Colombia: Martial against Corona, but also against Cuban support (Bogotá, July 14, 2020)

Because he wants to seek help from Cuban doctors in the corona pandemic, the mayor of the second largest Colombian city, Medellín, Daniel Quintero, has become a hate object of the country’s militant rights. On Sunday, the country’s media had published a letter written on July 15 in which the independent Quintero asked the Cuban ambassador in Bogotá for assistance in sending a medical brigade to Medellín.

“I would like to formally ask the government of the Republic of Cuba for their help and solidarity in the form of a medical brigade for Medellín that can supply 600 intensive care beds,” says the online portal Las2orillas published letters. His city “only has 118 specialists for intensive care units,” and that is “an insufficient number to guarantee care for seriously ill people.” Experienced professionals on the island could improve patient care, the politician said.

Representatives of the right camp were furious. Quintero’s request was “outrageous,” protested Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal, a member of the democratic center of the ultra-right ex-president Álvaro Uribe. After he too got involved in the controversy via Twitter, his political pupil President Iván Duque declared in his own television program “Prevención y Acción” that the country was prepared to “accept the pandemic with its own medical personnel”.

However, Colombia has become one of the continent’s most affected countries by the pandemic. According to statistics from Johns Hopkins University, over 9,000 people who died from the Covid 19 virus and more than 267,000 cases of infection had already been registered by Wednesday. Reported Reuters relying on Colombian doctors that many illnesses and deaths were not recorded at all. According to the news agency, Colombia’s medical facilities have been operating at the limit of their capacity since early July. Bogotá’s Mayor Claudia López Hernández raised the alarm because the hospitals in her city were already 91 percent full. Numerous intensive care patients from the coastal town of Barranquilla are now being transferred to Medellín, 700 kilometers away.

In view of the dramatic situation, Mayor Quintero held out to his critics: »We did not understand the message of the corona virus. Beyond borders, ethnicity and ideologies, the virus reminds us that we all need each other as human beings. Life has to be above politics «. But while the country’s official policies continue to submit to Washington’s dictate in the midst of the corona crisis, which warned all countries of medical cooperation with Cuba and threatened “adverse reactions” to the offender, Quinteros is increasingly receiving support.

Governor of the Department of Magdalena on the Caribbean coast, Carlos Caicedo Omar, also asked Cuban Ambassador José Luis Ponce for »both short and long-term support for the treatment of Covid-19 patients and the improvement of inadequate care in his province «. In February, Virna Johnson, the mayor of the provincial capital, Santa Marta, had been approached by the former president and current senator Uribe for a similar attempt on the charge that cooperation in the health sector only benefits »Cuba with its protection for terrorism and Maduro, such Uses agreements for his failed model «.

However, with the government’s apparent failure in the corona crisis, the angry attacks by the right are losing their effectiveness. Now is not the time “for ideologues and extremists,” said the Mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina, on Monday on the radio station Bluradio. He therefore supported the Quintero and Caicedo initiative and supported their request to send Cuban doctors to help combat the virus better.