Cuba’s Children, Among the Happiest

Elio Delgado Legon

HAVANA TIMES, April 23 — The story of children in Cuba during the revolutionary period begins with a dark chapter: “Operation Peter Pan.”

Based on one of many invented lies against the revolution, this was an operation organized and financed by the CIA and implemented with the complicity of some Catholic priests and Falangists.

They invented the lie that the revolution was going to take away the parental rights of parents and that their children were going to be sent to Russia. They then drafted and circulated a supposed law that was “signed” but allegedly had not yet been announced.

In this way they deceived many parents who sent their children to the United States. These mothers and fathers also believed in the promise that the Revolution wouldn’t last long and that the children would soon return.

As a result of this operation, 14,000 children were removed from the country without their parents, many of them never to see their families again.

I won’t dwell on the suffering and trauma caused to those children and their parents because that’s not my aim here and these details are widely known. What I want to emphasize is that everything was organized on the basis of several lies.

Other lies about Cuban children have been invented over the past 50 years.

At other times the situation has been distorted, such as when it was said that children were forced to work, when in reality what existed was a system of work-study that was part of their instruction.

This was for students in junior and senior high school. They would go to boarding schools in the countryside where they would receive everything for free (food, clothing and shoes, books and medical care).

There, they would work part-time, along with their teachers, and take classes the other half of the day. Although this rural boarding school program is almost gone, the method — although it was slandered — was not incorrect.

Such slandering was similar to another allegation that have been used for over 50 years by the US and its pawns in the war against the island:  That Cuba promotes sex tourism and child prostitution.

Nothing could be more foreign to the ethics and morality of the Cuban Revolution, which since its inception eradicated prostitution and began treating women as deserving human beings.

These media sources that defame Cuba fail to say, however, that there is no child in Cuba who doesn’t go to school or has to work to help their family to survive, like in many countries – including developed ones.

Nor do they admit that Cuba has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world and the lowest in the Americas, matched only by Canada: 4.9 per thousand live births.

Nor do they say that the blockade — maintained by the US against Cuba for over 50 years —  keeps the country from buying some medicines for children suffering from cancer, for example. To Washington, it doesn’t matter who dies because of their absurd blockade policy.

Nor do they report that the Cuban government is forced to seek these drugs in any country, wherever they are, paying tremendously high prices in order to save the lives of these children.

But I won’t give any more of my own arguments. I prefer to cite statements by Jose Juan Ortiz, the UNICEF representative in Cuba. In an interview he was quoted as saying:

“For years I had a strong desire to work here because this is a country that internationally receives more attacks against it than defenses.

“The advantage of being here is that the government’s priority for children is clear. We can discuss nuances with the authorities, but we can see very clearly what the objectives are.

“The quality of protection and the work with children in unquestionable, which have been actions taken by Cuba historically since the beginning of the revolution.

“The education and health indicators published by UNICEF each year are comparable or even better than some highly developed countries.

“At those levels, there’s nothing we have to do. Here, we don’t have to do what we do in other countries – working, for example, for the incorporation of girls in school as equals with boys. That’s something your country succeeded at many years ago,” said Ortiz.

These are not words of a member of the Cuban government, but a UN official, one very interested in the issue of children and therefore knowledgeable about the treatment of Cuban children – who are undoubtedly the happiest in the world.


13 thoughts on “Cuba’s Children, Among the Happiest

  • Cuban Childrean among the most wonderful in a world, I think children always have to learn and stay on the right path, because if the future bright, the children also truly are….Bless you cubans..<3

  • “Cuban children who are undoubtedly the happiest in the world.”–You’ve got to be joking??

