Recent Outreach Activities on the Cuban Five

1. Steve Brouwer, author of Revolutionary Doctors, How Venezuela and Cuba are changing the World’s Conception of Health Care, recently completed a Midwest book tour. Speaking about his book at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, Venezuela Consulate in Chicago, Purdue University, Westville, Indiana, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Rainbow Bookstore, Madison, he also brought up the case of the Cuban 5 and explained its importance to the Cuban people.

By far the largest event was at the UIC School of Public Health, where several student groups at the school, as the Illinois Single Payer Coalition, worked to turn out a crowd of 150, about 120 from the school.

This was the first time the students had heard of the Cuban 5 case. Peter Orris, Director of Occupational Health Service Institute at UIC, who is leading a medical delegation to Cuba, also spoke about the Cuban community health system and reviewed the case of the Cuban 5. He told the audience they should support freedom for the Cuban 5 and should tell everyone they know about the case.

Brouwer reviewed the development of Cuba’s system of  community medicine, noting that it took Cuba until 1976 to fully replace the 3000 doctors who left in 1959, half of the country’s doctors at the time. Now Cuba has 80,000 doctors, and Cuba and Venezuela together have 72,000 students in medical school, more than the 68,000 in the US. None of these 72,000 need pay for their education.

To invite him to speak, contact:

2.Cuban Five Outreach at the School of Americas Protest

The SOA Watch’s protest at Columbus, Georgia is the largest annual event in the US in defense of the peoples of Latin America. This year members of the Chicago, Louisville and Maine Cuba 5 committees teamed up with representatives of Vets for Peace to get out information on the case to the 4000 or so attendees at the Latin America solidarity event. For two days we handed out our palm card on the Cuban 5, which included a statement by Jimmy Carter and the bulk of the recent letter of Joan Brown Campbell to President Obama asking him to free the five.

On the last day, Sunday, November 18, Rev. Dan Dale of the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ gave a forceful speech from the rally’s stage about the Cuban 5.He explained the 5 were monitoring the kind of terrorists the School of Americas produces, such as Posada Carriles, and helped make this information available to the FBI. Yet, the FBI arrested them, letting the terrorists remain free. The Cuban 5 are fighting the same fight as those at the SOA protest, and all here should be supporting their freedom.

There were numerous workshops at the SOA protest. One by the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, on the Mexican Peace Caravan, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and one by the Haiti Action Committee. Father Melo of Radio Progreso spoke on Honduras, and Lisa Sullivan and Charlie Hardy on Venezuela. A Labor Caucus was sponsored by the leadership of the UAW and the International Relations Department of the AFL-CIO. Other workshops addressed the movement in Chile, Paraguay, El Salvador, the example of Nicaragu. There were 3 on Colombia, one by Witness for Peace, one by the Killer Coke campaign, and one on the Marcha Patriotica.

Two SOA workshops were about Cuba, one by the Let Cuba Live Committee of Maine, about Guantanamo prison. There, Colonel Ann Wright joined Lorraine Bartlett, former Guantanamo defense attorney, and spoke of the human cruelty and degradation of the prison. Pres. Obama has declared that a number of prisoners at Guantanamo will never be charged, will never go to trial, yet will remain imprisoned in Guantanamo. Bartlett brought up the Cuban 5 in her talk as another example of indefinite detention without the right to a fair trial.

The Maine committee and the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5 had a workshop, attended by about 25, on the US war on Cuba and its achievements. This included a summary of the Cuban 5 case.

Unlike our experience the first year we attended the SOA protest, five years ago, many there knew of the case, and we were often thanked for our work. This included some of the well-known people who attended, Col. Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, and Lorraine Bartlett.

3.  Matching Fund for Cuba Hurricane Relief

Our $4000 matching fund for Hurricane Sandy Cuba relief has now received over $2500 in donations. Much of it has come from outside Chicago. The matching fund will continue for some more weeks, and may be raised by other organizations.

You may write a check payable to “Global Links” or “MEDICC,” two U.S. organizations that have a license to send medical aid to Cuba, but mail your check to:

Gisela Lopez
7617 N. Eastlake Terrace
Chicago, Ill. 60626

or: Stansfield Smith
2961 S. Bonaparte
Chicago, Ill.60608

or: Nancy Mikelsons
528 S. Humphrey
Oak Park, Il. 60304

Please mail it to one of us for the money to be matched. Thanks.

