1. Steve Brouwer, author of “Revolutionary Doctors, How Venezuela and Cuba are changing the World’s Conception of Health Care,” recently completed a Midwest book tour. Speaking about his book at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, Venezuela Consulate in Chicago, Purdue University, Westville, Indiana, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Rainbow Bookstore, Madison, he also brought up the case of the Cuban 5 and explained its importance to the Cuban people.
By far the largest event was at the UIC School of Public Health, where several student groups at the school, as the Illinois Single Payer Coalition, worked to turn out a crowd of 150, about 120 from the school.
This was the first time the students had heard of the Cuban 5 case. Peter Orris, Director of Occupational Health Service Institute at UIC, who is leading a medical delegation to Cuba, also spoke about the Cuban community health system and reviewed the case of the Cuban 5. He told the audience they should support freedom for the Cuban 5 and should tell everyone they know about the case.
Brouwer reviewed the development of Cuba’s system of community medicine, noting that it took Cuba until 1976 to fully replace the 3000 doctors who left in 1959, half of the country’s doctors at the time. Now Cuba has 80,000 doctors, and Cuba and Venezuela together have 72,000 students in medical school, more than the 68,000 in the US. None of these 72,000 need pay for their education.
2. Cuba 5 outreach at the School of Americas protest
The SOA Watch’s protest at Columbus, Georgia is the largest annual event in the US in defense of the peoples of Latin America. This year members of the Chicago, Louisville and Maine Cuba 5 committees teamed up with representatives of Vets for Peace to get out information on the case to the 4000 or so attendees at the Latin America solidarity event. For two days we handed out our palm card on the Cuban 5, which included a statement by Jimmy Carter and the bulk of the recent letter of Joan Brown Campbell to President Obama asking him to free the five.
On the last day, Sunday, November 18, Rev. Dan Dale of the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ gave a forceful speech from the rally’s stage about the Cuban 5.He explained the 5 were monitoring the kind of terrorists the School of Americas produces, such as Posada Carriles, and helped make this information available to the FBI. Yet, the FBI arrested them, letting the terrorists remain free. The Cuban 5 are fighting the same fight as those at the SOA protest, and all here should be supporting their freedom.
There were numerous workshops at the SOA protest. One by the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, on the Mexican Peace Caravan, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and one by the Haiti Action Committee. Father Melo of Radio Progreso spoke on Honduras, and Lisa Sullivan and Charlie Hardy on Venezuela. A Labor Caucus was sponsored by the leadership of the UAW and the International Relations Department of the AFL-CIO. Other workshops addressed the movement in Chile, Paraguay, El Salvador, the example of Nicaragu. There were 3 on Colombia, one by Witness for Peace, one by the Killer Coke campaign, and one on the Marcha Patriotica.
Two SOA workshops were about Cuba, one by the Let Cuba Live Committee of Maine, about Guantanamo prison. There, Colonel Ann Wright joined Lorraine Bartlett, former Guantanamo defense attorney, and spoke of the human cruelty and degradation of the prison. Pres. Obama has declared that a number of prisoners at Guantanamo will never be charged, will never go to trial, yet will remain imprisoned in Guantanamo. Bartlett brought up the Cuban 5 in her talk as another example of indefinite detention without the right to a fair trial.
The Maine committee and the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5 had a workshop, attended by about 25, on the US war on Cuba and its achievements. This included a summary of the Cuban 5 case.
Unlike our experience the first year we attended the SOA protest, five years ago, many there knew of the case, and we were often thanked for our work. This included some of the well-known people who attended, Col. Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, and Lorraine Bartlett.
3. Matching Fund for Cuba Hurricane Relief
Our $4000 matching fund for Hurricane Sandy Cuba relief has now received over $2500 in donations. Much of it has come from outside Chicago. The matching fund will continue for some more weeks, and may be raised by other organizations.
You may write a check payable to “Global Links” or “MEDICC,” two U.S. organizations that have a license to send medical aid to Cuba, but mail your check to:
7617 N. Eastlake Terrace
Chicago, Ill. 60626
or: Stansfield Smith
2961 S. Bonaparte
or: Nancy Mikelsons
528 S. Humphrey
Oak Park, Il. 60304
Please mail it to one of us for the money to be matched. Thanks.