The Foundations of Cuba’s Development

Elio Delgado Legón

The Mariel Special Development Zone

HAVANA TIMES — One develops a country the same way one constructs a building: laying the foundations first.

The foundations of Cuba’s development began to be laid immediately after the triumph of the revolution in January of 1959, following the start of the literacy campaign, as no development is possible with the high illiteracy rate Cuba had at the time.

Another important step in this connection was to make all levels of education free and make schooling compulsory till the 12th grade.

Since then, more than a million professionals have completed higher education in Cuba. This represents 11.1 percent of the population and 18.7 percent of the active workforce.

An eminently agricultural country must of necessity develop the industry and, the first step in this direction is creating a scientific foundation for this. This was developed in Cuba years ago, through scientific research centers devoted to the study of all kinds of crops. An example is the National Tropical Root Vegetable Research Institute (INIVIT) located at the center of the country, which provides farmers with specific species of root vegetables suited to the soils they work with.

The National Tropical Agriculture Research Institute (INIFAT) also contributes to scientific studies in the sector.

Other scientific research centers created by the revolution to develop the agricultural sector are the National Agricultural Science Institute (INCA) and the Animal Sciences Institute (ICA). Cuba also created the Sugar Cane Research Center and other institutes devoted to the study of rice production. This way, every important agricultural product undergoes a thorough, scientific study, with a view to securing increasingly better results, not only in Cuba, as the country offers consultancy services to numerous countries in the region.

Despite the damage caused by the US blockade and the loss of nearly all international trade following the collapse of the socialist bloc and Soviet Union at the close of the 1980s, Cuba did not turn its back on the foundations of its development and continued to create research centers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, centers that employ the thousands of scientists who have graduated from the country’s universities.

The results of this decision are visible today, when we can say Cuba has achieved a high degree of scientific development, which is one of the most important indicators in a country’s development.

President Barack Obama was quite right in acknowledging that the blockade imposed on Cuba for over 50 years had failed, as Cubans endured more than 20 years of a severe economic crisis and, despite numerous shortages, the people heroically stood their ground and did not rebel against the revolutionary government, as the US wanted.

Sometimes, we see press articles with advice as to how to “revive the country’s economy.” I can assure those who offer these infallible formulas that the country’s economy isn’t dead; it’s been blockaded for more than 50 years. With the lifting of the blockade, most difficulties standing in the way of rapid development would cease to exist.

Little by little, Cuba takes firm steps towards greater development. An example of this is the creation of the Mariel Special Development Zone, which has promising future in terms of foreign investment and the use of the port and container terminal there, a complex that will play a major role in the country’s future development.

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.

13 thoughts on “The Foundations of Cuba’s Development

  • “…A revolution is built by sincere, dedicated, principled, brave men who believe in their cause”. And were betrayed when the revolution became something other than what it was portrayed. Those in Cuba, rich and poor, had a system imposed which they did not fight for.

  • Let’s leave my anatomical prowess to another discussion. There are more than enough banks in the world to conduct Cuban business. Cuba’s biggest financial stumbling block is self-imposed. Fidel arrogantly withdrew from the IMF. Cuba lacks the necessary international credit to transact business on a large scale. Most countries, like most people, buy on credit. The five Cuban spies were held in maximum security federal prison. Their “sacrifice” was pretty much not of their choosing. Don’t forget that at least 7 of their fellow Wasp network spies captured at the same time took plea deals and served less than 5 years. I’ll double-check with my mom but I am pretty sure that we are not brothers.

  • But Moses, what about the method of payment? Can such transactions pass through an American bank. Moses, you know that you know not of what you speak or else you would not be speaking so much rubbish. You do not have a clue as to the extent of the embargo and what it entailed. You are trying to dilute the effects the embargo had on the Cuban economy and the inhabitants. Repent of the sins the American embago had on the lives of the Cuban people and you will be forgiven for the Cubans hold no malice against America and its people. Ask any American who has visited there. Why cant America allow the Cuban people to live in peace? Those who want to live the American way of life can leave. A revolution is built by sincere, dedicated, principled, brave men who believe in their cause and who will make sacrifices and give their lives for that cause. Moses, if there was not something in the Revolution, would the Cuban Five have made such a sacrifice to their freedom which gained the admiration of the whole world? One of them even gave up his American citizenship to live in Cuba permanently. Do you, with all the beliefs you have in the American dream, possess the guts, the testicles, the impregnable fortress of inner strength to make that heroic sacrifice? I await your answer brother!!

