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How Cuba survived sanctions

ZIMBABWE can learn from Cuba which survived for over half a Century under comprehensive sanctions from the most powerful countries in the world, the Latin American country’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe has said.

BY EVERSON MUSHAVA

Elio Savin Oliva said Cuba has managed to plan its economy and allocate national resources to key issues using a socialist approach to make sure that everyone benefits.

He said, unlike capitalism that has created wealthy billionaires, Cuba’s socialism introduced by retired president Fidel Castro has worked well for the Cubans who have managed to survive for more than half a century without United States aid.

“Cuba has a planned economy. It is not a market-driven economy. The government plans and allocates resources. We get loans from friendly countries but we don’t have access to financial support from monetary institutions,” Oliva told journalists a fortnight ago.

“It is the unity of the people and confidence in the leadership that has taken us to where we are. Socialism has been working well for us, and we are in a process of improving it.”

Zimbabwe, like Cuba, has been under US sanctions for over a decade due to “a deteriorating human rights record’ under President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

The west says there are no sanctions on Zimbabwe but restrictive measures on President Mugabe and his close associates.

Unlike Cuba, Zimbabwe has vast mineral resources which observers say in the absence of corruption could have helped the cash-strapped southern African country out of its economic quagmire.

Oliva said the island of 11 million people, now under the leadership of Fidel’s young brother Raul, had survived through tourism, exporting of skills and nickel exports.

“We don’t have millionaires in Cuba. We have managed to control corruption. We have managed to raise money through exporting skills generated through a vibrant educational system.
The ambassador said education, from Grade One to doctorate level, was free while health was a human rights issue.

“You can imagine the burden on government. Government should see to it that every pupil has a desk, books, teachers and so on. Through this, we have produced excess labour which we export to other countries. We offer scholarships to many people across the globe to learn in Cuba for free. The literacy rate in Cuba is 100%. We have helped other countries like Bolivia and Nigeria to improve in their literacy,” Oliva said.

Cuba today has the highest doctor-to-patient ratio of one doctor to 137 patients, according to Oliva.

“Every part of the country is accessed by doctors. Cuba has the lowest child mortality rate. The life expectancy is 70 years for men and 81 years for women. Even the death of a child is a State problem because a child will be looked after while it is still a pregnancy.

“We have doctors in more than 70 countries across the world. We have 11 000 doctors in Brazil alone and many more in other countries. The countries will pay for the doctors,” he said.

Cuba has many doctors in Zimbabwe but Oliva said they were only helping a friend for free since the Zimbabwe government cannot afford to pay them.

He said Zimbabwe could also learn a lot from the former Spanish colony in the areas of science and research, agriculture and tourism.

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