Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — Before US Secretary of State gives Cuban youth his own opinions about Cuba and some words of wisdom, he should first inform himself about our country’s reality properly so as not to come across a fool with a speech which only invited our youth’s laughter.
At their assemblies in preparation for the next University Students Federation (FEU) Congress, Cuban university students rejected Michael Pompeo’s words of advice in anger, as they are fighting to have what we Cubans have had for many years already: free and quality education, from day-care to university, without any kind of discrimination and in a completely safe environment, without any fear of there being a shoot-out at school, like what regularly happens in his own country.
Maybe Pompeo needed to sit down and ask himself why it is that a group of poor youth from his own country enroll into the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Cuba to study this degree, which is impossible for them in their own country because medicine degrees are so expensive in the United States.
Maybe Pompeo needed to ask himself why Black and Latino students only make up 6% of medicine graduates in the US per year, while nearly half of US graduates from ELAM are Black and a third are Latino.
After learning about the financial obstacles students from these so-called “minority groups” face when trying to enroll in US medicine degrees, Fidel Castro decided that poor US citizens, just like poor Haitians, Latin Americans and students from Africa and Asia, would be able to study at the ELAM for free as long as they promised to then help those in need in their own countries. Does Pompeo really not know about this? If that’s the case, we advise him to better inform himself.
Maybe Pompeo also doesn’t know that Cuba’s infant mortality rate is lower than the figure in the US and that life expectancy is similar, in spite of his country being a military and economic power. And Cuba has managed to achieve this in spite of having an economic, commercial and financial blockade hanging over their heads, which goes beyond its borders and converts it into an economic war of huge proportions, intent on making the political and economic system we Cubans have chosen fail, because it is the fairest in the world and this has been proven.
Another thing Pompeo seems to have no idea about is the fact that Cuba has been a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1991, while his own country, the United States, has never ratified its adherence to this Convention. He is also unaware, or prefers to ignore, that the Cuban Constitution defends every child’s right to school, food and clothing from Chapter 1. It also defends Cubans’ right to education, which provides every Cuban child and teenager the chance to study, at every education level, for free, no matter what their family’s financial situation is.
Something else Pompeo might not know is that in 2030, it’s estimated that 167 million children will be living in extreme poverty and none of them will be Cuban; that 60 million children aged under-5 will have died from curable diseases and none of them will be Cuban; that 60 million school-aged children will still not have access to an education and none of these will be Cuban; that young people in capitalist countries have a higher unemployment rate because those who are able to study a university degree then run into problems looking for work, which doesn’t happen in Cuba.
I could point out a lot more advantages that Cuban youngsters have over the majority of those in capitalist countries, but the ones I’ve outlined here are enough for Mr. Pompeo to understand why they rejected his advice.