Cuba is celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Revolution, which has implemented major domestic transformations since January 1, 1959, but it has also placed the small Caribbean country in the world’s vanguard.
Few might imagine then that the deed led by Fidel Castro would become a reference for millions of people all over the world.
A beacon of freedom, it was one of the expressions that accompanied the Caribbean nation, which brought hopes to other peoples while facing constant hostility from the United States, the world’s major power.
Radical agrarian and urban reforms, the nationalization of companies and vital economic sector, the literacy campaign, the universalization of education, among other measures, have raised support outside the country.
People have multiplied that support, despite Washington’s efforts to isolate Cuba, which was expelled from the Organization of American States (OAS), which is considered here the U.S. ministry of colonies. The mercenary invasion of Bay of Pigs, pirate attacks, the support for counterrevolutionary groups, attacks and other forms of aggression and a permanent satanizing campaign added condiments to the soup of solidarity.
Cuba, which took measures to defend itself, was the core of east-west confrontation during the so-called missile crisis.
On that occasion, Cuban leader Fidel Castro established the guidelines of principles against the accords negotiated between Washington and Moscow to end the crisis.
Havana became a meeting place for pro-independence fighters, vanguard intellectuals and other prominent figures who anticipated a new era in Latin America and the world.
The Habana Libre Hotel (formerly Habana Hilton) hosted the 1st Conference on Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, known as Tricontinental, at which Amilcar Cabral, Augusto Turcios Lima and other anti-colonialist fighters and revolutionaries made a commitment to struggle and change.
After that meeting, Cuban fighters joined the liberating deed in Africa, in the so-called Belgian Congo and Guinea Bissau, among other countries under colonial rule.
Years later, the Cuban troops were instrumental to preserve Angola’s independence, free Namibia and overthrow South Africa’s apartheid.
Cuban medical experts assisted other peoples in times of need, including Nicaragua, Peru, Chile, Armenia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Haiti, which were strongly shaken by earthquakes.
Operation Miracle was launched from Havana to restore sight to visually-impaired people in 34 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
Faithful to its humanitarian and internationalist vocation, Cuba established the International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics, who have so far treated more than three million victims and have performed more than 33,800 surgeries.
Cuba has also trained thousands of medical professionals from the Third World, many of whom are holding major posts in their governments.
From 2005 to 2011, 9,960 physicians from 58 countries graduated in Cuba, where more than 21,122 students are majoring in medical specialties.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized Cuba as the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to eradicate illiteracy.
Cuban teachers have also fought illiteracy in Angola, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and many other countries, using the method “Yo Sí Puedo” (Yes, I Can) in 29 countries and in several languages.
Although it is a small Caribbean country, the Republic of Cuba has developed an active international policy, both in the United Nations and other world and regional forums and organizations. Cuban diplomacy has defended other people’s sovereignty and self-determination and has fought imperialism, colonialism, apartheid, Zionism and other forms of oppression and discrimination. Its amplified voice was heard to denounce wars and invasions in the Third World.
Over the past 55 years, Cuba has represented Latin America twice at the UN Security Council. It has also carried out intense work at the former Human Rights Commission and has been elected on two occasions to join the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
For 22 consecutive years, the UN General Assembly has approved the Cuban resolution “Necessity to End the Economic, Financial and Commercial Blockade of the United States of America against Cuba”.
The latest voting, on November 29, 2013, resulted in 188 votes in favor, two against (the United States and Israel) and three abstentions (Palau, Micronesia and Marshall Islands).
On two occasions (1979-1982 and 2006-2009), Cuba chaired the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), made up of 144 Third World countries. Havana hosted two NAM summits and the 9th Ibero-American Summit in November 1999.
Cuba is a founding member of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), where it has boosted new forms of integration and relations among countries.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has a special relation with Cuba, which has just celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties, based on common geography, history, culture and contributions to training professionals, as well as other forms of collaboration among the Caribbean islands.
It is not by chance that Cuba holds the pro tempore presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). (PL)
In the first semester of 2014, Havana will host the summit of heads of State and Government from all 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
It will be another landmark in the international vocation of this small Caribbean country, whose national hero, Jose Marti, wrote in the 19th century that all the greatness of the world fits in a kernel of corn.