Sanders, who is Antigua & Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the Organization of American States, underlined his stance in a story entitled ‘A nation’s right to decide its friends’, published in Caribbean News Global.
‘In confronting the immense challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuba has been outstanding in supplementing the medical personnel of CARICOM countries with experienced doctors and nurses, putting their lives at risk,’ the diplomat wrote.
He further wrote that ‘there is no Caricom country that has not been a beneficiary of Cuba’s investment in medical science, through the provision of much needed medical personnel.’
Cuba has been the first to respond to natural disasters despite its meager resources, sharing what it has, thus gaining great respect from its neighbors, Sanders continued.
‘Therefore, it should not be unsurprising that regional governments have not reacted well to a bill, introduced in the US Senate by Republican Senators Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, which seeks to classify Cuban medical brigades as victims of human trafficking, and calls for punitive sanctions against countries which request them,’ he underlined in its article.
Such effort -he added- follows decades of a US blockade against Cuba, which has intensified in recent years, contributing to unemployment, poverty, and human suffering.
‘Cubans have been deprived of remittances from their relatives in the US, air traffic and cruise tourism has been banned, US companies have been warned on pain of severe penalties not to do business with Cuba, and even non-US companies, if they also conduct business in the US, face sanctions. Each of these actions causes Cubans to lose their jobs, affecting the livelihoods of their families,’ Sanders criticized.
Caricom countries value real self-determination and are always ready to help broker an end to the blockade and promote normal relations between the two countries ‘But also exercising their right to determine their own friends,’ he concluded.