CUBA has a lot to show the world and to be proud of, as noted by more than 400 young people and experts who participated in the “Thinking the Americas” Youth Forum, held at the University of Havana, as part of activities in the lead up to the 8th Summit of the Americas.
We don’t live in a perfect society, it would be absurd to think so, but based on our reality, we have built a system superior to that which outside forces have hoped to impose on us, ever since the revolutionary triumph of January 1, 1959, stated Yusuam Palacios Ortega, president of the Martí Youth Movement.
This was the focus of debates during the “Governability, democracy, and social conquests” panel, one of the three held during the Forum, and in which the essence of the Cuban socialist system, built and defended by the people, was highlighted.
“This is our strength, the morality with which Cubans can stand on any platform in the world to defend their political system, to talk about democracy and human rights,” Lil Peichs, a member of the Martí Youth Movement, told Granma International.
Thus, the representatives of Cuban civil society who will travel to Peru next month “can do so with dignity,” the young woman stressed.
For historian Dr. Elier Ramírez, Cuban civil society differs from that established in other countries. “Ours is diverse, active, broad… Not like the dirty “civil society” that calls itself Cuban and is promoted by the Organization of American States, composed of mercenaries.”
Our people learned a long time ago that within the logic of capitalism, it is impossible to eliminate corruption, because the capitalist system naturalizes it. That is why we have decided to defend what is ours, not to return to those years, before 1959, when young people who fought for freedom were murdered on the streets of any city on the island, the historian explained.
“We are open to debate, but we will never permit an imposition, a single vision of democratic governability,” Ramírez stressed.
Meanwhile, Rubiel García, president of the Hermano Saíz Association, noted that he has no problem with stating that as a representative of civil society, he also has a representative in the Cuban parliament, emphasizing, “How many in the world can say that?”
Cuban poet Cintio Vitier once said, “We have had to build a parliament in a trench.” Therefore, “Cuba will continue to respond to provocations and injustices as did the Cuban Ambassador to Peru, Juan Antonio Fernández. The youth will not allow anyone to mess with Cuba,” he added.
REALITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE CAPITALIST WORLD
Many of the unemployed in the capitalist world are young people, noted Dr. Faustino Covarrubias, head of the Economics Department at the Center for Global Economic Research, in the panel discussion “Participation of young people in economic development.”
The reality for young people in the capitalist world is much more critical and complex than portrayed by the global mass media, as they are the population segment most exposed to unemployment, even in developed countries.
Statistics confirm that unemployment rates for young people aged between 18 and 35 are sometimes triple that of rest of the adult population. Not to mention the number of “demotivated” youth, who don’t even attempt to enter the labor market for fear of not finding options open to them, Dr. Faustino explained.
On the other hand, he highlighted that imperialism is currently cornered, in a moment of hegemonic decline, threatened by other powers such as China and Russia. “Capitalism today is digging its own grave,” he concluded.
GROWING YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN CUBAN SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT
The development of Cuban science was one of the great challenges faced following the triumph of the Revolution, and these efforts would not have been possible without the active participation of young people, experts speaking during the Forum agreed.
Under the leadership of the young Fidel Castro Ruz, the triumphant Revolution devoted significant energies to the development of this sector, which have continued despite the economic conditions in Cuba, exacerbated by the tightening of the United States economic blockade, imposed for more than half a century, emphasized M.Sc. María Luisa Zamora Rodríguez, expert of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (Citma).
Speaking during the panel “The role of young people in the development of the country’s science and technology,” she explained that “The Literacy Campaign of 1961 was the first step - more than a million Cubans were illiterate at that time.”
Later, she added, the country “began to create various research centers, such as the Cuban Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Geography, and Citma, which showed the political interest in promotion of this sector, and the recognition of the role of science as a necessity to achieve sustainable development.”
Currently, according to Ricmar Rodríguez, national president of the Youth Technical Brigades and moderator of the panel, more than 86,000 Cubans are employed in the scientific sphere, and more than 600 million pesos have been allocated for the development of the sector, representing 0.91% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“This demonstrates the interest of our state in continuing to increase the development of this area every year,” he said.
Among the main activities promoted by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment, are Cuba’s adaptation to climate change; the sustainable use of natural resources, with priority given to water; medical-pharmaceutical production; and research in nanotechnology, among others, Zamora added.
However, the experts and young people gathered agreed that there remains much to be done.
During the current year and those to come, the science, technology, and innovation sector “needs to strengthen its impact on the development of the country’s economy, preserve and develop our human potential, and work within institutions to safeguard our professionals,” the Citma expert noted.
In this regard, Evelixe Linares Rodríguez, a researcher at the Cuban Academy of Sciences, explained that the institution “also promotes and disseminates activities, such as festivals, conferences, workshops... in order to attract more young people to the sector, and ensure their motivation and permanence. We currently have 63 young people working with us, and of them, more than half are women.”
Meanwhile, Liset Martín, a researcher at the Center for Molecular Immunology, told those gathered that “Young people in the science sector in Cuba are very motivated in our work, because of the contribution we make every day to our country.”
Even so, she added, “It is a priority to eliminate, once and for all, the unjust economic blockade that prevents not only the technological development of the island, but also our professional development, by limiting our access to the scientific knowledge that is already available globally, and to which we Cubans have no right.”
Nonetheless, Evelixe Linares concluded: “Nothing stops the incorporation of young people to the study and practice of science in Cuba. It grows every day, and will continue to do so.”