BY: Phatse Justice Piitso
The army of the white gowns continues to give the world examples that cannot be erased from the pages of our history books.
Since the birth of the modern bourgeois society which has sprouted itself from the ruins of the feudal society, the struggle for the liberation of humanity has been shaped by episodes of great historic significance. The outbreak of the CORONA Virus (COVID 19) is such an episode, which is not just threatening the existence of human society, but also another pivotal event to change the coarse of the history of the world.
The history of the struggle of humanity to make the world a better place has become a paradigm of relentless struggles, of defeats, sufferings, resilience, triumphs and the victories of mankind against all adversity. Humanity is building an ideal society out of its own wounds.
In the words of the Commander in Chief of the Cuban revolution, El Comandante Fidel Castro:
“Marxism taught me what society was. I was like a blindfolded man in a forest, who doesn’t know where north or south is. If you don’t eventually come to truly understand the history of the class struggle, or at least have a clear idea that society is divided between the rich and the poor, and that some people subjugate and exploit other people, you’re lost in a forest, not knowing anything”.
The outbreak of the catastrophic CORONA (COVID 19) pandemic is undermining the barriers of the world of capitalism, the artificial boundaries of the world of the rich and the poor. The virus is rocking both the capital cities of the imperialist powers and the third world countries.
The episode of the deadly virus is again demonstrating to all of humanity that the Cuban revolution remains the cradle of solidarity and internationalism. The Cuban internationalist brigade, the Army of the White Gowns, continues to give the world the examples that cannot be erased from the pages of our history books.
The revolution is such an implacable architecture which has demonstrated that its foundation is not just from within the boundaries in which it was born, but from the fulcrum of the revolutionary struggle of the people of the world. It is a revolution inspired by the generosity and the most fulfilling forms of human solidarity and internationalism.
It is a powerhouse which seeks to live up to this highest idea of fulfilling the aspirations of humanity and at the same time making the ideas the living testimonies of our historical epoch. The noblest ideas that human solidarity and internationalism stands for, is the reservoir of socialist values and revolutionary consciousness.
Apostle Jose Marti, the hero of the Cuban revolution, in his own words before his untimely death during the war for the independence of Cuba against the Spanish colonialism said: “Homeland is all of Humanity” he says” only with an integrating vision of reaching out universally, we can successfully confront the colossal challenges that the entire world is dealing with”.
‘“… that truth is like a colossal arm, which raises justice up where the avarice of men cannot reach. Ideas are invincible, trenches made of ideas are stronger than those made of stones, a just cause, even one buried in the depths of a cave, is mightier than an army”.
These are the great teachings which continue to inspire Dr Leonardo Fernandez, a renowned intensive care specialist, who a moment before departure from Jose Marti International Airport, to undertake one of the most complex humanitarian missions to combat the pandemic of CORONA Virus in Lombardy, one of the regions of the Republic of Italy. Homeland is humanity are the greatest words which symbolise human solidarity and internationalism.
Dr Leonardo Fernandez says:
“We are all afraid but we have a revolutionary duty to fulfill, so we take out fear and put it on one aside. He who says he is not afraid is a superhero, but we are not superheroes, we are revolutionary doctors.”
When Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic damage to most of the American States in 2005, the Cuban revolution made a gesture to the American government offering assistance of the Cuban medical brigade to help the victims of the hurricane. The Yankee empire rejected the offer by the revolutionary government to dispatch the humanitarian relief brigade to assist the people of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the city of New Orleans.
Despite the hostility of the US Empire to this humane gesture, Cde. Fidel Castro saw it necessary to inaugurate the “Army of the White Gowns”, a contingent of doctors specialised in disaster situations and serious epidemics, dedicating this army of glorious men and women to the living memories of Henry Reeve, one of the outstanding internationalists, who volunteered his life alongside the Cuban people, during the war against Spanish occupation. This historic episode took place during the occasion of the graduation of students of medical science in the city of Havana.
