Fidel Castro Highlights Cuba's Social Programs

Campaign News | Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Cuba's Battle of Ideas is six years old

Cardenas, Dec 6 (AIN) Fidel Castro spoke proudly Tuesday of the many innovative social programs being implemented in Cuba, at a celebration for the sixth anniversary of the what is known on the island as the "Battle of Ideas."

The Cuban leader addressed a nationwide television audience from Cardenas,Matanzas, the hometown of Elian Gonzalez, where the fight began to obtain the boy's release after he was virtually kidnapped by rightwing Cuban-Americans in Miami at the end of 1999. Elian was returned to his father and Cuba in June, 2000.

The Battle of Ideas is an intense political undertaking of widespread citizen participation in which the highest priority is placed on the educational, cultural and social development of every individual. Cuban youth are at the forefront of this struggle to defend the revolution and its ' values of solidarity and justice in working for a better world both at home and abroad.

After noting that the public gathering in Cardenas has now become a tradition, Fidel affirmed that Elian has become the natural leader of his grade school and praised his dedication to sports.

The Cuban President went on to cite the many civil construction projects that have made possible advances in the island's educational system. These include a massive effort to build or renovate primary and secondary schools, art instructor and teacher training schools and pre-universities throughout the nation. Numerous schools specializing in early sports development and youth computer clubs have also been completed.

The Cuban leader underscored that the nation is turning into a land of students and that present day knowledge is much higher than before. He noted that in a country of 11.2 million inhabitants over 600,000 Cuban young people are studying different mid level courses, including the senior high schools, and added that more than half a million are attending university. Some 8,000 young people are studying at the University of Informatics Sciences, to put the island on the cutting edge of technological development, he added.

In the field of health, Fidel Castro noted that 14 polyclinics, 204 rehabilitation wards and two new hospitals were finished this last year. He added that over a dozen facilities have been refurbished for Operation Milagro, a free eye-surgery program serving tens of thousands of people from several Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Another accomplishment Fidel Castro cited at the event is the "Yes I Can" literacy program that has produced excellent results in several countries and in several languages. He recalled Cuba's own literacy campaign at the beginning of the revolution when today's audio visual equipment and techniques were not available.

Fidel recalled the effort involved in achieving a ratio of 20 pupils per teacher and how now in the capital Havana, the ratio is one teacher for each 18 students, and one TV set per classroom that soon will be a 29-inch screen set.

The president then named Cardenas as a sort of model of what is being done in relation to education in the country. He cited a number of social construction programs finished there, including the local television station, TV Bandera, that is similar to others that will be installed in other Cuban municipalities for the benefit of the local communities.

Fidel voiced a nationwide alert about the political, administrative and technical measures that should assure the optimum use of the available resources in the country, and said that those abusing their responsibilities will be called on the carpet.

He emphasized that Cuba is marching towards excellence as a health care provider, and that all its people have access to those services. He insisted that in a reasonable period of time the quality of health care assistance will get even better.

The Cuban President told the audience that 45 million citizens of the United States have no access to social security and health care insurance, and made reference to other social calamities that the poor of the US are suffering, especially children and the elderly.

Fidel explained that the preventable diseases that children of many countries are suffering from are not condemned in Geneva, where every year the United Nations Commission on Human Rights meets, and hypocritically consider the condemnation of Cuba.

The celebration that took place in Cardenas Tuesday evening, also highlighted the 35th anniversary of the creation of the Federation of Middle Level School Students, FEEM , whose members have played a vanguard role in the struggles of the people of Cuba.

Another high point of the day was the 12th birthday of Elian Gonzalez. The boy is now in his first year of junior high school.

Fidel gave the FEEM representatives a diploma with a message of congratulations.

Attending the mass rally where relatives of the Cuban Five: Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez. The antiterrorist fighters have been unjustly held in US prisons for over seven years.

Also present were government officials and leaders of political and educational organizations, as well as other guests.

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