Cuba has joined Iran in being among so-called 'rogue nations' to lash out against US sanctions while trying to rally the world to its support amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The communist-run country is approaching 600 COVID-19 cases out of a total population of over 11 million, including 15 deaths. The outbreak appears fast spreading in the nation still under a nearly 60-year US embargo that goes back to the height of the Cold War.
Leaders in Havana called the embargo "even more cruel" given the global and local coronavirus crisis. "The United States' economic-financial blockade is the most unfair, severe, prolonged system of sanctions of all time by one country against another," a director representing the health ministry, Nestor Marimon, said.
"The health system is the most affected because it affects the wellbeing of our people," the health official said. "The blockade is even more cruel and genocidal than it normally is... when we don't have an epidemic."
"It's very difficult to buy equipment, supplies, medicines. We're forced to buy them in far away markets that double, triple the costs and on many occasions they arrive late," said Marimon.
A 1992 alteration to the US sanctions regiment theoretically allowed medicines into the island-nation located in the northern Caribbean, yet international banks and companies have still long been fearful of engaging, given the potential for punitive measures as well as backlash from the public.
Apparently Cuba has also experience recently what America's own allies have lately denounced as 'piracy' - US interception of personal protection equipment (PPE) meant for health care workers shipped from China.
The AFP reports: "Cuba complained recently that a shipment of test kits, masks and respirators donated by the Chinese Alibaba group didn't arrive because the American company tasked with transportation feared breaching US sanction rules."
The essential medical supplies donated personally by Chinese tycoon Jack Ma were 'confiscated' by the United States while en route.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response: “The criminal blockade by the imperial government violates the human rights of the Cuban people.”