The importance of information about History of Cuba part Four

The importance of information about History of Cuba part Four

  • The importance of information about History of Cuba part Four

  • gration alone accounts for a major share of the decline in the white population between 1953 and 1981. Perhaps an even more important factor explaining the growth of the nonwhite population is differential fertility. At the time of the Revolu[1]tion, nonwhite Cubans had birth rates considerably higher than white Cubans. Further, higher proportions of the former were concentrated in the provinces with the highest fertility rates (primarily in easternmost Cuba), whereas most white emi[1]grants were from Ciudad de La Habana Province, the country’s region with the lowest fertility. In addition, during the last four decades and partly because of more equitable social, educa[1]tional, and employment policies, social barriers to cross-race sexual and marital unions have weakened, thus leading to an increase in the number of interracial births, another factor behind the increase in the mulatto population. According to figures from the 1981 census, the provinces with the highest percentages of whites are Sancti Spiritus (84 percent of the populati9n classified as white), Villa Clara (82 percent), and Ciego de Avila (81 percent), all in central Cuba, plus La Habana Province (82 percent), the province that sur[1]rounds the country’s capital. Guantanamo (74 percent non[1]white), Santiago de Cuba (70 percent), and Granma (57 percent), in eastern Cuba, are the country’s provinces with the highest nonwhite percentages, followed by the capital, Ciudad de La Habana Province (37 percent). In summary, there is consensus in the academic literature that censuses in Cuba have generally overestimated the share of the population classified as “white,” while underestimating the percent of the nonwhite population, specifically its mulatto component. It is also generally accepted that since 1959 the share of the Cuban population classified as white has declined for several demographic reasons, namely differential fertility, selective emigration, and an increase in the number of interra[1]cial births. The actual extent of the bias is as difficult to estab[1]lish as it is to define unambiguous criteria with which to define the concept of “race,” although some observers claim that Cuba has become primarily a nonwhite country. Prerevolutionary Society Since 1959 there has been scholarly debate regarding the nature of prerevolutionary Cuban society. The conclusion reached by a majority of analysts is that by developing-country standards, Cuba was fairly modernized; others assume that the 120 The Society and Its Environment country was mired in social and economic backwardness. The first view has more merit, although in some respects Cuba was a dichotomous society: an undetermined minority of the popula[1]tion enjoyed high living standards, but most were poor and some quite poor. Estimates of prerevolutionary income distri[1]bution validate this assessment. The richest 40 percent of the population received close to 80 percent of total income, and the poorest 40 percent only 10 percent. Urban Cuba, particu[1]larly Havana, was home to the elite and most of the country’s social and cultural amenities. Consumption patterns for the country’s middle and upper classes were deeply influenced by United States geographic proximity and cultural practices. Prerevolutionary Cuba’s urban educational levels were well above national norms. According to the 1953 population cen[1]sus, the last before the Revolution, one out of every four Cubans above age ten (24 percent) could not read and write. In La Habana Province, site of the capital city, in contrast only 9 percent were illiterate, whereas in Oriente, the country’s most educationally backward province, the figure was 35 per[1]cent. The better educational institutions, including the nation’s leading university, were also in Havana. Comparable patterns characterized other demographic and social indicators. Access to health and sanitary facilities, as well as to other social amenities, was determined by degree of urbanization. Regional variations were also present; the coun[1]try’s central provinces were generally more developed than the provinces ofPinar del Rio and Oriente, at both extremes of the country. In urban areas, according to 1953 census data, 42 per[1]cent of dwellings had toilets (86 percent in urban La Habana Province), as compared with 8 percent in rural areas. The same could be said about the regional distribution of physicians and medical facilities. Nutritional standards were generally ade[1]quate: in the mid-1950s, the typical Cuban consumed, accord[1]ing to a national survey, more calories (2,740 calories) than daily requirements (2,460 calories). Many rural children, how[1]ever, suffered from infantile protein malnutrition and avitami[1]nosis, although the incidence of anemia among school-age children was modest. The hierarchical nature of prerevolutionary Cuban society was profoundly affected by the cyclical nature of economic activity and by the pervasive legacy of slavery. The annual eco[1]nomic cycle was dominated by the sugar harvest (la zafra) , which coincided with the coffee harvest and the peak period of 121 Cuba: A Country Study foreign tourist arrivals (late December through March). Unem[1]ployment, a pervasive problem in prerevolutionary Cuba, nor[1]mally fluctuated in unison with the seasonal cycle, from a low of 10 percent during the early months of the year, to more than 20 percent during the summer months. High levels of urban[1]ization and the limited prevalence of subsistence agriculture meant that many of the country’s poorest families derived their annual income solely from seasonal agricultural wage labor. Blacks and mulattos were disproportionately represented among the chronically unemployed. Social Mobility and Income Distribution Profound transformations of Cuba’s social and income dis[1]tribution structures accompanied Fidel Castro’s Revolution. The country’s old elite abruptly lost its privileged position as members of a younger generation assumed political power and began to institute radical social and economic policies, ranging from agrarian reform, beginning with the promulgation of the first Law of Agrarian Reform on May 17, 1959, to the eventual elimination of most forms of private property. Large-scale emi[1]gration of formerly privileged social classes accompanied the transformation of Cuban society. Their departure, together with the nationalization of private property, the growth of the state bureaucracy, the country’s militarization, the gradual implementation of populist policies, such as crash rural devel[1]opment programs to reduce unemployment, and a rapidly expanding educational system, completely reshaped Cuba’s social structure. In its place emerged an egalitarian and austere society with a state-dominated economy. Prior income and sal[1]ary differentials were reduced substantially by state ownership, the almost complete elimination of private employment (other than for a limited number of small farmers), narrow salary scales, and a full employment policy. By the early 1970s, income differentials had been reduced substantially. According to one estimate, the national income flowing to the richest 40 percent of the population had declined to 60 percent, increasing to 20 percent for the bottom 40 percent. Abject poverty was eliminated, thanks to guaran[1]teed employment, a comprehensive social safety net (universal disability, as well as pension and survivor coverage), and free access to education and health services. Low average levels of material consumption remained a concern; access to nonessen[1]tial and “luxury” (by revolutionary Cuba’s standards) items 122 A street vendor selling ChUTroS (fritters) in Havana, 1999 Courtesy Mana M. Alonso continued to be determined largely by political affiliation and real or apparent ideological fervor, as in other communist soci[1]eties. Members of the Communist Party of Cuba (Partido Comunista de Cuba-PCC), “vanguard” workers, and partici[1]pants in “internationalist” missions (internationalism-see Glossary) were rewarded through the preferential allocation of housing and consumer goods. Within the strictures of a socialist state, educational attain[1]ment became the most significant path to social mobility, aside from ideological commitment. The elimination of social and regional differentials in access to educational opportunities played a vital role in this respect, as average educational achievemen t levels increased rapidly between the 1960s and the 1980s. The number of secondary school and university graduates mushroomed, the former increasing from 76,961 in the 1975-76 academic year to 317,598 in 1988-89, and the lat[1]ter from 5,894 in 1975-76 to 33,199 in 1988-89 (see Education, this ch.). Equal educational and employment opportunities were extended to women, a development that also engendered social mobility by reducing traditional gender-based labor 123 Cuba: A Country Study force barriers. The same approach was used to help erode race discrimination. Race and gender