Cuba Remains One Step Ahead of Us
On my trip to Cuba, I had the privilege
of experiencing firsthand the gains and achievements made possible
through the Cuban Revolution. Despite four decades of economic blockades
from the United States’ government, the Cuban Revolution has
proven how the economic difficulties faced daily by its people have
not affected the availability of social programs to every Cuban
citizen. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s source
of income became heavily dependent on tourism. Once the richest
country in Latin America, Cuba now ranks as one of the poorest.
However, Cuba’s educational and health systems continue to
be the best in the world. How does one country experiencing so many
economic hardships continue to provide free education and health
care to its people?
Evidently, one of Cuba’s highest Revolutionary priorities,
from its beginnings to the present, has been the implementation
of social programs, like health care and education, which provide
the most basic yet most essential assistance to its people. What
is even more surprising is Cuba’s commitment to providing
free education to foreign students who otherwise would not have
access to higher education. At the Latin American School of Medicine,
over 24 countries are represented in the 7,200-student enrollment.
All student expenses, including tuition, housing, and food, are
covered by the Cuban government.
By placing the education of its people as its highest concern, Cuba
has shown the importance of maintaining the structure and technology
needed to combat illiteracy. I learned that through the renovation
and expansion of schools, and the implementation of educational
programs, Cuba hopes to achieve some of its goals. These educational
campaigns include the reduction of teacher to student ratio to 1:20
and providing the essential technological resources like computers,
televisions, and VCRs in every classroom. Further making education
accessible to all its people, the Cuban government wishes to televise
subject courses on national TV.
In Cuba’s effort to reduce illiteracy and unemployment, other
organizations throughout the country, like the Union of Young Communists
(UJC) and the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), help provide social
services that cater primarily to the needs of women and children.
Both have worked to bring children from the streets into classrooms,
while also educating and training peasant women from the countryside.
Through these governmental and non-governmental advances in education
and social services, Cuba has followed through in its commitment
to its people regardless of the many economic barriers and declining
Cuba, with its commendable and highly revolutionary ways of providing
the most fundamental human rights to its citizens should no longer
be condemned for its socialist ideologies. Rather, Cuba should be
used as an example for improving social programs and services in
countries, such as the United States, where so many people are denied
the right to health care and education because of cost.
Richard Navarete is currently
attending Santa Monica College where he serves as the A.S. Vice
President and founder of the Cuban Solidarity Club. Richard recently
immigrated from Mexico to the Santa Monica and is highly involved
in student activism. He is pleased to be a part of Voices and wishes
more to serve as the megaphone for the politically silenced.