Today the Henry Reeve medical brigade is deployed over more than 11 countries across the world assisting in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. Amongst others these countries include Angola, Jamaica, Belize, China, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Granada, Saint Lucia and, even if I am not a prophet to tell what I foresee, there will be many more countries to request for the assistance as the pandemic continues to escalate throughout the world.
Never did the world comprehend that the historic event of the inauguration of the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade is a birthmark to usher human society into posterity. Indeed future generations will cherish the example of selflessness and courage by these dedicated men and women to the cause of our struggle to make the world a better place.
But the oligarchy, ruling class, the heir apparent of monopoly capital, the cartels which rule the world, I refer to those who own the means of production, those with unprecedented influence on the value systems of society, will continue to undermine this great momentum of human solidarity and internationalism. To them the truth has indeed become a rare commodity.
They have mastered the art of deceit, malice, and propaganda to capture the imaginations of the ordinary, an ideological battle which has been waged for more than half a century since the triumph of the Cuban revolution. The Yankee cannot hold its venom against the victories of the socialist revolution taking place in their own backyard.
Against all odds of the unprecedented hostility and venomous hatred by the USA and all the representatives of the world of capitalism and imperialism, the revolution continues to hold the flag of the homeland humanity high. The greatest feats of the ‘Army of the White Gowns’ continue to defeat the malicious disinformation and propaganda campaigns against the revolution.
From the beginning of the triumph of the revolution, the government of Cuba has been sending brigades throughout the world to assist people during dire situations of need. The first one was in year 1960 when the Chilean government was hit by a strong earthquake that caused devastating damage to that country, and saw Cuba sending a group of doctors, with 8 tons of medical materials, food and clothing.
The second was to the African continent, when the revolution sent a medical brigade to collaborate with the government of Algeria in 1963. This was when the cargo carrying the brigade and medical material returned home with injured orphans from that African state, most of them becoming doctors and scientists, who later returned back to developed their homeland.
The longest and the largest internationalist mission ever was in the Republic of Angola, when the revolution sent three hundred and thirty thousands combatants (330.000) which ultimately suffered two thousands fatalities (2000), a mission which lasted from the years 1975 to the year 1991. This mission propelled the victory of the struggle of our people during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which heralded the defeat of the racist Apartheid regime in the southern tip of the African continent.
The involvement of thousands of contemporary health and educational brigades throughout many parts of the continents of the world elucidates the symbolic significance of internationalism of the Cuban revolution. This continues to be so as destiny imposes itself along the long pathways of the struggle of humanity for freedom and dignity.
Today the ‘Army of the White Gowns’ has become a beacon of hope to millions of people in the world. They have been there during the most difficult times when humanity has been affected by different catastrophes, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions and pandemics.
Today the battle cry of the revolution to the world community of nations is unity in action and unity of purpose, and that our common action must be the battle against the coronavirus, which we all have to declare the enemy of mankind. The message is that if we do not act together in common, the very destiny of human is at stake.
What is theirs is what they are determined to achieve in their lifetime, the desire to to be the real architects of the ideal future we want to build. the future of human dignity and prosperity. This is what is theirs, and no one but themselves, with the solemn task of achieving the true aspirations of humanity.
We again make a special call to the administration of the USA government, and to President Donald Trump himself, to end the vicious decades old economic blockade against the people of Cuba. We are making a call for the freedom of that beautiful nation, at a time when the great struggle for the liberation of humanity is a necessity.
The economic blockade against the people of Cuba is a crime against humanity. History never witnessed such an aggression against a heroic nation which has become a beacon of hope to the whole world.
The world remains to be inspired by the triumphs of the heroic feats of men and women of the ‘Army of the White Gowns’, as they continue to break new ground and bringing hope to humanity. More so ever than before the progressive world of humanity must now unite to confront the challenges of our time.
* Ambassador Phatse Justice Piitso is now the Chief of staff in the office of the Secretary General of the African National Congress. He wrote this article in his own personal capacity.