Lection Connection

June 28, 2020: Choosing A Braver Faith

From Ray McGinnis

Cuba has had a universal health care system in place since the Cuban Revolution in 1959. The country boasts three times more doctors per capita than the United States. And life expectancy is higher in Cuba than in America.

In the early 1960s, Cuba began to send teams of doctors to other countries on medical missions. Mark Keller, a spokesperson for the Economist newspaper in London, noted that “For smaller African or Caribbean countries, who can’t necessarily afford to pay for doctors,” these teams provide needed medical help where medical expertise has been scarce.

Cuban medics have been praised for their response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and in response to the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa. Currently, Cuban doctors have been welcomed by Peru, Brazil, and other South American nations. On June 3 of this year, 85 doctors from Cuba arrived in Peru to help the nation attend to those stricken with COVID-19. Cuba is paid for sending its medical professionals abroad.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been trying to pressure countries that are involved in trading cash for Cuban doctors to stop the practice. Since the United States embargo against tourism to Cuba, sending doctors abroad had become the number one source of revenue for the cash-strapped nation.

Regardless of the diplomatic pressure from President Trump, underserved countries have largely ignored his call, and have continued to cooperate with Cuban doctors, who are lending medical assistance in the face of the current pandemic. American allies in Qatar, Kuwait, South Africa, Italy, Honduras, Brazil, and Peru are among the nations accepting Cuban doctors.

The Trump administration has threatened to put Cuba on its U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list, which mandates further trade restrictions. Yet an article in an independent news centre based in Portland, Maine, pointed out that the United States harbored Luis Posada Carriles, “the mastermind of the bombing of a Cuban civilian airplane in 1976 that killed 73 people.” Cubana Flight 455 was on route from Barbados to Trinidad on October 6, 1976, before two bombs exploded and the plane crashed in the sea.

Carriles, a Cuban exile to America after the 1959 revolution, was involved in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by America in 1961. Trained as a CIA agent, he said in a 1998 interview in the New York Daily News “the CIA taught us everything…explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.” He was later was involved with Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal, working with death squads in El Salvador, and was responsible for 41 bombings in Honduras. A 2014 article in the Los Angeles Times accused the United States of “hypocrisy.” Posada Carriles died in Miami in 2018, regarded by hardline elements of the anti-Castro exile community as “a heroic figure” and “Fidel Castro’s most persistent would-be assassin.”

In the face of Trump administration pressure to vilify Cuban medical teams, American actor Danny Glover and others have spearheaded a drive to nominate Cuban Doctors for a Nobel Peace Prize. Former Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa said in support of the nomination, “When humanity needed help at a time when the great powers were in hiding, Cuban doctors began to arrive.” American author Alice Walker added her voice commenting that “the selflessness, courage and solidarity of the Cuban doctors fighting COVID-19 is unparalleled and deserving of the world’s most prestigious peace prize.” As of June 2020, there are 28 countries with Cuban medical personnel caring for their sick, including Mexico.

Explore…Matthew 10: 40–42

  • What shift in perception might occur if we really trusted Jesus’ words, “anyone who welcomes you welcomes me?”
  • What does it mean to recognize someone for who they really are?
  • Why does Jesus care about the act of giving a cup of cold water to children, “these little ones?” Why are Cuban doctors being invited by several dozen nations to offer medical assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic? Should they be welcomed?
  • What shift in perception would need to happen for the Trump administration to support the efforts of Cuban doctors?
  • What “cup of cold water” have you offered to those in need?

Prayer…
Oh God who invites us to welcome those who welcome us,
help us to discern when something is done to improve the wellbeing of others.
When people need our support in order to be well,
help us respond as Christ would respond.
In Christ we pray. Amen.

Read more…
Trump hammers Cuba while Cuba cures the sick worldwide
How doctors became Cuba’s biggest export
A terrorist walks
Nobel Peace Prize for Cuban doctors

 



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