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Why Cuba Remains One Step Ahead of Us
Richard Navarette

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 foreign support.

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.




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