Cuban doctors bring hope to Venezuela’s barrios

In recent months, Cuba has strengthened agreements made with the Venezuelan government, aimed at improving the living conditions of the Venezuelan working class through social projects ranging from free sports training to a massive literacy campaign. One of the most impressive contributions has been in health care, which the Chavez government aims to revolutionise by providing virtually free medical care via local clinics, with the help of thousands of Cuban specialists. Cubans are involved in similar campaigns from Honduras to Argentina; perhaps it is this solidarity that US Secretary of State Colin Powell was referring to in January when he hypocritically attacked Cuba for so-called attempts to ‘destabilise parts of the region’ and ‘create discontent’. JUANJO RIVAS reports on the Cuban internationalist mission in Venezuela.

In 1999 the Chavez government approved one of the world’s most progressive constitutions that challenges the problems of a country exhausted by poverty, foreign intervention, illiteracy, infant mortality and corruption. Fine words on paper have been backed by concrete programmes, including:

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Cuba and Haiti: socialism or poverty

FRFI 178 April / May 2004

Haiti is Cuba’s closest neighbour in the Caribbean. The two countries share a common history of sugar plantations, slavery and colonial exploitation. Both have had wars and revolutions to overthrow their colonial masters. The revolution in Haiti in 1804 against the French established the world’s first black republic. In Cuba the 19th century wars of liberation against the Spanish colonialists finally culminated in the revolution of 1959 that threw out the US imperialists and their puppets who had usurped the Spanish role. Yet the paths then taken by the two countries have been very different, as JIM CRAVEN reports.

In the late 1950s, conditions for the vast majority of both the Cuban and the Haitian people were appalling. Infant mortality in Haiti was 170 deaths per 1,000 live births and life expectancy was just 47 years. Cubans were marginally better off, with infant mortality at 60 and life expectancy 59 years. Only 3% of rural Cubans had running water; only 4% had meat to eat; health and education services were virtually non-existent.

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Cuba and Venezuela building a new movement in Latin America

FRFI 183 February / March 2005

On 14 December, Hugo Chavez, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and President Fidel Castro of Cuba signed a document to extend and modify the Integral Co-operation Agreement of 30 October 2000. Beyond the economics, this social programme sets the basis for continental action, mutual support against imperialism and cooperative trade between oppressed nations, within the framework of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). JUANJO RIVAS reports.

2005 is the deadline set by the United States for the implementation of the neo-liberal Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) – or its carbon copies on bilateral and regional levels. The FTAA aims to ‘denationalise’ the economies of Latin America, subordinating them to the dictates of foreign capital. By their example, Cuba and Venezuela have put themselves at the head of a hemispheric movement of resistance to imperialist interests, for the benefit of the poor and against the seemingly invincible might of market-based solutions.
The Integral Co-operation Agreement commits both countries to:

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