The US War on Cuba and its Achievements

SOA Watch Protest Workshop with Let Cuba Live Committee of Maine, Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5.   November 17, 2012

The US has attempted to destroy every move towards and independent system by any country in Latin America. It seeks to keep Latin American countries, just like we who live in the US, under the control of its corporations.

But the Cuban revolution has endured. Why? Because the revolution has given its people many benefits, many not attainable in any other Third World country. Some not even attained here in the US.

Equally important, the Cuban people always stood up to defend their revolution, and regardless of what is said in the corporate media of the US, participate in the running of their country, elect their own representatives.

You should know of the website Project, which compiles a list of news issues basically blacked out by the US corporate media.Here are some articles on Cuba from Project Censored:

  1. Cuba leads the world in organic farming
  2. Cuba provided the greatest medical aid to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake
  3. Cuba sets a global example for the achievements of socialism
  4. Cuba supports press freedom
  5. UN votes to condemn US blockade of Cuba 20 years in a row
  6. Several mentions of the blackout of information on the 5 Cuban ant-terrorist fighters imprisoned in the US

When the Cuban revolution succeeded in 1959, the standard of living of the average person in that country was quite similar to that of Haiti. For instance:

5 out of 6 Cubans lived in shacks or were homeless,

80% of Havana residents suffered from hunger and unemployment,

2 out of 3 Cuban children didn’t attend school.

But now, there are no homeless. There is a billboard I saw in Cuba: Tonight 200 million children will sleep on the street. None of them are in Cuba.  In the US there are 770.000 children in public schools who are homeless.

Now everyone can read and write, and even have a 9 grade education. All education, even through university is free.  Meanwhile, what US people owe on US college loan debt is $1 trillion. How much is that? If you filled up a paper grocery bag with $100 bills, you would need one million grocery bags to carry $1 trillion.

Literacy in Cuba is 99%, in the US it is 97%.

Cubans have free, top-notch health care. There are more doctors per person than any other country in the world, except Monaco.  In 2009, Cuba has one doctor for every 150 residents, the US has one doctor for every 417 residents.

After the revolution in 1959, half of Cuba doctors left. Only 3000 stayed. It took Cuba until 1976 to return to the same pre-revolution level. Now Cuba has 75,000 doctors.

85% of Cubans own their own homes and pay no property taxes or interest on their mortgages. Mortgage payments can’t exceed 10% of the combined household income. If you pay rent for 10 years on an apartment, you become the owner.

In the US, 2 years ago, 1 in 9 homes lie vacant.

Infant mortality: Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate (4.5 per 1000 live births) than the United States’ (6.4 per 1000).

Life expectancy before the revolution in 1959 was 58 years. Now it is 77.5 years.

You might think the US government, which portrays itself as a champion of freedom, democracy and human rights, would be highly supportive of the social gains the Cuban people have made.

Unfortunately, these gains are simply reasons why the US wants to overthrow the Cuban system. The US rulers do not want us to know what can be accomplished by using our national resources to meet human needs not spending it on war or hand-outs to banks.

The US rulers have instituted one of the most brutal blockades in history. [Tom Whitney presents on the blockade.]

Cuba’s Environmental achievements:                                                          

The World Wildfire Fund in 2006 heralded an outstanding achievement by Cuba. While we are suffering the consequences of global warming due to US and other government inaction, the World Wildlife Fund declared that Cuba was the only country in the world with a environmentally sustainable economic system.

That means of all the countries in the world, Cuba is the only one with an economic development system that is not depleting natural resources.

The ecological footprint measures the amount of land and water required to meet the demand for food, timber, shelter, and absorb the pollution from human activity.

According to WWF and the Global Footprint Network, if the world’s population shared the US’ lifestyle, 3.6 planets would be needed to support their needs. Cuba is at the other extreme, actually using 17% less than its share.
On the issue of deforestation and reforestation, Cuba was 19% forest in 1959. Now with double the 1959 population, it is 26% forest, thanks to their reforestation programs.

The film “Power of Community” shows Cuba’s recent move towards reliance on organic farming.

This includes Cuba’s development of organic farming that does not damage the environment.

Up to the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Cuba provided sugar and citrus fruit and imported its food. It then had to grow its own food with little chemical or energy input.

