From Cuba Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Lisette Perez:
Declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the plurinational State of Bolivia announced the decision of the putschist government to suspend diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, claiming that the Cuban Government has systematically affected bilateral relations and has been hostile towards the Bolivian authorities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba strongly rejects the unfounded allegations of Bolivia’s de-facto government. Since its violent inrush in power on November 12, 2019, several members of the de facto government in that country have carried out systematic actions to deteriorate and hinder bilateral relations with Cuba. The acting authorities deployed a ferocious campaign of lies and distortions against Cuba, particularly against Cuba’s medical cooperation, and publicly encouraged the commission of violent acts against our health staff, which included brutal, illegal and unjustified raids and searches, false allegations and the detention of Cuban cooperation workers. As early as November 14, 2019, Cuba was asked to recall its ambassador, who honorably returned to Havana for good on December 7, after having impeccably ensured and completed the safe return of each and every member of the medical staff, which presupposed a significant risk for the diplomatic personnel that organized and accompanied the Cuban cooperation workers in their transit through dangerous areas.
From November 15 to 20, the acting Foreign Ministry of Bolivia unilaterally withdrew the entire diplomatic staff accredited to Cuba. On the 14th, the so- called Minister of Communications published slanderous allegations against the Cuban diplomatic staff and their relatives, which included offensive remarks about the Cuban ambassador and the outlandish allegation claiming that his wife had organized demonstrations and the resistance against the coup, when in fact she had never visited that country. As part of that campaign, on November 15, 2019, the Cooperation Workers’ Clinic which is a property of the Republic of Cuba in La Paz, was violently raided by law enforcement authorities without any search warrant. As a result of that, equipment, materials and other assets were stolen from that facility and so far the Cuban embassy personnel has been prevented access to that property of the Cuban State. On November 18, a ridiculous denunciation of an alleged plan to attack the putschist authorities in Beni, made reference to the participation of inexistent Cuban citizens, the purpose of which was to fuel hysteria. On January 8, 2020, the designated Minister of Health accused our cooperation workers of not being health professionals and carrying out an indoctrination work. In that press conference he was accompanied by Colonel Gonzalo Medinacelli of the Bolivian Police Force, who is at the service of the US embassy in La Paz and has been the main instigator and key actor of the incidents perpetrated against our cooperation workers.
The Presidential Message to the Nation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia aired on January 22 included an offensive reference to the Cuban health personnel, labeling them as “fake Cuban doctors”, with complete disregard for the altruistic and professional work of our health staff. This message slanderously asserted that 80 percent of the funds of the Cuban Medical Brigade in Bolivia were being transferred to our country “to finance the Castro-communist system that subjugates and enslaves the Cuban people.” As was denounced in a timely fashion in the Declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba on December 5, 2019, the so-called Minister of Health “shamelessly exaggerated the amounts of the stipends earned by Cuban medical specialists, which were in fact lower than the ones earned by Bolivian general practitioners. He failed to mention that Cuba did not receive a single cent from that cooperation.” The money earned by the Cuban Medical Brigade in Bolivia was never transferred to Cuba and was used to cover the expenses of our cooperation workers in that country. The budget of the Cuban Medical Brigade was approved according to the established procedures in Bolivia, which included appropriate parliamentarian proceedings; and was adequately audited by the Ministry of Health of Bolivia and other authorities.
We are not used to publishing information about the cost of the medical cooperation that we offer to other countries, because our people, despite the blockade and the economic difficulties, take on this task with generosity and altruism and as a duty that is to be fulfilled with modesty. But the insults that have been hurled at us have forced us to reveal that Cuba’s medical cooperation with Bolivia started in 1985, with the donation of three intensive care units for pediatric hospitals. From 2006 to 2012, Cuba covered the full cost of its cooperation with Bolivia, which amounted to more than 200 million dollars per year and included medical equipment, medicines, medical inputs and consumables, the sustenance of the Cuban Brigade, the air transportation of cooperation workers and the purchase of medical equipment. Ever since then, and taking into account the favorable situation facing the Bolivian economy, that country started to cover the cost of the medical services, but it never transferred a single dollar to Cuba; nor did Cuba receive any revenues whatsoever. At the same time, a total of 5,184 Bolivian youths graduated with medical degrees in our country, the cost of which was fully covered by our country. None of the de facto authorities have recognized that, as a result of the dedicated work and professional and strictly humanitarian behavior of the Cuban health staff, 54 percent of which was made up by women, our cooperation workers offered 77,330,447 medical consultations; performed 1,529,301 surgeries; assisted 60,640 child deliveries; applied 22,221 vaccines and performed 508,403 eye surgeries. The Bolivian people have been deprived of these services since the departure of our health cooperation workers.
On January 22, the also designated minister of Hydrocarbons declared that Bolivia had terminated a commercial contract for the sale of urea to a Cuban company, claiming that it was an alleged “gift” to Cuba because the commodity had been negotiated at “a very cheap price, considering its value at the world market.” Once again the putschists resort to lies to justify their decisions. The price agreed with the Cuban company was in accordance with the international references that, as a standard practice, are taken as a basis to market this product. In its official communiqué, the Bolivian government claims that the Cuban government affects the alleged bilateral relations of mutual respect based on the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of States. However, on January 20 last, the Presidential Palace of Bolivia summoned a Cuban citizen with a long and very well-known history of actions that she has perpetrated against her own country and of being at the service of receiving pay from foreign powers, for the purpose of talking about “the situation facing the Cuban people”, which is an act of interference in the internal affairs of the Republic of Cuba in complicity with the hostile campaigns launched against our country. None of the above is alien to the pressures exercised by the US administration to impose the Monroe Doctrine in Our America, or the tightening of the blockade and the hostility against Cuba. The pressures exerted by the administration of President Donald Trump on other countries to force them to support its neo-liberal, unilateral and coercive policies in violation of International Law are too well known.
From the very inception of the coup, officials from the US administration have been putting pressure on Bolivia to impose a deterioration of relations with Cuba, persecute Cuban doctors, harass diplomats and cancel the medical cooperation that benefited the Bolivian people. As was appropriately denounced, some of these repressive and violent operations against the Cuban health staff involved the direct participation of US “diplomatic” officials. It’s not by chance that the facts described here coincide with a brutal and politically motivated US campaign against Cuba’s international medical cooperation that is being offered in tens of countries, which has become a symbol of international solidarity. Soon after the coup, when the putschists made some statements in recognition of the Cuban cooperation workers and called to stop every action against them, several US officials intensified their pressures.
Later on, on November 19, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo stated that “the expulsion of hundreds of Cuban officials was the right decision. Bravo Bolivia!” On January 15, the putschist authorities of La Paz welcomed with great fanfare Mauricio Claver-Carone, the National Security Advisor of the White House, who works as the overseer of the aggression and blockade against Cuba, a cause he has been devoted to since he was very young. On January 21 Under Secretary of State David Hale was received with similar fanfare, which coincided with the shameless tour made by Pompeo around our region. On the day when the announcement that so much pleased Washington was made, the acting Foreign Minister was precisely at the State Department offices. The Bolivian putschist authorities should not hold Cuba responsible for their decision to sever diplomatic relations between both countries. The hostile and offensive actions have not emanated from our Government or our people. Cuba has acted with patience and prudence, defending and protecting its nationals and avoiding any confrontation, despite the reprehensible behavior of the putschists. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates its respect for the norms and principles of International Law that govern relations among States and strict compliance of its obligation not to interfere, either directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of other States.
Havana, January 25, 2020.
February 8, 2020