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Vol. 78/No. 38      October 27, 2014

Cuban diplomat: We are
repaying our debt to Africa

Franklin Curbelo
MINNEAPOLIS — José Ramón Cabañas, Chief of Mission of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., spoke to some 100 people Oct. 6 at St. Thomas University here as part of a four-day tour of the Twin Cities sponsored by the Minnesota International Center.

“Why are we fighting Ebola? Why are we in Africa?” asked Cabañas. “We have to offer help to the countries of Africa to repay Africa’s contribution to our culture,” he said, referring to Cuba’s volunteer medical mission to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Conakry. When the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, Cabañas said, Cuban medical volunteers had already been there for years. U.S. relief workers responding to the quake left after one month, but Cuban doctors remain there today. Cabañas also spoke about economic challenges Cuba faces and the effects of the more than five-decade-long U.S. embargo, designed to impose hardship on the Cuban population.

The tour was kicked off a day earlier when Cabañas attended an Ordway Theater concert by world-renowned pianist Nachito Herrera and his orchestra. Artwork by Antonio Guerrero was featured in the lobby. Guerrero is one of five Cuban revolutionaries, known as the Cuban Five, who were framed up and jailed in 1998 by the U.S. government for the “crime” of monitoring Florida-based rightist paramilitary groups with a long history of provocations and murderous attacks against Cuba. Showings of Guerrero’s paintings depicting the Five’s experiences in prison have been used to gain support for the fight to win their freedom around the world.

During his time in Minnesota, Cabañas met with business leaders, politicians, the editorial board of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and addressed a group of high school students.


Related articles:
Cuba’s ‘army of white coats’ leads the fight against Ebola
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