|The Cuban people on the march in Havana - May 1st, 2014|
By Adrien Welsh, Chair of the YCL-LJC International Commission
"Cuba no está sola, todo el mundo está con Cuba socialista, Cuba vencerá"
Last Wednesday, for the 23rd time, the world rejected the criminal blockade imposed on Cuba in 1962. The outcome of the vote during the session of the United Nations on this topic couldn’t have been more clear: out of the 193 member countries of the United Nations, 188 voted in favour of the abolition of the blockade, and only 2 voted against the motion (not surprisingly the US and Israel). Since the first vote in 1992, a majority of the member countries have supported this motion. The change is that the support has become increasingly unanimous: in 1992, while only 3 countries voted against the end of the embargo, there were still 46 countries that abstained.
Despite all this, this criminal blockade keeps being imposed on the Cuban people, causing a loss of over 3.9 billion dollars this year, and 1.1 trillion since the beginning of the blockade. As a consequence, not only can Cuba not trade with the US, but also it cannot use US dollars in its international financial transactions, nor can it access bank credits from US institutions or their subsidiaries. Moreover, since 2004, fines to both US-based and foreign entities who have traded with Cuba, total over 11 billion dollars.
As the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez, called for a dialogue with the US to solve the problem, the United States justified their position in an evasive way, referring to the “lack of freedom of speech” in Cuba, especially concerning restrictions over the internet. Lack of freedom of speech, really? This is quite amusing to hear when we know that the US has supported all the bloodiest dictatorships in the region and around the world. They are behind the civil wars that have torn the Latin American continent apart, whether it be in Guatemala, Colombia or in El Salvador. They are the ones who fund narcotrafficking warlords who terrorize the Latin American population even in exile. It is a particularly pathetic accusation when we know that the US funds the most reactionary religious sects that force more and more people to live in conditions as backward as in the Middle Ages, as well as being an unconditional ally of Saudi Arabia, which is not what we could call a good example in terms of their record on freedom of speech! In comparison, Cuba hosts the biggest book fair in Latin America and the UNESCO’s headquarters for Latin America are located in Havana.
But Cuba’s openness to the world doesn’t end here. It’s literacy rate is considerably higher than in every other country in Latin America. Actually, with a literacy rate of 99.9%, it is slightly superior to the US’s rate (99%). Cuba’s openness to the world is not only about culture, but also about technology. When science in capitalist countries is determined by capitalist trusts, in socialist countries like Cuba, it is aimed to respond to people’s needs. This is how and why Cuban scientists have achieved overwhelming results in finding a treatment for some cancers.
|Doctors on their way to West Africa in the Fall of 2014|
With a rate of 6.7 doctors per 1000 inhabitants, Cuba has one of the highest doctor-patient rates in the world. In comparison, the US only counts an average of 2.5 doctors for 1000 inhabitants. This has allowed the small island to play an active role in the development of many countries, without demanding anything in return, contrasting sharply to the foreign policy of capitalist states. For instance, Cuba was the first country to send 165 doctors to Africa when the Ebola crisis started, whereas the US has used it as a pretext to send up to 3000 soldiers! And for Cuba, this is nothing exceptional: not only are there thousands of doctors permanently deployed around the world, but also school teachers, sports coaches, and plenty of other humanitarian staff. Cuba played a frontline role during the last Cholera crisis in Haïti and its humanitarian workers were sent to the most remote villages of Pakistan during the last earthquake. Even during hurricane Katrina, Fidel Castro offered Cuba’s help to the US population, which was, of course, rejected. The Bush government wasn’t able to respond correctly to this crisis, resulting in over 1830 deaths, with most of the victims being African American working-class residents of New Orleans. Some of the hurricanes’ victims are still homeless to this day.
We should also recall the role of the Cuban people in the national liberation struggle of Angola, which paved the way for the end of Apartheid in South Africa, as Mandela himself recognized.
In addition to that, Cuba has been, and still is, playing an important role in the development of third world countries by opening their classrooms to their students. This is why, right now, in Cuba, there is a significant number of students from the refugee camps of Western Sahara and Palestine, as well as others from the Philippines or Vietnam, studying in Cuba.
And finally, we should recall that Cuba does all this with a GDP that represents no more than 0.3% of the US’s.
Canada, as we can see, didn’t oppose the motion, but it is in no way a sign of any particularly strong links of friendship between the two governments. On countless occasions Harper has qualified the Cuban government as dictatorial, but perhaps the most significant example was Harper’s opposition to Cuba’s participation in the 2012 Summit of the Americas. Obama and Harper were the only member states to oppose their inclusion. Even the not-so-progressive president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, said this exclusion was based on an “ideological blockage”.
hypocritical positions, based on safeguarding Canadian imperialist interests by
keeping good trade relations with Cuba without losing face with its US ally,
have to be denounced. This is why campaigns for a genuine solidarity with Cuba
and its anti-imperialist struggles have to be reinforced in our country. Also,
we should keep in mind, that the most effective way would be by reinforcing our
own anti-imperialist struggles. As Che Guevara once said, “if you want to help
the Cuban Revolution, make the Revolution in your own country.
|May Day, Havana, 2014|