[act-ma] Today--Call your reps: End U.S. Sanctions that deepen global health crisis
cwelch at tecschange.org
Mon Mar 23 05:38:46 PDT 2020
Please make sure you read the "What about Cuba?" section near the bottom
of this section. Also at the bottom is a Science for the People
Statement: Fighting COVID 19 in Cuba, China and the United States
As the world reels from the COVID-19 pandemic, all nations must be
joined in the struggle to contain the outbreak.
U.S. sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba prevent those countries
from importing vital medicine and healthcare supplies from reaching
their populations. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, this has had
devastating health impacts for people living under U.S. sanctions. As
the UN reported last year, sanctions against Iran have “drastically
constrained the ability of the country to finance humanitarian imports,
including medicines, causing serious hardships for ordinary Iranians and
threatening their right to health.”
The U.S. government has not moved to lift or ease sanctions since the
outbreak of COVID-19. In fact, the Trump administration is even treating
the crisis as an opportunity and has announced that it will expand the
To get through this crisis we must stand for our brothers and sisters
abroad the same way we would stand for our friends and neighbors.
Please join us Monday, March 23rd, in calling on all Massachusetts
representatives in Washington to publicly denounce US sanctions, and
call for the immediate end of sanctions during this pandemic. That means
placing calls to:
1. Senator Warren - Washington: 202-224-4543 - Boston: 617-565-3170
2. Senator Markey - Washington: 202-224-2742 - Boston: 617-565-8519
3. Your representative in congress which you can find here:
4. Not from Mass --House switchboard: (*202*) *224-3121*;
While we encourage each caller to make their call as personal, you can
find a script to guide you here:
COVID-19 and U.S. Sanctions
Script for calling legislators: Monday, March 23
(Feel free to modify this script to your liking. It’s best if not
everyone uses the same exact words.)
Hi, my name is [NAME]and I’m calling from [TOWN]. I’m extremely worried
about the impact of U.S. sanctions on the ability of Venezuela
Cuba, and other countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining
sanctions, especially under the circumstances, is criminal and immoral –
as well as counterproductive if we hope to limit the global spread of
U.S. sanctions cripple the ability of vulnerable countries to save
patients’ lives. All sanctions must be ended immediately so that all
countries can import the medicines, equipment, and food they need to
prevent mass death.
I’m asking ______ to do 3 things:
Issue immediate statements via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
condemning the sanctions against all these countries. Senator Bernie
Representative Ilhan Omar
<https://twitter.com/Ilhan/status/1238454463284875264>, and others
have recently issued statements on Twitter condemning the Iran
Sign on to Rep. Omar’s “Congressional Oversight of Sanctions Act.” -
Initiate Congressional hearings on the impacts of sanctions by the
first week of April.
Can I count on ______ to do these 3 things?
(If applicable): When can I expect a reply from ______?
Additional background for callers (FYI):
How do sanctions affect these countries’ response to COVID-19?In two
major ways: 1) Sanctions legally prevent imports. While they sometimes
contain vague exceptions for food and medicine imports, foreign banks
and exporters tend to over-comply
sanctions so as to avoid legal risk. 2) Sanctions block countries like
Venezuela, Iran, and Cuba from exporting goods and accessing credit, and
thus deprive them of the money needed to import life-saving essentials
(think lab tests, respirators, masks, antiviral drugs, etc.). This means
that even ifsanctioned countries are legally permitted to import food,
medicine, and medical equipment, the lack of export revenue deprives
them of money to do so. For both these reasons, the “exception for food
and medicine” is a lie.
How is the U.S. responding to the COVID-19 crisis in these countries?
It’s rejecting their desperate pleas and tightening the screws. On
Tuesday, March 17, the International Monetary Fund (which is dominated
by the U.S.) rejected
request from President Nicolás Maduro for an emergency $5 billion loan
to help Venezuela fight the virus.
What about Cuba?Cuba’s healthcare system is far better prepared than the
U.S. system to deal with the virus. The island has a robust
community-based health system that provides free, universal care. Its
biotech industry is also among the best in the world. In the early 1980s
Cuban doctors pioneered
development of a crucial antiviral drug, Interferon Alpha 2B, that can
apparently be used against COVID-19, and Cuba has a large stock of the
drug that it plans to use. Cuba is also sending medical personnel
to help treat patients. However, the U.S. embargo has put great strain
on the Cuban healthcare and agricultural systems, and the current global
crisis and recession will increase that strain. A potential food crisis
looming, due in part to Trump’s escalation of the embargo. The COVID-19
crisis and impending global recession will surely exacerbate the situation.
Sponsored by /*Lift the Sanctions Mass*/: Massachusetts Peace Action;
Bolivia Solidarity Committee of Western Mass; Resistance Center for
Peace and Justice; Latin America Solidarity Coaliton of Western Mass;
Boston Democratic Socialists of America; American Friends Service
Committee; Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador;
Campaign for Peace, Disarmament, and Common Security. (Organizations
please contact us to join this campaign)
Science for the People: *Fighting COVID 19 in Cuba, China and the
Posted by *W. T. Whitney, Jr. <https://mltoday.com/author/wwhitney/> *
| Mar 22, 2020 |
Governments, according to Thomas Jefferson, are supposed to guarantee
people’s rights to “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” COVID 19
has out people’s lives and health in the spotlight now. What kind of
tools do governments have at their disposal to protect lives and health?
Cuba has the advantages of forward-looking leadership, well-orchestrated
state planning, and longtime prioritization of health care.
