The Cuban Diary
Part 3. Let them talk!
..”At the decisive moments of history the Great Motherland of Lenin was always and will always be ready in the future to give a hand of genuine help to the revolutionary Cuba, just as Cuba is always ready to do the same. And Cuba has many times shown it in practice by giving assistance to everybody who fights against the imperialist aggression, for social progress and peace.”
(Vladimir Shatalov, cosmonaut, twice Hero of USSR, president of the Soviet-Cuban friendship society)
… I am leafing through the photo album “Druzhba- Amistad”--I found in one of Havana’s second hand bookshops--a bilingual edition printed in Moscow in 1978 by the “Molodaia Gvardiia” publishing house. Young, happy, full of enthusiasm and joy faces of my young compatriots and their Cuban friends are looking at me from these pages. It is indescribably painful to see them today, to read the words of Vladimir Shatalov, and to recall the recent gleeful article in the newspaper “Izvestya” about the human garbage of Cuban gusanos in Miami cheering yet another backstabbing of the revolutionary Cuba by the Russian leadership. I am ashamed. Ashamed to tears.
Here is some food for your thoughts:
“… The most economically developed nation in the world, the US, … imposed a stringent blockade against Cuba. Not even a tablet of aspirin nor a grain of wheat for the daily bread were to be supplied to Cuba from this country and all its activities were aimed at interfering with and blocking the country’s keen desire to advance. Consequently, Cuban economy has lost tens of billions of dollars and was compelled to rely on its trade with far away countries. Also its ability to acquire new technologies were limited as well as its access to modern science and the largest market in the world… Yet having overcome these obstacles and moving ahead, in the 90s Cuba suffered the economic consequences of the abrupt rupture of its economic ties with the former European socialist countries, mainly the Soviet Union.
The country lost ¾ of its foreign trade, its reliable supply of fuel and all development credit, while, at the same time, the economic and trade blockade imposed by the US was drastically strengthened precisely during the early 90s.
The main supplies of raw materials and spare parts for the Cuban industry were cut off and it came to a virtual standstill, though effects on the labour force were reduced thanks to the government’s social policy.
However, despite all negative forecasts, Cuba is standing firm on its feet. It has the patriotism and technical skills of its workers and all its population, and thus, it is able to maintain its comprehensive education, health and social assistance programs, among other basic services.
… During the years prior to this emergency situation which Cubans refer to as the “special period”, more than 90% of the country had been supplied with electricity, a wide network of roads and highways, railways, airports and seaports had been created, hundreds of dams and irrigation systems had been built and all this was to contribute to overcome this recessive stage…
…The strategic sugar cane harvest showed slight recovery in 2000, with 4.05 million tons more than in 1999. Both 1994 and 1995 had shown sharp declines due to the lack of resources – the country's sugar cane industry did not get up to 80% of the fertilizers, herbicides, fuels and agricultural machinery it needed …
In 1994 Cuba'n economy “hit the bottom” – as its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined to 0.7%. … However, in 1995 the Cuban economy at large showed a GDP increase of 2,5% while in the first half of 1996… the figure increased to 9,6%…. Since 1991, tourism grew by about 17% annually. … In 1999 1.6 million tourists visited Cuba, the increase of 46% compared to the previous year .”
(Cuba Offers You, Havana, 2001)
Now try to imagine under what conditions the Cuban socialism is managing to survive – both economically and politically, while situated right under the nose of the World Imperialist Number One, the Fascist States of America. The state that is continuously bombing even very far away countries that dare to disobey the “New World Order”. Listen to the speeches of Fidel Castro, who is from the very first day condemning in most severe terms the American state terrorism in Afghanistan – and then look back, at our own country, the wealthiest in the world, a country that, unlike Cuba, has all the necessary economic and natural resources for a successful independent development, and which instead has given in to “snickers and pampers”, without a fight… Thanks to this, our people nowadays live on the same level as somewhere in Guatemala or Honduras. Far worse than Cubans in many aspects.
