“The training will take place at Girassol Hospital… because it has excellent simulators for practical classes, which is an indispensable condition,” local outlet SAPO reported.
With that training, “Angolan doctors will visit the families assigned to them, at a rate of 1,000 inhabitants per professional, cohabiting with the Cubans who arrived in Angola for the purpose,” the Inter-ministerial Commission for Pandemic Response spokesperson explained.
On Friday morning, 256 Cuban health workers arrived in Angola to support the fight against COVID-19, which has already infected 19 people in this African country.
The Cuban team members will be distributed to 164 municipalities in order to contain the epidemic from the rural territories with the greatest needs.
“Cuban doctors will not only stay in referral hospitals. They will put their knowledge to the benefit of Angola and Angolans, even in remote areas, especially with confirmed cases,” the Health Minister said.
Vilma’s example is needed today more than ever. She devoted her entire life to the struggle of women, at a time when most faced discrimination as human beings, in Cuba and throughout the world, with honorable revolutionary exceptions…
In our country, women were emerging from one of the most terrible forms of society, a U.S. neo-colony, dominated by imperialism and its system, in which everything human beings are capable of creating becomes a commodity…
Cuban women worked in domestic services, or in luxury shops and bourgeois bars, where they were selected for their bodies and figures. In factories they were given the simplest, most repetitive and worst paid jobs…In many arenas, the presence of women was not even considered…
Transforming the role of wokmen in Cuban society
I have witnessed Vilma’s struggles for almost half a century. I have not forgotten her in July 26th Movement meetings in the Sierra Maestra. She was eventually sent by the movement’s leadership on an important mission to the Second Eastern Front. Vilma was not intimidated by any danger…
After the triumph of the Revolution, an inexhaustible battle for Cuban women and children began. This led her to found and lead the Federation of Cuban Women. There was no national or international tribune that she did not attend, however long the road to be traveled, in defense of her homeland under siege and the noble and just ideas of the Revolution…
Her gentle, firm and always timely voice was heeded with great respect at meetings of the Party, state and mass organizations…
Today, Cuban women are 66 percent of the country’s technical workforce, and the majority in almost all university departments. Before, women were barely noticed in scientific activities, since there was no science or scientists, with a few exceptions. In this field they are also in the majority today…
Her revolutionary duties and vast work never prevented Vilma from fulfilling her responsibilities as a loyal companion and mother of many children…
The following is the presentation by Mary-Alice Waters, who spoke as part of a panel discussion in Guangzhou, China, one of some 50 during the 10th International Conference of ISSCO, the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas. The conference was held Nov. 8-11, 2019, at Jinan University (see news article in issue no. 47 in 2019).
One thing distinguishes the economic and the social conditions of life today for Cubans of Chinese origin from Chinese communities everywhere else in the world. That is the near total absence of discrimination or prejudice against Chinese Cubans and their descendants.
By Mary-Alice Waters
Fidel and Reserve Brigadier General Moisés Sio Wong
Sixty years ago in Cuba, a century of revolutionary struggle against Spanish colonialism and U.S. imperialist domination culminated in a victorious socialist revolution. It was a deep-going popular revolution. Millions of working people of all ages, both men and women, transformed themselves as they fought for independence, for sovereignty, for dignity, and began to transform their society.
In face of military aggression and economic sabotage by Washington, supported by other imperialist powers, workers and peasants in Cuba defended and deepened their initial conquests. They established a government, and a state, of their own — one that advanced the interests of those who had been the most oppressed and exploited layers of the population.
They ended capitalist ownership of the land, mills, factories and banks. They gave land to the peasants who worked it. They outlawed discrimination based on race in all public facilities. They organized millions of women into employment and social and political activity. With a popular mobilization involving hundreds of thousands of young people, they went to the mountains, working-class barrios and rural areas, eradicating illiteracy across Cuba in less than one year. They armed the workers and farmers and organized them into disciplined militia units to defend the country they were building on new economic and social foundations.
And against all odds, for more than six decades, Cuban working people have successfully held at bay the most powerful empire the world will ever see.
Cubans of Chinese descent
For Cubans of Chinese descent, the consequences of these historic conquests have been unprecedented. One thing distinguishes the economic and the social conditions of life today for Cubans of Chinese origin from Chinese communities everywhere else in the world. That is the near total absence of discrimination or prejudice against Chinese Cubans and their descendants.