    And as for “Nor do they admit that Cuba has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world and the lowest in the Americas, matched only by Canada: 4.9 per thousand live births.” Do a little bit of research and/or asking around you’ll know how that low rate is conjured up. I’ve pasted it below for those interested:

    “The Cuban government proudly proclaims its successful health care system, citing impressively low rates in child and maternal mortality. But the truth is that such rates are not based on a real effort to save mothers and their newborn children. Rather, they are based on the abortions performed on pre-born children diagnosed with certain types of defect which are considered life-threatening in later infant life. They are also based on the widespread use of contraceptives for those women who suffer from pathologies which otherwise might put their lives at risk should they become pregnant…..Today we read in the international press that Cuba is the Latin American country with the highest abortion rate (62% of all pregnancies). But we know that this figure is not accurate, because it is limited to D & C abortions. It does not include the thousands of suction abortions performed daily in ambulatory clinics under the fancy name of “menstrual regulation,” and which are not considered abortions……There have been even worse cases in which some doctors, on their own initiative and invoking “humanitarian” reasons for the sake of the baby, the baby’s relatives and society, have killed newborns suffering from some type of defect or disease. These doctors have created a kind of “humanitarian” infanticide, perhaps without even realizing they are doing something wrong……In Cuba, doctors work under great pressure exerted by the various health offices. They work also under the pressure of statistics. They unfortunately become so weary that they accept extreme solutions: in order to lower maternal/infant mortality, they increase the usage of contraception and abortion. Many children do not become part of the infant mortality statistics because they are killed before birth and not cared for after birth……Dr. Carlos Ciro Machado, a doctor who arrived from Cuba as an immigrant just a few months ago, related to TV Marti last July a case he himself witnessed. Dr. Machado said he saw a premature baby in a bucket and called the doctor in charge. He was told to let the baby die because it might die in spite of medical care and raise the infant mortality rate. Dr, Machado then called the head nurse and she said the same thing. Despite their opposition Dr. Machado gave the baby medical care, but the baby died anyway six hours later. Cuba is more interested in its international image than in caring for the health of its people, said Dr. Machado.”

    Read the rest at:

  • i SIMPLY THANK EL CHE AND FIDEL FOR PUSHING FREEDOM AND HAD NOT THE EMPIRE POKED THIER NOSE IN OUR BUSINESS? PERHAPS?.Whatever is wrong with my country Outsiders settlers and others played thier part (IE miami mafia) People from all over the world summarize the Cuban issues YET most have never ever been here? How is that?

  • Dear Kenny, you right, in Cuba girls can study; but this is not new, before castro girls could study too, education was free and universal…… so, we did not needed a bloody tyranny for 53 years to have what we already had…….. by other side, actual Cuba is the only country in the world where university graduated leave their carriers and start a life like prostitutes…… castro recognized this fact in a infamous speech 20 years ago….. he said………. “yes, we have prostitution in our country but no one can deny our prostitutes are the most illustrated ones in the world”……. this bad taste “joke” made reference to the fact that Cubans professionals have to go into prostitution to survive or guaranty the surviving of their families, so, you can have sex for money in Cuba with doctors, professors, engineers or economists!!!!!

  • When I declined to have sex with a tall skinny trendy looking girl in South Beach Florida for $20 she became very upset & exclaimed that if I wanted cheaper I’d have to go to North Beach. The next day, in North Beach I saw a girl tracking down the parking cop who had put a ticket on her windshield in front of a McDonalds. They went into the washroom together & they emerged with smiles & no ticket. This all happened before I had completed my breakfast & a coffee. In Las Vegas there are trucks with billboards in the back with girls’ phone numbers & pictures. These girls I am listing are completely unexploited by the Castro regime because after all, they live in the U.S.A. If they want a future i.e. a career I can’t percieve it happening without them drowning in a sea of student loans, should they even be available. Cuban kids can study to be even physicians or scientists, should they show an aptitude. I am sure their future is brighter than the american girls who can’t even sell themselves for a high enough price to pay for their independence or “modern” shelter. All I am offering here is a bit of perspective; Not playstation.

  • How can we council this fairy tale of Mr. Elio with other very different history in this site written by Yanelis Nuñez “Memories of Rural High School”??????!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dear Okasis,
    I find your comentaries and reflections refreshing and original. It is better to be hopeful, than cynical, yet at the same time with skepticism and critical analysis. Although I see many of Cuba’s younger generation who are cynical, or bitter, or both, there are many others who, while aware of the system’s profound faults, nevertheless, want to move forward in a constructive manner; these latter will have the greatest influence upon what is to come.

