Entrance Exams: An Assessment of Education in Cuba


Entrance Exams: An Assessment of Education in Cuba


They’re no longer dressed in blue uniforms and some boys even show off their rebellious manes. Hair that no teacher will demand they cut — at least for the next few weeks — hair that will ultimately fall to the razor of Obligatory Military Service. They still look like students, but very soon many of them will be marching with rifles slung over their shoulders. They are young men who just, days ago, finished their school days at different high schools all over Cuba. The college entrance exams are long past and this week they’ve learned who will have a place in higher education.

Just outside the schools, the lists of the accepted and unaccepted speak for themselves. José Miguel Pérez High school — in the Plaza of the Revolution municipality — could be a good example to explain the situation. This educational center is one of the best performing high schools in the capital. A situation partly due to the professional and economic composition of the neighborhood, which means many parents can afford after-school tutors (we refer to these as “dishtowels” — they clean things up). Despite these advantages, the end-of-year statistics for this school are more alarming than satisfying.

Of 233 12th grade students in this high school, 222 took the entrance exams and only 162 managed to pass all tests. The rest will have to go to a second round, or content themselves with failure. The highest number of low marks was in Math, in which only 51 students achieved a score of between 90 and 100 points. In the applications for careers, teaching specialties are repeatedly put down as a back-up choice; “To guarantee getting a place, even if the tests don’t go well,” these potential teachers of tomorrow say, with a certain indecency.


Categories L to R: Total Students in Grade 12; Passed All Subjects; Failed One or More Subjects; Did Not Appear

The beginning and end (?) of a mistake

The young people who completed secondary school this year are the products of the educational experiments led off by the so-called Battle of Ideas. They are 17 and 18 today, so they started junior high as the “Emergent Teachers” program was gaining strength, a program that put hastily trained young people barely out of their teens — if that — at the front of the classroom. Today’s graduates were educated in classrooms where television and VCRs were the protagonists, for lack of sufficiently trained teachers. At the most difficult times they could count on receiving at least 60% of their classes from a screen. They also went through puberty at a time of rising ideological indoctrination. While it is true that this has always been inherent in teaching in Cuba over the past five decades in, its climax came after the Elian Gonzalez case. Fidel Castro took advantage of that event in the late nineties to impart a twist to the political discourse in all aspects of national life.

Those who graduated from the twelfth grade a few weeks ag, are the first batch who did not have to go to boarding schools in the countryside. Encouraging news for the young people themselves and especially for their parents. However, the readjustment for teachers caused by the change forced many of them to rethink careers based on study, books and binders. The teachers who came from these schools in the countryside had to adapt to new conditions. Despite the difficulties of the former regime of internment, for the teachers these countryside schools were sites of direct contact with the farmers who sold or traded for agricultural products. One of the few incentives for working in such a place was being able to take some bananas, taro, pork or fruit to the city at a much cheaper price than in the markets of Havana. The loss of that little privilege discouraged some teachers from continuing on the path of teaching.

Memorize or question?

The countless hours lost in the classroom to teacher absenteeism is another of the hallmarks of recent graduates. To this we have to add the decline of the investigative character of science instruction, due to the deterioration or absence of chemistry, physics and biology labs. In many high schools chemistry experiments were practically canceled due to the shortages and fear that students would have access to the chemicals. Physical education, computer science and English were the biggest losers in the exodus of teachers to other areas of employment. High school education emphasized rote learning of dates, names, events, without progress in creating their own opinions, a spirit of asking questions, or the capacity of discernment. Graduates can hold in their heads the years and important days of our country’s history, but fail to form their own opinion about what it all means.

The quality of handwriting, spelling and the correct use of Spanish also fell short as educational objectives. This coming September, university classrooms will see students with serious deficiencies in all three areas. But that does not mean that they will be faced with excessive demands or be unable to complete their programs of study. They will attend a University whose quality of teaching is far from that once exhibited in Cuba. In the 2013 ranking of Latin American universities, the University of Havana fell from position 54 to 81, another sign pointing to the urgent need to review the entire educational model. The educational level of the new entrants to higher education, has forced them to lower the bar.

The tinkering with the alchemy of learning, the successive experiments marked more by the voluntarism than scientific analysis, the excessive presence of ideology in every subject, the encouragement of docile, rather than questioning, minds, students’ limited access to updated materials (read internet) and the educational fraud that flourishes where ethics is absent, are all undermining one of the main pillars of national identity: that which consists of knowledge, academics and teaching. But a problem can not be remedied unless we confess that it exists. So while they continue speaking in a triumphalist tone about Cuban education, it will continue to sink into mediocrity, into material and pedagogical deterioration.