That unique condition is a stunning fact. Most of you in this room know well from your own experiences the countless forms of anti-Chinese prejudice elsewhere in the world. That alone would justify a closer look at the Cuban Revolution. In Cuba there are no typically Chinese occupations anymore, whether it’s restaurants or laundries, or small shopkeepers, or families growing vegetables and fruits for urban markets.
There’s no glass ceiling. No field of endeavor or level of leadership responsibility beyond which no one of Chinese ancestry will be found. Whether it’s government ministries, leaders of mass organizations of the Cuban Revolution, generals, artists, scientists or whatever.
Esteban Lazo, president of the National Assembly of Cuba, is a Cuban of Chinese African descent.
Lázaro Barredo, until recently the longtime editor-in-chief of Granma, the daily newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, is a Cuban of Chinese descent.
Wifredo Lam, among the world-renowned artists of the 20th century, was a Cuban of African Chinese descent, who wove threads from those cultures into the richness of his paintings.
Another example — one I’ll be drawing on today, since I happen to know it best — is the three generals of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces: Moisés Sío Wong, Gustavo Chui and Armando Choy. Their stories are available — including here at the conference — in the book Our History Is Still Being Written,published in English, Spanish, Chinese, Farsi and, just this week, now in French as well.
Capitalists divide and rule
The lessons of the Cuban Revolution are especially important in today’s world of deepening capitalist crisis. Because chauvinism and xenophobia are weapons of choice wielded by the ruling classes to try to divide working people and turn us against each other. They try to convince us our problems come not from those who exploit us, but from “immigrants who take our jobs,” or neighbors whose skin color or religion is different from ours.
This is a history that overseas Chinese know well. What’s happening today in Asia, in America, in Europe, in Africa is not new. Overseas Chinese for centuries have been a prime target of attacks against “foreigners,” from the more subtle forms of discrimination and race hatred, to mob violence, exclusion laws and pogroms. This is the context in which the example of Cuba stands out.
The Cuban revolution will celebrate 61 years of existence on January 1st 2020.
Simply to have survived despite a US invasion while in its infancy, despite a brutal US economic and financial blockade in force since 1960, despite a constant international media campaign of lies and half-truths, despite biological warfare, the bombing of hotels, despite hundreds of assassination attempts on Fidel’s life; despite the numerous destabilization attempts including the use of social media conveying propaganda aimed at the toppling of the government and the ending of the Revolution – to have survived all this is no mean achievement.
A revolution by the humble for the humble
But Cuba has done much more than just survive. The Cuban people, regardless of colour or class, now have access to education up to the tertiary level at no cost to them or their parents. Student debt is alien to the Cuban culture. The Cuban people, again regardless of colour or class, have access to the best medical care that the society has to offer. In fact, in Cuba both education and health care are seen as basic human rights.
The Cuban revolution also made sports a right of the people. Before the triumph of the Cuban revolution on January 1 1959, sports in Cuba was limited to basically four professional baseball teams and a few outstanding individuals. Today, Cuba’s impressive sports infrastructure and massive participation level have allowed the small nation to become one of the leading countries in the world in terms of Olympic medals won per capita. From the start of the Olympic Games in 1896 up until 1956 — a span of over 60 years — Cuba won only four Olympic gold medals. However, starting from almost nothing, in its 61 years of revolution the nation has won 78 gold medals up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Cubans do not have to worry about crime and drugs – in fact, while their men and women know how to shoot in the cause of national defense, gun crime is virtually non-existent in Cuba, and Cuban society is basically drug-free, thanks to the Revolution.
The relatively low crime rate and the general peacefulness of Cuban society are due to the high level of education and the ability of the people to analyze and participate, with a well-developed sense of human empathy in formulating guiding measures taken by their egalitarian society.
In a separate article, we will look at many other achievements of the Revolution which we have not had the space to mention here.