Cooperative farms and organic urban gardens have replaced reliance on state farms, heavily mechanized farming, using much oil, relying on chemical fertilizers.

Now there is a focus on grow local. There are thousands of vegetable gardens in and around Havana. The population of Havana, 2.1 million people, are fed by vegetables and fruit grown in a 30 kilometer radius of the city.

Cuban vegetable gardens and farms now produce more than they did before their turn to organic farming, and at a lower cost.

Cuba’s  International Solidarity:

  1. Angola 1976-88

Cuba’s military aid to Angola was decisive in the defeat of apartheid not only in Angola, but in South Africa itself. When racist South Africa tried to extent white racist apartheid rule in 1975-76, Cuba sent volunteer soldiers to Angola to drive them out.  These soldiers stayed until 1989, in the end 337,000 Cuban soldiers served there.

Because of the apartheid South Africa’s defeat in Angola, it had to flee Angola, and it had to grant independence to Namibia. Eventually it had to free Nelson Mandela from prison, and allow free elections in South Africa. The apartheid system, like Jim Crow here, suffered a mortal blow.

This would not have been possible without Cuba’s aid.  Cuba struck a hard blow against racism and against the Western colonialism that has tormented Africa for 400 years.

  1. Venezuela 2003-now

Its aid to Venezuela in 2003-5 was decisive in solidifying the Venezuelan revolution. In 2006 there were 33,000 medical personnel in Venezuela. Now Venezuela is rapidly educating its own doctors and replacing the Cuban one there.

  1. International Medical Care

Over 100,000 Cuban doctors have served in other countries. 15,000 Cuba doctors work in 66 countries, and a total of 38,000 Cuban medical personnel.

70% of the population of Bolivia has health care thanks to Cuban doctors, and 80% of the population in Haiti.

In a study of US newspaper articles after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, John Kirk found that the New York Times and Washington Post had 750 posts regarding the earthquake and relief efforts, though not one discussed in any detail any Cuban support.

Cuba had 1500 doctors waiting to  go to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Its international school of medicine has trained doctors from Latin America and Africa for free. 550 Haitian doctors have graduated from the school, and 567 Haitians are there now. There is a total of ELAM has 9675 students from 100 countries, 80% from Latin America. In Cuba medical schools there are 28,000 Cubans and 20,000 foreign students, all studying for free. The US has 68,000 medical students, Cuba has 48,000; Cuba and Venezuela have 72,000, more than the US.

What can we learn from Cuba?

Kofi Annan, former general secretary of the UN gave a speech some years ago about eliminating poverty.

1.5 billion people do not have access to fresh water.

It would cost $9 billion to provide them with clean water.

1 billion have no access to any health service. 850 million go hungry.

$13 billion is required to give everyone basic health care and food.

850 million adults are illiterate. 260 million children don’t go to school. To educate them would cost $6 billion.

  • billion lack housing. $21 billion would provide them with housing

That is a total of $49 billion to end homelessness, hunger, lack of medical care, lack of clean water. The US spends $1.2 million per year for every US soldier in Afghanistan. That amounts to $84 billion to keep 70,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Probably the greatest humanitarian achievement of Cuba is the example it provides, that a better world is possible. If you have been in Cuba, you feel that here the dominant view in the country is to put into practice the golden rule, do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.

How did Cuba manage to do this?

The 99% there defeated the 1% and removed them from power.  In Cuba, US businesses used to hold the best land, the biggest sugar mills, mines, telephone and utility companies, banks, politicians, casinos.  Likewise in the US today, these corporations own everything in our country, including the politicians and the Supreme Court.  Cuba removed the 1% from power in the first 2 years of the revolution.

In the US now 47 million live in poverty, one out of 6 people, the highest rate in 30 years. We have an income distribution system that is now quite similar what existed in medieval feudal Europe.  The top 1% has 42% of financial wealth. The bottom 80% has 5% of financial wealth   No doubt there will be in the future a movement like the Poor People’s Movement, in which Martin Luther King was a central leader, that was uniting  with the peace movement and the labor movement.

We all can afford for everyone on earth free health care, education and housing. We can all live in an environmentally sustainable way. But this can only be accomplished when the 99% take over not only the government but take over the economy and run it in their interests, not in the profit interests of the rich 1%, the corporations.



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