discrimination, however, like homophobia, continues to linger in Cuban culture, although discriminatory practices are legally banned. On the negative side, access to technical and professional education is severely restricted for those who do not share the socialist ideology, are overtly homosexual, or, until recently, for those who were will[1]ing to profess religious beliefs in an officially atheistic state. Mass Organizations and Socialization Mass organizations have served important social functions in Cuba since the early 1960s. As in former communist states such as the Soviet Union, mass organizations have been used to inculcate socialist values and to mobilize the population in sup[1]port of the state. Mass organizations have also been entrusted with security, educational, and public health functions. Although in principle voluntary in nature-except for military service-mass organization membership since the 1960s has been a prerequisite for full participation in the country’s politi[1]cal, economic, and social life. Nonmembership is viewed as deviant and leads to ostracism by signifying either a refusal to accept or actual opposition to the prevailing political and social order. Those refusing to join mass organizations pay a dear price by being prevented from pursuing higher education or engaging in certain occupations, as well as by forfeiting material rewards. Given their enormous membership (in some instances in the millions), it is far from simple to determine what motivates individuals to join mass organizations. Social, political, and educational pressures are a major factor. Mem[1]bership may be motivated as much by conviction as by the desire to avoid the penalties inherent in failing to join. Article 7 of the 1976 constitution recognizes, protects, and promotes the establishment of mass organizations. In practice, however, Article 61 severely curtails the actions of the various mass organizations by stating explicitly that “none of the free[1]doms that are recognized for citizens may be exercised con[1]trary to what is established in the constitution and the law, or contrary to the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism. Violation of this principle is punishable by law.” Among the better known and largest Cuban mass organiza[1]tions are the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (Comite de Defensa de la Revoluci6n-CDR), Federation of 124 The Society and Its Environment Cuban Women (Federacion de Mujeres Cubanas-FMC), Cuban Workers Federation (Central de Trabajadores de Cuba-CTC), National Association of Small Farmers (Asoci[1]acion Nacional de Agricultores Pequenos-ANAP), Youth Labor Army (Ejercito Juvenil de Trabajo-EJT), and Union of Young Communists (Union de Jovenes Comunistas-UJC). There are also several student organizations, such as the Feder[1]ation of University Students (Federacion Estudiantil Universi[1]taria-FEU) and the Federation of Secondary School Students (Federacion de Estudiantes de la Ensenanza Media-FEEM). Some of these organizations, however, were actually estab[1]lished before the Revolution. For example, the CTC and the FEU were autonomous trade and student organizations, with their own political agendas. Although the FEU actively opposed the Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar dictatorship (1940­ 44, 1952-59), the CTC leadership connived with it. Under socialist rule, these historical organizations were transformed and became agents ofsocial and political control. During the 1990s, some of the mass organizations were rede[1]fined in name by being labeled as nongovernmental organiza[1]tions (NGOs), despite their official origins and orientation. This redefinition arose from the government’s desire to replace some former Soviet subsidies with Western financing in order to conduct activities, such as self-employment training, generally sponsored by NGOs in other countries. Among the mass organizations currently labeled as NGOs are the FMC and ANAP. Committee for the Defense of the Revolution The best-known Cuban mass organization, the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), was established on September 28, 1960. A CDR unit was set up on each square block throughout all urban areas, and equivalent counterparts were located in rural areas. By 1985 there were an estimated 6.1 million members of CDRs, or about 80 percent of Cuba’s adult population. Using a pyramidal organization, the CDRs continue to operate at the city-block level and are jurisdiction[1]ally connected to the smallest administrative units of the National Revolutionary Police (Policia Nacional Revoluciona[1]ria-PNR). Originally established to “defend the Revolution” by prevent[1]ing counterrevolutionary activities and monitoring neighbor[1]hood developments, the mission of the CDRs gradually 125 Cuba: A Country Study expanded. By the late 1960s, aside from their monitoring mis[1]sion, the CDRs had a major impact on the average citizen’s life through their functions of revolutionary socialization and social control. The block-to-block CDRs are ubiquitous. They mobilize the population and ensure that the citizens under their purview attend mass rallies and participate in govern[1]ment-sponsored “voluntary” activities, such as the collection of bottles and other recyclable materials, blood donation drives, or educational programs. Neighborhood CDRs maintain detailed records on a person’s whereabouts, family and work history, involvement in political activities, and overall revolu[1]tionary moral character. They also assist in ensuring compli[1]ance with compulsory military service. CDR approval must be obtained when requesting a change of residence; the CDRs are charged with registering the family food ration card when peo[1]ple move from one retail distribution location to another. CDR endorsements are also required for students applying for mem[1]bership in the UJC (Union of Young Communists) or seeking university admission. In the late 1990s, however, participation in CDRs was much more perfunctory than in the past. Women’s and Youth Organizations Another well-known Cuban mass organization, founded on August 23, 1960, is the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC). The FMC’s founder, Vilma Espfn Guillois, a Rebel Army coordi[1]nator during the 1950s and the wife ofVice President Raul Cas[1]tro Ruz, has been its only president. Espin noted that the FMC was established to facilitate the entry of women into the labor force and to help them become educationally, politically, and socially involved with the Revolution. The FMC has been active in efforts to combat illiteracy, in projects to improve educa[1]tional and labor market skills of poorly educated and peasant women, and in programs to reduce family burdens of working women, such as the establishment of day-care centers. By the mid-1970s, 80 percent of Cuban women fourteen years of age and older, or about 2.3 million women, were FMC members (jederadas) . Several foreign observers have noted that although the FMC has made major contributions to raising the educational and labor market skills of Cuban women, it did so through a differ[1]ent prism than women’s organizations in developed Western countries. Whereas the women’s movement in these developed countries has sought to drastically modify traditional female 126 The Society and Its Environment role perceptions, most roles assigned to Cuban women under socialism follow traditional gender attitudes. This is not to say that gender roles have not changed, but that changes have occurred from a “feminine” rather than from a “feminist” per[1]spective. The FMC, although nonvigilant in nature, has been instru[1]mental in increasing female participation in neighborhood CDRs and other mass organizations, and in mobilizing its mem[1]bers in support of government initiatives. Many of Cuba’s pub[1]lic health and educational initiatives have relied on the mobilization of FMC human resources. FMC members have supported mass vaccination campaigns, promoted maternal[1]child health educational programs sponsored by the national health ministry, and participated in numerous adult education programs. The FMC has also assisted with the task of integrat[1]ing women into the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias-FAR). The FMC, however, has come to be seen in many respects as a bureaucratized and unrepresentative entity. The government relies on youth and student mass organiza[1]tions to instill socialist and collective values. The process begins at FMC day-care centers called Children’s Clubs (Circulos Infantiles) and continues as children join the Pioneers Union, that is, the Organization ofJose Marti Pioneers (Organizaci6n de PionerosJose Marti-OPJM), which was established in April 1961. All children in Cuba belong to the OPJM. In hisJuly 1983 speech, Fidel Castro noted that “many Pioneers must be trained to become cadres or combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, or of the militia …. ” As they advance through the educational system, youth socialization continues through the Federation of Secondary School Students (FEEM) and the Federation of University Students (FEU). Youth