Sept. 11 to 16-D.C: ‘In Cuba, health care is a human right. Why not in the U.S.?’

By Cheryl LaBash
August 27, 2017

First U.S. graduates of Cuba’s free Latin American School of Medicine.

Two major health care unions have endorsed the Third “Days of Action Against the Blockade” scheduled for Sept. 11 to 16 in Washington, D.C.

As U.S. workers see threats to existing health care support, this action raises a vital question: “In Cuba, health care is a human right. Why not in the U.S.?”

National Nurses United and the New York State Nurses Association have joined the action project initiated by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity.

At the center of events are two Cuban health professionals, Dr. Jesús de los Santos Renó Céspedes and nurse practitioner Eduardo Gonzalez Copello. They are emblems of Cuba’s profound commitment to international solidarity, as well as examples of Cuba’s dedication to prioritizing the wellbeing and development of all people, particularly children.

Dr. Jesús de los Santos Renó Céspedes.

Dr. Renó is head of pediatrics at the National Institute of Oncology and Radiology in Havana. He is a professor, researcher and specialist in pediatric oncology and also a member of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology.

Copello has specialized in infectious diseases, such as leprosy, and sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS, and teaches at several educational institutes in Cuba. In 2014, he went to West Africa where he worked with victims of Ebola.

Five U.S. medical students from Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) will join the Cuban medical professionals in Washington for a packed week of meetings with medical school students and public events. Swedish and U.S. doctors will join advocacy teams in the halls of Congress to press the need to end the U.S. blockade of Cuba.

A major public event at Calvary Baptist Church on Sept. 14 will host Cuban Ambassador Jose Ramon Cabanas. In addition, Canadian author Stephen Kimber and Dr. Margaret Flowers, a U.S. pediatrician and health care activist, will join the ambassador and the Cuban medical professionals and students.

Public programs are scheduled daily, including screening a new film about U.S. graduates of ELAM: “Dare to Dream: Can One Medical School Change the World?” Filmmaker Jennifer Wager will lead a question-and-answer discussion after the viewing. Find the full schedule of events at

Initial endorsers include Health over Profit for Everyone (HOPE), Health Care Revolution (student organization at Georgetown University), Institute for Policy Studies, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Clinica Martin-Baro, Labor Campaign for Single Payer, Birthing Project USA, Pan-African Community Action (PACA) and Do No Harm Coalition.

Organizers are asking for help in spreading the word: “No stone should be unturned in the struggle for universal health care to be in the U.S., as it is in Cuba, a human right.”

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