Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fidel, Cuba deserve respect, honour
By Editor
Tue 11 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

Cuba deserves the respect and support of all progressive, fair and just-minded people regardless of their ideological or political outlooks.

And as for us in Africa, especially in southern Africa, we have a special debt that we owe Cuba. And as Dr Kenneth Kaunda correctly observes, Cuba paid a very high price for the liberation of our region from colonialism and apartheid. Thousands of Cubans lost their lives in our service. How much more can one ask from another human being? How far can one go in demonstrating one's love for another than to lay down his life for them?

Cuba is not a country with gigantic natural resources, a lot of money, but it has been able to share whatever little they had, they have with others. Whatever Cuba has, we got a share of it.

In terms of solidarity with other peoples, which country in this world can match the internationalist spirit and actions of Cuba? In terms of sharing with others, which country in this world can match Cuba? We can as well ask: in terms of the Christian spirit and practice, which country in this world is more Christian in its deeds than Cuba?

Well, Dr Kaunda has poured praises on Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, and all of it is justified and well earned praise. In the Christian sense, in deeds, Fidel is a saint. If Nobel Prizes were given in terms of one's sense of humanity, one's true contributions to humanity, Fidel would be a Nobel Prize winner. But there are other criteria that seem to be ideological more than anything else that may explain why Fidel is not a Nobel Prize winner. We say this because there is no match in the world political leadership for Fidel in many areas of human endeavour, including in the issues of human rights.

Looking at things fairly, without prejudice and objectively, we are thoroughly convinced that no politician in the world, that no country in the world has done more than Fidel and Cuba have to protect human rights.

No children in Cuba have to beg or are homeless in the way we see in other countries; no children have to scrounge for a living in the streets in the way we see in other countries. In the rest of the world - including the developed countries, but mainly in the other Third World countries - millions of homeless children who have no parents or support of any kind are begging in the streets, doing all sorts of things to make a living. In view of this, we ask: is there any politician or country that has done more than Fidel and Cuba have to protect human rights?

Look at the number of sick children who don't receive any medical attention and the numbers of children who are illiterate, even in the developed countries. In Cuba, everyone knows how to read and write. Hundreds of millions of children in the world don't have access to medical treatment, but in Cuba every child has a school to go to and medical care. Has any country done more for human rights in this regard than Cuba has done? And mind you, this is not a rich country in terms of money!

In other parts of the world, children are bought and sold and even exported to other countries. In some cases, quite frequently, children are even sold so that their vital organs can be used for transplants. That has never happened in Cuba. With regard to this aspect, has any country in this world done more than Cuba to protect human rights?

Think of child prostitution, which is quite generalised in the rest of the Third World. There isn't that type of child prostitution in Cuba. Has any country done more for human rights in this regard than Cuba has done?

Many countries have infant mortality rates of more than 100 for every thousand live births. This means that hundreds of thousands of children die each year. However, Cuba - a Third World, under-developed country that has been under a blockade for more than five decades, for more than half a century - has brought down its mortality rates for children under a year old to less than 10 and the figure for one to five-year-olds to practically zero. Since the triumph of the Revolution led by Fidel, the lives of thousands of children have been saved in Cuba. As regards this aspect, has any country done more than Cuba to protect human rights?

In Cuba, every human being has a truly equal opportunity to develop physically and intellectually, without any discrimination based on sex or race. This holds true for everyone, without any differences between rich and poor. Has any country done more for human rights in this regard than Cuba has done?

All this is the result of the Cuban Revolution's humanitarian work of giving everybody opportunities, creating conditions for eliminating injustices, inequalities and providing a healthy environment. In this regard, has any country done more than Cuba to protect human rights?
Life expectancy has increased considerably - to almost 80 - since the triumph of the Revolution. Every citizen has been given dozens of additional years and the possibility of having a healthier, safer life. In other countries of this world, life expectancy is 40, 45, 50, 55 or 60. As regards this aspect, has any country done more than Cuba for human rights?

Discrimination against women - which is so strongly entrenched in all other parts of the world, including the other Third World countries - has disappeared in Cuba. In fact, women constitute nearly 60 per cent of the country's technical workforce and are paid the same wages as men, with no wage discrimination - a form of discrimination that is an everyday phenomenon in the rest of the world. It doesn't exist in Cuba, where women have been liberated and have job opportunities, protection education, health care and nursery schools for their children. Has any country done more for human rights in this regard than Cuba?

Take racial discrimination. The Revolution wiped it out in Cuba. Now, all citizens have full equality, including equal opportunities without racial discrimination - a fact that nobody can dispute in Cuba. Few other countries in the world can say the same. Has any country really done more for human rights in this regard than Cuba?
Look at the effect that equality - equal opportunities and equal treatment - has on human beings and their happiness. People need more than food: they need honour, dignity, respect and to be treated like human beings. In this regard, has any country done more than Cuba to protect human rights?

All over the world, some citizens have been alienated and considered worthless. They are taken to vote for somebody every four, five or six years without even knowing who they are voting for or why - because, often, their low political cultural level and low cultural level in general don't give them a chance to decide freely. They are influenced by all the mechanisms for exerting mental and psychological influence in decision making - and then nobody cares about them anymore. There isn't any sense of identification between such people and the state, the government and the society in which they live. They are condemned to a desperate struggle for survival without any social worth, respect or consideration. In Cuba, the situation is entirely different, with total identification and full participation by citizens in all activities - political activities, activities in defence of their country, cultural activities and activities for developing the country. Has any country done more for human rights in this regard than Cuba?

With the Revolution, Cuba has created a sense of solidarity and fraternity. In this regard, has any country done more for human rights than Cuba?

They have experiences and live in an atmosphere unlike those in many of our countries in the world. There, they share what they have. They don't have any gross inequality, with some having much more than they need and dying of heart attacks and cholesterol, while others starve to death. There, they share everything - their country belongs to all of them, and its riches belong to all of them, too. Has any country done more for its people than Cuba?

There, citizens feel they count; they are a part of society; they feel they have a national dignity and a homeland - something that is very rare and inaccessible to the vast majority of the people in today's world. Has any country done more for human rights in this regard than Cuba?

The list goes on and on. We are talking about things which, in our opinion, constitute true humanitarianism, the policy of promoting the dignity of human beings and their wellbeing. Inequality causes terrible suffering, which is unknown to the Cuban people.

Cuba has been grossly slandered. Its enemies have even spoken of physical violence against people, torture and such things. They have written and multiplied all that calumny against Cuba. But the Cuban Revolution has a characteristic that very few revolutions have had in all of history: the Cuban people have been taught to hate crime, to hate torture, to hate the use of physical violence against individuals, to hate abuses of power. This is what inspires them in their struggle, what mobilises them and unites them: their frontal attack on all those forms of injustice. They have employed this approach consistently throughout their revolutionary history. They have had a humanitarian policy. This is extremely outstanding for a country that has been under attack since the triumph of the Revolution. We say this because there is always a justification for doing cruel things in times of danger in a country that is continually under attack. Since the triumph of the Revolution, nobody has been assassinated, no prisoners have been tortured and no physical violence has been used against prisoners. How many other countries, revolutions, states that have had civil wars or states that have participated in foreign wars can say the same? But Cuba has every right to.

Surely, a country and a political leadership of this kind deserves admiration, respect and honour. And for these reasons, Fidel and Cuba deserve respect, admiration and honour.

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