|During times of universal deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary.
Not in the Miami Herald nor the New York Times, not on CBS, NBC, ABC nor Fox News, not on Cuba-bashing forums. As a counterpoint to the usual suspects' CIA-funded lie-spreading, read these revolutionary truths. If you still don't believe, see for yourself except if you're a citizen of "the land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" because your government says it is illegal to travel to and see Cuba for yourself; since January 11, the USA has authorized expatriates to visit without restrictions; since November 2011, Cuba has authorized the official sale of houses (70% of Cubans are owners), allowing expatriates to buy a house and become its legal owner as long as it is bequeated to a Cuban upon his/her death and as long as he/she does not spend more than 11 consecutive months outside of Cuba.
[As a preamble for comparison, Canada's conservative right-wing government in the Fall of 2006 ordered 17 billion dollars worth of armaments; it spends 19 billion dollars of public funds on pills every year but can't afford a national television network free of advertising for cars, beer, viagra, deodorant and GMO-laden food; Canadian ministers, brainwashed by Exxon-funded "denial research", never heard of global warming and drastically cut funds to environmental NGO's; Canada finances the most polluting form of oil exploration in Alberta; killed and erased the small arms register in 2012; fight to establish a "profitable prison" society based on increasing the severity of prison sentences; the Canadian government cancelled $3.6 billion earmarked for child care in 2007. Source here.]
In 2007, according to year-end figures supplied by the Havana government, Cuba will assign 22.6% of its GDP for public health and education, a figure that is four times the standard of the Latin American nations for those sectors. Spending for health, education, culture, sports, security and social assistance represent 69% of the 2007 budget.
By 2008, Cuba had planted 137 million trees, 5th largest total in the world as part of the United Nations Environment Programme billion tree campaign. Source
Cuba is the only country in the world that enjoys sustainable development, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) The Living Planet Report 2006. In addition, despite unrelenting U.S. enmity, Cuba registered a 12.5% increase in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the last 12 months, the highest such indicator in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2006, according to a Dec. 22 disclosure by Economy and Planning Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez. The average GDP growth for the region was 5.3%. Source
Here's part of what Cuba has achieved in Social Services, Education, Health & Aids Care, Energy, Information, Food Sovereignty as well as International Aid : priorities any country should concentrate on. In spite of a 46-year old embargo which has cost the island over 82 billion dollars and which is denounced every year by 97.8% of nations on the planet, Cuba has managed to successfully fill the basic human needs of its population without the equation of major crime, consumerism and worker exploitation coming into play. Something even the world's richest countries are still struggling to accomplish.
Social security in Cuba covers 100% of the country’s citizens. In Cuba, 85% of the people own their homes and they pay no property taxes on them whatsoever. The remaining 15% pay a wholly symbolic rent, which is only 10% of their salary.
Illegal drug use involves a negligible percentage of the population, and is being resolutely combated. Lottery and other forms of gambling have been banned since the first years of the Revolution to ensure that no one pins their hopes of progress on luck.
There is no commercial advertising on Cuban television and radio or in printed publications. Instead, these feature public service announcements concerning health, education, culture, physical education, sports, recreation, environmental protection, and the fight against drugs, accidents and other social problems. Cuban media educate, they do not poison or alienate. They do not worship or exalt the values of decadent consumer societies.
Discrimination against women was eradicated, and today women make up 64% of the Cuba's technical and scientific workforce.
From the earliest months of the Revolution, not a single form of racial discrimination was copied from the south of the United States. In recent years, the Revolution has been particularly striving to eliminate any lingering traces of the poverty and lack of access to education that afflicted the descendants of those who were enslaved for centuries, creating objective differences that tended to be perpetuated. Soon, not even a shadow of the consequences of that terrible injustice will remain.
There is no cult of personality around any living revolutionary, in the form of statues, official photographs, or the names of streets or institutions. The leaders of this country are human beings, not gods. In Cuba, there are no paramilitary forces or death squads, nor has violence ever been used against the people. There are no executions without due process and no torture. The people have always massively supported the activities of the Revolution.
Cuba has brought free education to 100% of the country’s children. Cuba has the highest school retention rate over 99% between kindergarten and ninth grade of all of the nations in the hemisphere. Cuba's elementary school students rank first worldwide in the knowledge of their mother language and mathematics. Cuba ranks first worldwide with the highest number of teachers per capita and the lowest number of students per classroom. All Cuban children with physical or mental challenges are enrolled in special schools. Computer education and the use of audiovisual methods now extend to all of the country’s children, adolescents and youth, in both the cities and the countryside.
For the first time in the world, all young people between the ages of 17 and 30, who were previously neither in school nor employed, have been given the opportunity to resume their studies while receiving an allowance.
All citizens have the possibility of undertaking studies that will take them from kindergarten to a doctoral degree without spending a penny. Today, the country has 30 university graduates, intellectuals and professional artists for every one there was before the Revolution. The average Cuban citizen today has at the very least a ninth-grade level of education. Not even functional illiteracy exists in Cuba.
