Letters — 24 June 2014 — by Frank M

Do the Cuba-trained persons among us make any difference socio-politically?

Dear Mr. Luna,

I’m writing in response to your report in the May 25th issue of the Amandala – FRIENDS OF CUBA GATHER IN BELIZE CITY. You said that in the short future an organization may be officially formed by the friends of Cuba. Interesting; I’ll wait to see.

Personally, I’m not impressed by or with the socio-political and civic involvement of the many Belizeans who have returned from study in Cuba. Their socio-political involvement fell short of my expectation. To be frank, I’m disappointed by it. I neither hear about nor see them as a group or individually promoting any socio-political ideas that could help to make ours a more fair society. Do you?

I’m not proposing that we adopt the one-party system of Cuba but there are some good things in the Cuban system that we can adopt to make ours a more fair society like Cuba’s without adopting the one-party system.

I neither see nor hear about any of them vying for political office. Do you? Instead it is the same old tired dead heads like … with the same old tired ideas vying for and staying in office. Once the Cuba-trained people come back from Cuba they settle back or integrate into the society just as they went. Socio-politically they make no difference.

Are they debriefed when they come back? The fact that Cuba offers all these scholarships and sends Cuban doctors to work in other countries including Belize despite the US embargo is laudable. That is a good thing coming out of Cuba. Do you agree? For that truly Cuba can call herself independent, unlike Belize.

Instead of seeking for ways to strengthen our independence Mr. Barrow and the UDP Government are making Belize a province or colony of Taiwan by accepting gifts from Taiwan, a renegade state of mainland China, every year in exchange for support at the U.N. This relationship with Taiwan needs to be, if not severed, critically analyzed and reviewed. Taiwan is giving gifts with strings attached.

Then there are many goods that are now produced locally like corn chips and seasoning that are still being imported; not so in Cuba. To strengthen our economy and independence no product that is now produced locally should be imported. Then the large amount of high sodium junk food imported by the Taiwanese is bad for health. The Ministry of Health needs to step up. No processed and junk food with more than 150mg of sodium (salt) per serving should be allowed to come into the country. Mr. Barrow and Mr. Santy Castillo are sleeping when it comes to that. Truly or indeed this is the pro-colonial party in government, though this relationship with Taiwan was started by the PUP.

Instead of taking action to make ours a more fair society Mr. Barrow and the UDP government have agreed to give salary adjustments to teachers and public officers but nothing to village councilors and subsistence farmers thereby making the rich richer and the poor poorer; not so in Cuba.

33 years after political independence the retirement age for teachers and public officers remains at 55. Most people get weary after 5 years of a disciplined timetable but because the colonial spirit is still with us that law stays unchanged while there are thousands of young graduates annually waiting for a job, some for years. But they can’t get any because those who have been on the job for 20, 25, 30 and some 40 years do not want to give way to younger people. Do you think that is fair? I don’t. Persons who have retired should not be rehired full time at full salary plus pension.

Retired persona can be used as advisors at schools or officers with a small stipend. As advisors they won’t have to be at the school or office every day. They could just go in 2 or 3 times a week to observe the school or office in operation and advise the principal or office supervisor. Retirement age should now be lowered to 40 like the BDF so that younger people can get a job sooner and to wean people away sooner from dependence on the government. Right now the young people have to wait for someone to retire, go to the US, or die before they can get a government job. Or teachers’ and public officers’ tenure should be limited to 4 years in the first instance then after that their contract should be renewed annually. 4 years should qualify them for pension when they reach 55. The up-to-55 in teaching and the public service colonial legacy needs to stop. There are too many graduates annually and they can’t find a job.

It would be interesting to find out from the Cuba trained people if teachers in Cuba get paid for a month for which they don’t work like the teachers here in Belize. They do not work in July but they get paid. Don’t you think that the time has come for every dollar gained to be earned or worked for? We became independent 33 years ago. If the July salary for teachers is cut that will free up enough money to give the village councilors a stipend of at least $100.00 a month and a small subvention to each village council. The work of the village councils is important too, not only the work of teachers and public officers.

Our school hours remain the same 33 years after independence. This can change. In the other Central American countries school starts at 7 o’clock or 7:30 the latest. That helps to instill the spirit of hard work in the children. The mighty U.S., Mexico and the other Central American countries observe daylight saving time every year but in Belize every year it is business as usual.

There are many other things that can be changed to make ours a more fair and more disciplined society. The Cuba trained and Taiwan trained persons (there are many of them) among us and Venezuelans should tell us some more. We accept aid from all of them, don’t we? So why can’t we adopt some of their systems? Can it be said that in practice the Cuban society and system are more Christian and disciplined than the Belize society and system? Some young people should be sent to Cuba specifically to study the Cuban system but not come back and promote the one party system. Just as how we have adopted their medical knowledge we can adopt many other things from the Cuban system without adopting the one-party system. Let the Cuba trained people among us step up with new and fresh ideas to make ours a more fair and more disciplined society but without promoting or encouraging the one-party system. Even God allows opposition – the devil. If God did not allow opposition He would have killed the devil and his followers in heaven before throwing them out.

I like what you said in the third paragraph of your report. The Cuban system has created a culture where it doesn’t matter how little they may have: it is shared among the others. That was one of the teachings that was given to the Christians. Unfortunately, the imposition of the evil-selfish neoliberal system, inventor of the New World Order, has created monsters unable to remember the message that was given to them by the greatest revolutionary of all times. Not so the Cuban communist system, whose struggle is for social justice that will not be achieved until the extermination of the philosophical beast.

Up to now after all these years since the Cuba Scholarship Program started no association of Cuba trained Belizeans has been formed. Is it because their training in Cuba does not encourage initiative? So let’s wait and see if, as you said, Friends of Cuba will be formed and what their aims and objectives will be.

If you have an email address I suggest that you put it after your compositions in the Amandala.

Frank M., Dangriga Town,
June 10, 2014,
Email –[email protected]

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