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May 8, 2021

January 1st – The National Day of Cuba

The 53rd Anniversary of the Revolution’s Triumph

Ms. Ambassador Marta C. Fajardo Palet

On January 1st, Cuba celebrated 53 years of dignity, independence and social advances. The efforts and sacrifice made during these 53 years were immense, but they had a worthy result.

53 years after the triumph of the Revolution, Cuba is involved in updating its economic model, in a process aimed at securing the continuity and strengthening of the socialist system adopted by the Island.

The victory of January 1st 1959 toppled the old philosophy which promoted the quality of life only for a small group of people with economic and political power, and changed the statute of dispossessed masses.

One of the first measures was the Agrarian Reform that disbanded farming properties larger than 402 hectares and split the land between tens of thousands of peasants. Other progressive measures ensued, including a campaign that transformed Cuba, within less than a year, into the first illiteracy-free territory of Latin America. Official figures show that, in 1959, there were only 25,000 higher education graduates in Cuba, no schools for over half a million children, 10,000 teachers were unemployed; middle education was almost inexistent and 30 pc of Cubans did not know how to read or write. On the other hand, when the 2011-2012 school year began on September 5, over 60 universities opened their gates for approximately 500,000 students, as reported by the digital site Cubadebate.

The right to work, health, culture and sport also became prerequisites of the Cuban society; for the first time, the government was preoccupied with eliminating the scourges inherited from the pseudo-republic, such as drugs, organised crime, prostitution and child abuse.

Cuba developed an advanced welfare system that works; healthcare, and free and universal education from nursery to university.

Furthermore, according to official figures, the country has a child mortality rate under 5 per 1,000 living newborns, and a life expectancy of 78 years.

All these accomplishments were possible despite the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed to the Cuban people for over half a century, which has cost it USD 975 bln so far.

The National Assembly of People’s Power approved, at the end of the year, the budget for 2012, ruling that more than 17,347,800 M pesos will be destined to education, health, culture and other social fields, a sum that exceeds half of the expenses provided by the Island’s budget activity, while about 400 M pesos will be allotted to the social protection of people with a critical financial situation – including the underprivileged population, the handicapped and those considered as laid off for the sake of labour reorganisation.

Cuba – now with 11.2 million inhabitants – achieved new success in culture and sports, placing it at the same level as developed countries.

It ranked second in the Pan-American Games of Guadalajara – 2011, with 58 gold medals, and it promotes full access to culture and sports, at a time of important economic, political and social challenges.

The GDP increase reached 2.7 pc. The processing industry advanced by 2.5 pc in 2011, with its most successful branch being the sugar industry, which doubled its turnover. Tourism continued to be the main driving force, which brings foreign currency to the country, by welcoming over 2.5 million tourists in 2011.

The state’s budget deficit will stay at the same level as in 2011, i.e. 3.8 pc of the GDP, securing to a reasonable extent free services to population, in terms of health, education, culture and sports, as well as welfare, allotments to the rationed family basket and to natural persons with insufficient solvency, in view of purchasing construction materials, among others, according to official sources.

“In Cuba, the objectives provided by the Statement of the Millennium have been actually met in totality and, in certain situations, even exceeded by far,” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said last year in a high-level meeting of the plenum of the United Nations.

According to the Cuban minister, the Caribbean country’s commitment reaches beyond its borders and contributes to the social development of other Third World nations.

Cuba is undergoing a process of administrative and social improvement, and adapts its answers with the intelligence that comes from the accumulated experience.

To all Cubans, January has a big significance, and has always been the moment when conclusions were drawn and new commitments and projects for the future were made.

January 28 is a memorable day for Cubans, when they celebrate 159 years since the birth of Jose Marti, the National Hero of Cuba, a man of fine sensibility, a lover of literature and beauty, founder of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and organiser of the 1895 war against the colonial domination of Spain.

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