96 thoughts on “Entrance Exams: An Assessment of Education in Cuba

  1. Simba on #88, please see my coments on # 32, 57 and 64. As you can see I am responding to Yoani article about education in Cuba.

    From 1899 to 1958 the illiteracy rate dropped from 72% (Census of 1899) to 18% (Cuba’s Ministry of Education archives) for persons older than 10 years of age, a remarkable achievement. Cubans were not just literate but also educated.

    There is a pattern from the Castroit regime to inflate the percentage of illiterates prior to 1959, by using the illiteracy rate of the 1953 census of 23.6%. Fidel Castro on December 17, 1960, in the CMQ-TV program “Meet the Press” affirmed that “The illiteracy rate in our country is 37.5%.” In the Central Report to the First Congress of the Party in 1975, Fidel said that “on the date of the Moncada (1953), 23.6% of the population over 10 years was illiterate.”[1]. In spite of what Fidel said, the document “V Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in October 1997, referring to the period before 1959 says “a country with more than 40 per cent of illiterates.”[2]

    The regime eventually acknowledge the real number, which indicated that in 1961 from a total of 929,207 identified as illiterates, 707,212 were taught to read and write; 221,995 did not acquire these skills.[3]

    In 1961 the population over 10 years was 5.15 million, and the number of illiterates 929,207. The actual illiteracy rate based on the regime figures was 18 %, the same percentage than in 1958. It is obvious the cooking of the figures by the regime.

    [1] Fidel Castro Ruz: Informe Central al Primer Congreso del Partido. Editado por el DOR del Comité Central del PCC, Habana, Cuba, 1975, p. 27.

    [2] Granma Internacional 1997, http://www.cartadecuba.org/Doc%20PCC-97.htm

    [3] Verde Olivo (Havana), August 16, 1968, pp. 40-43 – En ese año se habían localizado 979.207 analfabetos y de ellos se habían alfabetizado 707.212; de la población cubana, entonces estimada en 6.933.253 habitantes, quedaban sin alfabetizar 271.955

  2. Simba on #88: “They apparently don’t know that a comment section is to respond to your writing not some mumbo-jumbo from those who would rather see you fail.


    This is a list of notable Cuban baseball players who have defected since the beginning of Fidel Castro’s presidency. Prior to the Cuban Revolution, which saw Castro rise to power in 1959, Cuban-born players often played in Major League Baseball (MLB). Following the revolution, U.S.-Cuba relations became strained, and Castro ended professional baseball in Cuba[1] and forbade Cuban players to play abroad.[2]
    Players attempting to play in MLB often choose not to defect to the United States, because establishing residency in the United States means they must enter the MLB Draft. If they defect to another nation, they can become free agents, allowing them to choose their offer.[6] The largest contract given to a Cuban defector was outfielder Yasiel Puig’s seven-year contract, signed in 2012, worth $42 million.[7] Fellow outfielder Yoenis Cespedes received a $36 million contract in 2010.[8] The largest contract given to a pitcher was the $32 million the New York Yankees gave to José Contreras in 2002,[9] while the Cincinnati Reds signed Aroldis Chapman for $30.25 million in 2010.[10]


  3. Nick,

    I don’t know why you produced a quote showing an explosion of crime post-apartheid.

    Do you understand the meaning of “increase” and “order of magnitude”

    The CURRENT murder rate is 1000% times higher than 40 years ago.

    The ANC came to power in early 1994. The high murder rate you produced for 1994-1995 is under the rule of Mandela.

    Outside of political violence, South Africa was a safe country under apartheid.

    Now focus, why can’t you mention these “good” things about apartheid like you keep mentioning about Fidel Castro?

    In Cuba, not even whites have the right to vote.

    So why do you constantly praise this dictatorship?

    Why do you deny the undeniable, that doctors are treated like slave labor?

    Every doctor is watched by armed security so they can’t escape and defect. That in addition to their families kept hostage in Cuba.

    Plus, they get a huge pay raise when they go abroad, if they didn’t few doctors would ever get on the plane.

    There are no volunteer medical missions by Cuba anywhere.

    There are plenty of American doctors who go abroad to help the poor. They go out of their own free will, and they lose a lot of money doing so.

    That’s what volunteer and sacrifice mean.

  4. Ignorant people = Those who cannot, or will not, gather all the facts and then draw an intelligent conclusion. Example: “Oh, look honey, Cuba send doctors on humanitarian missions all over the world. Ain’t that great of that old Fidel?”

