Elio Delgado Legón
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.