10 Facts About Cuban Refugees
Following Fidel Castro’s disposal of the Batista regime, Cuba became known as a refugee state. Thereafter the United States began receiving the majority of Cuban refugees.

  1. There are more than 1.5 million Cuban refugees living in the United States.
  2. The Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966. The law allowed any Cuban citizen the legal right to become a U.S. permanent resident after being in the U.S. for at least two years.
  3. The first type of Cuban refugee consisted of mostly middle and upper social classes. They left Cuba in the 1950s to 1970s following the dictatorship take-over of Fidel Castro. In fear of reprisals from the Communist party, they left everything in search of political asylum.
  4. The second type of Cuban refugee consisted mostly of poor Cubans seeking economic opportunities in the 1980s.
  5. The majority of Cuban refugees fled to Florida because of the state’s close proximity. Currently, approximately 68% of Cuban refugees live in Florida.
  6. To counteract the emigration, Castro began incarcerating and executing those he perceived as opponents.
  7. Between 1960 and 1962, over 14,000 Cuban children were sent to the U.S. by their parents in what was known as Operation Peter Pan. These children were placed in foster homes and cared for by the Catholic Church in an effort to avoid indoctrination into the Communist party.
  8. In order to go to war with Cuba, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff drafted a plan to trick the American public into supporting a war against Castro. This project was code-named Operation Northwoods and included plans to sink boats filled with Cuban refugees and then blame the violence on Castro. The plan was rejected by the Kennedy administration.
  9. In 1980, frustrated with the lack of help, a group of Cubans drove a bus through the gates of the Havana Peruvian Embassy to request asylum. The Peruvian ambassador refused to return the asylum-seeking Cubans to the Cuban authorities. Eventually, these Cubans were allowed to seek asylum in the U.S.
  10. Currently, many organizations focus on giving aid to Cuban refugees and immigrants. Their mission is to search for Cuban refugee rafters in the Florida seas.

Since 2012, the Cuban government began easing its restrictive immigration policies. A visa is no longer required to leave the country. Because of this, there has been an influx of Cuban refugees entering the United States and more are expected this year.

Marcelo Guadiana

Photo: Flickr

Healthcare System in Cuba
On March 24, World TB Day, health organizations around the world united to raise public awareness for tuberculosis. Each year, successes are acknowledged and pitfalls addressed in the united goal towards the disease’s eradication.

This year, Cuba was honored as a global frontrunner, with 6.2 cases per 100,000 people per year, a record low in the developing world. The World Health Organization (WHO) plan presented the following Saturday, stating that Cuba’s low rate of incidence and high-quality preventative measures put it within reach of completely eliminating tuberculosis by 2035.

The plan, which was outlined by Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, lays out a pre-elimination phase for the next two decades. According to national health officials, a goal of zero-TB is possible for the Caribbean island if health the country focuses on vulnerable and elderly groups and addresses the speed of diagnosis.

Cuba’s success compared to its Latin American counterparts (the regional average of tuberculosis cases per year is 25 per 100,000) earmarks an impressive paradox: although infamous for being one of the region’s poorest countries, the healthcare system in Cuba has become one of the best in the world.

In her 2014 visit to Havana, Chan lauded Cuba’s exemplary healthcare as a “model for the world.” In a statement made to the Prensa Latina she noted, “Cuba is the only country that has a health care system closely linked to research and development. This is the way to go, because human health can only improve through innovation.”

With an infant mortality rate (IMR) of 4.63 in 2015—lower than the U.S. rate of 5.87—and an average life expectancy of 78 years, according to the World Factbook, it is no surprise that Cuban medical professionals are highly sought after, both domestically and internationally.

The country has been sending health professionals out into the developing world since 1963. There are currently over 30,000 Cuban health workers on missions in over 60 countries.

In 2015, for example, the country sent volunteers across Africa in a quick response to the worsening Ebola crisis. According to Jorge Delgado Bustillo, a Cuban epidemiologist who works with healthcare workers overseas, 12,000 Cuban medical experts volunteered during the Ebola outbreak, a number significantly higher than that of any other country in the world.

Cuba’s mandatory house-call check ups have proved effective in minimizing TB outbreak, while also maintaining basic health standards, preventing obesity and increasing average life expectancy.

