"WMD" in Cuba

I am a “criminal,” a “terrorist,” by some distorted Bushian measure. I have, on several occasions, exchanged ideas with “the enemy,” met with “enemy” “WMD” producers, brought “enemy” literature to “the homeland,” benefited from “enemy” “WMD” programs, and encouraged others to develop similar “WMD” programs for use inside the United States.

To what “enemy” do I refer, and what “WMD” programs have been encouraged? The “enemy” is Cuba. The dangerous “WMD” programs that have led the Bush administration (with Sen. John Kerry’s support) to announce new, shameful and imperious measures to increase U.S. brutalization of the Cuban people and arrogantly call for “regime change” in Cuba, include: free universal health care, sustainable agriculture and quality education. If used here, these “weapons of mass development” threaten to improve the life of every U.S. citizen.

Cuba’s universal, free, high-quality health care, is the best in the Third World. The island country has produced the lowest infant mortality rate in this hemisphere and life expectancy rates better than in the United States. Cuba has the highest number of both physicians per capita and health teams serving the global poor, in the world, along with the most complete infant immunization coverage and a national health and nutrition education program that has led to urban (mostly organic) gardens that produce 3 million tons of fresh produce per year for 11 million people. (Cuba expects to feed its population on organic food in the coming decade.)

If implemented here, these “WMDs” could provide quality health care to every U.S. citizen, including the 44 million currently without health coverage, and to the tens of millions of others with inadequate coverage, and improve the quality of life for all.

Another set of “weapons of mass development” grows out of Cuba’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

“Cuban compliance with the Kyoto and Rio provisions [while the US undermines them] leads the world, including the replacement of freon by a sugar-cane derivative in order to protect the ozone layer.” (Levins) Cuba is moving away from chemical fertilizers and pesticides and replacing them with innovative and ecologically sound practices, thus creating the best sustainable agriculture system in the world. Cuba’s reforestation and amelioration of desertification programs are arguably the best in the world. Applied here, these Cuban “WMDs” would threaten to provide every U.S. citizen with high-quality organic food, cleaner air, water and soil and stem the tide of environmental destruction that threatens mass destruction.

Cuba, with the best elementary education system in the hemisphere, according to studies by the United Nations, and more teachers per capita than any other country, is threatening further improvements by reducing class sizes to 15, while continuing its emphasis on educating all citizens in the sciences, arts, humanities, civics, social responsibility and participatory citizenship — thus providing more people to improve “WMD” programs in health, ecology, agriculture, citizenship, art and education.

Cuba’s tiny population produces 11 percent of Latin American scientists.

These and other Cuban “weapons of mass development” applied here might revitalize our collapsing public education system, stimulate engaged citizenship, engender public commitments, encourage collective solutions, advance social justice and equality, and place human interests above profit interests and human rights above property rights.

These are the Cuban threats.

Unlike U.S. “profits over people” and “self-interest at the expense of others” ideology, Cuba operates on a “social gain for the benefit of all” commitment.

What is remarkable is that Cuba has carried out these achievements under conditions of deprivation linked crucially to the U.S. blockade (including restrictions on food and medicine).

Meanwhile, the United States punishes other countries for trading with Cuba, attempts to cut off commerce with Cuba, imposes pro-capitalist propaganda on Cuba, pressures other countries to stop travel to Cuba, spends tens of millions of dollars to fund anti-Cuban “dissidents” inside Cuba, and prevents U.S. citizens from exercising our constitutional right of free travel.

Additionally, there are 45 years of well-documented U.S. terrorism against Cuba (given that this country aids, abets and provides safe haven for these terrorists, one wonders how the Bush administration would apply its doctrine of massive bombing attacks against those who aid, abet and harbor terrorists?).

The latest UN vote opposing the U.S. embargo was 179-3 (last year it was 173-3). The world opposes U.S. policy on Cuba, but the United States pummels the world into submission, in an all-too-familiar, and increasingly dangerous, exercise of the unilateral “rule of force.”

There is a joke about Cuba and Fidel Castro that suggests that if Fidel could walk on water, the United States would report that he is too old to swim, i.e., here, everything about Cuba receives a negative spin.

If the United States succeeds in crushing the Cuban experiment (and only we can prevent that destruction), the Cubans know what to expect: misery, poverty, hunger, despair, violence and brutality of the sort the United States has imposed on the rest of the hemisphere, perhaps most viciously in Cuba’s neighbor Haiti, where people now live on cakes made of sugar, butter, water and dirt.

Cubans will continue to resist U.S. criminal attacks, so must we.

We can learn from Cubans that the well-being, health, nutrition and education of humans and ecological sanity are more important, and collectively more enriching, than the accumulation of commodities, development of weapons of mass destruction, imperial domination and maximization corporate profits.

Cuba’s experiment in people-first alternative economics and politics, along with its “weapons of mass development” programs in health, agriculture and education, provide a measure of hope and possibility for the Third World, if not humanity as a whole.

SCOTT MORRIS, is an activist, resident of State College, and doctoral student in the Language and Literacy Education Program at Penn State University. email: dsm195@psu.edu