Cuba: Where Real Human Rights are the Foundation of Society

Statement from the National Network on Cuba (NNOC)

The whole world reacted to the death of Cuba’s historic leader Fidel Castro. For most of us there was sorrow; respect for a life well lived. The revolutionary process he unleashed created measurable improvements to the lives of many ordinary people on every continent.

But there was another reaction, too. Pres.-elect Donald Trump declared he wanted a “better deal,” demanded that Cuba release political prisoners that don’t actually exist and rolled out slanderous code words “dictator,” “tyrant.” In a little more than a month, the president-elect will lead a country where police kill Black and Latin people — men, women, children, transgender — with impunity. Yet he is quoted by the Washington Post saying that Fidel’s legacy is the denial of human rights.

With International Human Rights Day around the corner, the National Network on Cuba will not let this slander go unanswered. Without going into all 30 articles of the Declaration adopted Dec. 10, 1948, the first sentence of the preamble says that recognition of “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all member of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

As winter begins to bite in the Northern Hemisphere, over 500,000 will be sleeping on U.S. streets, under bridges, families with children will be living in cars. Not in Cuba. One mural in Cuba says, “300 million children will sleep in the street tonight, not one of them is Cuban.”

The average U.S. 2016 college graduate owes $37,172 in student loans. Not in Cuba.

In the U.S. millions are being evicted from their homes because of sky rocketing rents and mortgages. Not in Cuba

According to a Kaiser Family foundation survey, the average 2016 family insurance premium costs $18,412 per year. In 2016, 83% of workers have a deductible – an amount that they have to pay themselves for medical care before insurance covers it – with an average of $1,478. For the first time since 1999, more than half of workers must pay more than $1000 in medical costs before insurance coverage begins. Not in Cuba.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute of Literacy in an April 2016 study, 14 percent or 32 million adults can’t read in this country. Not in Cuba.

Trump openly advocates water boarding and other forms of torture. From the more than 800 U.S. military installations around the world people have been “renditioned” to torture sites. Since 2002, torture has been taking place in Cuba, BUT ONLY in the territory illegally occupied by the US military base in Guantanamo.

We assert that the Cuban Revolution is an excellent example of the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today. Cuba is a small island country, with development hampered by centuries of colonialism and slavery, and despite having to endure to this day an economic, financial and commercial blockade that has lasted for over 56 years – one designed to impose hunger and privation on its people, the island remains a bright example of humanity to the world.

The full resources of Cuba are used to develop each individual Cuban to their fullest potential. Universal health care, free education through university, the right to employment, to housing — to dignity is not only guaranteed but implemented.

Over $4 billion was wasted this year on the presidential campaign in the U.S. Just imagine for a moment what that money could have been spent on in terms of social improvements. Meanwhile the people of Cuba enjoy free and fair elections untainted by financial influence. Every Cuban is registered to vote on their 16th birthday. Every vote is counted under the honest and watchful eyes of children. In addition to representation, the Cuban people are directly consulted about the direction of their society through community, union, women’s, agricultural, youth and other organizations. Their views are heeded. Transgender individuals have been elected to represent their area.

So when we hear about Human Rights Day on Saturday, December 10, remember the fundamental human rights enjoyed in Cuba where the 1959 Revolution converted military barracks into schools. One of them is the Latin American School of Medicine where youth from underserved communities around the world — including some from the U.S. — learn to be doctors for free, then go home to serve the people.

Yes, that is real human rights.

Co-Chairs, National Network on Cuba
Alicia Jrapko
Banbose Shango
Cheryl LaBash
Greg Klave
Nalda Vigezzi