Havana. April 2, 2010
Ukrainian government and people recognize Cuban treatment of the children
. 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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