Cuban Vice-President Machado Ventura: “We Have to Speak English”

by Café Fuerte

Machado Ventura. Foto: Calixto N. Llanes/AIN
Jose Ramon Machado Ventura. Foto: Calixto N. Llanes/AIN

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban Vice-President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura urged university students to master new technologies and the English language in order to become well-rounded professionals after graduation.

“Mastering the language is essential, because we’ll have more and more contact with the outside every day. We also need to be familiar with new technologies, everything. We have to speak English well. If you can speak two or three languages, so much the better, but English is essential,” Machado Ventura declared during the closing session of the National Council of the University Student Federation (FEU) last Saturday, held at the Cojimar Convention Center in Havana.

The issue of accumulating professional skills following graduation from Cuban universities was the focus of the final sessions of the FEU congress, which assessed the performance and results of the 2014-2015 academic year, the island’s official media reported.

Urgently Needed Skills

Machado Ventura spoke of the need to acquire skills inside and outside the classroom and to take advantage of new technologies, emphasizing the urgent need to improve English and Spanish language skills.

Learning English has awakened much interest among Cubans, particularly the young, since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana was announced on December 17 last year.

Machado Ventura, 84, considered one of the “hard-liners” of Cuba’s leadership, has warned of the dangers of the rapprochement with the United States and of the need to maintain a critical perspective on the capitalist system. During a recent interview with Juventud Rebelde, he called on young Cubans not to allow themselves to be dazzled by consumerism and the “pretty things” promised by the new era of relations between Washington and Havana.

His remarks to the FEU, however, appeared more moderate.

Ideological Reinforcement Process

“We shouldn’t leave anything we can do today for tomorrow. We are very much aware of the kind of future we need to continue building. We not only need to build, we need to improve the situation our educational system is in right now,” the second secretary of the Communist Party (PCC) remarked.

During the meeting, the FEU was called on to focus on “political and ideological education” by Olga Lidia Tapia Iglesias, member of the PCC’s Central Committee Secretariat.

During the closing session of the congress, Minister for Higher Education Rodolfo Alarcon Ortiz announced the beginning of a process aimed at reinforcing political and ideological education at university centers, with special emphasis on history and Marxism-Leninism.

Alarcon Ortiz said that work must continue to be devoted to produce “the kinds of graduates the country needs, graduates with a civic, patriotic and ethical formation and who are committed to the revolution.”

The FEU will start the coming school year with a celebration loaded with clear political symbolism: the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s enrolment in Law at the University of Havana, on September 4, 1945.

45 thoughts on “Cuban Vice-President Machado Ventura: “We Have to Speak English”

  • Do not lose your Cuban identity and do not sell out!

  • I met Canadians who lived on farms second generation and could barely speak English the name doesn’t mean much

  • Nidal, how in the world can Carlyle be “guilty”. As you say. Of being a WASP. That’s more a situation of birth. You are born white, from an Anglo Saxon descent, and are Protestant. That would be like me accusing you of being “Palestinian”. As if that was some type of insult!

  • I don’t know nidal, but his NAME might give it away, don’t you think!?

  • what about you do you speak Spanish

  • Oh dear nidal, you are confused. To be an Arab and a Palestinian is to be innocent of any form of guilt, but to be a white Anglo-Saxon protestant is to be guilty. In my view that displays bigotry.
    I challenge you to find in any of my contributions in Havana Times any criticism of the Cubans!
    GO ON TRY!
    My critical comments are of totalitarianism, dictatorship and the imposition of two brothers political beliefs upon a nation of over 11 million people. Those brothers are named Castro Ruz.
    To return to your bigotry, just imagine nidal that right at this very moment a baby is born somewhere in this world. That baby has not chosen it’s mother whose breast it is about to suckle, it has not chosen it’s father who ought to share responsibility for raising it with his partner, it has not chosen it’s sex, it has not chosen it’s ethnicity, it has not chosen it’s country or religion. It just arrived!
    But you in your bigotry and conceit consider that if it was born of white parents of the Lutheran faith in Germany, it is GUILTY! If like you it was born a Palestinian Arab like yourself it is superior! That type of outlook is what makes totalitarian dictators like Hitler, like Stalin, like Korea’s Kim, like Syria’s Asads, like Ghadafi and like the Castros.
    Shame on you nidal, I had thought better of you!