    Translation of those who can think for themselves and don’t buy into the Fidel propaganda: Cuban doctors, who earn less than a janitor in other countries, despite their training, are forced to give their expertise and labor away (as virtual slaves), in exchange for Fidel having to whore himself out to other countries to obtain oil, basic necessities, and to cull future favors, BECAUSE CUBA CAN’T SUPPORT ITSELF BECAUSE THE DICTATORSHIP HAS BEEN A DISMAL FAILURE.

  5. Nick, There is not one iota of bizarreness about any of my statements.

    They are all true.

    Instead of addressing what I said, you got personal.

  6. *** NEW *** Yoani has a brother in the USA

    His name is Edward Snowden.
    They both reveal abuses of their respective goverment agencies. (Some time ago Yoani reported that cuban police has pulled the hair of a woman-dissident)

    While Yoani is safe in Cuba, her brother Snowden is not so safe in the USA. Yesterday Americans have registered a White House petition:

    Pardon Edward Snowden

    Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.

    Click here to demand the pardon for Edward:

  7. So Simba wants to decide what is or is not suitable for discussion here.

    Simba Sez: ‘…the goons on this comments section are very good at changing the subject to world-wide baseball, apartheid in South Africa, and other crap that has no bearing on your work.’

    The two mentioned subjects were brought up by Humberto and Help.

    Now I really must say in all seriousness Simba, I think its highly disrespectful of you to refer to these two gentlemen as goons.

  8. Simba Sez: Yes Yoani you are yet doing a great job of informing non-island folks what is really happening there. However the goons on this comments section are very good at changing the subject to world-wide baseball, apartheid in South Africa, and other crap that has no bearing on your work. It’s just that those who believe in you fall for it every time. They apparently don’t know that a comment section is to respond to your writing not some mumbo-jumbo from those who would rather see you fail. Anyway, please keep up the good work.

  9. Anonimo (#85 & #86)sounds a bit formal so I think will call you Annie for short.


    ‘Cuba treats its people as slaves’,
    Cuban baseball is the ‘opiate of the masses’,
    Japan treats its baseball players as ‘trained monkeys’
    ‘Ignorant people laud the Castro dictatorship for sending Cuban doctors around the world.’

    What a weird little collection of remarks!

    No surprise you prefer to remain anonymous.

  10. Cuban baseball players should also have the right, and the opportunity, to choose where in the world they would like to play. There should be absolutely no restrictions that a baseball player should have to stay in his country of origin for a certain period of time so that said country can field a good team for the entertainment of others. They’re not trained monkeys, they are talented athletes who should be able to use their talents wherever they choose.

    I’m sure Fidel loves it that baseball is a veritable “opiate of the masses” in Cuba. No wonder the games are almost free to attend. Duh.

  11. Uh huh…..there’s the sneaky anti-US statistic from Nick for today.

    Cuba treats its people as slaves, and sends them around the world, as slaves because they have no choice in the matter. Ignorant people laud the Castro dictatorship for “sending Cuban doctors around the world.” This might be laudable if the doctors had a choice in the matter. Wake up!!!

  12. Help,

    Don’t really want to get into a debate on South Africa crime rate but you are now suggesting that I am fudging quotes.

    Over the last 40 years you say??

    The Apartheid regime (supported by USA, fought against by Cuba) only ended in 1994.

    S. Africa had a high murder rate during apartheid, it has a high murder rate now, but apparently, not as high as it was.

    Here is the full wiki-quote from which you extracted an excerpt that fits in with the point you were trying to make:

    “The murder rate has increased by an order of magnitude in South Africa during the last 40 years,[7] though it has fallen from 66.9 per 100,000 people in 1994–95 to 37.3 in 2008–09.[8] From 2003–2009, crime decreased significantly according to official police data.[9] Between 1994 and 2009, the murder rate reduced by 50% to 34 murders per 100,000 people.”


  13. And the explosion of crime in Spain occurred as Franco came to an end.

    Ask any Spaniard.

    So Nick, why don’t you support right-wing dictators?

    There as good as left-wing dictators, some of them even better.

    People sure ate better under Franco than under Castro.

  14. Nick,

    Always quick to fudge statistics, there was an explosion of crime as apartheid collapsed, i.e 1994

    also from wiki:

    “The murder rate has increased by an order of magnitude in South Africa during the last 40 years.”

    i.e. 1000%

    People from the region tell me the increase was much greater than that.

