Cuba: Punching Above Its Weight

Bangalore International Centre

Date: 07-10-2016
Venue: Bangalore International Center, Bengaluru
Presenter: Stanley Pinto
Event description:
Stanley Pinto presents and evening focused on Cuba. Consisting of a slide presentation on that magical country, its origins and culture, followed by a documentary covering the famous missile crisis that almost led to a catastrophic nuclear war. The documentary includes footage of John Kennedy, Nikita Khruschev and other world leaders who played a role in that crisis…and recent interview with many players, including of course, Fidel Castro.

Event summary:

Cuba has always caught my attention, when I was studying more about Latin America. Preserved past, high investment in providing free health-care services to every citizen, and one of least connected countries to outer world was enough to get me to this event.

Presentation has been delivered by Stanley Pinto, who has been to Cuba few years ago. He started his presentation by highlighting history of Cuba. How colonization of Cuba happened and replacement of native population by slaves brought from other parts of the world. America tried to buy this island and eventually seized it last.They put a dictator in control and they it became a playground for riches.

Revolution has started against oppressive regime of dictator, but it was mostly concentrated in villages.In 1959, Fidel Castro came into power by bringing revolution to cities from villages. But after the revolution, he was in need of money to build the country. He had to nationalize all the companies, most of them were subsidiaries of USA based enterprises. It has lead to animosity with USA. With no help provided from USA and other western allies, he move towards Soviet Union. Soviet Union helped Cuba, but in return asked Cuba to become a communist state.

Soviet Union continue to help Cuba, but post 1991 subsidy used to be given have started to dried up. Cuba faced a long isolation from the outer world. But despite all these odds, Fidel Castro and Cuba survived. Cubans still do not complain despite the dire state( as viewed by outside world) of their country. With minimum salary $4 and Median is $18, Cubans live very simple life. This country is known for outdoor pictures and wonderful old cars.

Post normalization of relation with USA, Cuba is now waiting for foreign direct investment. But the key question, what is there for me as a tourist? According to the presenter, Mambo was invented there in the year 1933. Cubans are wonderful people and more than willing to provide comfortable life to others. It is advisable to live a family in Cuba to experience general life.

Cuba has got same population as Bengaluru, that is why title of the talk ‘Cuba: Punching Above Its Weight’. Reason? Well, in terms of significance on world level, Cuba is much more than a small island.
Free medication of all Cubans, as well as free medical education is one of the rare things in the world. Cuba has very low mortality rate and very high life expectancy, thanks to more than 70000 doctors. Cuba’s Latin American Medical School is world’s largest medical school. It attracts student from all over the world. Cuba has sent medical teams to support relief operations in many disasters.

So, what does future holds for Cuba? With opening of Cuba to outer world, will the market forces bring any change to its current structure? It is difficult to say. Cuba is much different than Soviet Union, although it chose to follow it.

In the second part of session, we were shown a documentary from Cola War era highlighting tensions between USA and USSR, popularly known as Cuban Missile Crisis.

Web-link: Read more about event details here

(Based on personal experiences. Need not to be true to the minute details)

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