Although one of the world’s poorest countries, the success of the healthcare system in Cuba demonstrates the effectiveness of prevention and personalized treatment, even while lacking ample resources and upgraded technology. Its accomplishments in the near eradication of one of the world’s deadliest diseases confirm its place as “healthcare model of the world.”

Nora Harless

Poor in CubaIn the Post-World War II era, policies in the Global South have focused on improving the diet of impoverished populations, including the poor in Cuba, specifically on increasing animal protein consumption.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are 852 million undernourished people in the world, of whom approximately 815 million reside in developing countries.

“Rampant hunger and malnutrition impair the economic performance of individuals, households, and entire nations, and can lead to political instability and civil strife,” said Carmen G. Gonzalez, a professor at the University of Seattle.

Likewise, the health systems of the majority of countries, whether rich or poor, are inefficient and fragmented, preventing marginalized communities’ access to crucial health systems.

Nonetheless, in Cuba, these policies have reduced hunger in recent years, and the number of undernourished people is significantly diminishing.

“Cuba represents an important alternative example where modest infrastructure investments combined with a well-developed public health strategy have generated health status measures comparable with those of industrialized countries,” suggested the International Epidemiological Association.

After the 1959 Revolution in Cuba, the government led efforts to improve the diet and the health of impoverished citizens. One form of these efforts was an increase in animal protein production and consumption.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “there has been an increasing pressure on the livestock sector to meet the growing demand for high-value animal protein. The world’s livestock sector is growing at an unprecedented rate and the driving force behind this enormous surge is a combination of population growth, rising incomes and urbanization.”

Urbanization stimulates improvements in social and political spheres and there is still a gap between rural and urban nutrition. “Compared with the less diversified diets of the rural communities, city dwellers have a varied diet rich in animal proteins and fats, and characterized by higher consumption of meat, poultry, milk and other dairy products,” said WHO.

As diets become richer and more diverse, the protein derived from the livestock sector could improve the nutrition of the poor in Cuba. But through a developed health system, the Cuban government has not only successfully reduced malnutrition but also developed an advanced socio-economic strategy uniquely designed for developing nations.

Isabella Rolz

Sources: World Health Organization , International Epidemiological Association , FAO
Photo: Flickr

Obama Visit to CubaPresident Obama’s visit to Cuba this month will mark the first visit to the Caribbean island by a sitting American president in 88 years.

The trip is part of a series of efforts by Cuba and the U.S., begun in December 2014, to ease restrictions and pave the way for greater cultural and economic exchange.

After announcing his plans, President Obama drew criticism from some American politicians who believe that his administration’s Cuba policy is not sufficiently punitive, according to the New York Times. Others, however, have applauded the president, arguing his diplomacy could spur a period of progress with regard to human rights improvements and poverty alleviation.

Though Cuba’s communist government has long been censured by the international community for human rights violations, the country has made some notable achievements in the past half-century.

According to the Guardian, Cuba has had 100 percent literacy for a long time, and “its health statistics are the envy of many far richer countries.”

Devex, a media platform for the global development community, has also applauded Cuba for its success in lifting many of its poorer citizens out of poverty.

The island’s state-run economy, however, does not seem capable of solving all its problems, according to Devex. Inequality runs rampant despite decades of socialist programming.

This disparity of wealth, along with a growing older population, closed markets and limited availability of advanced technologies and quality food for farmers and other low-income people has begun to overwhelm Cuba’s social protection programs.

Some see Obama’s visit to Cuba as an opportunity to influence President Raul Castro to make necessary changes in addressing these problems.

The New York Times Editorial Board has called on the president to push Castro to “set the stage for a political transition in which all Cubans are given a voice and a vote” as a pretext for liberalizing the economy and respecting human rights.

The editorial adds that the U.S.’s failed efforts to bring about regime change have only hurt Cuba and that more peaceful gestures geared toward self-determination would be more helpful.

Specifically, Obama could negotiate the lifting of trade embargoes as a way of easing the burden on Cuba to supply its citizens with adequate food and other resources.

The United Nations already has a development action framework for the island, which focuses on food security, energy, social services, climate change and disaster response, according to Devex.

These efforts, along with those of big players in the development community, like the World Food Program, would be significantly bolstered by the normalizing of relations between Cuba and the U.S., since freer trade would make the island less dependent on essential goods from more distant nations.

