HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — The United States government today praised Cuba for its “significant contribution” in the fight against Ebola in West Africa, although it avoided directly replying to an offer of cooperation from the Caribbean island.
“We recognize and appreciate their contribution, as we do with other countries but the fact that such a small country is providing so many resources – more than many other countries-, in all sincerity is a significant contribution,” said State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.
Harf spoke on Monday as the Castro government announced it is sending more aid workers on Tuesday to Liberia and Guinea to fight the epidemic in Africa.
However, she avoided answering a question from reporters about whether Washington would be willing to cooperate directly with Havana to combat this epidemic in West Africa.
Shortly before, Raul Castro reiterated his brother Fidel’s offer to cooperate with the United States in the fight against Ebola. “We also invite the nations of North America to cooperate in this endeavor,” he said.
“Cuba is willing to work closely with all countries, including the United States,” said the Cuban President in Havana as part of a summit of the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) on Ebola.
In an article published on Saturday in the Cuban press, former Cuban President Fidel Castro had offered cooperation to the United States, despite the ideological rivalry between the two countries.
In a related recognition, the New York Times praised Havana in an editorial published today citing “Cuba’s impressive contribution in the fight against Ebola,” despite being “a poor and relatively isolated island”.
“Although the United States and other countries have stated their willingness to contribute money, only Cuba and a few NGOs are providing what is needed more urgently: medical professionals willing to treat patients,” noted the NYT in its editorial, published on its website in English and Spanish.
The editors of the Times said it is “unfortunate that Washington, the main financial contributor to the fight against Ebola, has no diplomatic ties with Cuba, since Cuba could end up playing the most vital work.”
In this case, the newspaper said the “enmity has life and death implications, since the two countries lack mechanisms to coordinate their efforts on a high level.”
“Fidel Castro argues that the United States and Cuba must put aside their differences, if only temporarily, to combat a global threat. He’s absolutely right,” said the NYT.
The government of Cuba announced today that on Tuesday it will send two new brigades with a total of 91 medical aid workers to Liberia and Guinea to combat Ebola, adding to the 165 that arrived earlier this month to Sierra Leone.
Raul Castro’s government announced in early October that it plans to send a total of over 400 people including doctors and support medical personnel to deal with Ebola in Africa.