    The point is people did not use the lower crime rate under apartheid to justify apartheid.

    You can get a low crime rate without apartheid, just punish criminals.

    You can get low crime without Castro if the right government is elected.

    That’s something the Cubans should decide for themselves, in real elections where everyone has the right to speak their mind and run for office and vote for whoever they like.


    I wonder why those who call thmeselves cuban patriots are supporting the baseball stars exile to the US?

    While playing for another country is not a crime, it would be understandable if they advocated the top players to represent THEIR country. Being a patriot means the joy, when one’s team wins. But these are Miami patriots, not Cuba patriots.

    These advocates of hate do not want Cuba to win and prosper in ANY field. What they want is negative news about Cuba. They want to be able to say: under Castro even baseball deteriorates.

  16. Help,

    South Africa was safer under apartheid?
    You need to check your sources here.
    According to stats I find doing a very quick wiki-search:
    The murder rate in South Africa decreased by 50% between the end of apartheid (1994) and 2009.
    And crime as a whole is now on a downward trend.

    Re: Crime rate in Spain.
    There has indeed been a sharp rise in crime recently in Spain.
    Could this be because this is one of the countries worse affected by global neo- liberalism / capitalist extremism and has a youth unemployment rate of 50%+ ??

    …and I do not condone human rights abuses.

    … and did you actually mention some positive things about Cuba?

    I’d better check the sky…
    …see if there any pigs flying around.

  17. Humby #74,

    Since you ask, I guess my take would be this:

    I personally think that the vast, bloated amounts of money that top sportsmen earn is absurd.
    However I would not personally begrudge any particular individual for taking all this dollar.

    This lure is constantly there carrot-like for top Cuban stars.
    If Dayron’s wish is to chase down some of this money, that’s up to him.
    I wouldn’t personally criticize him.
    If this is the case, I think it would be wrong for the Cuban authorities to try and put too many hurdles in his way.

    Regarding Baseball:

    There was an cracker of a game on Saturday with The Crocodiles (Matanzas) pulling off an amazing turnaround to beat Los Gallos (Sancti Spiritus) & reach the national final.

    I have been to many top games in Cuba : the thrills and spills, the passion, the atmosphere, the home made posters and figurines with slogans that people take ages making, the humour, the brass bands in the stands that accompany the Clubs when it’s their turn to hit, the rhythms drummed out, trying to sneak a bit of rum past the cops on the way in to the stadium and that uniquely exciting Cuban style of ballplay etc etc and all for an entrance fee of less than 5 U.S. cents.

    Baseball is at the heart of Cuban Culture. It would be a shame for Cubans if their national league was ruined at some point in the future by all the big names going to U.S. (or other) leagues.

    I think in Japan baseball players who wish to play for the (excellent) national team must stay in the Japanese league at least until they are 26 or 27. Then they can go to play elsewhere and get their higher wages. Then they go back to their Japanese club for their last few seasons before retirement. This system guarantees a good standard of baseball for the Japanese aficionados to watch.

    Perhaps this would be a good system for Cuba in the future.

    The Cuban baseball season will be over in a week or so.
    There is a big rumour that certain changes to regulations regarding Cuban ballplayers are to be announced in the close season this summer.
    I for one am watching with interest.

    Cuba’s many great musicians can leave the country, make their money, go back, no problem.
    So why shouldn’t Cuba’s many great sportsmen and women?

    The Great, cigar smoking, pitcher (100 mph fastball)Pedro Luis Lazo has recently retired from the Cuban League and Cuban National team. He now plays in the Mexican Leagues with the blessing of Cuban Authorities and pays a portion of his earnings in tax to the Cuban Governmant.

    Changes to the situation are on their way……

    La Maquina Roja (The Red Machine – Cuba’s national baseball team, currently ranked #1 in the world) could be even better still if Cuban peloteros playing for U.S. clubs such as Yasiel, Chapman, Maya, Cespedes etc were to be able to play……….

  18. Nick,

    I agree that safety and security is an important human right and that other governments have failed to provide this human right.

    Therefore, since South Africa was much safer under apartheid, should I understand that the apartheid government was concerned about human rights and Mandela isn’t?

    Cuba may well be safer than other Latin countries, but Castro doesn’t report crime statistics so we can’t know how safe.

    They have what you’d call a right-wing form of law enforcement, based on severe punishment, which also works to keep ordinary Cubans from protesting, since that is a crime in Cuba.

    They do a good job protecting tourists.

    I’ve thanked police officers in Cuba for keeping me safe.

