A New Year with a More Dangerous and Unequal World

By Elio Delgado Legon

Cuban doctors in Peru. Photo: granma.cu

HAVANA TIMES — When a new year begins, good people wish for a year of peace, health and progress for themselves and others, for things to get better. For some strange reason, there are people who selfishly only think about themselves and they don’t care about other people’s suffering.

With news of the new year, we have received news about a great range of different situations, from Pope Francisco’s good wishes for all human beings, to the humanitarian crisis that the people in Yemen are experiencing, and it seems that this doesn’t seem to bother rich and powerful politicians very much,.

Starting with Latin America, which is our region, the social landscape reflected in the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s (CEPAL) report is truly worrying. First of all, it states that poverty levels have increased, after more than a decade of this falling in most countries.

The report reveals that the number of people living in poverty increased from 168 million in 2014 to 186 million in 2016, while the number of those living in extreme poverty rose from 48 million to 61 million over the same time period. These are alarming figures which relate to political changes in the region as some countries have gone from having a left-wing government, concerned about their fellow countrymen’s wellbeing, to neoliberal governments who care very little about the suffering of their people and they dedicate themselves to sinking their countries into more and more debt so as to increase their own personal fortunes as well as those of their capitalist friends. These are the governments that Washington supports and approves of.

Latin America has been labeled the most unequal region in the world, as great accumulations of wealth exist alongside great concentrations of poverty and extreme poverty, with all of the human suffering these entail; but capitalists don’t care about any of that.

In other parts of the world, like in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, millions of people die of hunger and vaccine-preventable and treatable diseases, without effective aid measures being adopted. UN agencies do what they can to help, but available funds aren’t enough and in the meantime, rich countries such as the US are cutting their contributions without caring about just how much suffering this can cause.

While the United States is cutting its budget to slow down the UN’s humanitarian aid work, it is increasing its military budget greatly so as to keep this huge war machine going all over the world, creating more humanitarian crises, such as what has happened in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and they want to wipe Palestine off the map, so they send enormous sums in military aid to Israel every year, this country being the greatest abuser of human rights in that region.

The UN has declared a humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the images you can see on TV are blood-curdling, but rich people look the other way so as not to see them or they pretend they don’t know what is going on.

With just a small part of all that is spent worldwide on weapons to kill, millions of lives could be saved and a lot could be contributed to the development of many countries which today are struggling with extreme poverty, starvation, unhealthy living conditions and growing underdevelopment. Even the problem of millions of people living in the richest country in the world without a roof over their head and healthcare could be solved.

This whole situation contrasts with the Cuban government and people’s attitude, which in spite of being a poor country and having suffered a strict blockade for more than half a century, has provided aid to over 160 countries, with over 370,000 health professionals being deployed, who have saved thousands of lives and improved healthcare services in most of those countries, at no cost to patients. Plus, they have given over 2 million people their sight back or stopped them from going blind in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, via its Operacion Milagro program.

We can also add the creation of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) to these efforts, which has thus far trained over 28,000 doctors from 103 countries, including 170 doctors from the US, where poor people can’t study medicine because the degree is so expensive.

These are just some small differences between rich, developed capitalist countries and a small, I repeat, poor and blockaded country, but with a very high morale and a caring and altruistic people who do shudder when they see images of children dying of hunger, or worse still, as a result of bombs being dropped by US fighter planes, or of Israel, or any other friend of Imperialism, in wars that make no sense, which only make the world a more dangerous and unequal world every day.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

19 thoughts on “A New Year with a More Dangerous and Unequal World

  • Your articles are so refreshing. You a beacon of great light. Long live the People’s revolution.

  • So true. In 1958, Cuba was an accomplished country with many advances. It had plenty of opportunities, but in no way has the scourge of Soviet Socialism provided what it needed. Soviet socialism was a disaster for Cuba. The revolution could have given Cuba a true democracy, but it failed.

  • The America’s ruling governments have moved right because of the failure of the hard left to deliver a better living standard. The Venezuela experience is a lesson to the world of what a disaster a hard left government can produce. Governments from Argentina to Brazil remain plenty socially responsible. What everyone from China, Vietnam, Singapore to Russia have figured out is that a functional economy is the heart of funding the needs of a society. While Cuba has been hesitant to legalize its own private market, it has little option in the long run.

    The whole world is moving towards a mixed economy. How much state control versus how much free market will be the distinguishment for individual countries. Any country that gets to far down state control path will suffer economically. Countries that ignore social welfare will find themselves with new leadership.

  • A suggestion for everyone here: we really ought to study, without preconceptions, those societies which have been successful in reducing poverty dramatically.

    Let’s take a nation with no natural resources, and no hinterland: Singapore. In 1985, Singapore’s per capita GDP was about $500 a year, on a par with Mexico. Twenty-five years later, per capita GDP was $13 000 a year, putting Singapore ahead of South Korea and Israel. By 2015, it had risen to $56 000 a year, on a level with Germany and the US.

    There is extensive state involvement to make sure everyone is housed and has medical care, and, at the same time, Singapore is rated as one of the most free economies in the world — and also among the least corrupt.

    Those who believe a benevolent society cannot risk much liberty among its subjects won’t have too much to complain about with respect to Singapore. It doesn’t rate very high on the liberty index, although there is a (small) opposition party. The main newspaper in Singapore (I think there is only one) always praises the government, while carrying occasional articles exposing this or that problem. So no pesky free press, and if you write a book critical of the government, or insult the memory of the late Leader Maximo, you can find yourself in prison.

    The Chinese Communist leadership has studied Singapore extensively. Perhaps the Cuban leadership should as well.

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