The exact program of President Obama’s visit to Cuba is still open to speculation but the topics most likely to be discussed are trade and tourism. Opening up relations with regard to these areas could be mutually beneficial to both nations.

Joe D’Amore

Sources: BNA, Devex, NY Times 1, NY Times 2, The Guardian

Struggles Of The Cuban Youth In The Face Of Political Change- BORGEN
Although it is banner global news that the U.S. embassy has reopened in Cuba after 50 years of nonexistent relations, young Cubans are less than thrilled about the development. A reestablishment of an American-Cuban relationship may change the political/economic environment for some higher-ups, but it is unlikely to change anything for a young generation in Cuba that faces daily turmoil.

Despite much buzz surrounding the shift that is underway in the country, a sense of cynicism remains among the Cuban youth who believe that the ideals of Fidel Castro’s revolution are dated and irrelevant in the modern age. Hope of prosperity is shrouded by the belief that the Cuban government will not possibly allow young lives to change.

“Change? My life won’t change,” said 17-year-old Yunior Rodriguez Soto, gesturing to the dilapidated basketball court that surrounded him as evidence. “[The government] won’t let it happen […] That’s just how they are.”

The youth are open to political freedom and socioeconomic reform, but due to the Cuban government’s desire to maintain control and reach the highest possible level of national economic success, it is unlikely that changes will trickle down to their level.

Efforts of the government to balance economic growth with state control are causing private sector development to be difficult. Thus, the overgrown public sector is failing to persuade young people to stay in Cuba and start families. They have no guarantee that if they work hard they can support themselves and their children.

Government prices make buying products difficult for small business owners, and Cubans are often forced to turn to the black market in order to get the supplies they need at affordable prices. This black market activity does little to bolster the national economy.

While many developing nations see large youth populations, Cuba faces a serious demographic problem in their lack of young people. Approximately 20 percent of the Cuban population is over 60, making it the oldest Latin American nation, on average. Like Japan and the nations of Northern Europe, Cuba is a society struggling to support their older citizens without a thriving youth population on the economic rise.

There is evidence of a growing Cuban economy–new bars, clubs, and restaurants opening daily in Havana. But the lives of many Cubans have barely improved. The citizens opening these establishments were better off to begin with than many living on the streets. As one young Cuban remarked “the only way to see change is to make a boat and sail off.”

Cuban citizens want the change in their country to be immediate and to live up to the hype, but officials continue to insist that steps toward change will be gradual and take a while to pay off.

Cuba faces a conundrum–it is the youth that they most need to be involved in order for the country to prosper, but it is the youth who are least optimistic that the nation can change. The young people of Cuba, like those in other countries, on the whole are not overly interested in politics. Without some inspiration, it is unclear when the Cuban economy will see any significant change for its impoverished youth.

Katie Pickle

Sources: New York Times, BBC
Photo: Flickr

US and Cuban Relations: A New Future for Cuba
After 54 years of severed diplomatic ties, the United States and Cuba, once bitter Cold War enemies, demonstrated their newfound diplomacy by reopening each other’s embassies this past Monday.

It is the most concrete example of the diplomatic thaw since President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced last December that U.S.-Cuba relations would be restored.

In an interview with MSNBC, President Obama said he believed that Proclamation 3447, the embargo signed by President Kennedy in 1962, has served neither people well and that it was time to go in a new direction.

Although Congress has to pass legislation to formally end the embargo — something that will be very challenging to do — Obama is using his executive power to ease travel and trade restrictions.

For the first time in half a century, the United States is able to transparently see the type of living conditions Cubans have been in for the past 50 years.

There is poverty in Cuba, but it’s not traditional poverty. When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, the government became Socialist and then reformed to become the Communist Party of Cuba. During this time, all aspects of Cuban society became nationalized. For the past 50 years, Cubans have enjoyed access to a free healthcare system that has produced a very healthy populace.

Today, Cuba ranks 61st in the world for life expectancy. Its citizens live roughly to the same age as their American counterparts. This statistic is even more surprising considering that per capita GDP is almost ten times higher in the United States than in Cuba.

Economists have coined this phenomenon the ‘Cuban Health Paradox.’ Normally, countries with low per capita GDPs also have low life expectancies.

Cubans also have access to free education and the government has tried to make housing and nutrition a priority for its citizens.

