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Cuba’s Medical Mission

This article will be published on February 29th.

John M. Kirk, Health Care without Borders: Understanding Cuban Medical Internationalism (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2015), 376 pages, $79.95, hardback.

When the Ebola virus began to spread through western Africa in fall 2014, much of the world panicked. Soon, over 20,000 people were infected, more than 8,000 had died, and worries mounted that the death toll could reach into hundreds of thousands. The United States provided military support; other countries promised money. Cuba was the first nation to respond with what was most needed: it sent 103 nurses and 62 doctors as volunteers to Sierra Leone. With 4,000 medical staff (including 2,400 doctors) already in Africa, Cuba was prepared for the crisis before it began: there had already been nearly two dozen Cuban medical personnel in Sierra Leone.… Since many governments did not know how to respond to Ebola, Cuba trained volunteers from other nations at Havana’s Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine. In total, Cuba taught 13,000 Africans, 66,000 Latin Americans, and 620 Caribbeans how to treat Ebola without being infected. It was the first time that many had heard of Cuba’s emergency response teams.… The Ebola experience is one of many covered in John Kirk’s new book Health Care without Borders: Understanding Cuban Medical Internationalism.

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Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History

Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History

Forthcoming in April 2016

The 1959 Cuban Revolution remains one of the signal events of modern political history. A tiny island, once a de facto colony of the United States, declared its independence, not just from the imperial behemoth ninety miles to the north, but also from global capitalism itself. Cuba’s many achievements—in education, health care, medical technology, direct local democracy, actions of international solidarity with the oppressed—are globally unprecedented. And the United States, in light of Cuba’s humanitarian efforts, has waged a relentless campaign of terrorist attacks on the island and its leaders, while placing Cuba on its “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list.

In this updated edition of her classic, Cuba and the United States, Jane Franklin depicts the two countries’ relationship from the time both were colonies to the present. We see the early connections between Cuba and the United States through slavery; through the sugar trade; Cuba’s multiple wars for national liberation; the annexation of Cuba by the United States; the infamous Platt Amendment that entitled the United States to intervene directly in Cuban affairs; the gangster capitalism promoted by Cuban dictator Fulgencio Battista; and the guerilla war that brought the revolutionaries to power.

A new chapter updating the fraught Cuban-U.S. nexus brings us well into the 21st century, with a look at the current status of Assata Shakur, the Cuban Five, and the post-9/11 years leading to the expansion of diplomatic relations. Offering a range of primary and secondary sources, the book is an outstanding scholarly work. Cuba and the U.S. Empire brings new meaning to Simón Bolívar’s warning in 1829, that the United States “appears destined by Providence to plague America with miseries in the name of Freedom.”

Whether one reads it as a history, or keeps it handy as a ready reference…this is a book that no serious student of U.S.-Cuba relations can afford to be without.

—Philip Brenner, American University

A marvelous work that puts the U.S. government’s outrageous aggression into stark and stunning context.

—John Marciano, State University of New York

This chronology provides scholars with an essential and long overdue research tool.

—Louis A. Pérez, Jr., University of North Carolina

Jane Franklin has been an internationally acclaimed historian and peace and justice activist since 1960. The author of several books on Cuba and Panama, she has published in various periodicals including The Nation and The Progressive, and appears frequently on radio and TV as a commentator about U.S.-Cuba relations. Some of her work is available at janefranklin.info.

A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution: How the Working Class Shaped the Guerillas' Victory

A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution: How the Working Class Shaped the Guerrillas’ Victory

Forthcoming in February 2016

Millions of words have been written about the Cuban Revolution, which, to both its supporters and detractors, is almost universally understood as being won by a small band of guerillas. In this unique and stimulating book, Stephen Cushion turns the conventional wisdom on its head, and argues that the Cuban working class played a much more decisive role in the Revolution’s outcome than previously understood. Although the working class was well-organized in the 1950s, it is believed to have been too influenced by corrupt trade union leaders, the Partido Socialist Popular, and a tradition of making primarily economic demands to have offered much support to the guerillas. Cushion contends that the opposite is true, and that significant portions of the Cuban working class launched an underground movement in tandem with the guerillas operating in the mountains.

Monthly Review, December 2014 (Volume 66, Number 7)

December 2014 (Volume 66, Number 7)

Notes from the Editors

In 1832, when the global cholera pandemic was approaching Manchester—as a young Frederick Engels was later to recount in The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)—“a universal terror seized the bourgeoisie of the city. People remembered the unwholesome dwellings of the poor, and trembled before the certainty that each of these slums would become a centre for the plague, whence it would spread desolation in all directions through the houses of the propertied class.” As a result, Engels noted, various official inquiries were commissioned into the condition of the poor. But little was done in the end to combat the social factors that facilitated the spread of the disease.… One can see an analogous situation today in the growing concern that has materialized in the United States and other wealthy nations over the Ebola epidemic in Africa.

Our Feminist Poet on Che

Margaret Randall, Che on My Mind (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013), 160 pages, $19.95, paperback.

If you have not been thinking about Che, now you will. Our gifted poet, feminist author, and revolutionary thinker has given us a spare and ethical meditation on the lingering life and death of Ernesto Che Guevara. With infinite care and honesty, Margaret Randall circles deeper and more fully into the liberation ideas and actions that she, and our era, were inspired by and sought—as manifest in the young doctor from Argentina who joined the revolutionary struggle for a liberated Cuba, encouraged and supported rebel forces across the continents of South America and Africa, embodied the hope and anti-imperialism of the third world project, and improbably initiated and fought guerilla armed conflict in the Congo and then Bolivia, where he was killed.

Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution

Nothing makes me more hopeful than discovering another human being to admire. My wonder at the life of Celia Sánchez, a revolutionary Cuban woman virtually unknown to Americans, has left me almost speechless. In hindsight, loving and admiring her was bound to happen, once I knew her story. Like Frida Kahlo, Zora Neale Hurston, Rosa Luxemburg, Agnes Smedley, Fannie Lou Hamer, Josephine Baker, Harriet Tubman, or Aung San Suu Kyi, Celia Sánchez was that extraordinary expression of life that can, every so often, give humanity a very good name.

“Fidel Castro is dying” by Fidel Castro

In the following message, Fidel Castro ridicules the most recent “Fidel Castro is dying” lies of the global imperialist media. He also explains his decision to cease publishing his “Reflections” – a modest assessment that there are other more important matters to occupy the Cuban press. Nonetheless, monthlyreview.org shall maintain the complete “Reflections” blog as an historically unparalleled instance of honest comment on world events as they occurred, by the leading political figure of our time.

Deng Xiaoping

He professed to be a wise man, and in fact he was. But he made a little mistake.

“Cuba must be punished”, he said one day. Our country had never even pronounced his name.

It was an absolutely unwarranted offence.

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

June 14, 2012

1:40 p.m.

Alberto Juantorena

His prestige is gaining strength as an example of Cuba´s great sporting figures. His age and health portray him as the ideal prototype to preside over the Cuban Olympic Committee.

Such predictions seem to be right!

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

June 13, 2012

1:55 p.m.

Teofilo Stevenson

Stevenson has left us. The news arrived yesterday after 4:00 p.m. No other amateur boxer shone so much in the history of that sport. He could have achieved another two Olympic titles had it not  been for certain duties that the principles of internationalism imposed on the Revolution. No money in the world would have been enough to bribe Stevenson.

Glory be to his memory forever!

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Fidel Castro Ruz

June 12, 2012

3:15 p.m.

An Honest Clarification

Some days ago, on May 28, the violent battle waged at El Uvero was commemorated with well deserved references. An elemental duty forces me to clarify the facts.

During those weeks, Manuel Piñeiro, “Red Beard”, as the leopard, who never changes its spots, as the saying goes, managed to send to Santiago de Cuba a truckload of weapons that had a connection to the attack against the Presidential Palace by the Revolutionary Directorate. Somehow he had managed to take hold of them. Frank País, who was the national actions chief of our “26 of July Movement”, sent a significant part of that cargo to the troublesome zone of the Sierra Maestra, where our incipient Rebel Army was rising alive from its ashes.

That learning period had been extremely tough. Step by step we started to gain our first victories, through which we were able to increase our strength in weapons and men without suffering any casualty. We were also forced to cope with the dangerous treason perpetrated by Eutimio Guerra, who had been a rebel peasant until the moment when he yielded to the bountiful offers made by the enemy. Despite all obstacles and with the support of the men and means sent by Frank we began to create the first guerrilla detachment with a vanguard that was headed by Camilo; a rearguard that was commanded by Efigenio Ameijeiras; the centre forces made up by small platoons and the General Command. We already had a group of seasoned fighters who had conveniently adapted to the conditions of the theatre of operations when we received a significant cache of weapons that were rescued by “Red Beard” and had been conveyed to us hidden inside some barrels filled with thick grease.

Was it correct, from the military and revolutionary points of view, to attack the entrenched and well armed garrison close to the seashore, in the same place used to ship the timber extracted from that area? Why did we do so?

It so happened that at that time, on the month of May, the “Corynthia” expedition had already landed, headed by Calixto Sánchez White. A strong feeling of solidarity made us launch the attack against the military garrison at El Uvero.

In full honesty I should say that the decision adopted, leaving out the merit of the solidarity it entailed wasn’t in the least correct. Our role, which prevailed over any other goal, just as had been the case throughout our entire revolutionary life, was not in accordance with that decision.

I remember the first gunshot I made with the telescopic sight rifle that I had, aiming to the radio communication equipment of the garrison. After that shot, tens of bullets were fired against the enemy command post. That was why the adversary did not know that its garrison was under attack. Thus, at least for three hours neither bombs nor shells were shot against us, something that usually happened, without exception, hardly 20 minutes after the beginning of every battle. Without the presence of these factors, it was quite likely that this decision, which was only inspired by solidarity, would have reduced our troops of almost one hundred veterans, in which case we would have had to go through the same hazardous journey all over again, something that would have been for us the best case scenario.

It was under such circumstances that Almeida was shot in the chest; he was spared from a far more serious wound thanks to something made of metal that he was carrying in his pocket, as he remembered. Guillermo García, wearing a helmet he found for himself in the first combat, waged a hard-fought battle with the defender of a fort made of thick logs. Che, who was shooting with a machine gun that usually got jammed, left his position in order to engage those who were fighting Almeida. And Raúl moved on with his small platoon to fight the soldiers who entrenched themselves among the piles of logs that were ready for shipment. All this happened before the fighter bombers came into the scene. Julio Díaz, a courageous fighter who was shooting with a tripod, could not advance any further. He was lying by my side with a deadly gunshot in his forehead.

Is there a better understanding now about what happened on May 28, 1957, 55 years ago?

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

June 1st, 2012

4:36 p.m.

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