Read the Essay below. Be able to answer and expound on the following questions.
(1) Can you cite any information that demonstrates how the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro benefitted the Cuban people?
(2) Is there any indication that the revolutionary government of Cuba realizes that Cuba is just a small part of an international struggle?
(3) Beyond its economic advantages, why is small scale agriculture so important?
(4) Do you think the U. S. is so anti-Castro because the system Castro has established in Cuba is better for people than the capitalistic system that dominates in the United States? Explain.
Class #17 Essay [Audio Version]
Immediately prior to the revolution in Cuba, there were only three legitimate universities in operation. There was a 25% illiteracy rate in urban areas and almost double that in rural areas. There were only 7 normal schools in the country, and only 525 school teachers were graduating each year. Black Cubans did not have access to school, higher education or business opportunities, and the labor union was all white.
Immediately prior to the revolution in Cuba, 98% of rural Cuban homes did not have piped water, 97% did not have toilets, and more than half had no sanitary facilities. The average Cuban could not afford medical care, and no less than 80% of rural children had intestinal parasites. Urban children, on the whole, were medically ignored. To make matters worse, in the first two years after the revolution succeeded, half of Cuba's doctors left the island.
Castro's government committed itself to completely revolutionize Cuba's economic and social reality. More than 400 U. S. companies were nationalized and small farmers were given rights over the land they worked. The wealth these measures generated was immediately put to the benefit of the people. Three percent of Cuba's gross national product was put toward education, and within a single one year period, Cuba's illiteracy rate dropped from 25% to 3%. Free education was made available to all Cubans, regardless of color. The rural areas were provided with teachers and schools and 60 more universities were opened. Soon, there was one teacher for every 10 to 15 students, and no teacher was unemployed.
At the turn of the 21st century, there were more than 68000 doctors in Cuba, free health care was guaranteed and Cuba had what might well be the healthiest collection of people in the modern world. At the turn of the 21st century, Cuba's infant mortality rate was lower than that of the United States, the life expectancy of its citizens was higher than that of the United States and its incidence of AIDS was less than 10% of that of the United States. Additionally, Cuba's illiteracy rate was lower than that of the United States, nobody in Cuba was hungry and no children were homeless. In every significant category, the quality of life of the average Cuban improved exponentially, and were it not for the barriers put up by the U. S. government's blocade of Cuba, conditions would have been better still.
But the revolutionary government did not restrict itself to Cuba. In 1961, Cuba provided arms to Algerian freedom fighters. In ensuing years, as Cuba itself was struggling, Castro sent 55,000 Cuban troops to assist freedom fighters in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Azania, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Angola, and thousands more to countries in the Caribbean and South America. Castro realized that the Cuban struggle for equality was a small part of a much larger struggle. It was important to share, not be selfish, not concentrate solely on Cuba's small arena.
Consistent with that principle, Cuba started training thousands of foreign doctors free of charge. This even applied to underprivileged minorities in rich countries like the United States. Cuba offers 1000 medical school scholarships each year to underprivileged students in the United States. This is in addition to an International School of Physical and Sports Education that trains up to 1400 underprivileged, non Cuban students a year. And, as if that were not enough, at the turn of the 21st century 20000 Cuban doctors were practicing in poor countries free of charge.
Since small scale agriculture is the economic activity that most effectively creates community wealth and produces adults that are healthy in mind, body, spirit and social orientation, the revolutionary government made it the hub of Cuba's economy. The people of Cuba, therefore, are not victimized like those in the United States, who no longer have nor want land for its productive value. Unlike today's Cuban, North Americans strive primarily to increase their purchasing power. This trivial pursuit has rendered North Americans disdainful of cherished principles, morals and humane values. North Americans have become silent accomplices of rogues and terrorists, promoters of waste and greed, menaces to humanity and functional advocates of their own abuse. They have become so selfish and anti social that they are reluctant to use their creative genius and productive energies unless they can profit disproportionately.
As one traces the history of Cuba, one sees not only the evolution of a superior social construct, one sees the making of a more highly developed human being. Cuban individuals understand the advantages of using their creative genius and productive energies for the good of the whole. Cuban people are learning that it is better to share than hoard, even more so during difficult periods. While demonstrating that people, not money or technology, is the key to economic progress, and that socialism is better for the masses of people than capitalism, Cuba's history has placed its people on the road to a promising and rewarding future.
END OF CLASS
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