What Many Developing Countries Can Learn and Should Learn From Cuba

cuba flag

There are some aspects of the experiences of Cuba in recent times from which many developing countries in particular can learn valuable lessons without necessarily accepting some other aspects.

The persistence of imperialism , its injustices and even cruelties has been very much a reality of the world which emerged following the end of more formal and obvious forms of colonial rule. Despite the great courage of their freedom struggles, many developing countries have been driven towards adopting a compromising and ultimately submissive and collaborating attitude towards imperialism, to a significant extent because of the seldom openly mentioned but nevertheless dominant belief that confrontation with imperialism will prove too costly.

This belief is not altogether unfounded. The experiences of Allende in Chile and Lumumba in Congo reveal how the endeavors of truly great patriots who were willing to confront imperialism were ended in a most cruel way by forces of imperialism by killing them and toppling their governments and replacing them with highly unjust and cruel regimes. These are only the better known examples, there are many , many others.

On the other hand, Cuba provides a very important example of a very small country, that too also located very close to the hub of imperialism, which could oppose imperialism in very brave ways yet could survive to bring a better life to its people, certainly better than what existed before the success of the communist revolution there under Castro , as well as registering some other important achievements.
May be to some extent good luck also played some role in this, as attempts to seriously harm or perhaps even kill Castro were almost certainly made. However the more important role is of the great solidarity that the majority of Cubans created among themselves and their determination to struggle against heavy odds to achieve their goals.

Some people would like to say that Cuba could survive the early difficult days because of its close links to the Soviet Union. May be, but the great courage and the creativity of the Cuban people and leadership really blossomed even more after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting loss of strategic, trade and economic support. It was in these difficult days that Cuba even faced the prospects of serious food shortages and widespread hunger.

However it is in these difficult conditions that they started building an alternative system which could be largely self-reliant. This food system was created on the basis of agro-ecology approach, or sustainable farming based on protection of environment. Another important aspect of the new system was to make very creative use of urban spaces also to grow food . These efforts have been widely cited as an exemplary way of coming out of food shortages and creating an alternative sustainable system of food and farming.

The third important learning experience from Cuba relates to the health and medical care system that Cuba has created which has not only contributed greatly to better protective health in the country but in addition has also contributed much to providing essential health services in many other developing countries , particularly in more difficult situations of disasters and conflicts.

This is almost a unique example of a small country with low resources contributing so much to improving the health conditions of so many countries.

These contributions of Cuba in terms of great courage in resisting imperialism , creating a system of agro-ecology and safe, healthy food and creating a system of health care which could protect the health of its own people as well as the health of a larger number of people in other countries are the three great achievements of Cuba from which the world and in particular many developing countries can learn much.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include Man Over Machine ( Gandhian ideas for our times) and Planet in Peril.




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