Quotable Quotes

Following are some interesting and telling quotes from my "CUBA: Issues & Answers" website. Each has a link to a page in this website containing the quote. Where possible, I have also supplied an external link to the source document.

Nelson Mandela:

If today all South Africans enjoy the rights of democracy; if they are able at last to address the grinding poverty of a system that denied them even the most basic amenities of life, it is also because of Cuba's selfless support for the struggle to free all of South Africa's people and the countries of our region from the inhumane and destructive system of apartheid. For that, we thank the Cuban people from the bottom of our heart....

As the beneficiary of international solidarity that helped make it a member of the community of free nations, democratic South Africa is proud to be amongst the majority of nations who affirm the right of the Cuban people to determine their own destiny, and that sanctions which seek to punish them for having decided to do so are anathema to the international order to which we aspire.

Source: "Speech by Mandela at Castro banquet," 1998


Many people, many countries, including many powerful countries, have called upon us to condemn the suppression of human rights in Cuba. We have reminded them they have a short memory.

For when we battled against apartheid, against racial oppression, the same countries were supporting the apartheid regime. A regime that represented only 14 percent of the population, while the overwhelming majority of the people of the country had no rights whatsoever. They supported the apartheid regime. And we fought successfully against that regime with the support of Cuba and other progressive countries.

They now want to be our only friends, and dare to ask us to renounce those people who made our victory possible. That is the greatest contempt for the morality and the principles which are the basis of our relations, not only with the various population groups in this country, but with the entire world.

And I wanted to make a commitment that we will never let our friends down, friends during the most difficult period of our struggle, especially Cuba.

Source: South Africa president Nelson Mandela addresses Cuba solidarity conference, 1995


But the most catastrophic action of the United States was to sabotage the decision that was painstakingly stitched together by the United Nations regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace....

[This was] clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America....

[US Vice President Cheney] opposed the decision to release me from prison. The majority of the U.S. Congress was in favor of my release, and he opposed it.... Quite clearly we are dealing with an arch-conservative in Dick Cheney.

Source: "Nelson Mandela: The United States of America is a Threat to World Peace," Newsweek, September 10, 2002

Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba:

We [the Catholic bishops] denounce this unjust blockade situation, which contributes to add unnecessary suffering and to render more difficult the quest for development. We appeal, therefore, to the conscience of those who are able to resolve it, so they may take decisive and effective action intended to put an end to this measure....

We deem it unacceptable that the future of Cuba be designed on the basis of exclusions, much less interventions conceived by a foreign government.

Source: "A note from the Permanent Committee of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba," Progresso Weekly, June 2004


US Pastors for Peace

What Cuba faces at this moment is nothing short of its survival as a nation. It is unconscionable that the US government continues its hypocritical stance against terror; while continuing its aggression and sabotage against Cuba. 

Source: "IFCO Peace Condemns US Provactions Against Cuba"


Former US Interests Section chief, Wayne Smith:

We [in the USA] aren't really interested in democracy and human rights. We just use those words to hide our true reasons....

Since 1985, we have stated publicly that we will encourage and openly finance dissident and human rights groups in Cuba; this, too, is in our interests. The United States isn't financing all those groups--only the ones that are best known internationally.

Those dissidents and human rights groups in Cuba--that are nothing but a few people--are only important to the extent that they serve us in a single cause: that of destabilizing Fidel Castro's regime.

Source: Hernando Calvo and Katlijn Declercq, "The Cuban Exile Movement, Dissidents or Mercenaries," p. 156, Ocean Press, 2000


Noam Chomsky

The term "terrorism," in practice, means the terrorism that THEY carry out against US. And the U.S. is not alone in this practice - it is probably close to universal. Cuba is certainly not alone in being treated this way. There is very rich literature documenting the practice generally.... Even the orders of the World Court calling on the US to terminate its "unlawful use of force" (i.e., international terrorism, or maybe even aggression) against Nicaragua, and the supporting Security Council resolution (vetoed by the US), are unknown [in the US], and if brought up, dismissed as proof that the Court is "anti-American" and irrelevant. The Cuban case is unusual because it is so clear, certainly since JFK ordered his staff to launch "the terrors of the earth" against Cuba....

