Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — I frequently come across the comments and articles written by those who are always criticizing the Cuban revolution, pointing out Cuba’s economic problems time and time again. These are partly right: no one can deny that Cuba has economic problems. Now, I ask you: is Cuba the only country in the world with economic problems? Is Cuba the country with the most economic problems?
In a globalized world in which one country’s problems invariably affect others, the economic crisis that began in the United States in 2008 and has not yet ended has had an impact on the entire world (hitting some countries harder than others). And even though Cuba is subjected to a blockade with the declared aim of bringing its people to its knees through hunger and disease (in order to make its political and economic system fail), it is making much more progress than the majority of countries in the Third World.
What critics always pass over in silence is that the UN places Cuba among the countries with the highest human development in the world, that infant mortality on the island (4.2 for every thousand live births) is the lowest in the continent (lower than that of the United States and Canada), and that it has one of the highest life expectancies (79 years).
These critics also ignore – some even deny – that Cuba is a leader in terms of its healthcare system, not only regionally, but internationally as well. The country has the highest number of medical doctors per inhabitant in the world and also exports medical services to over 70 countries, offering these free of charge in poor countries that are unable to pay for them (as is the case of Haiti).
No mention is made of the fact that Cuba has given sight back to 3.4 million Latin Americans who were blind or visually impaired because they had been unable to pay for a simple cataract operation.
Cuba’s scientific development in all fields is also ignored. The country has made particularly noteworthy strides in the fields of biotechnology and medicine: 80 percent of the medications used in the country are manufactured domestically. These (some of which are only produced in Cuba) are exported to several countries and have a significant impact on human health in general, as is the case of Herprot-P, used to treat ulcers on diabetic feet (speeding up scarring and preventing amputations). In 2012, according to the yearly statistical report, ten percent of Cuban exports consisted in medicines and medical products.
Over the past 50 years, art and culture have seen a degree of development that no other country has witnessed during this time. These areas also generate considerable incomes for the country abroad.
Last but not least, Cuba has developed its tourist industry, a sector that hasn’t stopped growing, despite the fact that the world economic crisis has reduced the possibilities that the citizens of developed countries have to engage in tourism.
One fact clearly tells us that Cuba’s economic problems are not as serious as those of other countries: the first source country in terms of tourism in Cuba is Canada, but the second is Cuba itself. In 2013, more than 300,000 Cuban tourists stayed at hotels in the Varadero beach area.
I could mention many more examples, but I don’t want to make this post too long. I believe this suffices to enlighten those who are always talking about Cuba’s economic problems.