political edu[1]cation culminates in the Union ofYoung Communists (UJC) , a selective organization with membership in the hundreds of thousands, rather than the millions. Other Mass Organizations Most workers belong to the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC). As in other socialist countries, the CTC is not an inde[1]pendent organization representing the interests of the workers. Rather, it is a transmission belt for government and party com[1]mands to workers. CTC functions have varied over time but have included providing a forum for leadership and workers’ 127 Cuba: A Country Study dialogues, garnering worker support to accomplish production goals, enforcing labor discipline, and managing the distribu[1]tion of material and other rewards. At local assembly meetings, production issues and matters related to labor discipline are reviewed, and government policies discussed. During the Spe[1]cial Period, for instance, assembly meetings across the nation were convened to discuss emergency measures being intro[1]duced to cope with the economic crisis and related labor adjustment policies. These policies included reallocating work[1]ers from one work site to another, closing numerous produc[1]tion facilities, and implementing transitory financial compensation mechanisms for dislocated workers. Another important function of the CTC is maintaining individual worker file records detailing an individual’s labor history, including skills, training, voluntary labor, absences, merits, and demerits (partly based on work discipline and political crite[1]ria). The CTC also supports government efforts regarding vol[1]untary labor and mass mobilizations. The National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), created in May 1961, was established with the goal of integrating small farmers into the revolutionary process and convincing them to voluntarily join collective farms. Small farmers were provided with such incentives as centrally located modern housing, elec[1]tricity, schools, and medical services, as well as mechanized equipment and other agricultural inputs, if they agreed to farm their fields collectively. By the mid-1980s, collective farms num[1]bered close to 1,500 and were, by Cuban standards, relatively autonomous and productive. During the Special Period, a new form of agricultural cooperative was created as former state farm employees were granted land in usufruct. Members of the latter group, called Basic Units of Cooperative Production (UBPCs-see Agricultural Cooperatives, ch. 3), however, are not ANAP members but rather are affiliated with a CTC work[1]ers’ union, the National Trade Union of Agricultural and For[1]estry Workers (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Agricolas y Forestales-SNTAF). The Military Military service, of course, has also acted as a socialization agent since mandatory male military service began in 1963. Under the 1973 Law of Compulsory Military Service, draftees receive a heavy dose of ideological instruction. Other military institutional mechanisms that are used to attempt to socialize 128 The Society and Its Environment male youths not deemed fit for regular service-whether for ideological orientation, social attitudes, or poor academic preparation-have included the notorious Military Units in Support of Production (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Pro[1]ducci6n-UMAPs). The intent of the UMAPs’ forced labor camps, while they were operational in the 1963-65 period, was to punish and modify the behavior of “antisocial” individuals, including religious believers and homosexuals. In more recent years, many draftees have been made to serve in the EJT (Youth Labor Army). These militarized but poorly trained units perform primarily economic tasks, such as sugarcane har[1]vesting and construction work. The Family Institution The saga of EWin Gonzalez (see Foreign Relations, ch. 4) and the intense emotions it generated within the Cuban-Amer[1]ican community can be explained when placed within the con[1]text of the major changes that the family institution has experienced in Cuba over the last four decades. These changes, which in part reflect global forces that have influ[1]enced family structures in most countries, were also influenced by political and social developments arising from the ideologi[1]cal underpinnings of the 1959 Revolution and some of the pol[1]icies pursued by the Castro government. Some of the leading trends involved in this historical evolution were changing female roles; a more intrusive state agenda in the upbringing and education of children; ideological cleavages that fractured the Cuban nation, and within it, many ofits families; and large[1]scale, permanent emigration that over time contributed to the corrosion offamily bonds. The global revolution in women’s roles, arising from com[1]monly recognized major changes in educational, labor force, and reproductive functions, has been echoed in Cuban society. It has been manifested, as in other countries, by higher levels of female educational attainment and labor force participa[1]tion. Extensive use of contraception and induced abortion have led to low childbearing and high divorce rates. High divorce rates have contributed to the weakening of traditional family bonds. Men and women have opted to exit unsatisfac[1]tory marital relations, thereby giving rise to less permanent and more unstable family arrangements, which, in turn, have led to an increase in the number of children residing with only one biological parent, blended families, and so forth. 129 Cuba: A Country Study The Castro regime’s Marxist orientation accentuated this trend by assigning a prominent political role to educational[1]some may say, indoctrination-policies that directly and indi[1]rectly weaken parental rights over child-rearing practices by imposing the ideological views of a monolithic and all-powerful state. Article 3 of the Code of the Child and Youth (Law No. 16 ofJune 28, 1978), states, for example, that “The communist formation of the young generation is a valued aspiration of the state, the family, the teachers, the political organizations, and the mass organizations that act in order to foster in the youth the ideological values of communism.” Article 8 goes even fur[1]ther as it reads that the society and the state “work for the effi[1]cient protection of youth against all influences contrary to their communist formation.” Implied in these articles is the overriding power of the state upon universally recognized parental rights to choose for their children the values and type of education they wish. Further contributing to the weakening of parental oversight is the requirement that most children eleven years of age and over provide thirty to forty-five days of “voluntary” farm labor during their school vacations and the separation of students from their families while enrolled and residing at boarding schools (see Education, this ch.). Another factor that in many instances severely contributed to the weakening of the Cuban family was the deep political cleavage that accompanied the revolutionary process, particu[1]larly during the 1960s, as Cuban families fractured along ideo[1]logical lines. As members of many families were imprisoned or chose what eventually became a permanent exile option, oth[1]ers enthusiastically embraced the revolutionary banner. These divisions within families left deep scars that were accentuated by permanent emigration-and for many years, by the govern[1]ment prohibition against emigre family visits-and an informal yet not so subtle government policy of discouraging party mili[1]tants and government sympathizers from maintaining family contacts with their relatives abroad. These policies only began to be eased under PresidentJimmy Carter’s administration, when family visits on a significant scale were first authorized. In fact, many observers feel that the 1980 Mariel Boatlift was a direct result of family visits as many disaffected Cubans were deeply influenced by contacts with Cuban-American visitors and the perceptions of their experiences abroad. Visits by Cuban-Americans became more numerous during the 1990s. Several developments contributed to the growing 130 The Society and Its Environment number of visitors, not least of which was the Cuban govern[1]ment’s decision to ease, if not encourage, family contacts. This policy, to some extent forced on the government by the eco[1]nomic difficulties associated with the Special Period, was partly intended to facilitate the transfer of emigrants’ financial resources to their Cuban families. Foreign remittances had become an important source of foreign exchange. The gener[1]osity of the Cuban-American community and the resilience of family bonds were also at play because in response to the eco[1]nomic crisis and often despite long years without any contact, remittances had begun to flow. Family visits followed shortly thereafter. Also contributing to the rise in the number of visi[1]tors was the resurgence of large-scale emigration following the rafter (balsero) outflow of the early 1990s, and regularized legal emigration following the 1994 United States-Cuba