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Peace Train: Coronavirus sees no boundaries, the U.S. needs to step up aid

Nations must work together to deal with this crisis

The COVID-19 outbreak has quickly turned into a pandemic and created enormous upheavals to human life. More and more countries are imposing widespread restrictions, such as self-quarantine in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Given that this virus does not recognize national boundaries, nations must work together to deal with this crisis.

Unfortunately, too many nations are considering only their own situation without collaborating with their neighbors and even non-neighbors. It is disappointing that the nations in the European Union are generally ignoring the plight of their neighbors, especially of Italy and Spain. In addition, the U.S. reaction  to this pandemic has, to put it charitably, been far too little and far too late.

There are a few nations that stand out for their willingness to help other countries. In particular, three nations with a negative image in the U.S. media: Cuba, China and Russia have played an important role aiding nations with outbreaks. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. corporate media has not highlighted the positive contributions of these three nations.

The website countercurrents.org provides a good overview of the efforts that China and Cuba have made. For example, Cuba has provided medical personnel to help Jamaica, Nicaragua, Suriname, Grenada and Venezuela deal with this pandemic. Cuba also provided a haven for the virus-hit MS Braemar, a British cruise ship that had been stranded in the Caribbean for a week. Several countries were unwilling to allow it to dock before Cuba stepped up and offered.

Last weekend, Cuba also sent an emergency team of 52 medical personnel to Italy, the EU nation with the greatest number of infections and deaths. In addition, a Cuban anti-viral drug, Interferon Alpha-2b, has been proven to be useful in boosting the human immune system to fight against infections.

Cuba’s aid to Italy follows China’s earlier help to Italy. The Italian ambassador to the EU, Maurizio Massari, complained that his country’s pleas for medical help had gone unanswered.

“Italy has already asked to activate the European Union Mechanism of Civil Protection for the supply of medical equipment for individual protection,” Massari wrote in an op-ed for Politico. “But, unfortunately, not a single EU country responded to the commission’s call. Only China responded bilaterally. Certainly, this is not a good sign of European solidarity.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said that military transport planes would also help Italy by delivering eight mobile brigades of military medics, special disinfection vehicles and other medical equipment to Italy. Russia will also send about 100 military specialists in virology and epidemics, the Interfax news agency cited the defense ministry as saying.

China also provided aid to Serbia as it prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak. China delivered 5 million masks that Serbia couldn’t get in Europe and an offer to send doctors to help tackle the disease.

In comparison, instead of aiding other nations, the U.S. increased sanctions on Iran, a nation that already had a large number of infections and deaths. These sanctions make it even more difficult for Iran to deal with its outbreak. The U.S. also maintains crippling sanctions on Venezuela that limit its ability to fight the new coronavirus. This shameful U.S. behavior is not that of a Good Samaritan or that of a civilized nation.

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