When you cosider this, you can’t help but think of Fidel’s words: “Only cowardly and weak people give up and go back to slavery”. Yes, Fidel, it was said about us!
They continue to tell us – and this lie is very widespread in Russia! – that Cuba and other socialist and developing countries “were hanging around our neck”. Today we have “sitting on our necks” the whole army of parasites, from Berezovsky to Chubays, who are consuming far more than the whole Soviet assistance to Cuba ever was.
Or do you prefer to feed these parasites, my dear fellow countrymen, - simply because they are “ours”, native parasites?
… In the heat of the midday sun I am strolling down Infanta Street, in the very centre of Havana. Two middle-aged men sit on the pavement, passionately playing chess. They even have a special chess clock! Where else, in which of the so-called “developed” countries would you see a scene like this?
Books in Cuba cost less than some fruits in the farmer's market. Book stores offer great selection of titles, including scholarly monographs that would be simply impossible to print in Russia of today, because they are “non-commercial”, “not a bestseller”…
Cuba, a country with the population of 11 million, has 247 museums, 53 theatres, 350 libraries, 123 art galleries, 354 bookshops and 278 cultural centers.
Since 1959 more than 600.000 people have received university degrees. Thanks to the state day care system--Cuba has 1,114 kindergartens--135,000 Cuban mothers can work. Over 100,000 adult Cubans are receiving second university education. Cuba has 181 teachers for each 1000 of the population and 1 doctor for each 175 Cubans (in 1998 there were 63.483 doctors on the island). The budget spending on education is nearly 10%. Cuba has one of the lowest child mortality rates in the world (in 2001 – 6.1 on each 1000 of births). Average life expectation for a Cuban is 74.7 years. During the first months of their lives Cuban babies get vaccinated from 12 diseases (at the same time while in the West Bill Gates is declared nearly a national hero and a saint just because he donated a minuscule part of “his” money to the vaccination of children in Africa).
This small country has 6,7 hospital beds on each 1000 of its population. There are practically no drug addicts, and the number of people with HIV and AIDS is just around 1800.
Cuban scientists have invented a prevention vaccine against AIDS that
is being tested at the moment. But even after being tested, if successful,
there is very little chance that this vaccine will be allowed to enter
the world’s market: the US won’t allow this to happen. Already today,
for example, Cuba is the only country in the world that can truly successfully
prevent and treat meningitis . But the US are not allowing the Island of
Freedom to patent various medications developed here – and hundreds of
thousands of people around the world continue to die from meningitis, including
those in the “developed” countries..
… And now just imagine how could the Cuban socialist economy blossom, and how much could the life of all Cubans improve, if it were not for the strangulating Yankee blockade and for the betrayal of those who only 20 years ago, when they were the leaders of the CPSU and the Komsomol, pledged their "eternal and indestructible brotherly friendship" with the Cuban people…
When USSR was demolished, the Cubans not only developed their own buses on trucks –“Camello”, but also, for example, their urban agriculture. Unlike the Russian “dachas”, in Cuba the economic survival is not one's personal business, under the motto “sort it out for yourself”, but a collective effort . It is matter of common responsibility.
The economic situation in Cuba of today should be seen in reality of today’s world, in the context of the objective conditions of this small country that remains faithful to its principles and high ideals. The country whose leadership can’t be bought.
One cannot judge about the potential unlimited possibilities of a socialist system by the Cuba’s situation of today.
.. Long time ago, when I was a child, I saw a Spanish film. It was called “Let them talk!”, and the main actor was a Spanish singer called Rafael.
Let them all talk – let them talk what they want, all of those capitalist mass media, from “Izvestiya” to “Washington Post”!
But I see in Cuba the seeds of the NEW – the new tiny plants that are being threatened from all sides by the enormous and ugly capitalist weeds, but they are still continuing stubbornly to reach out for the sun…