Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 06:25:31 -0400
Cuba is alive and well in spite of U.S. lies and propaganda
By Jennie Nilson, Militant, Vol. 59, no. 33, 11 September 1995
The following is an excerpt from the article "Cuba Vive!- Cuba Lives!" appearing in the August 24 issue of Community Focus, a newspaper that describes itself as the "voice of the Delaware Valley's Latino community." Subheads are by the Militant.
I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend an International Youth Festival in Cuba during the first week of August. I bring back greetings from the people of Cuba to the Puerto Rican and Latino community of Philadelphia. Cubans feel a great affection for and solidarity with Puerto Ricans, and they say that Cuba and Puerto Rico "son de un pa'jaro de dos alas" [are two wings of the same bird]. I found the two cultures to be strikingly similar.
This was my second visit to Cuba this year; I had been down in January on a Youth Brigade. I fell in love with this island which has the most generous and warm-hearted people I have ever met.
The International Youth Festival included 260 delegates from the United States and almost 1,500 delegates from more than 65 countries all over the world. We stayed with families in different provinces and attended conferences on various issues such as culture and identity, young women, democracy, education, employment, and more. Part of our time was spent in La Habana, where we toured factories, hospitals, schools, reform schools, day care centers, and the like.
The week culminated in a march on Saturday, August 5, in which there were no less than 500,000 people in the streets of La Habana marching against the United States blockade and in support of their right to self-determination. Cuba's President, Fidel Castro, praised our delegation, saying that our presence there speaks to the quality of North American youth.
The Festival was appropriately titled "Cuba Vive." Cuba is alive and well despite what the propaganda in the U.S. would have us believe. However, there is a severe economic crisis in Cuba due to the U.S. blockade and the loss of substantial aid from the former Soviet Union.
There is no doubt that Cubans are experiencing tremendous economic hardships and do not even have some basic necessities. Yet, on top of these difficult times the entire country was mobilized for this Festival, which was a huge success.
The Festival was organized by the Union of Young Communists (UJC), who are the vanguard of the country with one million members out of a national population of eleven million. The population of the island country doubled after the Revolution and is now essentially led by its youth.
In their 35 years of independence Cuba has faithfully maintained human priorities. In spite of extreme financial problems, not one hospital nor school has been closed.
Excellent health care and educational systems have been established which are free of charge at all levels and available to all. There is very little crime or violence, and Cuba has made admirable strides in eliminating racism and sexism.
Cubans can read and write - all Cubans. Ricardo Alarco'n, President of the National Assembly, commented to the delegates that there had been a goal set to eliminate illiteracy in the Americas by the year 2010. Even if this is achieved, he said, Cuba will be celebrating in that year its fiftieth anniversary of the eradication of illiteracy.
I was able to converse with Cubans from all different backgrounds and ages, and I was amazed at how articulate, confident and knowledgeable every Cuban I spoke with was. And, they were more than happy to stop what they were doing to answer at length any question about their country.
In the United States - probably the richest country in the world - we have not begun to solve such important issues as health care, education and crime.
Cuba has successfully done so with only scarce resources and being the only country in the world upon which an economic blockade is imposed.
My heart is filled with awe and respect for this heroic, humble nation of working people who have been unwavering in their path of self-determination and integrity.
There are several trips organized each year to Cuba, as Cubans are always inviting allies to see firsthand the truth of Cuba.
Having seen the truth, my work now is to struggle here in this country to end the U.S. blockade against our neighbor to the south and support their right to autonomy.
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