Nobel Peace Prize 2020 Nomination for the Cuban Medical Brigades
To the Nobel Peace Prize Committee:
In the midst of this global pandemic unprecedented in modern history, there is one group from a small country that has provided hope and inspiration to people around the world: the Cuban doctors and nurses that are part of the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade now working in 21 countries to fight Covid-19. In recognition of their magnificent solidarity and selflessness, saving thousands of lives by putting their own lives at risk, we urge you to award them this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The Henry Reeve Brigade is just one part of the Cuban medical system, coordinated by Cuban’s Ministry of Public Health, that has sent more health personnel to work overseas than the entire World Health Organization (WHO). It is named after a US-born soldier who fought for seven years in Cuba’s army of liberation against the Spanish in the war of independence. It was formed by the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 2005 after the US rejected an offer to send 1,500 Cuban doctors to provide assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The Brigade has been on the front lines providing disaster relief. Before COVID-19, the Brigade’s 7,400 voluntary health care workers had treated more than 3.5 million people in 21 countries ravaged by the world’s worst natural disasters and epidemics. An estimated 80,000 lives have been saved as a direct result of the Brigade’s front-line emergency medical treatments to patients in these countries. One of their most heroic acts was in 2014-2015, when the Brigade sent over 400 doctors, nurses and other health workers to West Africa to confront the dangerous Ebola pandemic, working in regions where healthcare facilities and even basic infrastructure such as roads and communications systems were minimal. This team constituted the single largest medical operation on the ground in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Now the Brigade is working globally to fight the pandemic. The world was so moved to see the Cubans going off to the most infected part of Italy, Lombardy, to help save lives. As of May 1, over 1,450 Cuban medical personnel are fighting COVID-19 in 21 countries: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Cape Verde, Dominica, Granada, Haiti, Honduras, Italy (Lombardy, and Piemonte), Jamaica, Nicaragua, Principality of Andorra, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Vicente and the Grenadines, Santa Lucia, South Africa, Suriname, Togo, and Venezuela.
Although we are aware that the nomination period has passed, we ask the Nobel Committee to make an exemption given the exceptional response by Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade to the global emergency caused by the coronavirus. Their example of selflessness, courage and solidarity in the midst of the pandemic is unparalleled and deserving of the world’s most prestigious peace prize.