  • Education, Health care and a just society can be achieved without giving the state total control. The Soviet Central control model was a gigantic blunder that the country is only now recovering from. Raul Castro has made many popular reforms in recent years as part of a survival strategy. All of them involve less central control. State Capitalism and a market have been introduced because of the failure of the old system. It was not a foundation built to last. Get over it.

  • Artemisenno: The backbone of Cubana’s fleet is Airbus 320s. I guess they paid for them in Euros since they are made in Europe.

    BTW, Cuba withdrew its membership in the IMF in 1964.

  • The biggest detriment to investment in Cuba is not the US but an unfriendly investment climate. Investors hate uncertainty that is controlled by someone else. And, the only thing certain about an investment in Cuba is that the government will limit your upside return through some aspect of your business such as labor cost or taxes over which they never relinquish control.

  • Moses, you’re 100% correct! Elio, I once worked for a state run entity in NYC, Hospital Corp. of NY back in 1971. I had a major anxiety attack, seriously, because of the lack of motivation that was presented to me in trying to remedy the bureaucratic nature of the system. It was a political job and I quit, at 21, for sanity sake. I see the same problem with Cuba although I am for the end of the embargo it has nothing to do with that. It’s the system that’s broke. I give you the education and medical strides that have been made but cab drivers are making more than doctors and that’s just not right. You can’t be that naive as you are intelligent and probably know this. Problem is your country is intelligent enough that when the light finally comes on, there could be some difficulties with you and the regime holding power.

  • You are better informed than most but you are still wrong. The US does not directly preclude private nor public investment. Rather, the US simply states that companies which choose to invest in Cuba may not ALSO invest in US markets. Cuba may use the Euro, the yuan, and any other foreign currency to settle accounts. No big deal there. On the contrary, resistance to tyranny is highly ethical.

  • You are wrong. Cuba can trade with everyone but the US. The US did NOT interfere with the 6 attempts to find commercially-viable oil. You are not well-informed regarding Cuba.

  • I live in Western Canada where there is a different kind of development taking place. Living in a supposedly wealthy country and within a small, outwardly prosperous, community I was quite surprised and a little shocked to see a small basket of hand knitted items on a table in my Doctors office to-day with the following notice.
    $3.00 Knitted Dishclothes
    $6.00 Knitted Hats
    I have heard that food banks and soup kitchens are prevalent throughout the United States and parts of Canada but I never thought that I would see a situation like this here in my community.

  • Mr. Patterson, they cannot trade with other countries at will, the US steps in and threatens to create problems with the country wanting to trade with Cuba…. therefore no trading. Example the US stopped the off shore drilling rig. Why, to make sure the components $ wise, never exceeded what the US considered was proper. I have hauled farm equipment to the docks in Halifax and watched them load the equipment on a Cuban ship. the US could not and did not have any say in this matter. I have often wonder over the last 11 years, why I have not seen more small back yard gardens in Cuba, I see many back yards growing weeds and no one seems to want to grow a small garden. Seeds aren’t the problem, as the various tomatoes, etc ., are not hybrid. I have no idea how many ships Cuba has and the one I saw was not large, in relation to some that I have seen. In my opinion the less Cuba has to do with US, the happier they will be. Cuba, great country and great people.

  • Dear Patterson, your view is too simplistic. Cuba as every developing country needs heavy investment. In our world dominated by the capital based in few countries, it means that you need foreign investment from the leading countries. USA is not just “one country” it represents about 30% of world capital and markets. Moreover, the influence of the embargo is not limited only to the US. It bans also the use of the US dollar (the “international” money), for bying goods with more than 5% of US components (i.e. most of the high tech goods, including for instance Airbus planes), it pressures foreign enterprises with participation of US capital, WMF, etc. There is no ethic base to continue the embargo.

  • Elio, Elio, Elio! Do you really believe what you write? Cuba can not feed itself! The US embargo has nothing to do with that. Cuba can trade with every country on the planet save one. Even that one country, the US, can sell food and medicine to Cuba, and most kinds of technology. Here’s the problem with Cuba: THEY HAVE NO MONEY! Cuba has no money because they don’t grow or manufacture anything in sufficient quantities. Again, if Cuba sold more stuff, they would make more money. Period.

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