Cuba a model for defying superpower

Published May 21, 2008 12:00am

ISLAMABAD, May 20: Cuban ambassador Gustavo Machin Gomez said here on Tuesday that despite its political, military and economic might the United States had not been able to subdue or isolate his country.

“We cannot say (whether) we succeeded or not succeeded against the US, but we continue to stand firm to defend whatever we have,” said the ambassador speaking at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on “Political challenges and external pressures: a case study of Cuba”.

Fifty years of US military interventions and economic blockade of Cuba prevented its economic development but also prompted 184 of the 192 members of the United Nations General Assembly to vote against the blockade last year, he observed.

“Power has its limits,” he said. “Resistance to hegemony is growing. The neo-liberal crises are making governments in Latin America to take centre or left-of-centre position”.

After 9/11, security had become “the central aspect of world agenda” with a rush to raising rapid deployment forces, putting up anti-missile shield and launching anti-narcotic campaigns, he said. China and Russia were now acting as “balancing forces” in the unipolar world.

Ambassador Gomez said Cuba totally rejects terrorism, including state terrorism. Cuba does not qualify terror as good or bad. On the other hand the US used the intelligence provided by Cuba to it after terrorist attacks on its tourist resorts by Cubans based in US to arrest Havana’s “sources”.

US economic blockade does not allow Cuba to trade in US dollar, has barred export of capital or products having more than 10 per cent of their contents originating in US to Cuba, world financial institutions are not allowed to assist Cuba.

Still the small island state of 11 million people has developed an excellent healthcare system, said the ambassador.

Thirty-seven thousand Cuban health workers — 18,000 of them doctors — were helping people in 79 countries. They have restored sight to one million patients since July 2004 and the target was treating blindness of six million patients in Latin America in 10 years, he said.

Cuba was imparting free education to 30,000 foreign students of whom 23,000 were in medical schools.

A batch of 356 Pakistani students has completed first year of their education there and a second batch is in the process of being sent, the ambassador said.

“We are willing to share our best, but do not believe in teaching others how to do things,” he said enunciating the principles of his country’s foreign policy

However, Senator Khurshid Ahmed of Jamaat Islami, who is chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies, speaking next said Pakistan, facing the same super power, has something to learn from Cuba.

“Cuba has shown it is possible for the weak to stand up and resist a super power,” he said, describing anti-imperialism being “the most important aspect” of Cuba’s struggle.

“We are playing second fiddle to US in its games. Pakistan has to delink from its slavish policy,” he said.

In the question-answer session that followed, the first question put by a student of the International Islamic University Islamabad was why the Muslim countries thousands of miles away were deemed by the US to be a challenge but not the next door Cuba?

Ambassador Gomez reminded him that Cuba had been invaded by US forces seven times since 1938 — the last time it was Bay of Pigs in 1961. “But Cuba is not an easy target.

We have fought the longest and most glorious war of independence in southern hemisphere. They can get in but cannot get out,” he said without touching on why US considered the Muslim world a challenge.

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