Monday, April 3, 2023



Canadian Cuban Friendship Association (CCFA) Niagara

Statement On


In 1959 Fidel Castro led a successful revolution that changed the face of Cuba and resonated around the world. Prior to the revolution Cuba was a largely backward, uneducated, racialized country, with a US puppet dictator and U.S. corporations in the form of Chiquita Banana, Imperial Oil and Bacardi Rum pretty much running the show. A sizeable segment of the economy was Mafia controlled gambling and prostitution. 

Today, the Mafia casinos and brothels are gone, and the Cuban economy is largely owned by Cubans serving Cubans. Now, Cuba is recognized by the UN as a world leader in health care delivery, in education and literacy, in racial harmony and eliminating poverty. The UN’s World Health Organization declared “Cuba’s health care system is an example for all countries of the world. And according to the United Nations’ 2016 Human Development Report, “Cuba is one of just a handful of countries that has managed to improve the health and well-being of its citizens while developing sustainably.” Cubans have a life expectancy greater than the US. No Cuban is without a doctor.

In stark contrast to its neighbours to the north, revolutionary Cuba does not have a drug abuse problem or high crime rates. Violent crime is virtually non-existent. The police look like police and not like military combatants. Tourists travel safely throughout Cuba. Canadians visiting Cuba know of the friendly nature of the Cuban people. They recognize that Cuba flourishes with arts and culture that are a direct product of the revolution. Their historical and artistic culture are a charm of this island nation.

Cuba’s historical solidarity with anti-imperialist, anti-racist struggles is admired and appreciated throughout much of the world. Today Cuba demonstrates international solidarity via their medical brigades providing medical services, wherever needed in times of crisis and by training doctors from poor areas around the world free of charge in Cuba. Their internationalism and social conscience is also displayed by providing Cuban developed COVID vaccines free of charge or at cost to poorer countries.

Cuba is socially rich but materially poor and while many are poor, they are not desperate. But life is not easy for many in today’s Cuba. Wages are low and while most costs such as housing, taxation, transportation, and utilities are relatively cheap and the government provides stipends of food rations, it is not enough. For many, life is a struggle, and the only grace is that it is a shared struggle, as the people support each other.

The illegal US embargo/blockade of Cuba is vicious and keeps the people poor. The World through the UN General Assembly has repeatedly made ignored calls for the US to drop its financial sanctions and trade embargo against Cuba. The US should give up on its failed 60+ year effort to destroy the Cuban economy and have the people rise up against their government. The embargo/blockade is illegal, and it is immoral. I believe it can be shown that without the US blockade, the Cuban people would have a material lifestyle not unlike our own. In a recent speech, President Díaz-Canel said, “if they want to make a gesture towards Cuba, if they really are concerned about the people, if they want to solve Cuba’s problem: lift the blockade and let’s see how we do.”

To better understand the full impact of the U.S. sanctions against Cuba imagine what life would be like in Canada if we could not undertake financial transactions with other countries. If countries and corporations that traded with Canada would be punished and not allowed to trade with the U.S. Imagine if Canada had developed a COVID vaccine, as Cuba has, but could not acquire syringes required to inoculate the population because of the U.S. embargo/blockade. This is the state of subjugation that Cuba has faced continuously for 60 years because it refuses to surrender its revolution and adopt American style neo-liberal capitalism. It is a state of affairs whereby arguably the most disliked country in the world is attempting to destroy the most liked country in the world.

It’s true that, in the current circumstances, many young Cubans are leaving their country. Not all of them oppose their government. Many are young and want to see the bigger world. Others seek opportunities for a materially better life. They know that their freely provided Cuban education system prepared them for opportunities of material success outside of Cuba. An education that poor Americans cannot afford.

Presently there is a dissident group of Cubans in Canada called “SOS Cuba” or “Cuba Decide” that seeks to destroy the Cuban revolution with claims that Cubans live in a dictatorship. They call for a multi-party system like in the United States and Canada. This well-connected US funded group is telling Canadians not to visit Cuba cutting a revenue stream that provides many services to the Cuban people. Canadians would be justifiably angered if any of our people or media supported a foreign government in attempting to overthrow our government.

Cuba is a democracy. It’s not our form of democracy but there is no god given reason why all countries must emulate us. Cuba has a one-party system presided over by the Cuban Communist party and that is their choice to support or not support as they do every five years by going to the polls and voting in far bigger numbers than here in Canada. This is reflected in voting turnouts above 70%. The Cuban government, within their limited means, has delivered social programs and services unseen in other developing and developed countries.

Cuba has both a representative government and a participatory democracy in which elements of direct and representative democracy are combined. A Participatory Democracy is a form of government in which citizens participate individually and directly in political decisions and policies that affect their lives. Cuba’s participatory democracy was exhibited last year when after months of nationwide public consultation and many amendments the people, in a national referendum, passed the amended Family Code Section of the Cuban Constitution. Earlier examples of nationwide consultation and electoral participation were seen with the adoption of the Cuban Constitution and Cuba’s New Economic Measures reforms.

Today there is growing disenchantment with capitalism and the economics of despair. Its unfairness is clearly displayed with a system in which 10% own 78% of the national wealth.

For too many the system is failing. Cuba offers a lesson in a more humane alternative system based on socialist values. It should be supported, not attacked.

Canadian Cuban Friendship Association (CCFA) Niagara

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