Cubans will “always thank our American friends for all they do” to try to ease the impact of the U.S. blockade on Cuban health, says Leima Martinez of Cuba’s Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). But real change won’t happen, she suggested to an audience of students and health care professionals at American University in Washington Tuesday, until the U.S. Congress finally ends its failed blockade of Cuba.
Pointing to statistics presented to the United Nations that showed the blockade cost the Cuban health care system $82.3 million in 2014-15 alone, Martinez said that, “if the blockade ended tomorrow, we would have that $82 million to invest in health care for our people.”
The well-attended session at American University — which also featured Dr. Jesus Reno, the head of pediatric oncology at the National Institute of Oncology and Radiology in Havana, and Dr. Abraham Vela, a California-based graduate of the famed Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana — was one of two on Tuesday featuring our Cuban guests whjo came to Washington as part of this week’s Days of Action Against the Blockade. Later, Dr. Reno, Ms. Martinez and two other U.S.-graduates of ELAM — Dr. Mercedes Charles of Virginia and Dr. David Lavendar of Missouri — spoke at another event at the University of Maryland.
Meanwhile, teams of International Committee activists fanned out on Capitol Hill Tuesday advocating in nine Senate and House offices for action to end the blockade. They will continue their work on Wednesday and Thursday with more than 40 meetings scheduled.
The Days of Action continues for the rest of the week with advocacy and other activities, including a public event Thursday evening featuring Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States, José Ramon Cabañas as keynote speaker.
Complete details are the International Committee’s website: http://theinternationalcommittee.org/days-of-action/