There are schools for the training of artists and art instructors throughout all of the country’s provinces, where over 20,000 young people are currently studying and developing their talent and vocation. Tens of thousands more are doing the same at vocational schools, and many of these then go on to undertake professional studies.
University campuses are progressively spreading to all of the country’s municipalities. Never in any other part of the world has such a colossal educational and cultural revolution taken place as this that will turn Cuba, by far, into the country with the highest degree of knowledge and culture in the world, faithful to Martí’s profound conviction that "no freedom is possible without culture."
Infant mortality has been reduced from 60 per 1000 live births to a rate that fluctuates between 6 and 6.5, which is the lowest in the hemisphere, from the United States to Patagonia.
Life expectancy has increased by 15 years. Infectious and contagious diseases like polio, malaria, neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, measles, rubella, mumps, whooping cough and dengue have been eradicated; others like tetanus, meningococcal meningitis, hepatitis B, leprosy, hemophilus meningitis and tuberculosis are fully controlled. Today, in Cuba, people die of the same causes as in the most highly developed countries : cardiovascular diseases, cancer, accidents, and others, but with a much lower incidence.
A profound revolution is underway to bring medical services closer to the population, in order to facilitate access to health care centers, save lives and alleviate suffering. In-depth research is being carried out to break the chain, mitigate or reduce to a minimum the problems that result from genetic, prenatal or childbirth-related causes.
In Cuba, medical care is not a business. Hospitals are not run like hotels that need to have 100% room occupancy. Prevention is understood to be the best, cost-effective approach to any illness. Cuba is today the country with the highest number of doctors per capita in the world, with almost twice as many as those that follow closer. Almost 14,000 students from 113 countries study on scholarships. As of 2004, 17,654 students had graduated, 70% were from African countries.
Cuba's scientific centers are working relentlessly to find preventive or therapeutic solutions for the most serious diseases.
Cubans will have the best healthcare system in the world, and will continue to receive all services absolutely free of charge. In 2004, Cuba boasted 130,000 healthcare professionals with a university education, 25,845 of whom were serving as volunteers in international missions in 68 different countries. Of these, 17,651 were doctors, 3,069 were dentists and 3,117 healthcare technicians working in areas such as optics.
In 1983, two years before the first case of HIV appeared in Cuba, the government had already set up the National Commission on AIDS to educate their population. By the time AIDS broke out, complete popular access to health care was already a reality.
Beginning in 1986, blood donations were screened for HIV. De facto HIV transmission through blood products were eliminated. In 1993, Cubans living with HIV/AIDS joined the National Commission on AIDS to help make the best decisions regarding prevention and treatment.
At the opening plenary of UNAIDS in 2003, executive director Peter Piot praised Cuba as "one of the first countries to take AIDS seriously as a problem and provide a comprehensive response combining both prevention and care."
In 2000, the Cuban government financed a programme to electrify all of the primary schools in the country that had no electricity. Carried out by the solar panel distributor company Ecosol Solar, in less than one year solar panel were installed in 1,994 schools. The PV (photo-voltaic) electrified schools now bring the total number of systems in Cuba to over 2400. These include 320 health clinics, 100 social centers, four rural hospitals and numerous houses. In June of 2001, Cubasolar received the United Nation's Environmental Programme 'Global 500' Award for this remarkable programme.
However, the school electrification program was not finished yet. The Cuban government wanted every child in Cuba to have access to a computer. They put a computer in every primary school by March of 2002 and Cubasolar and Ecosol added one more panel to each primary school so that each system could also run the computer.
INFORMATION - THE INTERNET
It wasn’t until 1996 that Cuba was even able to connect to the Internet due to the blockade but now, computers and access to the Internet are part of Cuban life. They are prioritized for use in collective and massive scales, such as in elementary and secondary schools, which have a ratio of 20 students per computer, universities, health and cultural centers and many other social institutions. Even children in preschools have computer access to educational software. There are 14 provinces and 169 municipalities in the country connected by fiber optic connections. There is a health network of more than 35,000 users which doctors who are working abroad can access.
The 600 Computer Youth Clubs can be found in each of the municipalities and population settlements providing free access via Pentium 4 computers connected to the Internet. It’s estimated that 31 percent of the Cuban population has access to computers (2.5 million students, more than 200,000 people studying in computer clubs and some 800,000 workers.) This is the equivalent of more then 3.5 million people who personally use the computer, almost 1/3 of the entire population. Of these it is estimated that 27% have access to the Internet, with some 480,000 e-mail accounts. Additionally, most post offices also offer Internet access. Internet service providers in Cuba include E-net, CITMATEL, TELEDATOS, COLOMBUS and CUBACEL.
FOOD SECURITY THROUGH SOVEREIGNTY
Autoconsumo, huerto intensivo, parcelas, patios, organiponicos, tiendas consultario agricola : what does it all mean to Cubans ? Excerpts from "Food Security in Cuba" by Sinan Koont : "In 1996, Via Campesina, the recently formed international umbrella organization of grassroots peasant groups, introduced the term “food sovereignty”: the right of peoples and states to democratically decide their own food and agricultural policies and to produce needed foods in their own territories in a manner reinforcing the cultural values of the people while protecting the environment.