    On the other hand I know Cubans who are afraid of being mugged every time they leave their homes, and there have been multiple murders on the same night in Havana, but just Cubans killing each other, so maybe that’s a lower priority.

    I also appreciate the stature to John Lennon and the architecture of Cuba.

    I also appreciate the light amount of traffic and many other things.

    There was plenty to appreciate about South Africa too under apartheid.

    That didn’t stop people from telling the truth about apartheid, even hypocritical governments, who created an embargo.

    Franco’s Spain was also a lot safer than it is now. It was a great place. But it was also a dictatorship. Did you support Franco?

    Of course you support the denial of basic human rights in Cuba.

    Each time you deny that it exists, diminish its severity or refuse to condemn it, you are supporting it.

    Saying “the current Cuban election system needs to be improved” is like saying “apartheid needs to be improved”

  19. Marabu #70,

    I have stated many times that I think the current Cuban election system needs to be improved.
    I think elections are great. However if people think that the world is run by those who win elections, then I would say that they are, to an extent, deluded.

    Regarding the examples of human rights you give:
    Cuba is not crime-free. The crimes that do occur are only very rarely reported in the press or TV news.
    Therefore one learns what‘s going on via word of mouth. As you can imagine all sorts of rumours and gossip abound.
    In the years I have spent in Cuba I have heard of one serial killer who was caught. I have heard rumours of a couple of shoot outs in the street between gangs. I’ve heard of a Mexican tourist being killed (drug related). I’ve heard of other cases.

    However the scale of these types of crimes is miniscule compared to the UK for example.

    There are no instances of armed psychos going round randomly killing people on the street or massacring kids in schools such as has occurred here and in in U.S.
    Teenage gang members don’t go around shooting each other all the time as they do in London and other places.
    There is a small drug culture in Cuba but again, it is miniscule compared to that of the UK, USA or other countries in Caribbean or Latin America.

    You say that an important aspect of Human Rights is that a government has to provide safety and security.
    I would agree.
    Cuba is pretty safe and secure and with a low crime rate.
    People feel relatively safe going about their day to day.
    Kids play out in the street no problem.

    People on this forum like to suggest everything in Cuba is BAD, BAD, BAD and BAD.
    It’s very misleading.

  20. cubans are sportists,artists and writters etc…..but in the moment when the system turns full capitalism all these people will be gone and run after the money and business etc…after the material goods that will enter cuba. Casros will be gone outside the country and most of the cubans will blame them for 1 decade or two and thats it.So enjoy still the nonsense system which in cuba is not much different than EU and north america today where people are turned all to zombies…world war Z

  21. Help #71,

    ‘Poor Little Castro says Nick’ …did I say this?? Don’t think so.

    & you suggest I support the denial of human rights??


    Wrong again Help.

  22. Nick on #34: “Any Cuban or anyone of Cuban heritage that would dare to put these noble self sacrificing people down ought to be ashamed of themselves.No Cuban I’ve ever met would dare to even suggest putting these heroes down.


    INDIA DOT COM NEWS: Cuba`s Robles not authorised to represent another country

    Havana: The Cuban Athletics Federation has warned that hurdler Dayron Robles, Olympic champion in Beijing 2008, is not authorised to represent any other country in the Memorial Primo Nebiolo, held at the Italian city of Turin.

    “Robles quit Cuba`s Olympic team last year, according to his own wish, and he does not have the authorisation of the national entity to compete for any other country, as established by the IAAF rules,” Alberto Juantorena, president of the Cuban Athletics Federation, said Saturday.

    “I did not plan to retire for ever. I had problems with the femur, but gradually I recovered and now I feel great. This is my first competition of the year. I resumed my training in Havana and I feel ready. I will seek to do my best,” the hurdler announced on his blog.

    Robles, 26, ended up injured in the final of the 110 metres hurdles in London 2012 Olympics, and requested to be relieved from the Cuban athletics team Jan 23.

    Robles is the most acknowledged Cuban hurdler who won the Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008, when he also set a world record in Ostrava, Czech Republic, with 12.87 seconds, and won the world title in the 60 metres hurdles at Qatar-2012 and the Diamond League in 2011.



    MIAMI HERALD: Widow, children of Oswaldo Payá seek political refuge in Miami – by Enrique Flor

    The widow of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Ofelia Acevedo, and her children Rosa María and Reinaldo, have asked for political asylum in Miami, according to representatives of the anti-Castro movement that Payá had founded.

