Chinese-donated medical supplies arrive in Cuba after delay due to US sanctions

By Li Qiao Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/3 17:20:45

A staff member transfers medical supplies donated by China at the Cuban Ministry of Public Health's warehouses in Havana, Cuba, April 9, 2020. (Photo by Joaquin Hernandez/Xinhua)

Medical supplies to fight COVID-19 donated by Chinese alumni who once studied in Cuba have arrived in the country with love and gratitude, after breaking through transportation restrictions amid US sanctions against the island nation, Chinese donors said on Sunday. 

A total of 286 Chinese donors raised more than 140,000 yuan($ 19,823), purchased 420 pieces of medical protective outfits and 38,750 masks and sent the medical supplies to Cuba successfully with the help of the Cuban embassy in China, Chen Ke, who initiated the donation campaign, told the Global Times.

Donors are mostly Chinese students who had studied in Cuba from 2006 to 2016 under Cuban government scholarships, said Chen, a 30-year-old from Southwest China's Guizhou Province, who spent five years in Havana learning Spanish from 2009.

After the fundraiser was launched at the end of March, Chen was worried if the supplies could be delivered to Cuba smoothly due to US sanctions.

That turned out to be a real issue. The Cuban government said on April 1 that a shipment of anti-epidemic materials donated by China to Cuba could not be delivered as scheduled due to US sanctions, Xinhua News Agency reported.

"However, as long as there was a glimmer of hope, we would not give up helping Cuba fight the epidemic," Chen said. He got in contact with the Cuban embassy in China and discussed a possible way. Finally, they found a freight channel which could transport the supplies avoiding the US sanctions with the assistance of the embassy.

"We appreciate Cuba generously supporting our education and we send love to Cuba from our hearts. It's time to give back through helping Cuba fight against the pandemic," Chen said.

On the boxes containing the supplies, the Chinese donors also expressed their deep love and best wishes for the Cuban people fighting the epidemic: "Cuba, I will love you until the water near the Malecon dries up!" "Love with love pays!"

Chen also wrote a letter to the Cuban embassy in China. "On the warm land of Cuba, we were surrounded by the selfless love of the Cuban people and learned more about sharing, humility and unity. During the pandemic, we are ready to do all we can to support our second homeland in its fight against COVID-19," Chen wrote.

Cuba Si, a Cuban national media outlet, reported the Chinese people's donation campaign, which moved many Cubans. Cuban teachers and friends of the Chinese donors contacted them after reading the news and appreciated their love and assistance amid the severe pandemic. 

Chen said that he would keep in close contact with the embassy and organize a second donation if needed, although there are difficulties in purchasing supplies as it requires high quality standards.

"We value the quality of donated medical supplies very much, which ensures the safety of Cuban doctors on the anti-epidemic frontline. We selected eight medical manufacturing companies from the white list published by China's Ministry of Commerce for comparison, and finally selected a manufacturing company in Central China's Hunan Province with a better cost performance," Chen said.

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