Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — The historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, left his Concept of Revolution, which was first declared in May 2000, as his legacy to current and future generations of Cubans and he says in one part: “it is defending the values in which we believe at the price of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity, and heroism…”
These five values, which identify what a real revolution is and are the values that real revolutionaries should have, can be summed up in one: altruism, because being altruistic is also being modest, selfless and showing solidarity. And in order to be all of this, in today’s world, you need to be heroic.
Showing everyone the Cuban Revolution’s examples of altruism in the space of a single article is impossible, therefore I will only mention the most representative, which put Cuba’s reputation right there at the top in the world.
The opposite of altruism is selfishness. I have read some opinions from people who criticize everything the Cuban government does, who question the help Cuba gives to countries in great need, especially medical care, saying that if Cuba has so many needs itself, how can it spend resources and dedicate efforts to helping other people.
These opinions only reveal selfish attitudes. It has been said many times before that Cuba doesn’t offer what it has left over, because it doesn’t have anything left over, rather it needs help itself, but it does allocate a part of what it has to help alleviate other nations’ intense shortages, which are in greater need than us.
If rich and developed countries did the same thing as Cuba, how many lives would be saved in the world, which are lost today between starvation and curable diseases? But these countries, the ones who do have resources left over, prefer to invest them in weapons to start wars and to kill thousands of innocent people who have saved themselves from starvation and disease.
Cuban people are altruistic by nature, that’s why they understand and are willing to make some sacrifices in order to help others.
When the independence struggle in Angola was in danger and the country was invaded by South Africa, it asked Cuba for help and thousands of soldiers, militarymen and civilians stated their willingness to go and save their brother people from the slavery that imperialism was trying to implement using South Africa as a launching pad within the region.
More than two thousand Cubans gave their lives and relatives. Beyond the natural pain of having lost a loved one, we are proud of what was achieved in Africa: Angola and Namibia’s independence and the end of the shameful Apartheid regime. And I want to highlight something very important: nobody, not militarymen or civilians, were forced to go. Only those who expressed their willingness were sent and there were a lot more Cubans willing to go than the number of those who were sent. These are altruistic attitudes which are firmly rooted within our people.
When the Ebola epidemic broke out in western Africa which threatened to spread across the entire continent and maybe across the entire world, the World Health Organization asked Cuba for help and it was immediately ready to tackle this dangerous epidemic. Many doctors and nurses from the Henry Reeve medical brigade, specialized in disaster situations or great epidemics, went in spite of the great risks this posed on the lives of those who went on this mission. And when one of these doctors fell sick with Ebola himself and was about to lose his life, as soon as he got better, he returned along with the rest of his colleagues to continue saving lives. This is altruism and also heroism.
The Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade of Physicians Specialized in Disasters and Serious Epidemics has been present in 21 countries with 24 medical brigades and has saved thousands of lives. We can mention Pakistan, Haiti, Chile, Peru, Ecuador… among these countries, and the rest of Cuba’s medical collaboration efforts continue ongoing in over 60 countries with over 42,000 volunteers.
Ever since Cuban medical collaborations began, with the first brigade to Chile in 1960 up to the present day, almost 373,000 health professionals have offered their help in an altruistic manner in 162 countries.
The miraculous operation which was conceived by the Cuban Revolution’s leader has given back millions of people their eyesight who had been kept in the dark because they couldn’t afford to pay a simple cataract operation.
The Latin American School of Medicine, which was also created by Fidel, has graduated over 27,000 doctors from many countries, including the United States, mainly people from poor financial backgrounds who wouldn’t be able to study this degree in their countries because it’s too expensive.
I have only mentioned the main events where the Cuban Revolution’s altruism has been proved, as I don’t have space to write anymore.
Part of Fidel Castro’s speech on May Day, 2000.