  • If I would have known I’m going to strike raw nerve I would have asked a long time ago , not being WASP means there is hope , I thought educated politicians have thick hide and not so sensitive , interesting .
    You’re aggressive attacks on the Cubans and ignoring history in which there was a need for a revolution baffles me , there is no smoke without fire .
    Initially I thought of you as a grumpy old you know what who’s carrying his cross around his neck trying to preach his hypocrite Jesus to everybody else.
    Yes I am an Arab yes I am Palestinian yes I am proud of Who i am there is no guilt in that , as the saying goes among us ” my blood is Arab and my heart is Palestinian ” No I’m not Muslim that being said I have a lot of respect for my Muslim brothers and sisters , I was baptized Greek Orthodox and educated Catholic in the Church of the nativity Bethlehem Palestine , at this point of my life I am somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist .
    The reason I am so passionate about Cuba , is that I see the same dark forces that destroyed Palestine trying to destroy Cuba , keep in mine President Fidel Castro stud with us in Palestine and we have to reciprocate , Fidel Castro was there for all of those being oppressed by the gringos and the capitalist system , about us the Palestinians our biggest mistake that we should have invaded Poland before the polish invited us , as I have said there is no smoke without fire , we did not ask for this war it was imposed on us , You are constantly attacking the Castros yet their contribution of peace and stability in the region is being totally ignored .
    President Fidel Castro kept Cuba safe for over 50 years , on top of that he provided free education free healthcare and a peaceful stable society , what kind of price tag you put on that if I may ask ?
    One of the successes President Fidel Castro dead , he kept the mess in Central and South America out of Cuba , this success will be a part of a successful legacy .
    Keep in mind that’s Ronald Reagan freedom fighters or should I say thug were running around all over the place with no checks and balances .

  • That’s quite a tirade nidal, wandering all over the map.
    I won’t endeavor to respond to all the unrelated matters, but am happy that you have got them off your chest.
    I had not realised that being a wasp (by which I think you mean White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) was something which necessitated answering a plea of guilty or not guilty. I am guilty of being white, I am a non-believer in any deity, I am ethnically a Scot not an Anglo-Saxon. For your interest, the anglo-saxons were as far north as the Lothians. North of that were the Picts and the Scots. It was the Picts who defeated the Romans at Mons Grapious and subsequently they retreated and built Hadrian’.s Wall.
    So now nidal having responded to your enquiry – or was it accusation – perhaps you will now declare your own ‘guilt”? Are you guilty of being Arab, of being Muslim, of being a Palestinian?
    Finally, if you carefully re-read what I wrote, you will be unable to find my approving of any colonialism. I observed differences between the colonialism of Spain (with Portugal added) and Britain.
    In defence of the British, you are being poisonously insulting in suggesting that they operated gas chambers. Remember also that concentration camps originated in Cuba – prior to those in South Africa or Germany.
    Whose hands are clean – the Palestinian civilian aircraft hijackers of Yasser Arafat? Those Palestinians who perpetrated the massacre at the Munich Olympic Games? We can all scrape the bottom of the barrel to illustrate past wrongs – the question really is: Whose hands are clean?
    I understand the resentment that bubbles continually within you, but don’t let it blind you.

  • You have forgotten to comment on the wasp accusation are you guilty or not ,
    Are you insinuating that the Cubans should learn from the British , let me give you some examples what the British did , if you look at the world map from Indonesia Malaysia all the way to Mauritania and all over Africa , the British and the European divided populations against themselves , artificial imaginary borders were established in the middle of the same community , Afghanistan is a prime example , they created enough problems to last 100 years .
    In South Africa in the Boers and the British war , the British invented the idea of summary execution which was practiced in Palestine , they also pioneered the property explosion policy the used explosive to blow up properties that belong to the Boers , in which the Israelis implemented in Palestine .
    In China the British inflicted the scourge of opium on the population in the name of profit , and those who made this ill-gotten money , the British Royal Family and the Rothschild racket for example are out there celebrated as heroes , nobody accuse them of genocide or war crimes , is this the history that you’re proud of , keep in mind what happened in Syria is what the Americans and the British started , prior to World War 1 the Ottoman Empire experienced over 500 years of stability for the most part , it was the Europeans whom unraveled the Middle East , just about all our leaders in the Middle East are nothing more than puppets empowered by the Americans European and British politics , please come on stop the charade .
    Our national dream as Arabs a unified Arab nation something that Europeans would not tolerate .
    Should the Castros do what other American empower dictators dead in Central and South America ?
    Should the Castros get Batista out of his grave and put hem back in charge ? I hope that would never happened .
    Considering American history in South and Central America Salvador Allende comes to mind , and do not forget President Carter and Panamanian president Omar Torrijos chose the path of peace the American establishment did not like it , they killed him and installed in his place a drug dealing thug Manuel Noriega , that’s the kind of people that American went in office .
    I personally prefer the Castros over any other bamboozling American empowered politicians like the ones empowered in Columbia .
    Imagine what the Germans where accused of doing in world war 2 the British do it before them .
    In Palestine right now the only thing missing out of concentration camp Gaza is the gas chambers ,
    Where is the British conscious now ?

