The Guardian August 15, 2001


Cuba: "A great job on education and health"

The compliment comes from no less than the president of the World Bank 
Jim Wolfensohn, who said he was not embarrassed to acknowledge it. He was 
answering questions at a press conference for the World Bank's Development 
Committee in Washington on April 30.

Referring to the statistics in the World Bank's "World Economic Outlook", a 
journalist asked of Wolfensohn: "One thing that struck me was that out of 
all of the countries, there was one particular country that shone in all 
indicators: education, health, social spending, and that country happens to 
be Cuba, and it's the only country that does not take advice from the World 
Bank and IMF...

"Do you stand by those statistics, and if so, what is the reason for Cuba 
being so outstanding?"

Mr Wolfensohn responded: "Well, we don't cook the statistics, and we put 
them out so that you can read them. I think Cuba has done  and everybody 
would acknowledge  a great job on education and health. And if you judge 
the country by education and health, they've done a terrific job.

"So I have no hesitation in acknowledging that they've done a good job, and 
it doesn't embarrass me to do it. It wasn't with our advice, but it wasn't 
without our advice either. I mean, we just have nothing to with them in the 
present sense, and they should be congratulated on what they've done."

One of the main reasons why Cuba has such an outstanding performance in key 
areas such as health and education is that it has rejected the policies and 
interference of the IMF and World Bank.

It has rejected the structural adjustment programs foisted on other third 
world countries.

Instead of privatisation and deregulation the government and the people of 
Cuba have maintained a strong public sector and control over private 
capital.

Instead of removing subsidies and letting markets take over Cuba has 
heavily subsidised many of the staple products for its people.

Instead of opening its doors to foreign investment Cuba has strictly 
limited foreign investment and applied strict controls over it.

And instead of floating its currency Cuba has control over it too, even 
though it might not be convertible to US dollars.

Cuba is living proof that there are alternative policies to those of the 
World Bank and the IMF that serve the people and that improve the lives of 
the poor. Cuba has done all of this despite the illegal US blockade, 
despite the devastating economic losses due to the demise of the Soviet 
Union and, in particular, the loss of its oil supplies a decade ago.

The people, the government and Communist Party of Cuba have a proud record 
of social achievement which is overcoming these adverse factors and year to 
year improves the well-being of the people in sharp contrast to those 
third-world countries in the grip of the IMF and World Bank and their "aid" 
programs.

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