Havana.  April 2, 2010

      Ukrainian government and people recognize Cuban treatment of the children 
of Chernobyl
      . Machado Ventura presides over official ceremony in Tarará

      Elson Concepción Pérez

      A distinction for Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, chief inspiration of 
the humane project constituted by the treatment program in Cuba for Ukrainian 
children and their families affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, was 
presented during a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the first patients' 

      José Ramón Machado Ventura, first vice president of the councils of State 
and Ministers, received the distinction from Dr. Julio Medina, director of the 
program in the city of Tarará. 

      During the ceremony, former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma announced 
the conferral on Fidel of the Order of Merit, First Class, and on President 
Raúl Castro, the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, First Class. 

      Kuchma also presented distinctions to Minister of Public Health José 
Ramón Balaguer and other doctors, diplomats and collaborators who have 
contributed to the program's success. 

      In closing remarks, Balaguer said that the treatment program for these 
children was an example of what a people without great material resources can 
do when it has the great spiritual wealth of having been educated in 
solidarity, unconditional dedication, and love for other peoples. 

      The minister noted that the years of the special period, the 
disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the intensification of the blockade 
could not put a dent in the Cuban people's spirit of solidarity and humanity, 
and that Cuba continues to carry out the program according to the existing 

      It was during those difficult years of the 1990s that more children 
benefited from the program, he said. Treatment was provided to more than 300 
children with hematological illnesses, chiefly leukemia, and 136 with different 
types of tumors. Fourteen complicated heart operations were performed, as well 
as two kidney transplants, six bone marrow transplants, and others. 

      Balaguer affirmed that the victims of that catastrophe who have been 
treated in Cuba have also found consolation and love, and he praised the 
efforts of those who have worked over the last 20 years to provide excellent 
services - workers in healthcare, science, services, gastronomy, and culture, 
all to benefit these 25,457 people, 21,378 of them children, who will always 
carry in their hearts the indelible mark of friendship between the Ukrainian 
and Cuban peoples. 

      Declaration of the Ukrainian mothers

      We, the mothers of the children affected by the Chernobyl disaster, and 
the International Chernobyl Fund, would like to address all people of goodwill 
in this world: be receptive to our words, because they come from deep within 
our hearts as mothers. 

      For a mother, the worst misfortune that can happen in life is the illness 
of her child. When in 1990, Cuba and the Comandante Fidel reached out to help 
the sick Ukrainian children, we could not but appreciate this great deed of the 
Cuban people, and we want to declare to the entire world that there is no 
action more humane with respect to sick children than the Ukrainian-Cuban 
program, Children of Chernobyl. 

      With all our hearts, we thank the immense Cuban people, their wise 
leaders Fidel Castro, who made this program a reality, and Raúl Castro, who has 
now taken over its leadership, for everything they have been able to do for the 
Ukrainian children affected by the Chernobyl catastrophe.

      There are things in life that are not bought or sold with money: 
friendship, and mutual aid and support in difficult times, and this is what now 
firmly unites the Cuban and Ukrainian people. 

      We trust that the sincere and just voices of the Ukrainian mothers will 
be heard by the peoples of the world. 

      And we would like to state that there is no country freer than Cuba, that 
it is known throughout the world as the island of freedom, where never, under 
any circumstance, have human rights been violated. 

      We the Ukrainian mothers thank the people and the government of the 
Republic of Cuba with all our hearts for treating our children, and we hope 
that the black wings of Chernobyl disappear forever, and that the friendship 
between two great peoples lasts forever. 

      Viva Cuba! Viva Ukraine!

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