Based on government numbers, Cuba ranks 48th in the world for poverty. The island nation is one of the least impoverished countries in the developing world

Although 15 percent of the population still lives in extreme poverty, most of the country is poor. Reports of living conditions are less than ideal. The Cuban peso, which hasn’t been convertible since the revolution, has suffered from inflation. In U.S. dollars, the average Cuban worker earns $17 to $30 a month.

Cuba also scores at the bottom of Freedom House’s annual report on civil and political freedoms. Freedom House describes Cuba as ‘not free.’

Since the Castro family has been in power, Cuba has been relatively isolated. This has led to the country’s lack of overall wealth. The fall of the Soviet Union worsened matters as the country lost the financial support it used to have from Moscow.

The country has persisted; however, this has usually caused Cuba to become more self-reliant, therefore poorer.

Recently, Cuba has tried to reform its economic system to open up investment to other governments and private companies to accelerate development.

The United States re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba presents a great opportunity for this to happen. The United States can expand trade markets to one of its closest neighbors, while the influx of capital will raise living standards in Cuba.

Kevin Meyers

Sources: Procon, Geoba, MSNBC, New York Times, Poverties, Reuters, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: USA Today


With education and preventative measures, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and syphilis can be stopped. For unborn children, however, a voice is not heard and a choice cannot be made. Cuba has eradicated the transmission of these diseases from mother-to-child.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has validated Cuban success in eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, making it the first country in the world to do so, and, according to WHO’s director-general Margaret Chan, one of the greatest public health achievements possible.

HIV/AIDS is a disease that affects the human immune system. AIDS is the final stage of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause damage to the infected person’s internal organs. Both conditions without treatment are deadly and have a high likelihood of transmission from the mother-to-child during birth.

It is estimated that every year globally, 1.4 million women infected with HIV give birth to children. If left untreated, the rate of disease transmission from mother-to-child during birth is 15-45%, resulting in thousands of children born only to have their lives cut short by a debilitating virus that with proper care could be prevented.

The diseases are transmitted during pregnancy through labor, delivery or breast feeding, but can be greatly reduced with the administration of antiretroviral medicines to both mothers and children throughout the stages when infection can occur. In fact, the transmission rate plummets to just over 1%. Since 2009, rates of transmission have been cut nearly in half, dropping from 400,000 cases to 240,000 cases in 2013, still well over the global target of just 40,000 by 2015.

Worldwide, nearly a million pregnant women live with syphilis, which can cause a spectrum of dangers for the mother and child including early fetal loss and stillbirth, neonatal death, low birth weight infants and serious neonatal infections. By early screening and treatment with medications such as penicillin, most complications can be wiped out.

As a part of an initiative, Cuba has worked tirelessly with the WHO, ensuring widespread HIV and syphilis testing for both pregnant women and their partners, early access to preventative and prenatal health care, Cesarean deliveries and breastfeeding substitutions, successfully curbing the disease transmission rate. In 2013, only two babies were born with HIV in Cuba, and only three babies were born with congenital syphilis.

The services are a part of an accessible and universal health care program in Cuba, and according to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, “Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.”

The WHO’s validation process is outlined in its 2014 publication Guidance on global processes and criteria for validation of elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. In Cuba, the process consisted of an international cooperative mission in March 2015 involving experts from Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Japan, Nicaragua, Suriname, the United States and Zambia.

Cuba should serve as a model to the rest of the world, demonstrating the potential of accessible healthcare and the power of humanitarian efforts. As the rest of the globe tries to catch up, Cuba, a small speck of an island off the coast of one of the greatest policy-leading countries on the planet, can enjoy the results of their hard work and HIV-free children for years to come.

Jason Zimmerman

Sources: The Health Site, WHO 1, WHO 2
Photo: YouTube

For all its charms, Cuba is not known for being on the cutting edge. Many residents are eagerly awaiting upgrades to the island nation’s information technology as the United States eases its embargo. Having the latest technology in Cuba will bring many benefits to its citizens.

Cuba has a certain retro vibe and Havana is often associated with its many antique automobiles. Brightly colored and bearing the names of Ford, Chevrolet or Plymouth, the creaky American cars are a ubiquitous (if unlikely) symbol of the socialist nation.

The decades-old cars require constant maintenance and spare parts to stay running. They are a source of pride—icons of resourcefulness during tough economic times.