The Cuban revolution boasts not just local or national achievements. Cuban internationalism is well known throughout the world, especially among the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. Cuba’s contribution to the ending of the brutal apartheid system in South Africa is well documented. As Nelson Mandela noted when addressing Cubans in Matanzas in 1991:[i]
I must say that when we wanted to take up arms, we approached numerous Western governments for assistance and we were never able to see any but the most junior ministers. When we visited Cuba, we were received by the highest office and were immediately offered whatever we wanted and needed. That was our earliest experience with Cuban internationalism.
We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defense of one of us…. Your [Cuban] presence and the reinforcement of your forces in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale was of truly historic significance.
In addition, Cuba’s medical assistance to the rest of the world has saved millions; and thousands of the poor, from all over the planet, have graduated as doctors and other health care specialists from Cuban universities without paying a cent to Cuba. Specifically, more than 400,000 health professionals have participated in missions outside of Cuba since 1963, including those carried out after hurricanes, earthquakes and the battle against the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa. Since 1963. a total of 1,923,712,555 consultations have been made, according to figures released by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health. There are currently about 29,000 medical personnel in 65 countries.
Cuba remains a model of moral fortitude, courage, cultural richness, unity, solidarity, sovereignty, internationalism and dedication to building a just society based on the highest ideals of man.
Congratulations to the heroic Cuban people. Respect due!
May their influence continue to spread and continue to lay the basis for the better world envisaged by Fidel; one in which human dignity, happiness, love and solidarity take centre stage over corporate greed, war, hatred, racism, disunity, mindless consumerism and egotism.
[i] Nelson Mandela, in How Far We Slaves Have Come, by Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Pathfinder Press, pp. 19, 23.
It was December 17, 2014. The entire people, who fought and demanded their return, witnessed Fidel’s prediction come true. The Five, all of them, were finally home.
It was a day of celebration and tears, hard to contain with so much emotion. Television captured every moment, from the moment that the plane carrying Gerardo, Antonio and Ramón approached the runway at José Martí International Airport in Havana, until the door was opened and Gerardo appeared on the steps, then Antonio and finally Ramón. How to forget the the heroes’ reunion with their families there! The emotional embrace of Raúl, who awaited them in the name of Fidel and the entire people.
Convictions became reality. The Five, their duty to the fatherland done, knew that the people all wanted to embrace them, that the children would rush to kiss them, that young people were more committed because of their example.
This 17th marks the fifth anniversary of that happy return to the homeland, the Five Heroes have strengthened their worth as patriots and aken on tasks, perhaps less risky, but heroic as well, as the professionals they are, as revolutionaries forever, and as children of the homeland that was incomplete five years ago, when they were still imprisoned.
They knew how maintain their dignity during those long and unjust years in prison, always sure that only 90 miles from their dark cells was a country mobilized to demand their return, and Fidel who, with the conviction and security of always, had stated: “They will return.” Raúl took up the task and saw it through.
But the battle for the return of the Five, in addition to becoming more and more massive in Cuba, crossed seas and oceans until it became the banner of a worldwide solidarity movement, including the United States.
The return of Gerardo, Antonio and Ramón completed the happiness of a people that before, on October 7, 2011, made the joy of René’s freedom its own, and on February 27, 2014, that of Fernando.
They are five young Cubans, trained entirely by the Revolution, all prepared to fulfill any mission to defend their homeland.
They are men committed to the project we are constructing, with unwavering confidence in victory, wearing the noble, sincere smiles of the heroes they are.
Three key concepts, that sustain the essential political instrument that is our Party, are unity, providing an example, and sacrifice, as confirmed by notable historians, philosophers, writers, and journalists
Fidel’s great work, says Brazilian theologian Frei Betto, is the Cuban Revolution, which did not begin January 1, 1959, but much earlier, and it has not concluded. But the backbone of this monumental project, underway just 90 miles from the most powerful empire in history, could not be explained without its Party.
This is confirmed by notable historians, philosophers, writers, and journalists, who highlight, among others, three keys that support this essential political instrument.
Fidel’s obsession was unity. He was timid, he seemed to almost request permission to be who he was, “despite all his genius, of all the history he embodied,” Frei Betto noted. He was transformed when a challenge arose or when he explained to the multitudes “the art of building a correlation of social, political, and military forces that allows current conditions of the struggle to be changed, making possible, in the future, what at the present time appears impossible,” adds Chilean sociologist Marta Harnecker.