Migration accord. Many of the most recent emigrants have close relatives in Cuba, and their antagonism to the Havana regime is more muted. Thus they are less reticent about periodically visiting the island nation. The United States government has contrib[1]uted, as well, to the more frequent family contacts by issuing more temporary visas, particularly to the elderly, for Cubans to visit their relatives here. Despite increasing family ties, it is rare indeed today, as it has been for the last four decades, for a recent or long-time Cuban emigrant to resettle in the country of birth. On a permanent basis, families are reunited only abroad. Not even the elderly retire in their home country, as so often happens with emi[1]grant communities from other national origins. Religion Cuba is usually characterized as a country in which religion is not a powerful social force. Such views are based on estimates of membership in formal religious institutions and on assess[1]ments of the impact of institutionalized religion in Cuban his[1]tory, both before and after the 1959 Revolution. Although nearly 90 percent of the population was nominally Roman Catholic in prerevolutionary Cuba, the number of practicing Roman Catholics was probably less than 10 percent. Other esti[1]mates suggest that about half of all Cubans were agnostic, that slightly more than 40 percent were Christian, and that less than 2 percent practiced Mro-Cuban religions. Membership in other religions, including Judaism, was limited. Religiosity esti[1]mates may be considerably higher, however, if due credit is 131 Cuba: A Country Study given to the cultural relevance of informal religions, particu[1]larly of syncretic Mro-Cuban rites (including espiritismo and santeria), which historically were minimized. Another issue to consider is the resurgence of the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations in the 1990s, a development perhaps explained by the government’s more tolerant attitude and the despair gripping many Cubans. Open expression of religious faith, further, offers one of the few relatively safe channels of expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s policies. The Roman Catholic Church Several historical factors contributed to the relative weakness of the Roman Catholic Church in prerevolutionary Cuba. The church had long been viewed as conservative and as serving the country’s political elite. During the country’s wars of inde[1]pendence (1868-78 and 1895-98) in the late nineteenth cen[1]tury, the church was aligned with Spain, the colonial power. The church’s local hierarchy and most priests were Spanish; many chose to return to the Iberian peninsula following the colonial army’s defeat in the Spanish-American War (1895-98). Mter independence, the church gradually regained some ofits prestige and influence through its educational and charitable deeds, and by ministering to hundreds of thousands of Spanish immigrants who settled in Cuba during the first three decades of the century. By the late 1950s, however, only about a third of all Roman Catholic priests and nuns were Cuban-born; the church was still relying heavily on Spanish-born priests and nuns, as well as other foreign missionaries. The church was present mostly in urban areas, where it enrolled more than 60,000 students in 212 schools and managed hospitals and orphanages. The schools, among the finest in the country, were run by various orders-such as the Jesuits, Christian Brothers, Dominicans, and Ursuline Sisters-and catered pri[1]marily to the educational needs of the country’s middle and upper classes. The church also ran Villanueva University (Uni[1]versidad de Villanueva). Although most Cubans were baptized, few, even in the cities, attended mass regularly. The church was notably absent from rural Cuba, where only a handful of priests were assigned and few peasants ever went to church. Church-state relations deteriorated rapidly in the early 1960s because of the radicalization of Fidel Castro’s government and its growing alignment with the Soviet Union, and also because 132 The Belen Church and Convent in Old Havana Courtesy Danielle Hayes, United Nations Development Programme of historical antagonisms between the Roman Catholic Church and communism. Even though many Roman Catholics remained sympathetic to the goals of the Revolution, increas[1]ing emigration by the upper and middle classes and the depar[1]ture of many priests and nuns eroded the church’s base of support. Following the failed United States-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 and growing social tensions, the government nationalized all private schools, including church[1]affiliated schools. The government’s absolute control of the mass media and its decision to erase religious holidays from the national calendar also curtailed the power of the church. Shortly thereafter, in September 1961, the government deported 130 priests, bringing the total number left in the country to about 200, from about 800 three years earlier. Many of the more than 2,000 nuns in the country in 1960 departed as well. Cuba officially became an atheistic state in 1962. The next decades saw a gradual easing of tensions between the government and the Roman Catholic Church. Several fac[1]133 Cuba: A Country Study tors accounted for the rapprochement. Rome and the national hierarchy came to terms with the strength of the socialist gov[1]ernment and accepted that pastoral functions had to be con[1]ducted within the new sociopolitical context. In 1969 Cuban bishops also denounced the United States economic embargo against Cuba. Underlying currents behind these developments were the flowering of liberation theology (see Glossary) in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s and a growing awareness of doctrinal affinity in some social goals between Christianity and socialism. By the mid-1980s, government/church coopera[1]tion was evident in some respects, such as the upkeep of churches and church training of selected social services gov[1]ernment personnel. In practice, however, and until the 1980s, those openly pro[1]fessing a religious faith had to continue to contend with social and political penalties. Whereas Article 54 of the 1976 constitu[1]tion provides for freedom of religion, those professing their faith publicly were effectively discriminated against. Believers were barred from membership in Cuba’s elite organizations, such as the UJC and the PCC, and thus prevented from gaining access to university education and high-level government posi[1]tions. Other restrictions, such as the inability to hold meetings in public places or to evangelize through the mass media, con[1]tinued as barriers to the church’s activities through the 1980s. Although official attitudes had become less restrictive by 2000, the government continues to tightly regulate public displays of faith. Afro-Christian Rites Mro-Christian rites, deeply ingrained in Cuba’s cultural ethos, are one of the leading vehicles through which many Cubans of all races, but primarily black and mulatto, manifest religious faith. An important Mrican cultural legacy, the Mro[1]Cuban religions constitute a syncretism between Roman Catho[1]lic and Mrican beliefs that evolved over time as slaves pre[1]tended to accept a faith being forced on them by slaveholders. Combining elements of several religious traditions, the Mro[1]Cuban rites, like similar rites in Brazil and other former slave[1]holding societies,juxtapose Roman Catholic saints with Mrican deities. Mrican deities are known by their Mrican as well as by their Roman Catholic names and are depicted as they would be in the Roman Catholic Church tradition. For example, the Vir[1]gin Mary, in one of its Afro-Cuban versions, is known as 134 The Society and Its Environment Obatala. This superficiality in appearance conceals the strength of underlying Mrican beliefs and rituals, while not masking the syncretic relationship between the two religious traditions. Mro-Cuban religions, while informal and poorly institution[1]alized, are divided into three main rites (reglas) , all ofWestMri[1]can origin. The Lucumi rite, or santeria (see Glossary) of Yoruba origin, is widely practiced in Nigeria. Of Bantu origin, the Congo rite arose along the Congo River all the way to the Kalahari Desert. The third rite, practiced by the male Abakua society, and also of Nigerian origin, is best known by the name given to its followers, Naiiigos. These rites combine monotheis[1]tic and polytheistic elements, mysterious and supernatural powers associated with living organisms and nonliving natural objects, the belief that spirits reside in these organisms and nat[1]ural objects, and complex rituals. The rites also assign impor[1]tant roles to magic, music, and dance. Espiritismo, a less Mricanized practice, implies the ability to communicate with the dead, often through a chosen few who possess the ability to do so. Tension has always existed between the Roman Catholic Church and Mro-Cuban rites, partly because the former recog[1]nizes the popular strength of the latter, and also because of the church’s inability to come to terms with many features of Mro[1]Cuban religions