Cuba, a Blockaded Island that Articulates People

By Itzamna Ollantay on March 28, 2024

photo: Bill Hackwell

Cuba, with its nearly 11 million inhabitants, distributed in more than 109,000 km² of territory, surrounded by sea, besieged and economically blockaded by the U.S. State, has a diametrically different fate than its island neighbor Haiti.

Cuba, a blockaded island that articulates peoples

Haiti was and is the first black Republic to emerge from the rubble of the French-speaking colonization in 1804. Since then, the Euro-American imperial system practically pushed it to failure as revenge and punishment so that no people of slaves would follow their example of emancipation.

Cuba, almost a century and a half after Haiti, in 1959, rifle in hand, expelled the agents of U.S. imperialism. It even humiliated them in the invasion of Playa Giron, expelling them defeated in a matter of 72 hours.

Since then, the island is culturally, politically and economically different from the rest of the countries of the Abya Yala Continent.

In Cuba, 109,000 km of its territory is state property. In the rest of the countries, almost all the land and other common goods are private. And in spite of this, misery and famine grow, as in the case of Guatemala for example.

The Cuban revolution invested and invests in education. It exports knowledge and technology to the world, and that is its main source of foreign exchange, followed by tourism. Many bicentennial countries, on the other hand, cannot produce even an aspirin, and they even have double-digit illiteracy rates.

Meanwhile, in central and southern countries of Abya Yala, violent daily murders are constant and normal. In Cuba, security, with its limitations, is an enviable reality.

On the island there are no malnourished children or people begging for food in the streets. And neither is there the immoral opulence of a few as seen in the two-hundred-year-old neighboring countries.

Perhaps forced by the lethal economic blockade, Cubans have turned the old cars and the ruined mansions of old Havana into real museum pieces that transport tourists to the past that no longer exists anywhere.

I returned to Cuba, perhaps a decade later. And I always see realities that surprise me.

As a peasant by choice, my anthropological view always focuses on the cultivation of the land. And as in no other city in Abya Yala, in Havana I visited urban gardens where food is grown in square meter plots. There are more family business ventures. There is more food. Although the lack of fuel and electricity, largely a consequence of the blockade, persists.

As nowhere else in the western world, in Cuba I witnessed two simultaneous scientific and technological events. Yes. Blockaded Cuba, sabotaged in its access to the Internet, organized in the third week of March the III Coloquio Patria on digital communication, geopolitics and artificial intelligence, together with an impressive fair on science and technology. More than 200 communicators/researchers from more than 31 countries participated in the communication event.

We may or may not agree with the Cuban political, economic and cultural system. But, what cannot be denied is that the island turns its “misfortune” into a leafy opportunity. It did and does so with the old cars. Now, it is doing it with the “cybernetic blockade”. It will surely do it with the “urban agriculture”.

Perhaps two constant premises make this socio-cultural equation possible: the U.S. blockade and the bet on education (cultivation of the soul, brain and body). The constant limit situation necessarily forces even anthropological mutation. And that is Cuba. It is not a paradise, but I believe that it is in better conditions than the rest of the peoples to survive the announced planetary debacle, product of modernity and its capitalist system.

Source: Telesur, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English