The Media War Against Cuban Vaccines

José Manzaneda

The achievements of Cuba, a country in the South under blockade, in developing not one, but five vaccines against COVID-19, are being recognized by major international media, traditionally belligerent against the island. This is the case of The Washington Post (1), BBC (2), CNN (3) or El País (4), among others.

But there are those who are not resigned. We read in digital newspapers such as Cubanet, ADN or Diario de Cuba that “the regime (…) endangers Cubans” (5), that “experiments with the Castro vaccine cause terror” (6) or that Havana uses “vaccines as propaganda” (7). “Cuba admits it has no money to import vaccines” (8) (9), enthusiastically headline media financed -curiously- by the US government, which is the one obstructing the income of the Island with its economic blockade (10).

As in any other subject, there is no lack of so-called “experts” in these media. An NGO called “Doctors United Venezuela” claims that “not even the Cubans themselves want to participate in the trials of their vaccine” (11). In Miami, a specialist in family medicine (not in vaccines), gave the following “scientific” analysis on television (12): “The (Cuban) vaccine has a mechanism of action that acts by inoculating antibodies, antigens that resemble the spikes that the coronavirus has. (…) But this is a really elementary mechanism of action, and if it were so elementary, countries like the USA would have created it long ago and we would not have had to resort to sophisticated methods to create this vaccine”.

The Scientific Director of the Research Institute of the Hospital La Paz in Madrid, an anti-Castro Cuban, violating all professional ethics protocol, in an interview, presented a political pamphlet to discredit Cuba’s vaccination strategy. Havana would be playing “Russian roulette” with “the lives of the population of an entire island” to “prove to the world” that it was “better than anyone else”: the “arrogance that characterizes all dictatorships” (13).

This so-called “dictatorship” trained this person as a scientist, who today has access to a respectable salary in the “second most powerful research center in Spain”, according to what we read in the press, but where how many vaccines against Covid-19 have been developed? None.

But the best pearls are found, as expected, in a Miami channel, America TV (14): “The Cuban regime seems to be using its vaccines against the coronavirus as a political weapon to pressure a thaw with the USA. (…) Indeed, the Cuban regime is now using its vaccines against the coronavirus as an attempt to blackmail the Biden administration”, it said in its news report. And what is the proof of this “blackmail” to achieve the evil goal of normal relations with its neighboring country? An article in the Cuban press: “The Granma daily newspaper said today that what it called Cuba’s capacity to produce highly competitive science and medical services could mean that, at a very early date, the island -according to the regime- will no longer need the U.S. market”.

It must be said, first of all, that the text is not from the Cuban government. It is an opinion article by an international analyst who, in addition, proposes “civilized and mutually advantageous” Cuba-US relations, from which, in his own words, “we can learn the best from each other (…) about human rights (…) here and there” (15).

Quite a “threat”, according to this channel: “the threat from Granma (newspaper) that Cuba could soon do without the American market thanks to its vaccines”. Curious, because Cuba could not “do without” a “market” that has been closed for 60 years (16). It cannot sell vaccines or medical services to the US, it is forbidden by the blockade laws, and it is only possible under very few special licenses (17).

But America TV passed, in a second, from lies to hallucination. Because the Cuban vaccines would not be Cuban, but Chinese: “I think it is very possible that there has been a transfer of technology from China to the communist regime of Cuba to give it a vaccine with which to launch a political offensive”. Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, an anti-Castro hawk who, months ago, called for a US military intervention in Cuba, stated this in the same news item (18).

The report’s closing remarks are not to be missed: “And, by the way, this new use by the Cuban regime of its vaccines against the coronavirus as a political weapon against the US occurs at a time when, today, for example, the island reported a thousand cases of coronavirus in the country and another four deaths due to this pandemic”. In Cuba (19), in relative population terms, there are 40 times fewer deaths from Covid-19 than in the US (20) and in the State of Florida itself (21).

But to demand from the “free press” an essential piece of information, such as this one, we know it is asking too much.

Editing: Itsasne Rivera. Subtitling coordination: Antonio García Moreno.