Dear Friends of the Bay Area Venceremos Brigade,

Several of us who were part of the 50th Venceremos Brigade are now working to get a resolution passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in support of medical cooperation with Cuba in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic.  This initiative is part of the Saving Lives Campaign, a new joint effort of national solidarity networks in the U.S. and Canada. With Supervisor Hillary Ronen as the lead sponsor, we hope that San Francisco will become the first major city in the U.S. to pass a resolution calling for the United States to lift its destructive restrictions on medical cooperation with Cuba.

The resolution will be introduced by Supervisor Hillary Ronen on July 14th. We hope that each of you will endorse the resolution now by completing this short form- you don’t need to be a San Francisco resident to endorse. We also ask you to circulate this email to your networks and encourage many others to endorse.  After the resolution is introduced we hope that you will email the SF Board of Supervisors to show your support  – more info about the July 14-21 Week of Action to come.  

At a time when the U.S. and countries around the world are ravaged by this unprecedented pandemic, international cooperation is vital to address the devastating impact of the COVID-19 virus. Yet, as part of its decades-old blockade of Cuba, the U.S. government restricts medical cooperation and the importation of promising Cuban anti-viral medications.

In contrast, many countries are now drawing on Cuba’s expertise in fighting COVID-19. The Cuban biotech industry has developed an anti-viral medication that tops the list of coronavirus treatment protocols in China, Interferon Alfa 2b (IFNrec); requests for its use have been made by over 80 countries. Clinical trials in the US need to include this medication.
 Worldwide, some 80% of coronavirus patients in critical condition are dying; by contrast, in Cuba, 80% in critical and serious condition are now being saved, partly through the use of two new medications that calm the hyper-inflammatory “cytokine storm.”

In the US, coronavirus deaths fall disproportionately on Black and Latinx communities and on elders. Although Detroit has only six percent of Cuba’s population, Detroit residents have suffered 18 times more deaths than Cubans.
 Cuba has already sent over 2300 doctors and nurses to coronavirus disaster hotspots in 28 countries from Italy to South Africa, and famously came to the aid of a Covid-infected British cruise ship which had been turned away by the US and several other countries.  Richmond, California recently became the first small city in the U.S. to pass a Saving Lives resolution (unanimously!) and Berkeley soon followed. Minnesota has a resolution now working its way through its legislature. Given San Francisco’s role as a global medical and bio-tech center, it would be particularly significant for the city to pass a resolution calling for medical cooperation with Cuba.  The resolution also encourages learning about Cuba’s exemplary public health care system at a time when communities around the U.S. are fighting to reshape health care in this country.

As people who have been directly involved with Cuba solidarity, we are hoping that you will play an active role in endorsing, participating in the July 14-21 Week of Action and encouraging others in your networks to endorse! You can read the draft resolution here.  Endorse the resolution by completing this short form and then share it with your networks! And stay tuned for more information about emailing SF Supervisors after the resolution is introduced.

Let’s get San Francisco to be a leader in promoting medical collaboration with Cuba!
Endorse the resolution by completing this form!

In solidarity,
Diana Block, Vicki Legion, David Paul, Nesbit Crutchfield

A Few Resources
Reese Erlich’s recent article in San Francisco’s 48 Hills magazine describes the foundations of Cuba’s success against COVID, exposes how the US blockade undermines Cuba’s ability to save more lives and embeds several excellent short videos about Cuba’s health care system and its role in the world. Best article for busy people.
A two-minute video, Door to Door Doctors, highlights the community-based public health approach that anchors Cuba’s system.
The Saving Lives Campaign website provides many resources and lists dozens of endorsers who have already stepped forward to support the campaign.