Additionally, government leaders elevate scientific and technological
training. They’ve established research capabilities, used results to
advance health care, and marketed bio-medical products on a worldwide
basis. The Cuban people and leaders know about disaster planning, as
demonstrated by preparations prior to hurricanes hitting the island.
Likewise planning and putting the public good first has enabled Cubans
to cope with the disaster of a 60-year long economic blockade set up to
make them suffer.
A survey of Cuban media reports suggests that Cuba’s government and
people are prepared to handle COVID 19’s visit to the island. At this
point only seven people there have been identified as infected with
COVID 19, all having recently arrived from abroad. Here we highlight
Cuba’s assistance to China, where the epidemic mushroomed first and most
dangerously, so far.
Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1965 pushed for the development of the
National Center for Scientific Research. The Center attracted medical
graduates aspiring to scientific careers and spawned a succession of
other biomedical research institutes. Castro in 1981
<https://www.jornada.com.mx/2020/03/05/mundo/026a1mun> learned about
research in Texas on interferon, a new drug that showed promise in
treating certain types of cancer and also viral infections. Two Cuba
researchers soon were studying interferon in Houston. Within months six
more had gone to Finland, where interferon had been developed. They
learned about production methods.
In a short time, the Cubans were manufacturing the drug, treating
patients, and marketing interferon abroad. The ChangHeber company, a
Chinese-Cuban joint venture for which Cuba provides scientific support,
has been producing Interferon and other drug products since 2007. As
the COVID 19 epidemic progressed in China, Cuba’s government made
special administrative arrangements and sent experts to China so that
ChangHeber might be able to serve China’s needs.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of drug therapy, interferon included,
in treating severely ill patients infected with COVID 19, a new illness,
has yet to be scientifically validated. (See here
and here <https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2762996>.)
Even so, for Cuba to lend a hand to desperately ill people in China
represents another in a series of heroic undertakings Cuba has carried
out in the name of human solidarity. And Cuba once more has displayed
dedication to science as an essential human resource.
China has its own strengths as mentioned in laudatory editorial comment
the prestigious British medical journal Lancet. One learns that in many
countries “health ministers are scrambling … By striking contrast, the
WHO-China joint mission report
calls China’s vigorous public health measures toward this new
coronavirus probably the most “ambitious, agile and aggressive disease
containment effort in history … China’s success rests largely with a
strong administrative system that it can mobilize in times of threat,
combined with the ready agreement of the Chinese people to obey
stringent public health procedures. … [T]here are important lessons
that presidents and prime ministers can learn from China’s experience.”
The United States is not so lucky. Planning ahead to serve human needs
is not a strong point for the U.S. government. Dealing with the present
crisis, the government seems to regard science as an afterthought. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the face of public
health in the United States and locus of epidemiologic overview, had
lost government funding prior to the pandemic. (The word “epidemiology,”
taken from the Greek, literally says “”study of what is upon the
people;” the “what” signifies disease.)
Testifying on March 11 before the House Committee on Oversight and
Reform, CDC director Robert Redfield MD betrayed a casual attitude
toward science. A scientist himself, the former U.S. Army officer had
made “several important early contributions
<https://www.hhs.gov/about/leadership/robert-redfield/index.html> to the
scientific understanding of HIV.”
Congressman Harley Rouda asked him this: “So, we could have
people in the United States dying for what appears to be influenza, when
in fact it could be the coronavirus or COVID-19? Redfield replied that,
“Some cases have been actually diagnosed that way in the United States
to date.” The revelation passed without further questioning. The U.S.
media paid no attention. News services in China pounced on the statement.
Epidemiologists ought to have been interested in the timing of the
epidemic’s onset in the United States. Vagueness on the matter, as
suggested by Redfield’s testimony, betrays a remarkable lack of
What the public knows is that the first case of imported Coronavirus
showed up on January 21. The first cases of possible community-acquired
coronavirus appeared on February 26. On February 14 the CDC indicated
<http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0223/c90000-9661026.html> persons with
influenza-like symptoms would be tested for COVID 19 in various U.S.
cities. The results of any testing weren’t made public, although
Redfield’s testimony may allude to them.
The possibility emerges that U.S. people were being infected in January,
not long after Chinese authorities on December 31, 2019 informed
World Health Organization of an outbreak of a new form of coronavirus
infection. Suspicion prevails in China that the epidemic may have
manifested first in someplace other than China.
U.S. public health authorities seem to be similarly uncurious about
other information possibly contributing to a scientific understanding of
the disease origins. They are silent, for example, on the presence of
280 U.S. athletes
and assistants in Wuhan, China, in October 18-27 2019. That was six
weeks or so before people in that city fell ill to COVID-19 infection.
Wuhan had hosted 9308 athletes from 100 countries
who were participating in the Military World Games.
Additionally, public health epidemiologists have shown no sign of
curiosity about the findings of a Taiwanese virologist
who focused on the multiplicity of COVID 19 strains in the United
States. He noted that, by contrast, a single strain of the virus
prevails in other countries. Citing an example pointing to the
significance of the discrepancy, the expert observed that the single
strain of the virus active in Taiwan prevailed only in Australia and the
United States. Australians did not carry the infection to Taiwan.
Infection in Taiwan, therefore, traces back to the United States, he
The pandemic has provided, in effect, a laboratory-like demonstration of
what is known: that people do better when states can plan ahead, apply
national resources unequivocally to the public good, put science in the
service of the people, and practice international solidarity. These are
characteristics of socialist societies.
People do less well, as in the United States, when their health and
welfare are subjected to the greed of moneyed interests, and when
science is sold to the highest bidder.
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