  • What a beautiful lie!!!!!!
    The fascist law that caused Peter Pan Operation is still working…. boys between 16 years and 28 years old are hindered almost absolutely to leave the country by the so called Military Service Law. But Peter Pan Operation was not only caused by this Military Service Law designed to keep under control the males in “heroic” age but for a bunch of other laws and decrees that makes almost impossible to take children out of Cuba (males or females) as tourists or even with their communists parents when they go out the country in missions ordered by regime. Cuban children are used by regime as hostages to keep their “disaffect” parents attached to regime or to make their communist parents not to think in escapes. Cases of parents and children separated by regime are thousands, both children in Cuba kept separated of their parents out of Cuba or children out of Cuba kept separated of their parents in Cuba, especially among doctors and other professionals that decided to escape regime while in mission out the country.
    Promiscuity Cuban children live in have no match around the world. Million of Cuban children lives piled with siblings, parents, grand-parents, cousins and other relatives in small rooms in ruinous buildings that collapses one every month, surrounded by roach and rats and black waters running out the 100 years old sewer system, drinking water with no proper treatment for human consumption and breathing Cuba’s high polluted air. Diseases produced by this unhealthy life are a constant in Cuban children life. Asthma (that disappear once the child leave the country) caused by extreme air pollution, Dengue and other mosquitoes related diseases, Giardiasis, Helicobacter and other diseases caused by dirty drinking water destroys their stomachs and intestines; of course, there is no official statistics about this drinking water but there is no a single Cuban (child or adult) arriving to any country in the world as immigrant that has no need to be cured of those diseases. The list of diseases caused by absence of soap or for deficient feeding, parasites, prostitution, etc is to long to be reproduced here.
    Infantile prostitution was something unknown in Cuba until 1989. In the last 22 years infantile prostitution grew from local problem in Havana to a massive practice along the country. The explosion of infantile prostitution and the passion it has awaken among world’s pedophiles to move into Cuba and make of the island theirs permanent residence place is a fact that you can find in all tourism information bureaus around the world.
    Another fact, not publicly findable because the tyranny hides this information, is that the only measurement the tyranny has taken about this situation is to dictate laws forbidding the free reallocation of people from provinces to the capital city, in such way they pretend to cut the arrival to Havana of infantile prostitutes from other cities. Another “measurement” the tyranny implemented was to dictate that all landlords renting rooms or apartments or houses to tourist are in the obligation of watching closely and carefully the movements of the tourist and to inform all activities to the police…… but……. In reality, when a landlord goes and denounce theirs inquilines for performing pedophile activities the only answer they receive from police is: Go there and tell the tourist he/she cannot introduce people minor than 16 year old in your property…… that’s it!!!!!!!
    The tyranny has also dictated an order to the police: Live alone our “tourist”!!!!!
    Pedophiles from every country in the world are moving to Cuba and arranged all needed so theirs retirement checks will be send there……. and the tyranny is happy because it represents millions of dollars.
    Over all these disgraces Cuban children has to suffer another one: Indoctrination…… lies repeated and repeated until boredom which goal is to create docile adults.

  • Well Moses, I don’t see a lack of hope in the children whose photos hang on my walls. Maybe they are simply not old enough to be filled with pessimism and bitterness as you seem to be.

    Only a few of those pictures meet the rules of the 2012 photo contest, but those few will reflect my optimism and rose-colored glasses, rather than the sour grapes you seem to think make a good wine.

    I think they also reflect the hope and optimism of many Cubans, as well as the solidarity. As for Che wanting Cuban kids to think as he did, I think that most of us want our children to reflect our beliefs and dreams. Is there something wrong with that? The wrong would be in the neighbors corrupting my children by denigrating my ideals and bribing them with toys and candy.

