BY DOUG NELSON
The White House has moved to block UN funds from reaching Cuba for the treatment and prevention of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The move is an example of how Washington’s 50-year economic war on socialist Cuba not only remains in force, but is continually waged in new ways to punish the workers and farmers of that country for ousting the U.S.-backed dictatorship and wresting political power from the capitalist exploiters.
In January the U.S. Treasury Department froze $4.2 million allocated to Cuba under the UN Global Fund, a $22 billion a year program that works to combat the three deadly pandemics in 150 countries.
The funds were to cover program expenses for January through March. UN officials in Havana told Spanish news agency EFE that the UN Development Program advanced $2 million to keep the program in Cuba afloat for now.
This latest attack “adds to the already long list of examples of extraterritorial application of the economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed by the Government of the United States of America against Cuba, this time, through the United Nations,” said a February letter from Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
“This mean-spirited policy,” the statement said, “aims to undermine the quality of service provided to the Cuban population and to obstruct the provision of medical assistance in over 100 countries by 40,000 Cuban health workers.”
Most of the funds are used to import expensive AIDS medication to Cuba, where antiretroviral treatment is provided free of charge to some 5,000 HIV patients. About 6,200 people are infected with HIV in Cuba, 3,500 of whom are considered in need of antiretroviral treatment, according to current World Health Organization guidelines.
Although the Caribbean is second only to sub-Saharan Africa in the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, Cuba has among the lowest infection rates in the world—a rate one-sixth that of the United States. This achievement is made possible by a revolutionary workers government that, as a matter of course, gives priority to the well-being of the entire population.