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Strange bedfellows: Cuba joins US in Ebola fight

In this Sept. 24, 2014 photo, nurse Dalila Martinez, trainer of the Cuban medical team to travel to Sierra Leone, practices proper disposal at a training camp, in Havana, Cuba.
Ladyrene Perez | Cubadebate | AP
In this Sept. 24, 2014 photo, nurse Dalila Martinez, trainer of the Cuban medical team to travel to Sierra Leone, practices proper disposal at a training camp, in Havana, Cuba.

Cuba may be small, but its role in fighting Ebola is shaping up to be much bigger than other countries'.

The tiny island nation has responded big-time to the outbreak of Ebola, sending a disproportionately large number of medical workers to virus-stricken West Africa, in contrast to the paltry personnel participating from a number of large nations with major economic interests in the region.

That aggressive deployment puts the country on the same side of the fight with its long-time antagonist to the north, the United States, which is sending almost 4,000 troops to West Africa to help stem the spread of Ebola, The Wall Street Journal wrote in an article Friday.

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"Against Ebola, we can work with anyone," Jorge Delgado Bustillo, head of Cuba's "Medical Brigade" to Sierra Leone, told the newspaper. "The United States? Yes, we can."

With a population of just 11 million, Cuba has sent 165 doctors, nurses and other health workers to Sierra Leone.

On the other hand, China, with more than 1 billion residents, is sending 170 medical workers to Liberia, the Journal noted. India, another huge country, with close trade ties to West Africa, is not sending any medical workers, and neither is Brazil.

Russia, which had close ties to Cuba when it was ruled by its own communist party, has sent just eight virologists to Guinea.

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Fidel Castro, the longtime, now-retired Cuban leader whose antagonism toward—and from—the U.S. dates back more than five decades, boasted of his country's "army of white coats" sent to Sierra Leone.

"Honor and glory to our valiant fighters for health and life!" Castro said, according to a state-owned newspaper in Cuba.

Click here for the full article from The Wall Street Journal.