Travelling Cubans return home in triumph
from sports victory to Peru medical crisis

HAVANA — Wednesday, March 26, a 20-year-old  returned home from Manchester, England, after winning a world championship cycling competition.

Lisandra Guerra, 20, became the 500-metre time-trial cycling world champion in the World Track Cycling Championship held in Manchester, Great Britain, following intense competition with athletes from 37 different countries. Ms. Guerra’s achievement grew out of Cuba’s well-funded educational and sports system.

Also returning from abroad that same day were 77 members of the Henry Reeve Contingent, a medical detachment that had gone to Peru to provide relief work immediately after the 7.9 Richter scale earthquake that caused widespread damage, loss of life, and injury 15 August 2007.

Wasting no time, the group arrived in Cuzco on August 18. Their two-month relief work plan had been designed to address the most urgent needs.

On the ground, to meet the needs with which they were confronted, the detachment spen more than double the time expected — leaving Peru for home March 25, seven months and seven days later

They cared for 153,292 patients, 65,299 of whom were visited in their homes.

Dr. Juan Carlos Dupuy Núñez, who has led the Henry Reeve Contingent since its creation in September 19, 2005 and who has been the head of the Cuban medical brigade in Pakistan, headed the detachment. 

Several members of the Peru group previously had done relief work in Pakistan and Indonesia.

“The glorious pages in history they have written cannot be erased. Such dignity and conscience are a bulwark against the rusted armaments of imperialism,” said Fidel Castro.

“In view of the Peruvian people’s gratitude and acknowledgement, it was morally impossible for us to leave the country without having other members of the Contingent travel there to undertake relief work in their place.”