unacceptable to Rome. Thus, there has always been ambivalence, the church embracing the Mro-Cuban faithful entering a church to pray, yet maintaining consider[1]able distance between the formal church hierarchy and the very informal Afro-Cuban priestly class. A tribute to the strength of Mro-Cuban rites in the national culture is the rela[1]tive tolerance shown toward these rites by the socialist govern[1]ment, a predisposition enhanced by the lower-class origins of most adherents to these religious beliefs. Other Religions The Protestant Church had a very limited presence in Cuba until the early years of the twentieth century. This situation changed during the United States’ first Cuban occupation (1898-1902) , when several denominations-Baptists, Congre[1]gationalists, Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians[1]established footholds in the country with the financial support of United States-based mother churches. As did the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant churches emphasized education 135 Cuba: A Country Study and limited evangelization activities to urban areas. In the Rev[1]olution’s early days, there were as many as 100,000 Protestants grouped in forty denominations. The government, however, nationalized the Protestant schools, and many Protestants emi[1]grated because of disagreement with the Revolution. Gradually, Protestant denominations, as had the Roman Catholic Church, sought to come to terms with the new politi[1]cal status quo. Because they were less structured, the Protestant denominations were regarded by the government as effective counterbalances to the more organized Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless, some denominations, for example,Jeho[1]vah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists, that have opposed such socialist dictates as pledging allegiance to national sym[1]bols have been at times harshly persecuted. AlthoughJews were barred from settling in the Spanish colo[1]nial empire, their presence in Cuba dates to the days of the island’s discovery and the arrival ofJews who were nominally Roman Catholic. The prerevolutionary Cuban colony was diverse in origin and included both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews. The Jewish population peaked in 1959, when it reached about 15,000. Between the 1920s and 1940s, Cuba was an important transit point for Jews seeking permanent settlement in the United States. MostJews left after the Revolution; in 1990 only about 300 Jewish families remained. Buddhist and Muslim influence in Cuba is very slight. Few traces remain today of the legacies of the thousands of Chinese and Arab emigrants to Cuba. The former arrived mostly as indentured workers during the late nineteenth century, and the latter as independent migrants during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Religion in the Special Period Church/state relations have continued to improve during the Special Period. The ban barring religious believers from membership in the PCC was lifted in 1991, and in 1992 the constitution was amended to make Cuba a secular rather than an atheistic state. The church’s reception of these measures was guarded but generally positive. The 1990s saw a notable increase in church attendance, and the church continued to seek additional freedoms from the government. The difficult church-government dialogue has highlighted common points of view, for example, condemnation of the United States economic embargo, but has been punctuated by 136 The Society and Its Environment open disagreements. During his visit to Cuba in January 1998, Pope John Paul II articulated some of these disagreements. Cuba’s bishops have also expressed their views in pastoral let[1]ters. In one pastoral letter in particular, issued on September 8, 1993, and entitled “El amor todo 10 espera” (“Love Hopes All Things”), the bishops called for national reconciliation among all Cubans, including those abroad, and openly called into question Cuba’s one-party system (see Religion and the State, ch.4). Despite these tensions, the government has been allowing more public religious ceremonies. It has also granted in princi[1]ple entry permits to several hundred foreign priests and nuns and has allowed the church to expand its humanitarian ser[1]vices, such as direct distribution of foreign donations of medi[1]cations. In addition, by inviting the pope to visit, the government tacitly recognized the Roman Catholic Church’s importance as an independent national institution. The PCGs Political Bureau made a major gesture when it announced in Granma on December 1, 1998, that henceforth December 25 would be considered a national holiday “for Christians and non-Christians, believers and nonbelievers.” The more positive official attitude toward religion has bene[1]fitted Protestant churches, too, inasmuch as they have been allowed to expand their humanitarian activities in response to the country’s economic crisis. Mro-Cuban rites are also being practiced more openly. Some observers have suggested that the government is encouraging public displays of these beliefs to enhance the country’s international tourist appeal. Selective repression of religious acts deemed to be contrary to official interests continues, however, as does the occasional criticism by the official press of some sectors of the Roman Catholic Church. In addition, in May 1995, eighty-six Pentecostal churches were closed in Camagiiey Province. Five years later, Granma accused some members of the Church hierarchy of “conspiracy” following the celebration of several public events that were cosponsored by the Religious Civic Training Center (Centro de Formaci6n Civico Religiosa) of Pinar del Rio, a lay religious organization, and visitors from a Polish official dele[1]gation. Social Consequences of the Papal Visit of January 1998 During hisJanuary 1998 trip to Cuba, the details of which had been carefully negotiated between Rome and Havana, 137 Cuba: A Country Study Pope John Paul II celebrated four large-scale open masses in the cities of Camagiiey, Havana, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba. These masses, attended by hundreds of thousands and broadcast on national television, were the first large-scale pub[1]lic events since the early days of the Revolution that were not officially organized. Although the open-air masses were a wel[1]come departure from totalitarian control, it is not clear what long-term consequences will follow from the pope’s visit. Massive outward professions of religious faith in a Cuba con[1]fronting economic and ideological difficulties suggest several interpretations. The official interpretation is that the massive outpouring arose out of curiosity and its encouragement by the authorities. A second and more plausible interpretation is that Cubans saw the pope’s visit as an opportunity to safely demon[1]strate unhappiness without fear of government retribution. A complementary interpretation is that Cuba is experiencing a renaissance of religious faith as many Cubans seek spiritual alternatives to fill the ideological void left by the collapse of Marxism-Leninism. Finally, in Cuba’s economy of scarcity, orga[1]nized religion has become an increasingly important source of hard-to-get products, such as food and medications. The Roman Catholic Church has been a distributor of foreign food and medical donations, for example. Thus, the popular out[1]pouring may signal that Cubans are beginning to consider alternatives to the socialist state, and that religion may offer a path through which desired changes can be achieved. The greater freedom and economic clout of the Roman Catholic Church and other religious institutions, together with the pope’s visit, will inevitably contribute to the undermining of the ideological, social, political, and economic power of the Cuban totalitarian state. So will embracing December 25 as a national holiday, although public religious manifestations con[1]tinue to be highly regimented by the authorities. Health Revolutionary Cuba is proud of and constantly proclaims its achievements in the health sector. These claims are validated by the government’s release of copious volumes of statistical data with some regularity (such as the Anuario Estadistico of the Ministry of Public Health) and by its calling attention to the success of domestic programs designed to reduce infectious diseases, promote maternal and child health, and develOp a modern biotechnology industry. Cuba is also proud of the 138 Health workers at the health unitfor Battalion 2721 in SanJose de las Lajas, La H abana Province, 1998 Courtesy National Imagery and Mapping Agent:)’, Washington “internationalist” public health assistance programs that it launched in Mrica and other developing regions (often in sup[1]port of Soviet-assisted internationalist ventures, as in Angola and Nicaragua), the many foreign physicians it has trained at home, and the medical services it offers in Havana hospitals to fee-paying foreign patients. In 2000 the latter service was expanded when Cuba began to offer medical services to selected patients from Venezuela in exchange for oil under an agreement negotiated between President Fidel Castro and President Hugo Chavez Frias. These achievements are partially rooted in the relatively advanced medical system inherited by the socialist government and in the priority accorded by the authorities to the health sector since the earliest days of the Revolution. In fact, since 1978 President Castro has often boasted about his intent to make Cuba a world “medical power” capable of challenging the United States in many pub[1]lic health areas. 