—About a year ago I had the opportunity for the first time to associate with some young people from Latin America: a Chilean girl, a Columbian boy and an Argentinean guy. Thousands of Latin Americans are currently studying in Cuba. It’s very interesting to note the conception that the majority of the Cuban population has of them.
I can count myself among those who had erroneous ideas about those who populate the rest of Latin America. When these countries are mentioned on our television news, the majority of the time they talk about what Cuba is doing to help them, for example in health and education.
The images that we generally see show sick and illiterate people being helped. As a result of this, an idea has been generated in Cuba regarding the rest of Latin America. If you were to ask many Cubans about these countries and their populations, they wouldn’t hesitate to describe them with words that would inevitably prove condescending.
They would describe them as an ignorant people, lacking any kind of culture. It’s true that there are high levels of poverty and illiteracy in many parts of Central and South America, but that doesn’t justify the generally discriminatory conception that has been created amongst Cubans.
When Cubans see a Latino in the street or at a hospital, we see only a student for whom Cuba is doing a favor. In reality, they are people who come from countries with cultures thousands of years old, which could dwarf the little that Cubans have in comparison.
In Cuba we tend to prefer European culture because it is supposedly better, forgetting that we are a Latin American people who also have tons of problems that are nothing similar to those of Europe.
We have a sense of superiority which lacks the least touch of humility. We are a population that is the fruit of a socialist revolution, but doesn’t understand that the help we give to Latin America shouldn’t be with the goal of offering palliative assistance to “backwards Indians.”
Our intentions as a socialist country shouldn’t be that of the savior who offers aid from a position high above. Likewise, Cuba’s policy shouldn’t be aimed only at governmental agreements that in the end may or may not correspond to what the people want.
The dialogue should be between peoples, and should form a consciousness that only together can we develop a socialist project, which is the only way of getting ahead.
The solution will never lie in only creating medical schools or educational programs. What we have achieved with this is to make everyone believe that Latin America is dependent on Cuba, when really it’s impossible for us to advance if we don’t do it together. Only with a larger grade of awareness will Cubans be able to speak with Latinos and discover that they have many things to teach us.