  • If Gordon thinks his kids are going to be president and minister of health…. They are as crazy as him! Do the right thing and get your kids if they are really yours out of Cuba where they will actually have a chance at a career. Not a degree and working for a few pesos.

  • But nidal, despite the history of British colonialism, it was far preferable to that of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).
    To verify that I ask you to consider former British colonies with those of Spain and Portugal:
    Australia. New Zealand, Canada, India and the USA
    Spain & Portugal:
    Venezuela, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Equador, Bolivia, Brazil and Cuba.
    It doesn’t matter whether you compare them in terms of politics – where have the dictators exerted power – or economics, or freedom of the individual and human rights?
    The British invested, Spain and Portugal plundered.
    Cubans are not allowed the privilege of solving their own problems – they suffer under a dictatorship! My hope for the people of Cuba is that the communist dictatorship of the Castro family regime follows the example of the Russian USSR and rots from within!
    As a Scot, I don’t like being thought of as an Anglo-Saxon.
    Are the people of Syria solving their own problems? Where do they seek refuge? Why not in all the other Arab countries or with ally Russia?

  • I gather that you are an anglo-saxon most likely a wasp , considering all the problems that the British caused all over this planet I’m surprised that they allow the British into any country in the first place , Cuban society like any other society have the right to solve their problems on their own

  • The establishment exists in Cuba and yes, you have to watch not only your back, but who you speak to and in company of whom. So, I watch my back when there.
    When in Canada, that is unnecessary, one can disagree with the establishment publicly.
    Way back when, in another country, I had opportunity to influence society speaking on radio and TV and writing in journals. But when endeavors were made to persuade my entering national politics, I wisely declined.
    I happen to be clean shaven and so have to look myself in the eye every morning when shaving – a difficult process for politicians who have in the free world, to compromise.

  • if you and I get the point where we have influence on society , at that time we would have to watch our backs , anywhere on this planet is the same there are limits to everything , establishment do not appreciate outsiders

  • Wow….after 55+ years you’re still blaming “Batista”? Excuses are the refuge of cowards. After half a century you gotta own it baby!

  • Where are you from? Have you seen what the hard hit areas of New Orleans look like. The U.S. spent almost one BILLION dollars on the levy system alone! Cuba can’t even fix one home!

    Remember who you’re talking to on these pages, we actually have access to information. You can’t pull the wool over our eyes

  • What part of my comment is false or misleading, Bub?

  • You should do some research bub! I’m on my way there now again, use to winter there, matter of going to see someone about eye dammage, and hopefully get chance to speak to Cuba’s health minister, and possibly let him know where I’m from and family so as to major catastrophic happening S he will know where to send some DRs and med help…and. Not do as American and refuse after cathrina

  • Right nidal!
    We have the privilege of living where we have the right to disagree. Cubans are not allowed that privilege. If they disagree with the Castro family regime and express that view, they are reported by the CDR and imprisoned as ‘dissidents’>

  • Does anybody know if Mr. Machado speaks English? Just curious.

  • Gordon, that’s not a true statement. US debt is higher on a nominal basis, but on a per capita basis is significantly lower. US productivity is significantly higher. As of yet there us no comparison. The question asked is a valid one: why did you would you send your children to a third world program when, because of your citizenship, they have access to first world education. Cuban doctors are a valuable asset to the Castro regime but their training doesn’t compare to a physician at Johns Hopkins or Harvard. Are you just saving the money or are you afraid they would not qualify to go to a good school?

  • False dichotomy. No one sane wants to go back to the brutal Batista dictatorship. On the contrary, Cubans deserve a Cuba free of the Batistas and the Castros.

