The history of relations between Cuba and the United States after the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959 is full of strong antagonisms and real paradoxes. On the one hand, there is a dismal, theoretical Cuba, which was constructed by powerful neighbors from the north and which is disseminated continuously by major media outlets, and on the other hand, the real Cuba, which is enjoyed by Cubans, many friends, and the tourists who visit us.
I could speak profusely on this topic, since there has been more than 62 years of aggression against this small Caribbean island, whose only sin was to cling obstinately to its independence, sovereignty and self-determination.
For that reason, this article objects concisely to the qualities promoted by the United States against some attributes of the Cuban reality.
The U.S. says: “There is no democracy in Cuba.”
Cuba says: “The people have really participated in the government of the country.” This is demonstrated by:
– In elections, the population chooses its neighborhood representatives without partisan intervention; ideology, political position, race, sex and sexuality do not matter. More than 85% of the population votes, with neither police presence nor violence. Children “protect” the polls, and candidates are elected for who they are, not their promises;
– The people have identified themselves and are the protagonists of the policies that distinguish the country. For that reason, in Cuba, one can speak of authentic government of the people;
– Cubans massively participated in the literacy campaign and in defense of the country, periodic vaccinations and protection against natural disasters, etc., and the historic protests in support of the government and against the embargo;
– The population is consulted on the government, economy and society. Multiple critical opinions are embedded in state policies. This was evidenced recently in the 2019 Constitution. The people contributed thousands of opinions to the project, and it was approved by more than 86% of the population in a popular referendum, in a secret ballot and in the face of an antagonistic campaign by the United States;
– Cubans participated massively in multiple solidarity missions. Hundreds of thousands helped in Angolan independence; more than 400,000 doctors and the Henry Reeve Brigade have collaborated with many countries against COVID-19 and in relief from natural disasters. Cuba promoted international literacy projects;
– The people support and are proud of the decision to offer free medical care to more than 26,000 children infected in the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and of the existence of the Latin American School of Medicine, which trained millions of doctors from the world’s poorest nations.
The U.S. says: “Cuba does not respect human rights.”
Cuba says: “Cuban human rights are not ethereal; they are tangible and benefit the majority of the people.” This is precisely what keeps them very united in supporting the system and the revolutionary government.
– In Cuba, legal and structural discrimination against women and racism have disappeared;
– Medical care and education are free and universal. Maternal and infant mortality are among the lowest in the world, life expectancy is one of the highest, the level of HIV is very low and is not transmitted from mother to child;
– Despite the embargo, there is a very low prevalence of malnutrition. There is no severe child malnutrition; there are neither children nor adults living on the streets. It is a very safe country with low crime levels because of the absence of wealth inequality, and education and culture levels are high;
– Although the people are very rebellious, there are no noteworthy popular protests against the government, nor is there political repression or torture, which is significant.
The United States’ embargo makes it difficult to access scientific and technological resources and should stop scientific and technological development in Cuba.
Certainly, but, paradoxically, scarcity spurred Cubans’ initiative, thanks to high levels of education, state policy and national pride. A lot was done with very little, proven especially in education, medicine, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
That is why, even with the embargo, many important Cuban medications against cancer, hepatitis, meningitis, diabetes, vitiligo, etc., are unique in the world. Cuba now has five vaccine candidates against COVID-19, two of them in the final phase. The people will be vaccinated in 2021, and we will be able to export the vaccines to other countries.
Finally, it is worth asking if the Joe Biden administration will be capable of acting with humanity and common sense in regard to Cuba.