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Respect, Havana

Ignacio Ramonet: In Cuito Cuanavale the South African forces suffered a very important defeat.

Fidel Castro: Yes, very important – I’d say decisive. The overwhelming victory at Cuito Cuanavale, and especially the withering advance by the powerful front of Cuban troops in southwestern Angola, put an end to outside military aggression against that country. The enemy had to swallow its usual arrogant bullying and sit down at the negotiating table.

– pg. 330, FIDEL CASTRO: MY LIFE, Fidel Castro and Ignacio Ramonet, Scribner, New York, 2007

According to data presented to the United Nations in 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world that met the World Wide Fund for Nature’s definition of sustainable development, with an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita, 1.5 hectares, and a Human Development Index of over 0.855.


In 2010, the religious affiliation of Cuba was estimated by the Pew Forum to be 59.2 Christian (mostly Roman Catholic), 23.0 unaffiliated, 17.4 folk religion (such as Santería), and the remaining 0.4 percent consisting of other religions.


Cuba has sent 165 doctors and other medical personnel to West Africa to help fight the spread of the ebola virus, which has overpowered the medical facilities and personnel of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. This is an absolutely extraordinary gesture, because the ebola virus has proven to be so dangerous to those who attempt to comfort and heal ebola patients. Those brave Cubans who have travelled to West Africa are putting their own lives in danger, and the Cuban government may even be endangering the island population.

So extraordinary is this Cuban initiative that the leading newspaper in the United States, the superpower which has been a sworn enemy of the Cuban government for more than fifty years, The New York Times, has felt it necessary to editorialize its praise for Cuba. The United States government, which refused the offer of 1200 Cuban doctors after Hurricane Katrina smashed New Orleans in 2005, has now indicated its willingness to work along with Cuba to fight ebola, and the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, has recognized the magnificence of the Cuban gesture in West Africa.

All over the world, even in Caribbean countries with majority populations of African descent, governments have been seeking to seal their populations off from contact with Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. But Cuba, which is less than half African, has taken the ebola bull by its horns. The island’s political and economic system is categorized as communist, but the Cuban initiative to assist West Africa, and indeed the world, to fight ebola would doubtless have been praised by Jesus Christ Himself.

Cuba has been a strong ally of Belize’s since the 1960s. We cannot recall a single instance in which the Cubans have gone against Belize on any important issue. In fact, when Belizeans knew very little about Nelson Mandela and the fight against the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, Cubans were in southern Africa confronting apartheid on the military battlefield. Remember now, Guatemala was always one of apartheid’s strongest allies. Cubans, on the other hand, gave their lives to defeat apartheid.

Belizean children should have been taught of this Cuban heroism in every one of our schools. When you have a loyal friend who is great, you should honor that friend whenever and wherever you can. Cuba is Belize’s loyal friend. Cuba is great. If the United States of America, Cuba’s serious enemy, felt that they had to honor Cuba, then it is incumbent upon Belize to do the same.

As a matter of fact, at this newspaper we shake our head in amazement at the Cuban decision to send medical personnel to West Africa. Surely, this is beyond the call of duty. Such a decision was derived from Cuba’s proven, international commitment to humanity and to struggling populations. Greater love hath no man than that he give his life for his fellow man.
We have been saying to you that the nationalism of Belizeans is not as mature as that of neighbors like Mexico and Cuba. Until our nationalism in Belize can control the power of fanatic religion, we cannot adequately address the socio-economic conditions which continue to damage and destroy our people. At times we wonder which life is more important where the fanatics are concerned – our life on earth or the life after death.

When the Europeans invaded Africa and America with military force, they brought in their Christian missionaries to preach to our ancestors after they had conquered us. The missionaries opened schools to educate our people, and most of our ancestors saw the value of the conquerors’ education, and sent their children to be educated. In order to be eligible for the conquerors’ education, one had to accept the conquerors’ religion.

This is the status quo in Belize in 2014. We cannot address certain problems, we cannot consider certain proposals, because the minds of the Belizean people are dominated by the conquerors’ religion. An example of this is how the reality of Cuba is treated in our schools. The Cuban people, who have done so much for humanity, are ignored by our schools. Our Belizean children grow up without the proper knowledge of, and respect for, the Cuban people.

Those with eyes to see, should seek to see, and those with ears to hear, should seek to hear. Power to the people. Power in the struggle.

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