Cuba has slammed the U.S.’ “criminal blockade” of the country after the embargo stood in the way of the delivery of Covid-19 test kits and ventilators donated by Chinese e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma.
“The criminal blockade of the imperial government violates the human rights of the Cuban people,” tweeted Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermúdez on Wednesday.
Cuba’s envoy to Beijing, Carlos Miguel Pereira, explained that an American firm was hired to deliver medical goods necessary to fight Covid-19, which were donated by a fund run by Jack Ma, Chinese philanthropist and owner of e-commerce giant Alibaba. However, the firm refused to deliver the shipment “at the last minute,” Pereira said.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, the company had specifically worried about the possibility of violating the 1995 US Helms-Burton Act, which strengthened sanctions against Cuba.
Cuba has 212 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with six deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Ma announced last month that his foundation would donate emergency medical supplies to Cuba and 23 other Caribbean and South American nations. The donation was said to include 2 million masks, 400,000 test kits, and 104 ventilators.
The US has maintained a trade embargo against Cuba since 1960.
Continue work to combat COVID-19 with rigor and precision
At the meeting held March 31 by the Cuban government to review the COVID-19 situation, decisions were made to reinforce measures to contain infections, including the suspension of arrivals to the country of all passenger aircraft.
A report by Yaima Puig Meneses in Granma on April 2, 2020 said:
President Miguel Díaz-Canel called to continue work to contain the coronavirus with great precision and rigor, and with the support of the population since the success of our efforts to confront the pandemic depend on these principles, during the March 31 meeting of the Cuban government, to review the COVID-19 situation in the country, make decisions to advance the effort, and evaluate those made previously, as has become the norm every afternoon.
Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz commented that some 230 government measures have been adopted, and implementation is moving forward as projected.
He stated that, given the advance of the pandemic globally, and in line with Cuba’s prevention and control plan, the decision was made to request the withdrawal of all foreign vessels from our territorial waters.
He noted that, as the Revolution has taught us, if any situation arises regarding the health of crew members or passengers, technical problems, or fuel supplies, our government will, of course, respond as needed.
The current context also demands the suspension of arrivals to the country of all passenger aircraft, regularly scheduled or charter flights, he stated, since this poses an additional risk for our people.
In this case and as previously announced, exceptions will always be made, for our international brigades, the delivery of donations from another government, an emergency that requires facilitating airport services, or the arrival of needed supplies and merchandise, etc.
May Day parade suspended
A Granma report said:
The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, presided over a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party, during which the decision was made to cancel May Day parades, and postpone the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) Congress.
These decisions were made in compliance with measures that the country has adopted, as part of the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Plan.
During this meeting, the President called on the Federation of Cuban Workers (CTC) to make proposals for May Day celebrations in accordance with current conditions, so that International Workers Day is not overlooked.