Cuba and Covid: ‘To be internationalist is to pay off our debt to humanity’

The pandemic has highlighted as never before the gulf between human-centred socialism and profit-centred capital.

The following speech was delivered by Comrade Aymée Alejandra Diaz Negrín, second secretary at the Cuban embassy in London, to our party’s meeting on ‘Covid and Internationalism’ on 9 October. The meeting was part of the celebration of our ninth party congress.


I want to thank you for the invitation to speak at this celebration, which gives us the opportunity to exchange ideas on two current issues: internationalism and Covid-19.

For Cuba, October has a special meaning. It was on 10 October 10 1868 that a group of Cubans with no other weapons than the desire for justice and national independence began the fight against Spanish colonialism, a struggle that would lead almost a century later to the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on 1 January 1959.

During that struggle, Cuba was lucky to count on friends who made the Cuban cause their own. Among them was the Dominican Máximo Gómez, who, in October 1868, delivered a first victory against the well-armed Spanish army, and later would lead the most glorious feats on the battlefields of Cuba.

It was also in October that Cuba lost one of its greatest sons, Commander Ernesto Guevara, who despite being born in Argentina, had earned the respect and admiration of Cubans and was an essential figure in the triumph of the revolution and its development in its early stages.

I could mention other examples of internationalism, but I do not want to take more time of your event. I want to confirm that the defence of our independence and internationalism have been part of the Cuban revolutionary process since its beginnings in 1868.

As our Commander-in-Chief, Fidel Castro Ruz, said on 26 July 1978: “Internationalism is the most beautiful essence of Marxism-Leninism and its ideals of solidarity and brotherhood among peoples. Without internationalism the Cuban Revolution would not even exist. To be an internationalist is to pay off our own debt to humanity.”

Taking into account this vocation and in the face of the impact of the coronavirus in several countries, Cuba has responded to the requests of some countries and has sent 57 medical brigades, well-known as Henry Reeve, to 41 countries and territories, including to British overseas territories (Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Virgin Islands and Montserrat).

At the same time, we are sharing the vaccines developed by our own scientists with our brothers from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Vietnam.

Our scientists have also shared their knowledge in dealing with the pandemic in international forums.

All of this has been possible only due to a socialist system that has people as the main priority, that defends universal and free access to healthcare and that, under the guidance of Commander Fidel Castro, has developed the biotech sector.

This human conception has allowed in record time the development of three vaccines against Covid-19, as well as two other vaccine candidates that are being tested in clinical trials at this moment.

At the same time, our national industry has completed the production of all the doses that the country needs for the vaccination of the entire population, a process that to this point has covered more than 50 percent of the population in its complete three-dose schedule. Vaccination of children from 2 to 18 years has also started.

Dear comrades, in the midst of the shortages caused by the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against my country for almost six decades, the solidarity of movements around the world has been essential, as has that of Cubans living abroad. They have contributed to helping us face the pandemic on the island by donations of medical supplies, medicines and equipment.

It is also important to highlight that the international campaign for Cuba’s right to live in peace, without the blockade, has been essential in facing the ongoing media campaign financed by the US administration against my country, following the same policy on Cuba of the Trump administration.

Dear comrades, in an increasingly globalised world where an unfair international order persists, characterised by decades of imperialist domination and the application of a savage neoliberalism, only cooperation, solidarity and internationalism can help us face common challenges and fight for a better world.

I take this opportunity to thank you once more for your traditional support to Cuba. We are very lucky to have your friendship. I assure you that you can also count on Cuba.