Celebrating 50 years of progress
January 1st 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
CSC will join with millions of people in Cuba and across the globe to celebrate this amazing anniversary. To do this we are launching Cuba50, which we hope will be the biggest celebration of Cuban culture and Cuba’s achievements ever seen here in the UK.
Trade unions, cultural, community and youth groups, and people from all walks of life can get involved. There will be events, big and small, taking place across the country.
Under the Cuba50 banner we plan to hold a wide range of cultural and campaigning events to raise awareness about the artistic and social achievements of the Cuban Revolution including music, theatre, dance and politics.
Cuba 50 will culminate in a large open-air music and dance festival in London in 2009 featuring special guests and artists from Cuba and the UK.
A time to campaign
But the 50th anniversary is also a time to campaign.
A major part of Cuba50 will be to celebrate fifty years of the Revolution. However, we also aim to use this anniversary to further pressure the UK Government to ‘normalise’ its own relations with Cuba and to end its complicity with the US blockade.
While there are those in the US who want to continue with a criminal and failed blockade policy, there is no reason why we cannot demand that our government normalises its relations with the Caribbean island and promotes better trade and cultural exchanges.
Already trade unions are passing motions of support for Cuba50 and planning initiatives for their members to get involved.
Over the coming months we will be launching a series of campaigning initiatives around Cuba50 where CSC members can make their voices heard.
Members of CSC understand the unique society that Cuba has developed over half a century.
Of course, in the fields of health and education Cuba has made massive strides. Cuba holds the 51st position (2008) out of the 177 countries on the UN Human Development Index, placing the island in the category of ‘High Human Development’.
It has a free health service for all the population.
Life expectancy is 78.3 years. In 1959 life expectancy was just 58 years.
Cuba has the highest doctor-patient ratio in the world: 1 for every 170 patients. The ratio is even smaller in the remote, mountainous areas. Before 1959, 60% of all doctors lived in Havana and large sectors of the poor urban population and practically all of the rural population were not covered by the medical system.
Cuba has 9.4 dentists per 10,000 of population, compared with 1 for every 27,052 people in 1959.
Free education at all levels, including university level. Today’s literacy rate of 99.8% is one of the highest in the world. Cuba has over 4,000 libraries, including 387 public libraries. This compares with just 32 in 1964.
Yet Cuba has also made great progress in developing a more environmentally friendly and sustainable development: In 2006, a World Wildlife Fund report placed Cuba as the only country in the world achieving sustainable development defined in terms of the Human Development Index and its ecological footprint for the period.
Cuba’s organopónicos (communal organic allotments) situated in and around its major cities, with 109 in Havana alone, have been praised world wide for being an example of the sustainable cultivation and distribution of vegetables. BBC gardener, Monty Don, recently described Cuba’s efforts at urban agriculture as a “model for the World”.
Cuba has also become a world leader in humanitarian internationalism:
Cuba’s medical brigades have sent 36,500 doctors (2008) to work in 81 developing countries around the third world to provide services to populations who otherwise would have no access to medical care.
’Operación Milagro’, a project developed by Cuba has allowed more than a million patients from Latin America and the Caribbean requiring eye surgery to be operated on in Cuba or in centres run by Cubans in their own countries.
And in culture and sports Cuba has a tremendous record in providing accessible and free services to all. This provision is why Cuba has achieved so much internationally in this area.
In the 2004 Olympic Games, Cuba’s final ranking was in 11th position, just below the UK.
As we know Cuba has world-class ballet, cinema, music and theatre.
For example Cuba’s National Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1959, has 105 classical musicians all trained in Cuba. There are symphony orchestras and classical choirs in cities around the country that perform regularly.
Cuban born and trained Carlos Acosta is principal dancer and the Royal Ballet and one of the most famous male ballet dancers in the world.
All this and so much more has been achieved despite the continuing US blockade which for almost 50 years has tried to hinder the progress of the Cuban people’s revolution. People often wonder just what more could have been achieved without the aggressive blockade.
Find out more. Get involved.
If you want to get involved in Cuba50 start planning now. Contact us for information and bring forward your ideas. Together we will make Cuba50 a wonderful celebration which will really show the depth of solidarity there is here in the UK for the small island of Cuba.