July, they financed a “Cuban party” on a ranch in the countryside of Trento, also for “humanitarian purposes.”

The closeness of Filorosso and the Agency for Cultural and Economic Exchange with Cuba is such that Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel dedicated a mention to its young members, members of the Gino Doné brigade, during his speech at the Moncada barracks on July 26.  Last August, young Italians were photographed carrying red and black flags and slogans in support of the Havana regime.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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