Dear friends,

We have a matching fund for Hurricane Sandy relief donations to Cuba. In 2008 supporters of Cuba in Chicago raised almost $4000 to aid Cuba recover from hurricanes that year. This year we have a matching fund of $4000, so that every dollar you give is doubled.

You may write a check payable to “Global Links” or “Medicc,” two U.S. organizations that have a license to send medical aid to Cuba (see below), and mail your check to:

Gisela Lopez                           or           Stansfield Smith                    or  Nancy Mikelsons

7617 N. Eastlake Terrace                     2961 S. Bonaparte                     528 S. Humphrey

Chicago, Ill. 60626                               Chicago, Ill. 60608                      Oak Park, Il. 60304

Please mail it to one of us for the money to be matched. Thanks.

    Hurricane Sandy devastated the heroic city of Santiago de Cuba, destroying houses, damaging public buildings and monuments, leaving the city without water supply, electricity, shops, markets and trees. There were no factories, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, money exchange centers, museums, cultural centers, sports facilities or anything else that didn’t suffer damage. Santiago is going to have to rebuild from scratch. There wasn’t a single tree — not one — still standing. They are either on the ground or crashed onto buildings and houses, and all the poles and wires are on the ground.

Despite massive evacuations, it took a toll of some 11 human lives, an unusually high number in Cuba for hurricanes (mainly by collapsing buildings) — 132,733 houses were affected with 15,322 totally destroyed and 43,426 losing roofs. Massive damage, not yet fully calculated, was caused in Guantánamo and Holguín before the hurricane left this province near Banes, precisely where hurricane Ike had entered four years earlier.

Hurricane Sandy also decimated the Cuban coffee crop, leaving between 20% and 30% of the coffee crop on the ground, damaged processing centres and felled thousands of trees upon plantations as it pummelled the Sierra Maestra Mountains, where 92 per cent of the crop is grown. Around 50 per cent of sugar cane in the region was damaged..

The emergency measures are well underway. Roads to healthcare centers and other essential services were speedily cleared. Linemen have been arriving from seven provinces to work together with local ones to restore electricity and telephone services. Roofing materials are arriving from neighboring provinces such as Las Tunas. Temporary systems have been set up to provide 85% of the affected population with drinking water, and food supplies have been arriving from throughout Cuba to Santiago and other severely affected parts of eastern Cuba. Cultural activity has not been overlooked, with some cultural centers being promptly and reopened, with artists from different parts of the country to join local artists in lifting the spirits of the people.

Good friends of Cuba have also been prompt to supply assistance. However, the need remains great. Cuba continues to give its help to Haiti, which, although not directly hit by Sandy, suffered much destruction from flooding, with scores of lives lost.

MEDICC and Global Links Send Hurricane Relief to Santiago, Cuba

Global Links and Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) have a joint humanitarian campaign to send hurricane relief to Santiago, Cuba, the country’s second largest city, devastated by Hurricane Sandy on October 25th.

As the United States battens down for Hurricane Sandy, Cubans have begun digging out from the devastation—with far fewer resources at their disposal, in part due to the US embargo. To restore power, 72 crews of linesmen work day and night. In the fields, farmers salvage the crops they can.

Trucks and trains haul food, 4,000 tons of cement and some 84,000 sheets of roofing eastward to Santiago. The province—including Cuba’s second largest city of the same name and the country’s highest mountain range—was the hardest hit. Today, over one million people there struggle to pick up their homes and lives amidst the ruins.

MEDICC and Global Links, with the aid of the Pan American Health Organization, are sending medical supplies and equipment, chlorine tablets, hospital furnishings and critical medical books for the medical school to Santiago and other provinces directly hit by the storm.
The two organizations have a strong history of successful humanitarian collaboration, including continuing support for building a sustainable public health system in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Global Links and MEDICC are accepting donations for this relief effort. You can help the people of Santiago recover, your donations giving them the extra courage it takes to face such a disaster. Go to MEDICC to make your online donation.

Global Links is a Pittsburgh-based not-for-profit medical relief and development organization dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship in the region, while improving the health of underserved people in resource-poor communities throughout the hemisphere and here at home.

Global Links has provided more than $176 million in critical medical aid to developing nations since 1989.

MEDICC is a non-profit Oakland, California-based organization working since 1997 to enhance cooperation among the US, Cuban and global health communities aimed at better health outcomes and equity. MEDICC publishes MEDICC Review, the only peer-reviewed journal on Cuban health and medicine and produced the award-winning documentary ¡Salud! . MEDICC coordinates educational exchanges in Cuba for US health professionals and supports students and graduates of Havana’s Latin American Medical School.

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