    The request marks the first time that high-profile dissidents who have been allowed to travel outside of Cuba in the past several months have requested asylum in the United States.

    On Sunday, Antonio Díaz, member of the coordinating committee of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), told El Nuevo Herald that Payá’s family members were in Miami and were focusing on initiating the paperwork to settle in as political refugees.

    “They’re already here and are taking some time to finish the process,” said Díaz in Miami, who said he was in contact with the family. “For now they will take care of the paperwork, and shortly after, they will speak to the media.”

    In a communication released Saturday night, the MCL said that the Payá family arrived in Miami accompanied by other unidentified family members.

    “On Thursday, June 6, Mrs. Ofelia Acevedo Maura, Oswaldo Payá’s widow and a founding member of the MCL’s Coordination Council, arrived in Miami accompanied by her daughter Rosa María, also member of the MCL’s Coordination Committee, and her younger son Reinaldo, as well as other members of her family,” the release says.

    The Payá family’s decision took place nearly two months after Rosa María Payá’s return to Cuba after a tour through Europe and the United States. During her visit to Miami, she told El Nuevo Herald that the Cuban regime had intensified the threats against her family.

    On Sunday, leaders of the Cuban community in Miami expressed support for the decision made by the family members, who had insisted in requesting an international investigation to clarify the strange circumstances of the deaths of Payá and Harold Cepero in a car crash on July?22 last year. The family alleges that the government is responsible for those deaths.

    “It was to be expected that after requesting the investigation, Payá’s family members would begin to have a lot of problems,” said Ninoska Pérez Castellón, a talk-show host at Radio Mambí. “Unfortunately, this is the path that numerous Cubans have had to follow. […] I am sure they will continue to energetically denounce the crimes that are taking place there.”

    The executive director of the Human Rights Foundation of Cuba, Yvonne Soler-McKinley, said that the Cuban regime has not hesitated to continue threatening peaceful internal dissidents.

    “Dissidents are being subjected to a lot of pressure, they are constantly harassing them,” said Soler-McKinley. “We in exile must now support them in everything we can.”



  24. Few people in the world think that free elections are important?

    What a deluded fool you are. Stop embarrassing yourself.

  25. Poor little Castro, says Nick.

    Poor little Pot Pot.

    Poor little Rwanda.

    Poor little Hitler.

    We shouldn’t tell the truth about Cuba because the USA is a hypocrite.

    Makes perfect sense.

    No kidding our government is a hypocrite, like all others, though never a match for Castro supporting every right-wing fascist dictatorship who would be his friend.

    The question you refuse to answer is why you’re such a big hypocrite, supporting the denial of basic human rights in Cuba that you enjoy in England.

    If you think Cubans are an inferior species, just say so.

    Cubans aren’t bright enough to decide who to vote for or where to live.

    Only socialists are that smart.

  26. @Nick

    Why you are right saying that “Cuba ain’t no human rights paradise” we should not take the definition of “human rights” from the oponents.

    Sure, private television or newspapers are not allowed in Cuba and the ruling party does not allow the competition in the elections.

    But few peple in the world, not just in Cuba, think this is important. People want security, housing, food, sexy pants and iPhones. Free elections are “nice to have”.

    How is Cuba doing on security? Heard of Cubans shooting kids in a schoolyard? How about the drugs – how many Cubans arrested in US airports on drug smuggling (compare to other Latínos)? How many shootouts every night compared to Santo Domingo?

    These are human rights, too, the right to live being #1.

  27. The USA has a psychotic policy towards Cuba which leaves it almost totally isolated in the eyes of the world.

    Whilst the whole time continuing to do business with all manner of different countries with all their various types of regimes.

    Is this not an example of hypocrisy???

    Yet all we get here from some is the same constant sniping at little old Cuba.

    Are they proud of the fact that the USA places restrictions on where it’s citizens can or can’t travel to?

    And all this stuff about human rights abuses?

    I really think its about time the USA needs to take a long hard look in the mirror before criticizing Cuba on human rights.

    Outside of the USA the whole world knows that Cuba ain’t no human rights paradise.

    But they also know that the biggest human rights abuse by far going on in Cuba right now is occurring in that tiny bit of the island illegally occupied by the USA and their disgraceful concentration camp.

    The amount of hunger strikers at camp x-ray has now reached over 100.

    Strapped down and force fed.
    Sounds like fun??
    Think these victims are concerned about whether they have toilet paper or not??

    People kept in this torture centre for over 10 years without being charged??

    And do the contributors here even begin to acknowledge the fact that this is a crime against humanity??