He understood, as few others, that unity is not achieved with sermons, but with action, and that in this effort we must be willing to do everything. “He bared his chest to the bullets when the invasion came,” Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano recalled, “faced hurricanes as an equal, one hurricane to another, survived 637 attacks. It was not the work of Mandinga’s spell, or a miracle from God, that this new homeland would survive ten U.S. Presidents (currently 12), who had set the table for lunch with knives and forks.”
To confront such powerful forces as U.S. imperialism and local oligarchies, the main task of a revolutionary of these times, Fidel insisted again and again, was to build unity of the revolutionary forces. A broader effort should be considered, only after making an effort in this regard. However, he was not rigid in this objective, Harnecker clarifies. When the goal was not achieved immediately, the leader of the Cuban Revolution did not give up on progress toward broader unity. He insisted, “We should not start by setting the highest goals, but rather the minimum ones.”
But of all Fidel’s accomplishments, one of his most important legacies was the creation of the Party, the main instrument for unity. He knew that every revolution is a war and to face it in better conditions, essential is “a single command capable of guiding the fight, clearly defining the strategic enemy and the immediate enemy, the form the fight must take, and the current situation, as well as the policy to continue gaining supporters against the immediate enemy,” states Harnecker, reflecting on the political legacy of the Comandante en jefe.
October 3, 1965, the first Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) was established, reflecting the consolidation of the political instrument of unity. In the formal act, Fidel read Ernesto Che Guevara’s farewell letter, which bore double symbolism: the Heroic Guerrilla had gone to continue the revolutionary project in “other lands of the world demanding the contribution of my modest efforts.” It was also a message sent by an archetypal Communist, who in another letter to Fidel, that same year, had written:
“The Party and every member of the Party must be in the vanguard … The moral standing of Communists is their most precious award, they must take care of individual morality …” (letter from Che to Fidel, March 26, 1965, before leaving to complete his internationalist mission in Congo).
If the key to the vanguard party is unity, inclusion is its essence. “There is no revolutionary, social sector that is not represented,” Fidel would explain when he announced the newly founded Central Committee, insisting that the Revolution must be above all that members had done in the past. The important thing was what all these forces would do together in the future. That is why, adds Harnecker, the Cuban leader did not “enforce his copyrights and, although the July 26 Movement was recognized by the vast majority of the people as the architect of the victory, he abandoned the flag of his movement to assume the flag of the Revolution.”
Fidel himself explained that via union and ideas, unity and doctrine, in the crucible of a revolutionary process, “this Party has been formed. And we must always be protective of these two things, because they are our fundamental pillars.”
The Communist Party of Cuba was assigned the task of assuring and defending the Revolution of the entire people, with the participation and organization of workers, peasants, technicians, professionals, students, and the rebel youth.
The logic of organizing people’s power was closely linked to the failure of all attempted coups, invasions or sieges, which would be tested over more than half a century, in the face of repeated aggression by imperialism and the economic blockade, which would have brought down any government that did not have the support of the vast majority of an organized people.
“But the Party would not have survived without a moral component, the example,” says Mexican intellectual Pablo González Casanova.
Cuba was, and is, the only country that maintains its socialist project as a “moral world,” or “another possible world,” as is often said, or “another way of organizing work and life in the world,” González explains.
Many times Fidel was heard saying: “In our society and in our Party, one principle must prevail: the example, which translates into merit, ability, modesty.” Fidel’s greatest concern was that the Party never lose its virtue, that affectionate respect, that fraternal respect and affection the masses feel for it. Let there be sacrifice and work, self-denial, honor, “but never privilege,” Fidel would insist in 1974, speaking before a PCC accountability assembly in the province of Oriente.
Both the practice of confrontation and that of reaching consensus imply measures to organize collective morality, conscience, and will, and that is the Party organized by Fidel, Pablo González Casanova states.
The Cuban Communist Party takes the approach that agreement can be reached amidst conflict and class struggle, which continues even when consensus seems to predominate. “Cuba’s experience in this respect is immense, and not only in defense of its own Revolution and the many confrontations and agreements with the United States, but for having participated in the war in Angola against the army of the former colonialist, racist country of South Africa – the most powerful on the continent – and having helped defeat it, and sit at the negotiating table until reaching a compromise for peace,” concludes González.