    Think about it…

  • Che, with this quote, and others like it wanted the youth to grow up to think the way he thought. He saw them as clay to be molded in his repugnant likeness. The more noble pursuit would have been to allow the youth to grow up simply to think for themselves. The missing ingredient in the otherwise laudable Cuban system as it relates to children is that it is designed to perpetuate itself as opposed to perpetuate good. If self-perpetuation requires denying children universal internet access, so be it. If self-perpetuation requires telling Cuban children that US and European children have lower moral values and care less about the world’s problems, so be it. I can imagine that your collage of Cuban children is beautiful.You have no doubt been able to capture the innocence and untainted energy of youth in their smiling faces. However, did you fail to capture the lack of hope and dreams that is so pervasive among youth on the island? Do your pictures tell the stories of disappointments and disillusionment faced by children still so young.? I agree that a bank balance in no way should be used as a measure of human worth. But neither should the lack of hope.

  • One of the photos I took in Havana was of a quotation of Che’s [very unusual, I am certain].


    Using the wall with the quotation as the background, I made a collage of the pictures I took of Cuban kids from the ages of about 3 to their late teens. The only constant is the young people.

    There are High School girls and Naval Cadets, and Army Draftees, along with some Spanish Dancers, Special Ed Kids, and a beautiful young mother and her equally beautiful daughter playing on a rooftop in El Centro. Then there is Alejandro on his new roller skates, a group of girls playing on one of the lions on Prado, a Quinciana in her formal dress hurrying through Cathedral Square, and a father with his son walking through El Bulevar.

    Cuba can rightly be proud of its young people. As I read the Havana Times blogs tho, I cannot help but think that many of the twenty-something Cuban young people are as spoiled as those I meet in the US. That is not to say they are much different than the Japanese students who stayed with us for a month and wanted only to shop, or some of the Chinese College Students I met at Peking University.

    Perhaps it is the Global Society we are living in, where everyone watches the same TV programs, and listens to the same music. One thing Capitalism excels at is creating images and desires that are universal and expensive. It can take time, experience, and critical thinking, before a person realizes that they are promoting glitzy photo-shopped images, rather than the banality of daily life.

    Pity the poor soul who thinks a bank balance defines his worth. That is real poverty.

  • Thank you, Elio, for an effective and patriotic defense of the Cuban revolution with regard to the happiness and security of children.

    The Marxian “full state monopoly” principle of socialism, looked at as an hypothesis, and as part of an on-going social experiment, proves that this hypothesis is “false, but partially true.” The benefits to children and to all the Cuban people cannot be denied. Yet, that’s not all there is to the analysis of the results.

    The part of the principle/hypothesis that is “false” has to do with the economic mode of production. Due to the absurd notion that the socialist state should own everything productive–thereby destroying and alienating the small bourgeoisie–the country has been choked with massive bureaucracy, catastrophic mistakes in economic planning, rampant corruption at all levels, and the most disappointing of all, endemic economic lethargy.

    Let’s hope that Elio will try to shine his light on this “false, but partially true” principle, and come up with a more reasonable core principle for a revitalized socialist transformation.

  • Elio, I agree with your assertion that early childhood in Cuba is a priority of the Cuban dictatorship. I witnessed happy children playing in parks and in the street without worry of food, healthcare or even physical safety. How wonderful life in Cuba would be if no one aged beyond 7 years old. Therein lies the problem. When a child’s dreams begin to mature however and their reality doesn’t. the failings of the Revolution begin to reveal themselves. Today, children ask their parents why they must live in the same house of their grandparents (even great-grandparents) and why their parents can’t have their own house and their own car, their parents must share the cruel reality of life in Cuba. Today children realize that unless their parents bring gifts for the teacher or buy the exam, it doesn’t matter how hard they study. Children learn to whisper words like Fidel and Raul in public. Children of a certain age realize that no amount of hard work for the State will buy an iPhone, or a Playstation. But one night with a tourist can buy everything. The only thing standing in the way is personal dignity and when they see their mother or their father or both come home with a secreted bag of chicken or a hidden bolsa of cigars they realize that dignity is relative to need. I know happy healthy Cuban children anxiously awaiting my return to Cuba in hopes that I will bring some electronic trinket or clothing item that will distinguish them from their classmates because they know a foreigner or have a family member who lives abroad. And so on. Cuba is great for kids. It’s the other 70 years of life that needs work.

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