Thousands of people across Britain and beyond have called for the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to Cuba’s International Medical Brigades for their heroic acts of solidarity in combating Covid-19 across the world.
In little over three months, the online petition organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign has garnered over 6,000 signatures from all over the world, and more are signing every day.
There are signatories from over 100 countries including the United States, Cuba, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, China and South Africa, to name just a few.
The altruism that Cuba has shown during the Covid-19 pandemic is just the latest chapter in a long history of international co-operation and solidarity from the small island nation.
The Henry Reeve Brigade was created in 2005 and is formed of voluntary healthcare workers who provide urgent relief to countries affected by natural disasters.
The brigade has saved more than 80,000 lives, fighting deadly diseases like Ebola in west Africa, and helping in the aftermath of the Kashmir earthquake in 2005.
This year more than 3,700 Cuban doctors, nurses and technicians have volunteered alongside health workers in 39 countries to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
In March, the first brigade of 51 Cuban doctors and nurses arrived in Lombardy, Italy, at the time the epicentre of the pandemic, to cheering crowds.
Their acts of solidarity have rightly caught the attention of academics, trade unionists, MPs, actors and musicians as well as thousands of people across Britain and beyond.
The general secretary of Unite the Union, Len McCluskey, said: “I am absolutely pleased to be able to add my support and my union’s support to endorse the nomination of the medics to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I along with many, many people here in the UK admire what the Cuban people have had to stand up against.”
British actor Maxine Peake recorded a video message in support of the campaign, encouraging people to sign the petition.
She added: “This health pandemic has meant such a challenging time, for so many people, that it has really been an inspiring glimmer of hope to hear about these wonderful Cuban doctors and nurses helping people in so many countries across the world.
“They travel thousands of miles from a relatively poor Caribbean island, to help people in need.
“I hope that millions will get to hear about this amazing story of human solidarity across borders, as this type of international sharing and co-operation is surely the only way that the world will be able to emerge from this current crisis.”
As well as signatures to the online petition, the campaign is also encouraging nominations to the Nobel Prize committee in Oslo.
Already three members of Parliament, two members of the Scottish Parliament and three academics have submitted formal nominations from Britain.
Chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Cuba Grahame Morris MP said in his submission: “The Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade’s response to Covid-19 is unparalleled and their inspirational internationalism warrants the global recognition of a Nobel Peace Prize.”
Others to have formally nominated the brigade include MPs Rachel Hopkins and Navendu Mishra, Elaine Smith MSP and Neil Findlay MSP and professors Helen Colley, Matt Henn and Alpesh Maisuria.
The campaign to award the Henry Reeve Brigade the Nobel Peace Prize is not only a fitting recognition of the altruism shown by Cuba during the global pandemic, but also provides an opportunity to show our solidarity to a nation and people who have suffered so much at the hands of the United States’ cruel and illegal blockade.
The response from the two neighbours to the coronavirus pandemic are in stark contrast to one another.
At a time when the small island nation sends healthcare workers to some of the world’s worst-affected areas, the Trump administration insists on pursuing a policy of blame and division.
The US State Department has actively spread false and inaccurate information about Cuba’s medical internationalism, claiming it to be part of “international people-trafficking.”
It has pressurised third countries to stop co-operating with Cuba.
It has been heartening to see Cuban medics being welcomed in European countries like Italy and Andorra.
It is also very welcome to see that the current Westminster government has worked with Cuba to facilitate the deployment of Cuban medical brigades to British overseas territories including the Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands, Montserrat and Anguilla.
International co-operation, sharing and exchange, between Cuba and Britain, as well as with countries across the globe, is a vital counterweight to the US blockade.
Cuba’s medical internationalism is a lesson for the world.
It is surely true that co-operation and genuine solidarity across borders is what’s needed to defeat Covid-19 and help the world emerge from this current worldwide health crisis.
Sign the open letter supporting the call for the Nobel Peace prize to be awarded to the Cuban medical brigades at cuba-solidarity.org.uk/nobel-peace-prize.