January 1, 2009 will mark the 50th anniversary of the accession to power of the Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro.
Here is the first of many articles that will be written in solidarity with the Cuban revolution over the next few months.
[url=Half-Century">http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2008/12/half-century-of-cuba%e2%80%99s-rev... of Cuba’s Revolution: Solidarity, 1[/url] by Ron Ridenour
December 24th, 2008
The revolution’s solidarity ethic started at home. From the first, racism was officially abolished everywhere. Small farmers and would-be farmers were given up to 5 caballerias (13.42 hectares per caballeria) of land to till as promised during the armed struggle against US-backed dictator Batista. The new president, Raul Castro, has just extended this by one or two caballerias for the most productive. The rest of the land, bought from private owners (national and international), was turned into large state collectives and smaller cooperatives. In recent years, almost all the collectives have been converted into more productive cooperatives, both private and state run.
Illiteracy was soon eliminated by 100,000 educated youths teaching 23% of the nation’s illiterates. Promptly, all children were attending school free of charge whereas before 44% of primary school-aged children did not attend school and only 17% of secondary school-aged children did. In these 50 years, nearly one million students have graduated from universities. Today, there are nearly 100,000 students studying full time in 65 universities, plus some 400,000 studying at university level in 3,150 localities in all 169 municipalities. Under Batista there were 20,000 students attending the three state, and one private, universities.
A nation-wide health care system was immediately underway, free of charge. Statistical results show its significance for each and every Cuban. In 1959, infant mortality was at 78.8 per 1000 births; in 2007, it was down to 5.5. Life expectancy was 62 years. Today it stands at 77. There was only one doctor for every 1,800 inhabitants in 1959, after half the six thousand doctors had fled upon the revolutionary victory and following the elimination of private practice. But only a few of the population of 5.5 million was being served. Today, with 75,000 graduated doctors since the revolution and with 11.5 million people, the rate is one to 150. However, nearly half of those doctors are on foreign missions in 68 countries, and several hundreds have fled to other countries seeking greater economic opportunities. This places a greater burden on some 30,000 doctors within the country who must care for greater numbers of patients.
Cuba produces 12 of the 13 vaccines it inoculates each child with. The nation has an exceptional and modern biotechnology industry and has developed unique medicines and vaccines, including the world’s only meningitis B vaccine.
The revolution is also renowned for its excellent sports and culture programs, for its superb athletes, musicians, film makers, detective novel authors, ballet and other dancers.
The nation’s workers and farmers were also set on a solidarity course to serve and produce not just for their benefits but for the entire nation. In the early 1960s, two forms of economic systems were experimented with. One was led by the revolutionary idealist Che Guevara, the other by Carlos Rodriguez, a leader of the Communist Party, which had not joined the armed struggle. In the efforts to create the "new man" in economic production and in the political decision-making process, there were some advances but many retardations, about which I will address in a second story.