“He had a chivalrous sense of honor, based on sacrifice,” says Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. While Armando Hart, Cuban revolutionary thinker and former Cuban Minister of Education and Culture, interpreted the selfless vocation of the Party as a value that cannot be separated from the life of its principal leader: “The man who intelligently conceived, led, and defended, without hesitation, the gigantic work of the Cuban Revolution was called upon to be an uncommon, prime example of ethics, culture, confidence, experience, and firmness of principles: all in one.”
As early as 1962, while concluding the Seventh National Conference of Revolutionary Instruction Schools, Fidel stated: “The Party is not an extra benefit. The Party is sacrifice. The Party is not looking for anything. Above all, let us teach every revolutionary that one joins the Party to give everything…”
And on March 14, 1974, at the abovementioned assembly in Santiago de Cuba, he would add: “The Party must have authority before the masses, not because it is the Party, or because it has power, or because it has the strength or the authority to make decisions. The Party must have authority before the masses based on its work, its connection to those same masses, its relations with the masses; the Party is in the masses, the Party is with the masses, but never above…”
And he concluded: “…May the Party never lose this virtue, may the Party never lose the affectionate respect, the fraternal respect and affection the masses feel for it; may the Party be sacrifice, may the Party be work, may the Party be disinterest, may the Party be honor, but never privilege.
I pondered what might be the best tribute to Fidel, three years after not being physically with us, and I am sure that “being continuity” is the answer.
Of course, it is not a word without content or repeated without feeling. It is the conviction of the great majority of Cubans, to continue «at the foot of the canyon» and know how to use it and defend it in the present, to sow a future as the Commander conceived it and dedicated his life to building it.
These two words have a very large dimension. It is to be an example, to be ethical, firm, to carry that phrase from Martí that “doing is the best way to say.”
The work conceived and undertaken by Fidel is a colossal feat, of committed men and women, inclusive and nourished by the feedback of every citizen, every place in the country, every opinion, every complaint.
It is a work to not be afraid to perfect it and strength to lift it to its maximum creation.
It is not about justifying the mistakes that are still made, nor the imperfections of human beings. Neither of regrets and lacerating phrases when we are wrong.
The Revolution is a permanent task and what has been done must represent the guidance and the conviction of how much we have left to do.
And it is precisely in this continuity that there is the guarantee that the legacy left by Fidel will be fulfilled.
As President Miguel Díaz-Canel has expressed, continuity is the commitment of young people who are now traveling along the path already cleared by previous generations.
We have been privileged with the teachings of Fidel and the other members of the historical generation. Many of them, with their example and their determination, still occupy the vanguard in the contingent of millions of Cubans.
It is up to the youth to carry on their shoulders, with facts, the conduct of the work, polish their imperfections and change everything that has to be changed, as Fidel left us in his concept of Revolution.
Today’s enemy – make no mistake – is the same one that blocks the country in order to suffocate the population. The one who organized and financed the mercenary invasion by Playa Girón.
But it is not invincible. Precisely in Girón our town, always with Fidel in front, crushed the invasion in less than 72 hours. It was the first major defeat of US imperialism in Latin America.
It is the enemy that does not get used to having men and women capable of resisting and defeating, of not giving up, and of not giving in even a tantico, before the arrogant pretensions of the empire.
The word continuity, now with a higher dimension, we must assume when Fidel is no longer physically. We must feel that from the heart of that stone taken to Santiago de Cuba from the Sierra Maestra itself, the Commander encourages us, drives us, checks us, encourages us and guides us.
However difficult current times are, they are not contemplations or “flirting” with those who want to destroy us. These are moments of confronting, with all the truth and strength, those who try to confuse and weaken us.
Every problem, of the many we have, must have an answer. Each difficulty must be assumed with “the ear at ground level” of those who have the responsibility – each in its place – to continue channeling and perfecting the great work.
If we are continuity, we are honoring Fidel. And, I am sure, the Commander will be happy when a generation of reinforcement, of committed young people and revolutionaries, complies with giving continuity to the work he devised and raised with his genius, his ethics and his example.
If today’s youth is continuity and complies, Fidel feels secure, in whatever dimension, that no one can destroy the Revolution, conceived for the present and even better for the future.