When socialist rule was established, the Cuban government began to tightly control all aspects of the economy. One new regulation was to prevent the sale or purchase of cars that were not in use before 1959.

The U.S. embargo on Cuba worsened economic conditions further. Restrictions on trade hampered growth and isolated the island. The measures were initially adopted following the Cuban Revolution and then made stricter following the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But it is not just automobiles that are caught in a time warp. Cuba also has one of the lowest rates of Internet connectivity in the world, largely due to cost, censorship and sanctions. According to the Brookings Institution, less than five percent of Cubans have access to the Internet.

This has led Cuban youth to find innovative ways of staying connected.

In January, the Associated Press reported at least 9,000 Cubans are connected to a clandestine network known as “SNet.” The network was created by stringing Ethernet cables over rooftops and by connecting personal computers to WiFi antennas. Users connect directly without going through government servers.

They are also trading terabytes of data in the form of the latest movies, TV shows and apps by physically handing around hard drives, according to a report by The Guardian.

As of this week, however, Cubans might have an easier time of things.

The country has announced the opening of 35 new WiFi locations. It is also cutting the cost of access significantly, from four dollars and fifty cents to two dollars an hour. The change is likely due to increasing demand as well as improved relations with the United States.

In an interview with Reuters, American University professor William LeoGrande believed the Cuban government “has decided that broad Internet access is essential to a 21st century economy.”

There is plenty of research to back up that assessment. Last year, Boston Consulting Group found easy Internet access to have a “dramatic” effect on the growth of a national economy. In a similar study by McKinsey and Company, Internet access was found to be a key aspect of a modernized economy.

That’s good news for Cubans, especially those forced to browse in secret.

– Kevin McLaughlin

Sources: Boston Consulting Group, Brookings, CNN, The Independent, McKinsey and Company, Reuters
Photo: Reuters

For the first time in half a century, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. are being restored. Ferry operators in Florida are quickly receiving the approved licenses to begin offering transit to and from Havana. It is estimated that as early as this coming fall, the once popular U.S. travel destination will no longer be off limits for tourists after more than half a century.

During this time, hundreds of thousands of Cubans have attempted to brave the 90-mile ocean journey between Cuba and Florida. In lieu of proper aquatic vessels, many of these migration attempts have been made on makeshift rafts and old converted cars.

Since the renewing diplomatic discussions, there has once again been a recent surge of Cubans attempting to make the voyage to the U.S. This past year alone, the U.S. Coast Guard detained almost 4,000 Cubans in the waters off the coast of Florida. In fact, during the past two years, the number of Cubans attempting the journey has doubled.

In 1965, Fidel Castro opened the port of Camarioca, which allowed almost 3,000 Cubans to flee, before he suddenly announced its closure and revisited restrictions. Once more in 1980, Castro opened the port of Mariel, and a mass exodus of over 125,000 Cubans took their chances in the open water.

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, a severe economic downfall in Cuba happened. This resulted in hundreds of thousands fleeing the country and making the perilous sea journey. This influx of immigrants and detainees caused President Clinton to amend the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) in 1994.

The revisions effectively limited asylum to refugees who were not intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard. Refugees who made it to dry land were allowed to stay; all others were detained and sent back to Cuba. This distinction became known as the “wet foot-dry foot” policy.

In 2013, Cuba altered its own travel policy, allowing Cubans to travel and work abroad for up to two years without losing their citizenship. While this policy provided leeway, it did not provide transportation due to the travel ban, and Cubans were also subject to the “wet foot-dry foot” policy in the U.S.

For a long time, hopeful refugees had been left with few options: brave the seas themselves in homemade water crafts or rely upon human smuggling networks who charge upwards of US$10,000. Since Cuba’s annual GDP is approximately US$6,000, the former option proved to be the most common. Cubans had to wait for months to save enough money to buy parts and to build their own makeshift water crafts.

Like migrants from many poor countries, Cubans have been fleeing their country in efforts to find economic opportunities and escape Communist oppression. Many also have been seeking to provide for their families who still reside in Cuba. These severe risks that come with the journey combined with the adverse conditions clearly state the desperation of Cuban citizens. These ferry services offered are symbolic of the new era of cooperation and could signal the end to a tragic side effect of the 50-year standoff.