    Do they think that this leaves them any legitimacy to criticise Cuba??

    Do they express any regret regarding this appalling situation??

    Are they getting in touch with their local congressmen to complain about this sickening abuse?

    Of course not. They just carry on with their little diatribes against Cuba.

    It begins with an H.

    …and it ends with a Y.

  28. @Help

    Aren’t you confused a bit by saying “why does Cuban law state that they’ll be punished for 8 (EIGHT) years without seeing their family if they leave Cuba without permission.”?

    Every country on this planet determines who enters its borders and who not.

    I was recently reading, that an Australian citizen may wait well over 10 years before his African wife gets an entry visa. Same in the US, do you think you can just marry a Haitian citizen and your spouse will be with you tomorrow?

    If a Cuban person decides to emigrate, he or she does not enjoy all the rights the citizens on the island are entitled to. He is losing some, or all his rights. He has taken a voluntary, conscientious decision: my US green card is more important to me then my family. Allright, why do they complain then?

  29. Nick, let’s assume I am a hypocrite like you.

    That’s OK.

    I’m just glad I’m not deluded like you.

    You actually believe Cubans can choose who to vote for, or they have the right to leave Cuba, which puts you up there with holocaust deniers and fake Apollo moon landing theorists.

    Can you explain anything at all in a rational manner?

    Can any fact fit in with your theories?

    If any Cuban can leave Cuba, why does Cuban law state that they’ll be punished for 8 (EIGHT) years without seeing their family if they leave Cuba without permission.

    Why doesn’t Cuban law state that Cubans can leave the country?

    This month I received news from 2 Cubans who can’t even leave the island for a vacation.

    One has good Communist connections and works cleaning in a hotel. The other is retired.

    They have no military secrets. They’re not doctors. They’re not in prison.

    They’re cash flow for Castro, which Cuban law states clearly, can deny any Cuban permission to travel.

    They don’t have enough family back in Cuba, which means they could both defect.

    If you understand logic, you’d understand that just because Yoani was allowed out, that doesn’t mean all other Cubans are allowed out.

    Why don’t you read Castro’s law?

    Why don’t you condemn it?

    I’m sure if you move to Cuba without the written permission of the Queen you’ll be allowed to see your family back in England any time you like.

    Major hypocrisy once again.

  30. Please show the hypocrisy, Nick, you still haven’t except in your own posts.

    I break the embargo, that makes me a law-breaker, not a hypocrite.

    A hypocrite is a guy who complains about the US embargo but supported the embargo against South Africa.

    And since the US embargo is having no effect on Cuba, why do you even care?

    Castro supported the embargo against South Africa too, which makes him a hypocrite like you.

    Look up the definition of hypocrisy and look in the mirror.

    You’ll see a major example.

  31. Help,

    I don’t really need to look up the definition of hypocrite/hypocrisy do I?

    I just need to log on here.

    Under the terms of the USA’s (in-)glorious embargo, U.S. citizens are not allowed, under U.S. law, to spend money in Cuba (except under special circumstances). This is a fact. Each time you go there Help, you are breaking U.S. law.

    Yet you are stating that under Cuban Law Cubans are not allowed to leave their country. This is not a fact as Yoani’s recent excursion shows.

    Help, do you not think that this is a perfect example of hypocrisy?

  32. Cuba has had one of the most literate populations in Latin America since well before the Castroit revolution. Cuba national illiteracy rate was 18% in 1958, ranking third in Latin America.

    Cuba was the Latin American country with the highest budget for education in 1958, with 23% of the total budget earmarked for this expense. It was followed by Costa Rica (20%), and Guatemala and Chile, each with 16%. This data comes from America in Statistics, published by the Pan American Union.

    The female percentage, in relation to the total student population, was the highest in the Western Hemisphere including the US. According to the United Nations Statistics Division yearbook of 1959, shows Cuba having 3.8 university students per 1,000 inhabitants, well above the Latin America median of 2.6.

    Many Cuban textbook were incorporated by several Latin American as official textbooks on their school systems. Cuban texts books exported to those countries, brought $10 million revenue in 1958.

  33. Help/Hank,

    I think my preferred option is to let Hank take look after his own post-excremental hygiene and I’ll look after mine.

    But hey, thanks for the kind offer.

  34. The voice of reason is a guy who has never been to Cuba and never wants to visit Cuba but proclaims himself expert on all things Cuban.

    Interesting definition of reason.

    You might want to look up reason in the dictionary too and give a reasonable defense of why you believe Cubans shouldn’t be allowed to vote or leave their country.

