Cuba in brief / FRFI 181 Oct / Nov 2004

Education

Cuba’s new school year started on 6 September, after important changes to the educational system. Cuba is launching a high school model with classes of no more than 15 pupils, each with a multi-disciplined teacher. In elementary classes the focus has been on maintaining one teacher to no more than 20 pupils. There will be 350,000 students enrolling this year in higher education centres – 40,000 more than ever before.

Efforts at all educational levels will target the strengthening of household-school relationships, the formation of collective social values in pupils and social discipline and behaviour.

Health

On 11 July, World Population Day, Cuba will be launching a programme prioritising medical care for ante- and post-natal mothers. Cuba continues to have one of the lowest infant mortality rates in Latin America, 6.3 per 1,000 live births. And life expectancy continues to grow: between 1995 and 1998 life expectancy grew from an average of 74.83 to 76.15 years and is expected to continue to rise. Despite Cuba being a third world country, HIV and AIDS is under control with one of the lowest infection rates of 0.1% of the population aged 15- 49 years old.

Hurricane damage

Hurricane Charley caused the collapse of 2,916 buildings and 70,000 homes in the city of Havana and Havana provinces. One person died and five people were injured. Worse casualties were prevented by high levels of organisation and commitment to the safety of the Cuban people. No one was killed by the even more devastating force of Hurricane Ivan a month later, although tobacco plantations were destroyed. Richard Boucher, acting spokesman for the US State Department, issued a statement, saying the US Interests Section in Havana would offer the Cubans a paltry $50,000, via so-called independent non-governmental Cuban organisations, to help with damage caused by the hurricane. Such organisations are little more than a front for US plots against Cuba. Vice president Carlos Lage made it clear that Cuba had its own resources to confront hurricane damage. In the first week 1,400 homes were repaired. Fidel Castro has said that whatever the damage Cuba will not accept aid from any country that wants to see the overthrow of the Revolution.
Luke Curham

FRFI 181 October / November 2004

 

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