Source: The Anti-Terrorism Working Group, Cuba


Greg Gourley, Director , New Americans of Washington:

Despite all the polemics and rhetoric coming from Miami’s Little Havana about the hardships Cubans have in coming to America, the United States does have an orderly process for people to migrate from Cuba to the United States.  Elian Gonzalez can apply when he is 18.  However, there are some people who prefer to keep the program quiet.  It doesn’t fit their agenda.

Life and death drama on the ocean is a more appealing story for the anti-Castro groups.  Exile leaders downplay the visa program because it points to the plausibility of normalized US – Cuba relations.  That is the last thing anti-Castro groups want to see.

Source: The Truth of Cuban Immigration to America, New Americans of Washington,


Anthony F. Kirkpatrick, MD:

In 1992 Cuba was in a severe economic depression, largely resulting from a loss of preferential trade with the Soviet bloc. Cuba turned to US foreign subsidiaries, from whom it received $500-600 million per year in imports -- 90% of which was food and medicine. The American Public Health Association warned the US government that tightening the embargo would lead to the abrupt cessation of this supply of essential goods and result in widespread famine. Indeed, 5 months after passage of the CDA [Cuba Democracy Act] , food shortages in Cuba set the scene for the worst epidemic of neurologic disease this century. More than 50,000 people suffered from optic neuropathy, deafness, loss of sensation and pain in the extremities, and a spinal cord disorder that impaired walking and bladder control.

Source: "The Attack on Cuba's Health," Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1997


Amnesty International:

The overwhelming evaluation of the relevant UN agencies is that the US embargo against Cuba is highly detrimental to Cubans' enjoyment of a range of economic, social and cultural rights. Moreover, much of their analysis indicates that the negative effects of the embargo are felt disproportionately, not by the decision-makers and authorities whose policies the embargo is aimed at influencing, but by the weakest and most vulnerable members of the population.

Source: "Cuba: 'Essential measures?' Human rights crackdown in the name of security," Amnesty International, June 3, 2003

UN Human Rights Commission:

It is also impossible to ignore the disastrous and lasting economic and social effects of the embargo imposed on the Cuban population over 40 years ago.

Source: Report on Cuba submitted to the UN Human Rights Commission, May 2004

Human Rights Watch:

President George Bush should terminate the economic embargo on Cuba, Human Rights Watch said today. Describing the embargo as a failed policy, Human Rights Watch said that it imposes indiscriminate hardship on the Cuban people and impedes democratic change....

[The] embargo is indiscriminate, hurting the Cuban population as a whole.

Source: "Time to End the U.S. Embargo on Cuba," Human Rights Watch, May 17, 2002

Former CANF director, Dennis Hays:

What we're talking about in Cuba is enabling the people [with new sanctions targeting Cuban families] . . . to stand up and say I can't take it any more.

Source: "Diplomats debate on president's Cuba policy," Miami Herald, June 19, 2004


U.S. Congressman, Estaban E. Torres:

While there is much disagreement about the impact off our current policies, there is no disagreement about the fact that the Cuban people are suffering. Some of my colleagues, who are the principal architects and defenders of our current embargo, maintain that it is Fidel Castro who is causing the suffering, the shortages of food and of medicine. In spite of the fact that they have brilliantly designed, implemented and maintained one of the harshest economic embargos in the world, they speak as if our policies have no negative impact upon the Cuban people....

My colleagues, recently a Congressional delegation visited Cuba. In advance of their trip, they asked two stanch embargo defenders, who are Members of Congress, to provide them with a list of the names of Cubans who were in opposition to the Castro government and with whom they could meet to discuss the embargo. In Cuba, they contacted the persons on this list, and had them invited to meet with them at our U.S. Interest Section. At this meeting, one of the Members of Congress -- who had voted for Helms - Burton asked for a "yes or no" answer to the question: "Do you support the U.S. embargo against Cuba?" Every one of these Cubans, opponents of the Castro government, said "no," they strongly opposed the embargo. Not one supported the embargo.