139 Cuba: A Country Study In prerevolutionary Cuba, public hospitals, private physi[1]cians, and mutualist welfare associations provided medical ser[1]vices. The latter, the equivalent ofmodern-day prepaid medical plans, were established in Cuba by Spanish immigrants, although the mutualist model was later adopted by labor unions, professional groups, and private medical practitioners. By 1958 mutualist associations served about half of Havana’s population, as well as 350,000 members in other cities of the country. Although relatively extensive by developing country standards of the 1950s, the national health network was prima[1]rily urban-based. It consisted of thirty hospitals and dispensa[1]ries administered by the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance plus fourteen other hospitals and sixty dispensaries managed by autonomous public entities, such as the National Tuberculosis Council (Consejo Nacional de Tuberculosis). The primacy of the country’s capital was reflected in the national distribution of hospital beds: 62 percent of all hospital beds were in La Habana Province in 1958. Access to health care for the poorest segments of the population, particularly in the countryside, and for blacks and mulattos was mostly limited to public facilities. Redressing these inequities in health care access was at the heart of the populist agenda of the Revolution. The early pub[1]lic health reforms were based on four pillars: increasing emphasis on preventive medicine, improving overall sanitary standards, addressing the nutritional needs of disadvantaged social groups, and increasing reliance on public health educa[1]tion. Another important component was expanding the national health and hospital infrastructure and equalizing access to health care facilities throughout the country, most of all in rural areas. Rural medical facilities, capable of providing only the most essential services, began to be built in the early 1960s. Fifty-six rural hospitals and numerous rural medical posts were operating by 1975. At the same time, the govern[1]ment aggressively began to expand training programs for phy[1]sicians and other health personnel needed to staff these facilities. Physician training became a priority inasmuch as approximately half of the prerevolutionary stock of medical doctors, dissatisfied with the radicalization of the Revolution, emigrated. By the late 1960s, the private practice of medicine had largely been banned; only a few older physicians were still being allowed to see private patients. 140 The Society and Its Environment The Ministry of Public Health administers a hierarchical and regional system of public health facilities and hospitals, whereby the most routine needs of patients are attended to at the local level; referrals are made to increasingly specialized facilities as the need arises. Each province has a hierarchical structure of medical facilities capable of providing all types of care, except for the most specialized and costly. The latter are available only in selected Havana hospitals. Municipalities within each province are divided into basic health units, or health areas, which act as service areas for polyclinics (policlini[1]cos) or the traditional basic primary health care facilities. These units provide preventive and curative services in internal medi[1]cine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and dentistry, as well as elementary sanitary and psychological services. The next three levels-municipal, provincial, and national-are responsible for increasingly specialized hospital and other ser[1]vices. The polyclinics began to be supplemented by “family doc[1]tors” in 1984. The intent of the Family Doctor Program is to monitor the health of all Cubans by assigning physician-nurse teams to groups of 120 to 150 families. These teams playa frontline preventive-medicine role and intervene the moment an incipient medical condition is identified. Each family group, ranging in size from 600 to 700 individuals, is provided with locally based medical dispensaries equipped to provide essen[1]tial preventive services. To be familiar with the communities they serve, physician-nurse teams and their families must reside there, often in apartments built at or in close proximity to the dispensaries. The health teams must also provide health and nutrition education, as well as organize adult exercise classes. Family Doctor teams must be available at all times, pay home calls to patients unable to visit dispensaries, and provide ser[1]vices to the elderly and chronically ill. Family doctors must also monitor patient treatment and serve as patients’ advocates when hospitalizations are required. In 1993 about half of the Family Doctor teams were deployed in urban areas. In 1997 Cuba had 339,943 health personnel, including 62,624 physicians and dentists, of which 28,855, or 46 percent, were family doctors. The total also included 81,333 nurses and more than 56,342 mid-level technicians. The ratio of popula[1]tion to physicians in 1997 was 214, one of the lowest in the world, down from 1,393 in 1970. In a May 1998 speech, Fidel Castro noted that Cuba has a doctor for every 176 inhabitants. 141 Cuba: A Country Study As a point of comparison, Cuba has physician-to-population ratios 2.5 and two times higher than Canada and the United States, respectively, two of the countries that spend the most in health care costs. In contrast, the Cuban nurses to physicians ratio of 1.3 is about two-thirds lower than in these two coun[1]tries. Physicians are trained in twenty-three medical schools, ten of which are located in Havana, and four dentistry schools. The 1993 graduating class consisted of 4,780 doctors, with an addi[1]tional 20,801 students enrolled that year in medical school. Interestingly, the 4,781 students in the sixth (and last) year of medical training was nearly double the number (2,608) enrolled in the first year. The dramatic enrollment decline indicates that the educational authorities are concerned about a physician surplus created by medical school admission poli[1]cies (which became more selective in the 1990s), declining population growth, and lessened demand for Cuban “interna[1]tionalist” physicians since the end of the Cold War. The num[1]ber of medical graduates drastically declined in 1996, when they totaled only 3,418, a decline of 28.5 percent in relation to 1993. The health infrastructure in 1997 included 283 hospitals, 440 Polyclinics, 161 medical posts, 220 maternity homes, 168 dental clinics, and other facilities. Forty-eight hospitals are in Havana, and sixty-four are in rural areas. Other facilities included 196 nursing homes for the elderly (sixty-three of which provide only day services) and twenty-seven homes for the disabled. The total number of hospital beds in 1997, including military hospitals, reached 66,195, up from 51,244 in 1975. The number of social assistance beds has been doubled since 1975 to at least 14,20l. Cuba’s contemporary health profile resembles that of devel[1]oped nations. Most causes of death are degenerative in nature, for example, cancer and diseases of the heart and cardiovascu[1]lar system. Infectious diseases account for only a small share of all deaths. The general outlines of this mortality pattern pre[1]ceded the Revolution, however; by the 1950s, cardiovascular diseases and cancer already were the leading causes of death. In 1996 the five leading causes of death were diseases of the heart (with a death rate of 206 deaths per 100,000 population), malignant tumors (137 deaths per 100,000 population), cere[1]brovascular disease (72 deaths per 100,000 population), acci[1]dents (51 deaths per 100,000 population), and influenza and 142 The Society and Its Environment pneumonia (40 deaths per 100,000 population). Deaths from these five causes accounted for 70.1 percent of all deaths in 1996. The death rate from infectious and parasitic diseases was low (53 deaths per 100,000 population), representing only 7.4 percent of all deaths. The first individuals identified as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive were found in Cuba in 1986. Through an aggressive prevention program that has included close moni[1]toring of cases, large-scale screening, and extensive education programs as well as the controversial practice of isolating infected patients by forcibly interning them in sanatoriums, the health authorities succeeded in minimizing the number of cases. By 1999 only 2,155 cases had been diagnosed as HIV pos[1]itive, 811 of which were known to have developed full-blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Some of the most controversial practices of the National AIDS Program have been somewhat