  • thank you for your kind words , I have a lot of work ahead of me , you and I have kept it Civil , and I think that’s how humans should behave in debates

  • Count me out if having mutual respect means any form of respect for the Castro family regime and it’s oppressive administration. Contempt yes!

  • Machado Ventura is a dedicated Stalinist. As such he is opposed to individuality and any form of expression of individuality. He is a total believer in State control. The people are of little importance, their function is to conform and obey. As a dedicated Stalinist he favours power and control by the few over the masses – he of course being one of the few!

  • I can imagine two reasons for your children’s described ambitions. Both have observed the power and control that the Castro family regime has over a population of 11 million oppressed people, and they by contact with Dr. Machado now have developed a similar lust for power. Secondly they have been raised in the communist system with the underlying concept of everybody equal except me and I am in charge.
    Sadly Gordon, your children obviously don’t know about the freedom of the Western democracies or alternatively despise freedom for allowing individuals to express their own views openly, when they actually ought to be conforming and respecting those who have power over them. If your two children seek to prolong the agony of Cubans by extending the current system, I for one as a father and grandfather PITY THEM!
    I pray for my four year old Cuban God-daughter that both of your children fail in their ambitions.

  • Not likely. Americans are not Canadians. Americans always leave an impression with people. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Canadians, on the other hand, are very …… nice. Cubans will not be able to ignore Americans the way they ignore Canadians.

  • I know the “fuddydud’s” history, Moses. If “Cubans don’t have much of” things, I think it is largely because the leaders of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship fled and have hid behind the skirts of the U. S. military and treasury since 1959 while lashing back at the island from their safe and lucrative havens. The embargo, by definition in 1962 was intended to starve and deprive the Cubans on the island for the purpose of enticing them to overthrow Fidel Castro, which I reckon the Miami members of Congress still insist will happen any day now. Disrespecting the U. S. democracy with regime-change schemes — the embargo, Cubana Flight 455, etc. — also disrespects decent Cuban-Americans who are not regime-change advocates. Change to what? Back to the Batistianos and the Mafiosi?

  • I don’t even ask even more. But what I am suggesting is that wherever American tourists have been in great numbers, there is always a residual effect where the host country more reflects American values….both the good and the bad.

  • Things are changing big time in Cuba. Michel wants to be President of Cuba – Angelica – Minister of Health. The USA has a massive government and private debt problem worse than Greece.

  • Carlyle, I’ve also pondered that phenomenon concerning Cuba’s relationship with Canada. It really is a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma…to borrow a famous line. However it’s definitely a good relationship that we share based on mutual respect. Perhaps Canada’s relationship with Cuba could be referenced as a starting place for much better Cuba / US relations now too.

  • I’ve asked those same questions too…they do little to inspire Cubans to challenge the authority of the state. Their typical response to me… and I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times as well… es Cuba! My Cuban friends and family seem to focus more on their glasses being half-full… instead of half-empty. That’s also typical of most Cubans.

  • Rich, he is justifiably against those things. But Machado has also spoken out against American movies, American pro sports, American fast food (ok, I agree with him there) and truly many other aspects of American life. Especially those things that Cubans don’t have much of. You don’t need to disagree with me just to be disagreeable. On this issue, unless you really know this fuddydud’s history, please don’t comment.

  • Uh, Moses, Machado “has railed against” Batista, the Mafia, the Bay of Pigs, bombing Cuban hotels, assassination attempts, the embargo, a return of the Batistianos, etc., etc. Can you really blame him or are you just unhappy none of the regime change efforts have succeeded?

  • Which proves what? Did they study in Cuba and if so, are the qualifications of one studying law in Cuba acceptable in any other countries? Machado now tries to exhort the workers in sugar plants to improve their output. The difficulty is that he doesn’t comprehend that the workers lack motivation because they have to operate under the lousy Communist State system which he as a recognized Stalinist staunchly supports and at 84 it is too late to expect change.

  • There have been small “groups” of Americans up to this point. After the December 17, 2014 announcement, the “hordes” are beginning to form. By “exude”, I am suggesting that Americans, for better or worse, ask questions. Questions like “why don’t you have more newspapers?”. Or, “what would happen if someone protests?”. Innocent and naive questions that will set Cubans to thinking.

  • The problem is Machado defines “his own people” as only those people who think the way he does. Cubans who want democracy and freedom have never counted in his mind,…well, not until now.

