Over 250 delegates attended a packed Cuba Solidarity Campaign fringe meeting at UNISON national delegate conference in Liverpool as Carlos Alfaro, Economic Counsellor at the Cuban Embassy, spoke about Cuba’s incredible achievements in the field of public health and education.
“Before 1959, there were only 3,000 doctors in Cuba,” said Carlos. “People in rural areas had no access at all to healthcare – but today the picture is totally different. Workers have their own doctors in factories, in villages, in communities and throughout workplaces.”
Remarkably, despite being under a relentless economic blockade that has cost the Cuban economy billions of dollars, Cuba has been able to send thousands of doctors to work abroad in developing countries.
“In the last 15 years, 32,000 Cuban doctors have been sent to work in countries across Africa and Latin America. Over 15,000 doctors from developing countries have also been given free medical training in Cuba and have returned to work in their domestic health services.”
Carlos also spoke about attempts to create a more efficient economic system in Cuba following the impact of the worldwide economic crisis – but emphasised that Cuba is severely limited by the blockade.
“Our access to technology, medicines and resources is restricted because of the blockade,” said Carlos. He reaffirmed that the social achievements of the Revolution, Cuba’s socialist model and “cooperation and solidarity” will continue to define any economic changes. “Changes are happening in Cuba, but we are not changing our socialist system or our political system”.
Stephen Cavalier, CEO at Thompsons Solicitors, gave an update on the Miami Five following Rene’s return to Cuba as Carlos thanked UNISON and the British trade union movement for the support and solidarity they have shown the Miami Five and their families.
“Rene is back home, but the others remain behind bars and family visitation rights are restricted,” said Carlos as he urged the fight for justice in support of the Five to be intensified.