    If you can find such a reasonable defense, since you seem to enjoy the right to vote and travel.

  35. Nick,

    You should look up the definition of hypocrite, you have no idea what it means.

    A hypocrite is a spoiled Englishman or American who tells everyone how life is better in Cuba but prefers to live in Britain or the USA.

    You’re engaging in projection and resorting to insults again as Hank touched a raw nerve, why won’t you live in Cuba?

    He offered to send you toilet paper, so what’s the problem?

  36. @Sandokan

    If Cuba was such a paradise in 1958 how come that 50 or 60 bearded fighters with some rifles but without even one airplane, had landed one night and kicked out the good, beloved government, which was working so hard to build schools and universities for the well being and happiness of the Cuban people?

  37. Marabu

    Once again you are the voice of reason.

    The thing is Marabu, this forum is overrun by the 4 H’s.

    Who are the 4 H’s??

    Here we go…

    In alphabetical order:

    Hank, Help, Humby and Hypocrisy.

  38. In 1958 Cuba had 34,000 teachers in public schools and 3,500 in 900 officially recognized private schools, educating a total of 1,346,800 students, of which 90,000 were in private school (68,000 enrolled in catholic schools)[1]. The public school system covered from kindergarten up to High School.

    There were also 171 high schools with an enrolment of 49,200 students. Also 114 institutions of higher education, below the university level; among them were technical institutes, polytechnic and professional schools, which were financed by the government. Just in 1958, these institutions graduated 38,428 students. In 1958, the island’s illiteracy rate was 18%.

    Another 165 private high schools had an enrollment of 36,280 students, for a total of 85,480 students in high school. The number of universities reached 6, 3 state universities and 3 privates. There were 25,000 students enrolled in the universities. The total number of students at all levels was 1,495,700. This data is found in the archives of Cuba’s Ministry of Education.

    [1] En el último año de aquella república, Abreu Ramiro, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 1984

  39. @Nick #52

    Yes, I have heard the opinion that only two nations on this planet support the hypocritical embargo against Cuba: the USA and Israel.

    I always reply that there are three supporters: USA, Israel and and the Miami exile.

    That’s because the exile Cubans, no matter what passport they carry, do not truly identify themselves with the interests of the United States. A huge part of them has this incurable, psychotic obsession called Castro.

    The time chages it. First, because more recent Cubans are economic immigrants and do not join the anti-Castro pack. Second, because Castros will soon die. Third, because they will die.

  40. When are you moving to Cuba, Nick? You can watch all the baseball you want there.

    Are you good with a shovel? How about mortar and bricks? They could use a few good hands to start rebuilding. You may have to bring a tent and sleeping bag.

  41. I think I detect a difference of opinion here.

    Hank says no-one cares about Fidel Castro anymore.
    Whereas Help seems to want to mention Fidel Castro in every post.

    C’mon fellas which is it?

    Don’t squabble amongst yourselves…

    I thought you were supposed to be singing off the same hymn sheet.

  42. Nick,

    Is that the best you can do? You’ve got no game, man. Throw me a knuckle ball or a curve ball. fidel castro is so yesterday, so last century. Nobody cares about him anymore. He is a washed-up has-been who’s disaster we are left to clean up and fix.

    So when are you moving to Cuba to help clean up the mess?

    If it is toilet paper you need and fear you will lack, I’ll send it to you. Just give me an address.

  43. As well as illustrating Cuba’s Baseball prowess and Fidel’s ability to easily out manoeuvre GW Bush, #51 shows how isolated USA is in its hypocritical policies towards Cuba.

    Just the USA, backed up by their little buddies in Apartheid Israel.

  44. George W Bush tried to ban Cuba from The first World Baseball Classic 2006.

    Other competing Latin American countries said if Cuba can’t play, we won’t play.
    Also the Olympic Organisers said that if Cuba were not permitted to take part this would badly affect USA’s chances of hosting future Olympic tournaments.

    George W had to back down.

    Then they said that under the terms of the embargo Cuba wouldn’t be able to take any prize money from the (U.S. organised) tournament.

    Old Fidel said Cuba would donate any prize money to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    Bush threw a curveball, Fidel smacked it out of the ballpark

    He outlasted and outfoxed about a dozen or so U.S. presidents.
    The witless George W wasn’t really much competition.
    Thoroughly outplayed, Bush then resorted to making vague threats of invasion.
    What a joker.

    Cuba were finalists in the baseball. USA were knocked out in the 2nd round.

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