  • Machado Ventura is a proud Cuban who’s looking for the interest of his own people, he can hardly be blamed

  • Nidal, I have every respect for those who have to learn English. One of its advantages is flexibility and adoption of new words annually. But it must be a nightmare trying to understand the use of vowels, there is a as in hate and a different a as in hat. I had to learn Spanish fairly late in life following meeting my Cuban wife, but at least it is logical – the vowels are constant and from English there are some 1200 words that end in ‘tion’ and to translate one merely exchanges the t for a c, hence position- posicion, and condition – condicion. Oddly translation is not translacion, but traduccion.
    For the first part of my lifetime, the international language for diplomats was French. But to add a word to the French language takes the approval of the Academie Francais – which would be described by many as a bunch of old ‘f*rts”. In consequence they say in Paris “la weekend”.
    So, although we may differ about many things that are politically related, you have my respect in conquering English to the extent that you have!

  • An observation Terry about your reference to Cuba enjoying a very friendly relationship with Canada following Moses’ comment.
    That friendly relationship is never mentioned by the State media of Cuba. I can be at home watching the State TV daily for months on end without any mention of Canada.
    The concentration is upon the allies in CELAC and the other “friendly” countries of Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, Vietnam, China – which provides programs describing China’s culture and history – and Putin’s Russia.
    There is much critical comment about the US in general and racism there in particular – they love the opportunity to yack on about Ferguson, ignoring their own internal racist activities of their State Police.
    But of Canada – there is no mention.

  • Moses, small hordes of Americans have been roaming around Cuba for decades…nothing new there. And I’m not sure how much “exuding” they’ve been doing during that time…I think your average American visitor is much more respectful than that. You’re right though…Cuba has enjoyed a very friendly relationship with Canada. It has always surprised me too that the English language has not been better supported by the Cuban government… considering that it’s the international language of the world. My nenita cubana in Cam city has been studying English in grade school now for a few years, but it’s only been taught 1 day per week, and her grasp of the language is still rather limited. She can’t form proper sentences yet… perhaps this might now change with an increasing emphasis on English in the curriculum. I think the shift to teaching more English in the schools is wonderful… better late than never.

  • It was Dr. Machado that designed the Cuban medical system. It was Machado who helped Michel and Angelica Robinson make their career choices – Dr. of Internation Law and Dr. of Surgery.

  • English has become the de facto international language. That is convenient for someone like myself who grew up speaking English. At the same time it means that many of us English speakers remain unilingual and, in that sense, ignorant
    I have read that both Turkish and Malay would be easier languages to learn, but we are stuck with English as the international language. A burden for those who have to learn it and a boon for two members of my family who have been employed teaching English as a second language.

  • This grumpy old man Machado has railed against all things American for 50 years. Before the Castro bootlickers get their chones in a bunch, keep in mind that there has been an open and amiable relationship with Canada for many years and Machado has never insisted that young Cubans learn English. This huge chunk of crow that this ‘historico’ is forced to swallow is just the beginning. Even on their way out the Castros will learn how backward and selfish this “socialist” experiment has been for Cuba. Small hordes of Americans are already beginning to roam around Cuba exuding the freedom and democracy that Americans enjoy in the US.

  • To learn the language would be the first step , the second step is to comprehend what is it that the trying to say, initially comprehension in relation to what you’re working with is difficult , it was a serious problem for me , as I worked in the automotive industry I had to attend no less than 50 classes , the concept here is what they refer to as continuous education system , as long as someone is in a specific industry there always be classes in a new and different concept , and it comes from multi sources , I had to get some education from BCIT , Seattle Institute of Technology and at the same time the automotive industry will provide courses , it is obvious that sooner or later extremely complicated vehicles will be driving on the streets of Havana, some of the vehicles I had to deal with have over 45 computers , we’re talking about communication between main computer and computers in the seats in the windows in the air condition and all over the place .
    Many times I had to fix problems without opening the hood , simply by plug in the computer to what they affair to as ALDL (Assembly Line Diagnostic Link )
    I left the industry in 08 , as I was walking out the introduction of systems that operate using fiber optic Communications began to appear in the market , most of the system are proprietary ,
    Comprehending the system initially was difficult , with the passing of time it’s become as easy as having your breakfast , analogy over here is equivalent to learning how to swim the minute you get it will stay with you for the rest of your life .
    This high level of education requires competent community colleges all over the place , in most of the time the industry that want to sell a vehicle will provide education and that goes to just about everything else .
    I wish you the best of luck

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