Chinese donors raised more than 140,000 yuan to purchase 420 pieces of protective outfits and 38,750 masks for Cuba. Credit: Air China.

US officials must be feeling a tad red-faced after a small but dedicated group of Chinese alumni reportedly found a way around Draconian Cold War sanctions to help the Cuban people fight the Covid-19 virus, The Global Times reported on Sunday. 

A total of 286 Chinese donors raised more than 140,000 yuan (US$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.

The donors are 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 existing US sanctions, the report said.

The UN has voted against the blockade against Cuba for almost 30 years in a row. Of the 193 UN members, 191 voted against the continuation of the blockade, Global Research reported. The exceptions were the US and Israel.

The Cuban government said on April 1 that a shipment of anti-epidemic materials donated by China to Cuba could not be delivered 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 safely transport the supplies without American interference.

“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.

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, the report said.

Meanwhile, United Nations human rights experts urged the Trump administration to lift the US financial and economic embargo on Cuba, saying it limited the Communist-ruled island’s ability to fight the coronavirus pandemic and save lives, National Post reported.

The independent experts said in a statement that Washington’s embargo on Cuba is obstructing humanitarian responses to aid the country’s healthcare system in fighting the new coronavirus outbreak, potentially increasing the heavy physical and psychological suffering caused by Covid-19.

“In the pandemic emergency, the lack of will of the US government to suspend sanctions may lead to a higher risk of such suffering in Cuba and other countries targeted by its sanctions,” the UN human rights experts said in the statement.

“We are particularly concerned about the risks to the right to life, health and other critical rights of the most vulnerable sections of the Cuban population,” the experts added.

Meanwhile, churches in Cuba and the US have joined in a petition to the United States government to lift the financial and commercial embargo.

“We request the government of the United States to immediately lift the economic, financial and commercial blockade that for more than 60 years has been imposed on Cuba as well as on other nations,” the Cuban Council of Churches and its US counterpart requested in a statement.

They also asked that “all manipulation and use of political and economic interests stop” in the face of the current global humanitarian crisis, exacerbated and made visible by the Covid-19 pandemic.