Renewed relations between the two nations will provide Americans a chance to visit Cuba, but, more importantly, desperate Cubans will have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. One-way tickets will be starting at around US$150. The combination of the relatively inexpensive ticket price coupled with Cuba’s reformed travel policy provides desperate Cubans better chances of economic opportunity.

– The Borgen Project

Sources: Daily Signal, BBC, Miami Herald, The New York Times
Photo: Tampa Bay Times

poverty in CubaThe largest island of the West Indies, Cuba, has often been scrutinized for its turbulent political history. A variety of factors have come into play to make the island nation one of the poorest countries in the world, with a significant portion of the population living in poverty. Such a statistic goes hand-in-hand with Cuba’s unfortunate reputation of struggling to provide housing, healthcare and other necessities. Here are the top five facts about how many people are adapting to living in poverty in Cuba.

1. Agriculture and Climate: Much of Cuba’s economy has heavily depended on the farming of specific crops such as sugarcane, one of the main export products used in trade. In addition, a significant portion of industrial work goes into processing much of these crops for commercial use, such as turning sugarcane into sugar crystals. In total, agriculture and industrial production of these goods make up nearly 30% of Cuba’s GDP. Unfortunately, this dependence on agriculture imposes limitations on Cuba’s ability to make great advances in infrastructure and maintain economic stability. The situation is only made worse due to the tropical climate and prevalence of hurricanes during the rainy season, which can cause widespread damage, suffering and loss of life. When Hurricane Irma struck in 2017, the cost of damages reached well over 13.6 billion pesos (more than $628 million). Over 7,400 acres of plantation farmland were destroyed, causing a brief food shortage and exacerbating poverty in Cuba.

2. The United States Embargo: After the rise of Fidel Castro in 1961, the United States placed an embargo that suddenly deprived Cuban exporters of a significant majority of their exports. Since that point, the embargo continues to restrict trade and access to American products. As a consequence, many people experience a lack of daily necessities from electronics to food. The embargo even includes sanctions against other nations trading with Cuba. The economic restrictions imposed by the embargo have disastrous consequences for those living in poverty in Cuba as they lack daily resources. As of now, there doesn’t seem to be any immediate action towards removing the embargo, but an increase in tourism (especially from Americans) can provide the first step in easing relations between the two countries.

3. Jobs and Employment: Cuba has a very low unemployment rate compared to other nations of similar economic standing, resting at 1.7%. However, a significant portion of working families in Cuba are at risk of income poverty, with an individual having a 41.7% chance of having income problems. These people work in jobs for an average salary lower than that of the national average. Given that the typical family consists of about three people, this results in nearly four million individuals who live in households at risk of income poverty. Moreover, the workforce of Cuba is further destabilized due to the rampant rise of an aging population. Over 20% of the Cuban population is above the age of 60, which also means that fertility rates are low due to these demographic imbalances. So for the average family living in poverty in Cuba, finding work can be difficult. On the bright side, charities like the Caribbean Movement Trust can aid such families in becoming more self-sufficient and maintaining a steady income through education, training and healthcare projects.

4. Housing and Energy: The Cuban government closely oversees transactions and logistics involving real estate and homeownership. It is incredibly difficult to change one’s place of residence as the government imposed a system of enforced home exchanges where homeownership is typically seen as collective ownership, which is controlled by the state. The situation is worse for those living in poverty in Cuba, as they cannot afford constant change and are often living without clean water, gas and electricity. However, international charities such as the Nextenergy Foundation are working toward providing renewable energy to contribute to poverty alleviation in many countries, including Cuba.

5. Healthcare and Education: Despite the many difficulties in their lives, Cubans are able to enjoy free health care and education at all levels. The government controls the distribution of goods such as foodstuffs and medications and has mandated that physical education and sports be integrated into Cuban education in order to promote healthy living. Even for those who live in poverty in Cuba, primary education for children between ages six and 11 is compulsory. As a result, a significant majority of the Cuban population is literate. In addition, women are guaranteed equal educational opportunities and account for more than half of all university graduates.

Cuba’s environment, trade restrictions and general lack of everyday necessities place many of its citizens in poverty. Thankfully, many organizations are working to spread awareness and to donate money and resources to those living in Cuba. Over time and through the efforts of many people, it is possible to speed up the process of development to help this country in need of aid.

Aditya Daita
Photo: Pixabay