New York Times Commends Cuba for Fighting Ebola in West Africa and Again Urges U.S.-Cuba Normalization

In an October 19th editorial, titled “Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola,” the New York Times applauds Cuba for “having pledged to deploy hundreds of medical professionals to the front lines of the pandemic,” for already having 165 medical professionals on the ground in West Africa and for standing “to play the most robust role among nations seeking to contain the virus.” Cuba, therefore, “should be lauded and emulated.”

In contrast, says the Times, the U.S. and several other wealthy countries only have pledged funds to fight the disease. “It is a shame that Washington, the chief donor in the fight against Ebola, is diplomatically estranged from Havana, the boldest contributor” and that “American and Cuban officials are not equipped to coordinate global efforts at a high level.”

This most unfortunate situation “should serve as an urgent reminder to the Obama administration that the benefits of moving swiftly to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba far outweigh the drawbacks” as was argued in a prior Times editorial and emphasized in a recent post to this blog.

Under these circumstances, the U.S. should be ready, willing and able (a) to treat and transport any Cuban health workers in Africa who become infected; (b) to “commit to giving any sick Cuban access to the treatment center the Pentagon built in Monrovia [Liberia] and to assisting with evacuation.” The Obama Administration, however, has “callously declined to say what, if any, support they would give [the Cubans].”[1]

The Times also notes that Fidel Castro in an October 19th essay in the Cuban newspaper, Granma, said that Cuba “will gladly cooperate with U.S. personnel in this task [of combatting Ebola], not in search of peace between these two states which have been adversaries for so many years, but rather, in any event, for World Peace, and objective which can and should be attempted.” According to the Times, “[Fidel’s] absolutely right.” [2] His essay also commented on Cuba’s hosting on October 20th the Extraordinary Summit of the ALBA-TCP on Ebola as discussed in another article in Granma.

[1] The failure of the Obama Administration to embrace Cuba’s heroic contributions to the fight against Ebola unfortunately is consistent with the Administration’s pathetic pseudo-rebuttal of the many arguments for normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations as discussed in a prior post.

[2] In an another recent essay Castro impliedly endorsed the New York Times editorial calling for normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations while he quoted virtually all of the editorial itself without any disagreement (with one exception), even to the editorial’s criticism of the Cuban economy and its treatment of dissidents. See also Londoño, Still Pondering U.S.-Cuba Relations, Fidel Castro Responds, N.Y. Times (Oct. 14, 2014).

Published by


As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

12 thoughts on “New York Times Commends Cuba for Fighting Ebola in West Africa and Again Urges U.S.-Cuba Normalization”

  1. U.S. Infectious Disease Expert Applauds Cuba’s Fighting Ebola in West Africa

    One of the most prominent U.S. experts on infectious diseases, Michael T, Osterholm, said, “The only country in the world that is currently staffing hospital beds in West Africa is Cuba, and they are doing a great job.”

    Osterholm is the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and the Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He has held many important positions and authored important papers in the field. He holds Ph. D. and Masters of Public Health degrees.

    It should also be noted that on October 20th Cuban President Raul Castro in his keynote address at the ALBA-TCP Summit on Ebola in Havana reaffirmed that “Cuba is willing [to] work side by side with every country, including the United States,” on this problem.

    Perry, The U of M’s Osterholm: What We should –and Shouldn’t–Be Worried About Regarding Ebola, Minnpost(Oct. 17, 2014),; Michael T. Osterholm Biography,; Trotta, World Must Stop Ebola in West Africa or face ‘pandemic:’ Cuba’s Castro, Reuters (Oct. 20, 2014),

  2. U.S. To Collaborate with Cuba in Fighting Ebola

    The New York Times reported that on October 21st the U.S. Department of State said the U.S. “welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Cuba on fighting Ebola in West Africa. In doing so, the U.S. officially recognized that “Cuba is making significant contributions by sending hundreds of health workers to Africa.”

    A similar report by a French news agency (L’Agence France-Presse) said that on October 21st an unnamed State Department source said, “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Cuba to confront the Ebola outbreak. Cuba is making significant contributions by sending hundreds of health workers to Africa. In that spirit, the US Department of State is communicating with all members of the international community, including Cuba, involved in this global effort through multilateral channels such as the World Health Organization, as well as diplomatic briefings.”

    The prior week Secretary of State John Kerry also acknowledged Cuba’s contribution to this international health problem. He said, “we are seeing nations large and small stepping up in impressive ways to make a contribution on the frontlines. Timor-Leste has donated $2 million. Cuba, a country of just 11 million people has sent 165 health professionals, and it plans to send nearly 300 more.”

    These comments were echoed by Marie Harf, the Department’s Deputy Spokesperson, at the Department’s Daily Press Briefing on October 20th. She said Secretary Kerry has recognized that “Cuba has dispatched hundreds of health care workers to the region as part of the UN mission for the emergency response here, and that this is a significant contribution to the overall international response. We have recognized and appreciate this contribution, as we do from other countries as well. But the fact that such a small country [as Cuba] is providing so many resources – more than many other countries, quite frankly – is a significant contribution.”


    Londoño, The U.S. Will Collaborate with Cuba . . . on Ebola, N.Y. Times (Oct. 22, 2014),; Jara & Groshois, Cuban response to Ebola outbreak helps thaw relations with US, Yahoo News (Oct. 21, 2014),, Remarks on the U.S. response to Ebola for Members of the Diplomatic Corps (Oct. 17, 2014),; Department of State Daily Press Briefing (Oct. 20, 2014),

  3. Comment: U.S. Attends Ebloa Meeting in Cuba

    On October 29th Nelson Arboleda, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Chief for Central America, attended a regional summit meeting in Havana on collaborating in the fight against Ebola. The meeting was hosted by the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America (ALBA), whose members include Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador

    “This a world emergency and we should all work together and cooperate in this effort,” Mr. Arboleda told reporters at the conference.

    Two Cuban-American Republican Congresspeople from South Florida criticized U.S. attendance at this meeting.
    Londoño, U.S. and Cuba Come Together Over EBOLA, Infuriating Republicans, N. Y. Times (Oct. 31, 2014),

  4. Comment: Cuban Doctor in Sierra Leone Catches Ebola

    One of the 165 members of the Cuban medical team fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with the disease. He is being treated by British doctors in that country, but will be transferred to a special unit in Geneva at the recommendation of the World Health Organization.
    Assoc. Press, Cuba says doctor catches Ebola in Sierra Leone, Wash. Post (Nov. 19, 2014),

  5. Comment: Cuban Doctor with Ebola in Switzerland for Treatment

    On November 21st, Dr. Felix Baez Sarria, a Cuban doctor who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, arrived in Switzerland for treatment. He wore a protective suit and mask as he left the airplane to board the ambulance. Under World Heath Organization auspices he will be treated at Geneva University Hospital.

    Assoc. Press, Cuban Doctor Arrives in Switzerland for Ebola Aid, N. Y. Times (Nov. 21, 2014),

  6. Comment: Cuban Ebola Patient Recovers

    Complete recovery! That was the great news for the Cuban physician who caught Ebola while working on a Cuban medical mission in Sierra Leone and who was transferred for treatment to a hospital in Geneva, Switzerland. There he was treated with an experimental Canadian drug.

    Reuters, Cuban Ebola Patient Recovers After Treatment in Geneva, N,Y. Times (Dec. 7, 2014),

Leave a Reply