relaxed; for example, patients considered to pose low risks of infecting others are being allowed to receive treatment on an outpatient basis. At the close of 1995, about a fourth of HIV-positive cases were enrolled in the outpa[1]tient program. Vigilance continues to be strict because there is concern that, with the combination of a rising tide of foreign tourists and the reappearance of prostitution, the disease is becoming more widespread. As part of its overall health development strategy, and in keeping with Fidel Castro’s wishes of making Cuba a world medical power, major investments have been made since the early 1980s to develop a national biotechnology industry. In addition to acquiring foreign technology, the government has devoted much attention to training abroad the Cuban scien[1]tists currently staffing the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Centro de Ingenieria Genetica y Biotec[1]nologia-CIGB) and other research facilities. Cuba has pro[1]duced some biotechnology health products for domestic use and exported small quantities to developing countries and the former socialist world. Inadequate marketing capabilities and quality-control problems hamper Cuba’s ability to sell biotech[1]nology products abroad, but attempts along these lines con[1]tinue to be made through joint-venture agreements with firms from Canada and other countries. Some observers have voiced concerns that the major biotechnology investments are also related to a desire to develop the capacity to produce biological weapons. 143 Cuba: A Country Study Despite the country’s emphasis on preventive medicine, Cuba’s public health approach was and continues to be hospi[1]tal- and physician-intensive. This public-health approach places a heavy financial burden on the nation not only by being physi[1]cian-intensive but also by emphasizing other costly medical inputs. These include obtaining the latest medical equipment and consistently exceeding internationally recommended med[1]ical norms as regards, for example, the number of recom[1]mended prenatal visits and the constant monitoring of healthy people by family doctors. Cuba was able to bear these excessive costs as long as its economy was cushioned by Soviet subsidies. Without subsidies, the unsustainable character of the national public health approach became apparent: equipment and medicine shortages currently hamper the effectiveness of the Cuban health system (see Social Consequences of the Special Period, this ch.). These high costs explain why many other developing countries were unwilling to emulate Cuba’s public health model, despite its many well-publicized achievements during the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1990s, the provision of quality health care services deteriorated to such an extent that commonly prescribed medications were often not available and patients, when hospitalized, were often asked to bring their own bed sheets, towels, and other personal supplies. The gov[1]ernment has even been forced to accept medical donations from abroad that are distributed through the Roman Catholic Church and other charities. In addition, Cubans residing abroad provide an unknown, but very substantial, number of the medications consumed. Education Another priority of Cuba’s revolutionary leadership was edu[1]cation. As a result, the country’s educational profile was quanti[1]tatively transformed. Although Cuba was a relatively well[1]educated country by developing country standards in the 1950s, many shortcomings confronted the sector. Among these were limited educational opportunities. Access to formal schooling depended on one’s social class, urban residence, and race. Data from the 1953 census reveal that nearly one of every four Cubans ten years of age and older was illiterate. Only half of primary school-age children and only one in ten of second[1]ary school-age children attended school. The country’s public universities enrolled 20,000 students, but relatively few pursued careers in fields relevant to the country’s development, such as 144 The Society and Its Environment agriculture and engineering. Despite much concern about the nation’s education situation, the general sense was that stan[1]dards were deteriorating and not enough was being done to improve the country’s educational system. An extensive net[1]work of private schools made up for some public-sector defi[1]ciencies. In 1958 Cuba had 1,300 secular and religious private schools and four private universities. The educational reforms begun in 1959 were designed to make educational opportunities more accessible and to increase the literacy rate. Between 1959 and 1961, at least 1,100 new schools were built. Crash programs to train new teachers were initiated. Volunteers in the 1961 literacy campaign taught 1 million students, with varying success. On July 6,1961, the government promulgated the Law on the Nationalization of Education, by which all private education was nationalized, and all schools were placed under the Ministry of Education. Since 1959 the increase in the number of teachers and school enrollments has been dramatic. Primary school enroll[1]ments rose from 811,000 to 1.7 million between the 1958-59 and 1970-71 academic years. A few years later, secondary school enrollments reflected primary school attendance gains, increasing from 88,000 students in 1958-59 to 1.2 million stu[1]dents in 1985-86. University enrollments rose just as markedly, from 26,000 in 1965-66 to 269,000 in 1985-86, when they peaked. Vocational and adult education programs were also expanded. Most previous regional educational differentials were erased, although school attainment rates were still some[1]what higher in urban than in rural areas. By the late 1980s, more than three-quarters of the population had at least com[1]pleted primary education, and 20 percent had some technical training. In 1995 Cuba reported an adult literacy rate of 95.7 percent. By the late 1990s, there were eighteen teachers per 1,000 population, and the country had 12,223 schools, includ[1]ing 9,481 primary schools, 1,891 secondary schools, and thirty[1]two higher education institutions. These achievements must be placed in the context of similar policies pursued in other coun[1]tries that had comparable successes during the second half of the twentieth century. Literacy rates in countries like Argen[1]tina, Chile, Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Uruguay are at levels sim[1]ilar to that of Cuba. Cuba has developed a comprehensive national educational system that includes the Children’s Clubs and preprimary edu[1]cation, primary education schools (first to sixth grades), and 145 Cuba: A Country Study secondary education (seventh to ninth grades). Mter basic sec[1]ondary education, students are tracked into preuniversity edu[1]cation (tenth to twelfth grades) or vocational/technical training. Secondary education includes, as well, the training of kindergarten, preprimary, primary, and secondary education teachers. Adult education programs are available for peasants at the primary (Educaci6n Obrera Campesina), secondary (Secundaria Obrera Campesina), and university (Facultad Obrera Campesina) levels. Adults can also attend language schools. Students thirteen to sixteen years of age with poor scholastic records can enroll in remedial schools providing vocational training. Schools also cater to the needs of handi[1]capped children and young adults. At the apex of the educa[1]tional system are thirty-five centers for higher education under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, and other government entities, including the mili[1]tary. In the 1995-96 academic year, student enrollment in pri[1]mary, secondary, and higher education was, respectively, 933,000, 639,000, and 111,000. Declines in primary and sec[1]ondary school enrollments in 1995-96, as compared with ear[1]lier years, such as the 1970s, resulted from a contraction in the number of school-age children because of low birth rates. Uni[1]versity enrollment declines, on the other hand, were caused by deliberate state policies formulated in the 1990s to reduce the number of university graduates, to the benefit of vocational training. This policy was guided by the conclusion that Cuba had a surplus of university graduates but lacked a sufficient supply of trained technicians, especially in the agricultural sec[1]tor. In the mid-1990s, 60 percent of students completing pri[1]mary education were enrolled in vocational and technical training, while the remaining 40 percent were channeled into pre-university schools, in effect reversing the previous distribu[1]tion ofstudents. One of the most commented on features of Cuban educa[1]tion is its emphasis on combining work and study. The objec[1]tive of this practice, begun in the 1960s, was to create a “new man” with strong work habits. The practice was also designed to erase social distinctions between physical and intellectual work, as well as between urban and rural lifestyles. Through the Schools in the Countryside (Escuelas al Campo) and, since the 1970s, the Basic Secondary Schools in the Countryside (Escuelas Secundarias Basicas en el Campo) programs, many 