Source: "Hearing on U.S. Economic and Trade Policy Toward Cuba," 1998


Leading Cuban dissident, Elizardo Sanchez:

Unfortunately, American policy impedes the transformation we [Cuban dissidents] seek. Efforts to pressure and isolate Cuba simply give the leaders a pretext to continue their repression and allow them to divert attention from their failures.

The vast majority of us on the island who oppose the Government believe that a dialogue and a relaxation of tensions between the United States and Cuba would better facilitate a transformation. Unfortunately, the Helms-Burton Act, which among other things mandates sanctions against foreign companies that do business in Cuba, makes it very difficult for the United States to take part in such a dialogue.

Source: Elizardo Sanchez, New York Times Op Ed, April 1997


U.N. Secretary-General and Nobel Laureate, Kofi Annan:

[Cuba] has shown that even a poor country need not leave its people defenceless against some of life's worst hardships. On the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures education and life expectancy as well as income per head, Cuba consistently ranks above other countries whose per capita product is much higher. 

 Its efforts for public health are particularly impressive. As was acknowledged last year by The Economist newspaper -- a source hardly to be suspected of partiality towards a communist State -- "Cuba maintains levels of  health care unknown to most poor countries; and, rarer still, does so in the countryside as in the cities". In this area, at least, our hosts [Cuba] have set an example we can all learn from.

Source: "Secretary-General, in Address to Developing Countries South Summit," U.N. Information Service, 2000


World Bank President, John Wolfensson:

I think Cuba has done -- and everybody would acknowledge -- a great job on education and health... I have no hesitation in acknowledging that they've done a good job, and it doesn't embarrass me to do it. ...We just have nothing to do with them in the present sense, and they should be congratulated on what they've done.

Source: Jim Lobe, "Learn from Cuba, says World Bank," IPS, 2001


Nobel Laureate and Former World Bank Chief Economist, Joseph Stiglitz:

On International Monetary Fund (IMF) / World Bank structural "adjustment" programs and the havoc they create in financially troubled nations:

Step One is privatisation. Stiglitz said that rather than objecting to the sell-offs of state industries, some politicians -- using the World Bank's demands to silence local critics -- happily flogged their electricity and water companies. 'You could see their eyes widen' at the possibility of commissions for shaving a few billion off the sale price....

Most sick-making for Stiglitz is that the US-backed oligarchs stripped Russia's industrial assets, with the effect that national output was cut nearly in half....

'It's a little like the Middle Ages,' says the economist, 'When the patient died they would say well, we stopped the bloodletting too soon, he still had a little blood in him.'

Source: Gregory Pallast, "IMF's Four steps to damnation," The Observer, April 2001


Oxfam America Study:

Whereas liberalization policies in Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1980s led to greater inequality, land concentration and rural poverty, the Cuban liberalization policies in the 1990s improved food security, strengthened rural livelihood and decentralized landholdings. The Cubans expanded markets and instituted decentralization gradually under government control, with an eye towards protecting the farmers rather than facilitating concentration of wealth....

Unlike the experience in many countries where the introduction of markets, privatization, and decentralization have deepened poverty and dislocation, small farmers and the working class [in Cuba] have benefited from the changes.

Source: Minor Sinclair and Martha Thompson, "Cuba: Going against the grain," Oxfam America, 2001



Cuba - although one of the poorest countries in Latin America - shows the best results in basic education. And by a long shot. Scoring 350 points (around 90 per cent correct answers), Cuba is 100 points ahead of the regional average. Argentina, Chile and Brazil follow, with scores close to 250 points. The lowest results were in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

Source: "Learning in Latin America," UNESCO, 2001


OAS Study:

[In 1956] Over two-thirds of wages were spent on food. In 1956, a family of 6 persons could spend only 17 cents per person on food.  It is not surprising that malnutrition was widespread (60% in rural areas) and that the average weight of the agricultural worker was 16 lbs. below the theoretical average and that his height was less than the Cuban average...

Foreign observers agree on the progress made in lowering the incidence of malnutrition in Cuba. [Citing studies dated in the early 1980's...] It has been stated that "given the equity imposed by wage policy and the rationing of food, there is no reason to doubt the affirmation of the government that malnutrition in Cuba has fallen from a pre-revolutionary level of 40% to a current level of less than 5%."... 

Source: "The Right to Food," OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 1983