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Context of 'May 1981-October 10, 1981: Cuba Overcomes Dengue Fever Epidemic'

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1960: US Introduces Trade Embargo against Cuba

The US begins a 40-year plus trade embargo on Cuba. [Perez, 1995; Guardian, 11/28/2001] The embargo applies to a wide range of goods including both food and medicine. [Perez, 1995; Guardian, 11/28/2001] Beginning in 1992, the UN General Assembly will annually condemn these sanctions against Cuba. [Guardian, 11/28/2001]

Timeline Tags: US-Cuba (1959-2005)

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in Cuba states that “there is no question that Cuba has the best health statistics in Latin America.” [South End Press, 1993, pp. 151]

Timeline Tags: US-Cuba (1959-2005)

In May 1981 dengue fever appears in the Cuban population, becoming an epidemic by mid-June 1981. It is not known how the disease was introduced to the island, but in his annual speech on July 26, Fidel Castro suggests that the Cuban population was intentionally infected by the US. He will later claim in 1984 that some “counterrevolutionaries confessed to having carried out biological operations against Cuba at that time.” To combat the illness, the Ministry of Public Health launches a country-wide campaign to clean up all potential breeding places for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the carrier of the disease. Everyone is asked to participate in the effort. The last case of dengue fever is reported on October 10, 1981. During the five-month outbreak, a total of 344,203 cases were reported. Of those, only 158 were fatal. More than 116,000 people were hospitalized. “No government in the Third World and few in the developed countries could have achieved as much as rapidly as the Cubans did, because most lack this national capacity to mobilize,” writes author Julie M. Feinsilver. [Feinsilver, 1993, pp. 85-90]

Entity Tags: Cuba

Timeline Tags: Other Health Care Systems

Eduardo Arocena, leader of the Cuban-exile militant group OMEGA-7, testifies during his trial in New York that in the latter part of 1980 a ship traveled from Florida to Cuba with “a mission to carry some germs to introduce them in Cuba to be used against the Soviets and against the Cuban economy, to begin what was called chemical war, which later on produced results that were not what we had expected, because we thought that it was going to be used against the Soviet forces, and it was used against our own people, and with that we did not agree.” The testimony is later used by some to support the allegation that Cuba’s 1981 Dengue fever epidemic, which infected 300,000 and killed 154, was the result of US biowarfare. [Blum, 1995; Covert Action Quarterly, 1999; CounterPunch, 10/11/2003]

Entity Tags: Eduardo Arocena

Timeline Tags: US-Cuba (1959-2005)

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