146 The Society and Its Environment Cuban children have attended coeducational boarding schools that combine formal schooling with agricultural, industrial, or manufacturing work. By working, the students presumably help finance their own education. Another important objective of the work-study program is the ideological preparation of the nation’s youth. While separated from their parents and living in boarding schools, they are exposed to socialist ideological messages. In the 1989-90 academic year, of the 728,000 stu[1]dents enrolled in basic secondary and preuniversity education, 27 percent and 63 percent, respectively, were attending schools in the countryside. Parents have objected to the schools-in-the[1]countryside concept, alleging, among other things, that such schools adversely affect the parent-child relationship, that par[1]ents have difficulty visiting their offspring, and that the schools provide poor living conditions. By isolating children from their parents for long periods of time, the state obviously gains the upper hand in its attempt to inculcate political and other val[1]ues that may be at odds with parental preferences, a practice that has been commonplace in totalitarian societies. This con[1]cern was at the heart of the Cuban-American community’s objection to the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba. Ideological criteria have had a very important role in educa[1]tional policies, particularly regarding university enrollments. In order to enroll, university applicants not only must submit pre[1]university transcripts and provide evidence of passing an entrance examination, but also must pass a test designed to evaluate the applicant’s ideological commitment to revolution[1]ary principles. Representatives from one of the country’s mass organizations must also submit a report vouching for the appli[1]cant’s ideological standing. Admission to academic fields con[1]sidered politically and ideologically sensitive, such as political science and economics, is dependent on ideological criteria. Such screening is not applied so consistently to fields such as the natural sciences, however. Before the late 1980s, professing a religious belief disqualified an applicant from admission. At all levels of the educational system, the ideological con[1]tent offormal education is considerable. In recent years, this content has been revised in response to changes in political and economic circumstances. For example, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the teaching of Marxist philosophy and economics has been downplayed. The emphasis is now placed on Cuba’s historical nationalistic roots and the teaching ofmar[1]ket economics and modern managerial principles. Educational 147 Cuba: A Country Study content in the social and political realms, however, largely con[1]tinues to reflect the Revolution’s ideological perspectives to the exclusion of all others. During the 1970s and 1980s, Cuba hosted large numbers of international students (at all school levels) from Mrican and Latin American countries closely aligned with Cuba during the Cold War. Many of the students on scholarships financed by the Cuban government-mostly from Angola, Ethiopia, Mozam[1]bique, Namibia, and Nicaragua-were boarded in schools in the countryside established for them on Isla de laJuventud. National student groups were kept together in schools assigned to them, where they were instructed by Cuban teachers, although teachers from the students’ own countries taught lan[1]guage, history, and cultural studies. These programs were obvi[1]ously loaded with a heavy ideological content. As many as 22,000 foreign students attended Cuban schools in 1986. With the end of the Cold War and Cuba’s financial crisis of the 1990s, most of the foreign-student programs were phased out, although Cuba still provides university training to foreign stu[1]dents. In the 1989-90 academic year, more than 4,000 foreign students were enrolled in Cuban universities, while more than 6,000 Cubans attended Soviet and East European universities. In 1999 Cuba announced that it would considerably expand physician training for foreigners in the country through the establishment in Havana of the Latin American Medical Uni[1]versity (Universidad Latinoamericana de Medicina); the uni[1]versity was to have an initial enrollment of 1,000 scholarship students from Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The impetus for the establishment of this medical education institu[1]tion, at a time when Cuba could hardly afford it, was the emer[1]gency caused in Central America by Hurricane Mitch in late 1998. During the recovery, Cuba provided emergency medical brigades to the countries in need, in addition to offering medi[1]cal educational opportunities to aspiring physicians from these and other countries. Aside from being a generous humanitar[1]ian gesture, the assistance gave Cuba an opportunity to gain influence with these countries as it sought closer political and economic ties with formerly hostile neighbors. The geographi[1]cal reach of the new medical training institution has been fur[1]ther expanded and now enrolls students from many other countries. To allay concern about ideological indoctrination, the Cuban government has even stated its willingness to mini[1]mize discussions of political perspectives at this university. The 148 As many as 300 passengers crowd into Havana ‘.I’ large-capacity public buses called camelos (camels). Courtesy lvlaria iV1. Alonso quality of the medical education being imparted at the facility, however, is questionable given that many of the admitted stu[1]dents have deficient backgrounds and need remedial crash courses on basic sciences and other disciplines. In private, many Cubans question the reasonableness of this initiative at a time when Cuba faces so many unmet domestic economic needs. Social Consequences of the Special Period In social terms, the consequences of the Special Period have been monumental. Severe problems have crippled the for[1]merly vaunted Cuban health and educational systems. Massive labor force realignment measures offer convincing testimony of Cuba’s extreme reliance on Soviet subsidies and how ineffec[1]tively they were utilized. Because of the economic crisis, social ills presumably eradicated in the 1960s, such as prostitution, have reemerged. Explosive growth in foreign tourism and emi[1]grant remittances are inexorably altering Cuba’s socialist social fabric. Health and Education Health and education, the social sectors much praised for 149 Cuba: A Country Study their achievements under Fidel Castro’s rule, have been severely affected by the economic austerity of the Special Period. Cuban hospitals and other public health facilities are experiencing chronic and severe shortages of medicines and other basic supplies. The government has authorized Catholic Relief Services (Caritas), which is the Roman Catholic Church’s humanitarian arm, and other religious and humani[1]tarian organizations to import and distribute medical dona[1]tions because they cannot be found in governmen t pharmacies. Food shortages have been blamed for serious nutritional problems. Daily caloric and protein intake declined drastically after 1990. Vitamin B-12 deficits among Cubans also led to a serious outbreak of optic neuropathy that was responsi[1]ble for the temporary blindness of 50,000 people in 1991-93; the outbreak was arrested by the emergency nationwide distri[1]bution of vitamin supplements. In addition, the proportion of newborns with low birth weights began to rise in the early 1990s, as did the number of underweight pregnant women. Mortality rates have also risen among elderly nursing-home res[1]idents. As domestic health care standards deteriorated, Cuba was promoting medical services for paying foreign patients at the country’s leading medical institutions. This practice has led to charges that the medical needs of Cuban patients are being sacrificed (“medical apartheid”) for the benefit of foreigners. The government responds that the foreign currency earned by treating foreign patients benefits all Cubans because the earn[1]ings are used to buy medical supplies abroad. That health stan[1]dards have not deteriorated even further is thanks to the importance accorded the sector and the extensive health care infrastructure, including medical personnel, developed in ear[1]lier decades. Since the onset of the Special Period in the early 1990s, the educational system, like other sectors of the economy, has suf[1]fered from severe funding cutbacks. Thousands of teachers are reported to have left their posts for employment in other bet[1]ter-paying sectors, such as tourism, where dollars can be earned. This trend has led to expressions of alarm over a likely and growing teacher shortage. However, the number of teach[1]ers trained in Cuba is so large and the decline in the number of students (because of declining birth rates) so significant, that this concern seems groundless. Although no schools have been shut down, schools are poorly maintained, and educational 150 The Society and Its Environment

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