(...) One of the serendipitous results of the Cuban crisis has been the forced change from conventional farming practices to organic farming.
(...) A number of approaches have been used to put these overall strategies into practice : 1- identify and put idle lands to use, sometimes in ingenious ways. 2- to develop new schemes of work organization, pricing mechanisms, and incentives 3- researching, introducing, and disseminating new methods of work and technologies, including finding ways to minimize the need for hard currency expenditures on such things as petroleum and protein-rich animal feed.
(...) there has been a proliferation of backyard gardening, the so-called patios, reminiscent of the victory gardens movement in the United States during the Second World War. By the summer of 2003, the number of patios in production had exceeded 300,000, with a goal for the future of over half a million patios, primarily aimed at increases in fruit production.
(...) There are very rapid increases in the production of various types of organic compost, the quantity of such materials jumping seven fold from 2001 to 2002, reaching fifteen million tons in 2003.
(...) Across Cuba, urban agriculture employs the services of close to ten thousand professionals and over forty thousand technicians.
(...) Called the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) it is promoted world-wide by, among others, the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (Ithaca, N.Y.). While its application is in its very beginning stages, where tried, this system has doubled or even tripled rice yields in Cuba, as elsewhere in the third world, while reducing seed, water, and petroleum requirements. Cuba is potentially on its way to self-sufficiency in rice, and, in the future, will be able to use its excess rice production as animal feed!
(...) By 2001 only about 61 percent of all inputs into the tourism industry were of Cuban origin.
(...) it makes good sense to export high price foods like honey and shellfish to increase the availability of other foods
(...) It should also be noted here, that every month, out of its agricultural production, the state delivers 28 lbs. of food per bed to hospitals, 13 lbs. per child to child care centers, and 10 lbs. per student to schools.
(...) Major problem areas remain, especially regarding milk, meat, and eggs, which continue to require imported animal feed that Cuba cannot afford.
(...) The most important bottom line is that, by the end of 2000, food availability in Cuba reached daily per capita figures of 2,600 calories and more than 68 grams of protein. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization considers 2,400 calories per day and 72 grams protein per day to be an adequate diet. Despite the remaining problem areas, the acute food shortage crisis is essentially over. (From data available in early 2003).
Since 1962 and Cuba's first mission in Algeria, Cuba has undertaken to look after some of the poorest people in the world. Nearly 132,000 Cuban doctors and health professionals have volunteered to work in 102 countries. Presently (December 2006) 31,000 medical staff are giving free services in 69 nations.
On September 19 2005, following the tragedy caused by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (Louisiana), Cuba created the Henry Reeve Brigade, a medical contingent specialized in natural catastrophes and made up of some 10,000 staff. The Cuban government had at the time offered Washington to send 1,500 doctors to take care of the hurricane victims but was turned down by an obstinate George Bush.
Following the earthquake which ravaged Pakistan in November 2005, 2,564 members of the Henry Reeve Brigade were sent over to help victims, spending eight months working in dire conditions. Some 32 temporary hospitals were built and then offered to the country's health authorities. More than 1.8 million patients were looked after and 2,086 lives were saved through this action. No other country in the world provided as much help as Cuba did.
In July 2004, Cuba launched Operación Milagro (Operation Miracle) which is a program of eye operations for people who have lost eyesight or suffer from a cataract condition. As of December 2006, nearly 485,000 patients from 28 countries had been able to recover their eyesight. This humanitary and social campaign, partly financed by Venezuela aims to cure one million people a year. In May 2009, the total number of patients reached 1.6 million cured, young and old from 33 countries.
Cuba is presently training, for free, more than 46,000 medical students from 82 nations, including some from the United States, thanks to an ongoing program created by the Latin American School of Medecine in Havana.
These Cuban initiatives, saluted by international observers have nonetheless been criticised by Washington. The Bush administration has even gone as far as pressuring the Pakistani government to make it turn down Cuba's aid. US-government hostility towards Cuba and its human aid programs is, at best, inhuman.
• Edwin Krales, "A Model for the Developing World", January 2005, CSC-here
• Fidel Castro, May Day Rally, Revolution Square, La Habana, May 1, 2003 here
• Author and essayist Salim Lamrani here
• BBC Mundo here
• Henry Reeve (1850-1876) born in Brooklyn, fought for Cuba's independence from Spain. More here.
• Food Security in Cuba by Sinan Koont Full text here.
Cuba's enemies - The usual suspects
• The Cuban-American National Foundation Is a Terrorist Organization here.
• Boycott Bacardi Rum here.
• Reporters sans Frontières and its contradictions here.
• How foreigners fuel US anti-Cuba policy here.
• Where is the Justice? Anti-Castro Terrorist Gets Only 4 Years here.
« In the end, the reason why the administration doesn't want any travel to Cuba is simple. It doesn't want the American people to understand, ten minutes after their arrival, that they have been fooled by their government about Cuban reality. »
Philip Peters, former member of the State Department under Reagan and Bush (the elder), vice president of the Lexington Institute