Cuba: The international community cannot abandon Haiti
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 3:10 pm
Granma International Cuba
Havana. February, 13 2004
The international community can not abandon Haiti
Speech by Felipe Pérez Roque, Cuban minister of foreign affairs, at the 3rd Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Association of Caribbean States. Panama City, February 12, 2004.
Distinguished Ministers and Heads of Delegations:
I have instructions from my Government to speak at this Ministerial Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States, not about Cuba -which, although blockaded and harassed, nevertheless cannot be subjected nor forced to renounce its dreams of justice and liberty - but to speak about the situation in Haiti.
Cuba believes that the international community cannot abandon Haiti. The social situation is getting worse. Added to the
old problems derived from colonialism and exploitation are new and urgent difficulties associated with the unjust and exclusive international economic order.
Collaborating with Haiti has become a duty for all of us, its neighbors.
At this moment, Cuba has a 535-member medical brigade in Haiti, 332 of them doctors.
They are distributed in every department of the country, and have 75% of the 8.3 million Haitians under their care. To have an idea of how significant their work is one should be aware that Haiti has less than 2,000 doctors, and almost 90% of them are offering their services in the country's capital.
Over the last five years, Cuban doctors in Haiti have given nearly five million medical consultations, have attended some 45,000 births, and have performed approximately 59,000 operations.
In the areas covered by the Cuban doctors, the mortality rate for infants under 12 months has dropped from 80 to 28 per 1,000 live births, and that for children under five from 159
to 39 per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality rate has dropped from 523 to 259 deaths per 100,000 live births.
However, to have an idea of how far there is yet to go, I should remind you that in Cuba, for example, the mortality rate for infants under 12 months is 6.3 per 1,000, for children under five it is eight per 1,000 and the maternal mortality rate is 39 per 100,000.
During those five years, more than 370,000 Haitians - 80% of them children - have been vaccinated.
It is estimated that nearly 86,000 human lives have been saved by the Cuban health workers in Haiti.
In addition, Cuban technicians have repaired 2,169 damaged pieces of medical equipment.
A total of 247 young Haitians are studying at the School of Medicine founded in their country by Cuban professors, while another 372 are studying medicine as scholarship students in Cuba.
THE CUBAN MEDICAL BRIGADE REMAINS AT ITS POSTS
In face of the current internal tensions in that sister country, whic
h you are aware of and which have given rise to the departure of a number of foreign residents, on Tuesday, February 10, our government explicitly instructed our embassy in Puerto Príncipe to maintain all the members of the Cuban medical brigade working without interruption at that posts in all areas of the country. In addition, given the obstacles that could arise in the availability of medicines, yesterday February 11, Cuba dispatched 525 special consignments of nearly 80 medicines so that all the Cuban medical volunteers can meet their tasks.
The Cuban medical personnel, who strictly adhere to the principle of non-involvement in Haiti's internal affairs, are honorably fulfilling their noble mission of attending to the health of the Haitian people.
In addition to this, the Darbonne sugar mill complex was rebuilt with Cuban technical help, and now is working on its fourth sugar harvest with the help of 30 Cuban experts. The complex is generating employment and guarantees electricity during har
vest time for the area's population, previously lacking that service.
Moreover, 20 Cuban professors are acting as advisors to a radio-based literacy program designed by our specialists. To date, 110,000 Haitians have learned how to read and write, and the program will continue to grow. Cuba also donated the educational materials, including manuals in French and Creole.
Cuba is also lending its modest cooperation to Haiti in other areas. Thus, 20 Cuban veterinarians and technicians are contributing to the establishment of a health control program and training Haitian personnel. A further 10 technicians are helping to consolidate the national aquiculture program, for which Cuba has donated 42 million larvae, that have already been released into the country's reservoirs, and for which specialized personnel has been trained.
Another 11 Cuban agricultural specialists are working in Haiti as part of the Food and Agricultural Organization's Food Security Program.
Our country is also co
llaborating in areas such as culture and road construction.
In addition, I can affirm that more than 3,000 young people from the Caribbean are studying in Cuban universities today.
I am not saying all of this in order to boast. I say it with modesty, as evidence of what even a small and blockaded country such as Cuba can do for its sister countries.
The Cuban people feel that they are fulfilling a duty, and moreover are paying a debt of gratitude to the peoples of the Caribbean, who have so firmly maintained their constant friendship and solidarity with Cuba.
Independent of its internal difficulties, we are helping Haiti at this crucial moment in its history, and let us not forget that it was there, 200 years ago, that the struggle for the freedom of our Caribbean and Latin American peoples began.
Thank you very much.
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