Cuba.Vaccine.Con

Establishment media supplies ad copy for Cuba’s Stalinist regime.

“Cuba’s socialist approach to developing vaccines against Covid-19 differs strikingly from that of capitalist nations of the world developing vaccines. Socialist Cuba’s production of four vaccines is grounded in science, in a dedication to saving the lives of all Cubans, and in international solidarity.”

That is from “Cuba develops COVID-19 vaccines, takes socialist approach,” in the February 4 People’s World. According to author W.T. Whitney, a former pediatrician and “Cuba solidarity activist” focused on health and “anti-racism,” the technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “may be less safe than the one used in Cuban vaccines.” The American approach to producing and distributing Covid-19 vaccines, Whitney contends, is not like that of Cuba, a country not subject to the profit motive.

Capitalist nations, on the other hand, “all too easily adjust to U.S. regulations used to enforce that government’s economic blockade of Cuba. Offering little substantive resistance to the blockade, they are complicit, we think, in that cruel U.S. policy. The U.S. blockade hinders Cuba’s vaccine efforts, and the other capitalist nations are not blameless.”

And so on, what one would expect from a publication that, as the website explains, is a continuation of the Daily Worker, founded in 1924. As it happens, the same brand of communist ad copy turned up in a story on Cuba’s “homegrown” vaccination program by Dr. Marianne Guenot in the February 15 Business Insider.

“After the revolution of 1959,” according to Guenot, “foreign and domestically-owned pharma companies were nationalized, and the Cuban government has run a centralized biotech industry ever since.” Guenot’s primary source is Helen Yaffe, a “Cuba expert” and author of We Are Cuba!: How a Revolutionary People Have Survived in a Post-Soviet World. As Yaffe explains,  “in the advanced capitalist countries in Europe and the US, we don’t know much about Cuba's prowess in medical science and global health.”

According to Yaffe, Cuba’s biotech industry is “owned by the state and not supported by speculative financing,” and “its priority is not to make money, but prioritize health outcomes.”

For further reading in this genre, consider “Coronavirus Vaccine Nears Final Tests in Cuba. Tourists May Be Inoculated,” by Ed Augustin and Natalie Kitroeff in the February 17 New York Times.

“Cuba is floating the idea of enticing tourists to its shores with the irresistible cocktail of sun, sand and a shot of Sovereign 2,” the vaccine now being tested. During the early stages of the pandemic, according to Augustin and Kitroeff, “anyone diagnosed with the virus was immediately hospitalized and put on a cocktail of Cuban and generic drugs.” In this process, Cuba was “leaning on its tight control of the population and an efficient system for delivering health care.”

The New York Times’ authors provide no scientific breakdown of the “cocktail” of unnamed drugs Cubans were forced to take, what similarity it bears to the version for tourists, or what the tourists will have to pay for the “irresistible cocktail.”  In other ways, however, the authors left a key by the front door.

“People wait in line for four hours to buy detergent in Havana,” readers learn in the first line.  “Cuban pharmacies are out of pain medication. There are national bread shortages.” As it turns out, a nation barren of liberties is also barren of groceries. Cuba is a Communist dictatorship, one of the most repressive regimes in the world, and also a bastion of white supremacy.

Cuba’s 800,000 African slaves were twice the number in the United States. Cuba did not abolish slavery until 1886 and there was no equivalent of the historically black colleges in the USA. By some estimates, only one third of Cubans are whites, with two thirds composed of blacks and those of part African ancestry. That profile bears a stark contrast to Cuba’s ruling Communist Party.

Sado-Stalinist dictator Fidel Castro and his brother Raul were one generation out of Europe. Current boss Miguel Diaz-Canel is white as Frosty the Snowman, and on his watch the regime has added new political prisoners. “For decades, Cuba has stifled freedom of expression and assembly by locking up people for their beliefs and opposition to the government,” Amnesty International’s Erika Guevara-Ross explains, and that repression continues under Diaz-Canel.

Castro’s Communist regime was a favorite of the “composite character” David Garrow described in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. The composite character opened up relations with no demand that Cuba release political prisoners, respect human rights, or hold free elections.

President Trump imposed new sanctions, and Joe Biden reportedly plans a reset with the Communist nation. That prospect likely accounts for Cuba’s vaccine propaganda, with free ad copy in Business Insider and New York Times, careful to hail Cuba’s “efficient system for delivering health care.”

Bread is in short supply and pharmacies are out of pain medication, but the Communist regime wants foreign tourists to show up, cash in hand, for that “irresistible cocktail of sun, sand and a shot of Sovereign 2.”

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Photo credit: Mario Tama

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