Cuba’s Chargè d’Affaires, Yordenis Despaigne Vera, says despite U.S. imposed sanctions that are crippling the economic and infrastructural development of his country, Cuba continues to make tremendous strides in development.
Speaking at the 58th anniversary celebration of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution last Friday, Chargè d’Affaires Vera said although his country is faced with economic constraints, his government and people have set a good record in human development.
He said Cubans enjoy free and high quality healthcare and education systems, with illiteracy rate as low as 0.2 percent.
According to him, there is a doctor for every 127 inhabitants in Cuba, which shows there are sufficient trained medical doctors in that country.
“In 2015, the unemployment rate was 2.4 percent, which is considered as ‘full employment’ by the International Labor Organization, he added.
“More than 94 percent of Cubans enjoy safe drinking water while 99.5 percent have electricity in their homes. Child labor is not in Cuba, and our country is of the lowest prevalence of low birthrate in Latin America and the Caribbean, with life expectancy of 78 years for men and 80 for women,” said the Cuban diplomat.
He said regardless of attempts to isolate his country, Cuba has diplomatic relations with 192 nations, with 126 embassies, 21 general consulates and 3 diplomatic offices around the world. Additionally, he noted that Cuba hosts 186 diplomatic and consular missions, as well as seven international organizations accredited near Havana.
Countering views of poor human rights record, the Chargè d’Affaires said Cuba enjoys international recognition and prestige for supporting just causes and fights against injustices around the world.
“International organizations have recognized Cuba’s achievements, its humble contribution to the development of other nations and its respect for and defense of human rights. An example of this was the latest reelection of Cuba as a member of the Human Rights Council with 160 votes for the period 2017-2019,” he added.
He further acknowledged that over the last 50 years Cuban health professionals have worked in 158 countries and more than 51,500 foreign students have studied for free in Cuba, among them 30,000 graduates of medicine.
He also stated that 68,000 Cuban professionals are presently working in 89 countries around the world, with 6,000 in 33 African countries.
In the Latino-American School of Medicine founded in 1999 by former leader Fidel Castro, Vera said there are currently 19,500 students from 110 countries studying there, among them Liberians.
Cuba has existed under United States imposed economic blockade for more than 50 years. It began in the 1960s when the late Cuban Revolutionary Leader, Fidel Castro Ruz subscribed to Communism and aligned the country with Russia and other communist countries.
The blockade, according to Chargè d’Affaires Vera, continues to be the main obstacle confronting the development of the Cuban economy.
On the observance of the 58th year of the Cuban Revolution, he said: “I take this occasion to say thanks on behalf of my government and people to all governments, parties, parliaments and social organizations around the world that have supported Cuba in its longstanding battle for the lifting of the blockade.”
After being closed in Monrovia, the Cuban Embassy was reopened on December 9 last year, an act which followed Cuba’s assistance to Liberia in 2014 when it dispatched 53 health professionals during the Ebola outbreak.
In his acknowledgement, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Elias Shoniyin said the Liberian government and people were grateful to the government and people of Cuba for mutually respecting and consolidating the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Minister Shoniyin made specific reference to Cuba’s role during the Ebola crisis and pledged the government’s support to consolidating the ties between them.
One way of meeting Cuba’s interest, according to the Minister, is to push for it at the United Nations.
He said the Liberian government is working to meet conditions set by the Cuban government to attract their doctors to train Liberian doctors.