Cuba’s Overlooked Development in ScienceJuly 3, 2012 | Print |
Elio Delgado Legon*
HAVANA TIMES — As you may recall, the old Bush Plan for Democracy in Cuba (i.e. the destruction of the revolution), promised to close all scientific research centers in our country because they were not — according to them — engaged in activities that were “appropriate” for developing countries.
Even today, no word is mentioned about the development of science in Cuba – not by the information transnationals or the muckrakers in Miami, not by the bloggers inside and outside the country, nor by the wannabe journalists who criticize the Cuban Revolution through any means within their reach.
Science in Cuba is entirely the work of the revolution, because prior to 1959 the country didn’t have a single research center. It can be said that this activity began when the Cuban Academy of Sciences was established on January 15, 1960.
At that time Fidel Castro said, “Cuba’s future must necessarily be a future of people of science.” What had existed previously in our country was illiteracy, with 24 percent of the population suffering from that condition and thousands of people not having progressed beyond the third grade.
Currently there exists an entire network of over 230 research, development and innovation institutions, whose discoveries constitute one of our most important commodities for export. In fact, Cuba has won seven medals from the World Intellectual Property Organization.
More than 94,000 workers are employed in all of this scientific activity in the country, with nearly 34,000 of them based in schools and 75 percent of those scientists working at advanced educational levels. This is something the detractors don’t talk about either.
Cuban biotechnology’s capacity to generate products has had a significant impact on the country’s health system. This has provided unique products to the nation and the world, ones such as a vaccine against Hepatitis B and Heberprot P (which guards against diabetic foot ulcers to prevent amputations).
The Center for Immunity Testing, for example, has 325 laboratories operating throughout Cuba in addition to 469 laboratories in Latin America and 11 others in China. Its range of activities has included the study of more than three million newborns for congenital hypothyroidism.
This scientific center also contributes many products that the country never could have acquired abroad due to their high costs and the US blockade.
Scientific activity also has had a positive impact on the country’s economy, constituting the second line of exported products.
Recently, the US scientific journal Nature stated in an article that Cuba’s biotechnology industry is the best in the world among underdeveloped countries.
In the UNESCO report on science in 2010, it was explained that knowledge in Cuba isn’t in private hands – a situation that is almost unique in the world. It added that while 96.5 percent of patents are awarded to developed countries, only 4.5 percent come from underdeveloped countries and only 0.2 percent from Latin America
Science is one the most important achievements of the revolution and has had a vital impact on health care – not just in Cuba, but also in many countries with which Cuba has collaboration agreements.
Given this and the economic impact science has had on the island, it’s understandable that the opponents of Cuban socialism remain silent on the matter.
Otherwise they would have to admit — reluctantly — to the high level of development that science has experienced in Cuba under the revolutionary government.
(*) I am a Cuban who has lived for 75 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.