By Vincy Student In Cuba

I recently received a link to the iWitness News article “US blockade costs Cuba billions” and I was very pleased to find mention of the large foreign student population here. As a scholarship recipient — and I’m sure the generations of graduates before me as well as my peers would agree — we will forever be grateful to Cuba for awarding us this opportunity; an opportunity that we would more than likely not have been able to afford otherwise. There are many countries throughout the world that can afford to provide similar opportunities and choose not to. Cuba is by no means a rich country and yet over the years they have and continue to provide scholarships to students from around the world. I say this to say, we will never forget or be ungrateful for what Cuba has done for us. Hasta la victoria siempre! 

That being said, being a local news provider, I felt that your article should have spoken a bit more about the hardships we as a student population are facing here in Cuba. We all see and hear that Cuba has a fuel shortage and is suffering an economic crisis. But what does that really mean? What are the hardships that you referred to? How exactly is it impacting us? I’d like to give your readers some insight on that.

The economic situation in Cuba has been deteriorating for quite some time and, sadly, continues to worsen, and Cuba has now entered what is known as the second “special period”. This “period” affects the availability and prices of food products throughout the island. These shortages, which not only affect the locals, have a great deal of reverberations on the foreign demographic, most notably those of us studying, as we purchase goods in local supermarkets, which are currently understocked and even empty. 

Over the last few months, these scarcities have encompassed many basic amenities including vital goods such as meats, flour, salt, oil, milk and hygiene products such as soaps, toilet paper and toothpaste. When products do become available, the students are not privy to this information and in the event that such information is made available to us, neither our schedules nor the hordes of locals outside the establishments avail us the opportunity to purchase goods. Sometimes when trying to purchase products we are told that they are for the Cuban people and not for foreigners.

As no solution has been found to compensate for Venezuela’s decreased oil supply to Cuba, the country has been forced to take measures to ration fuel consumption islandwide. In a Sept. 9 press release from the Food Industry Enterprise Group (Grupo Empresarial de la Industria Alimentaria) stated that because no diesel had been provided to them since Sept. 5, they had been forced to cease the production and transport the majority of the basic food supply which includes, but is not limited to, milk, meat products, pasta, coffee, bread, vegetables, frozen food, juices and flour. This has had a direct impact on the universities that have cut portion sizes and recently have not been able to provide meat with meals. A typical meal now comprises of rice with beans or cucumber. These meals are not sufficient for the physical and mental demands of our studies.

The shortage of fuel has caused some provinces to implement scheduled power outages. The residence halls of the universities are without power from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (which varies depending on location). The lecture halls at the hospitals, where we are given classes in groups of more than 100 students, are now saunas, where we sit for an hour or more. All government offices and businesses have to close by 5 p.m. and supermarkets at 6 p.m.

These scheduled power outages have caused frozen foods, which are already scarcely available, in the supermarkets to spoil and this is also why the university is unable to serve meat, as they have no means to store it. The bank has also implemented a new schedule, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and they have closed the majority of ATMs that are not at bank locations. Those ATMs now only operate during banking hours and rarely have connections to process VISA transactions. 

Water availability in the residence halls has also decreased, with the schedule for water changing from two to three hours twice a day to an hour or less twice a day, if at all. Our only alternative to drinking water is to buy bottled water as the water is very contaminated and has caused outbreaks of diarrhoea. 

Transportation throughout Cuba has also been affected. The country has decreased interprovincial transport (domestic flights, train and national buses) and prices have increased. The university has adjusted our timetable, cutting down class time, to facilitate the Cuban students and teachers leaving earlier to be able to get to their homes at a decent hour. 

In addition to these difficulties, the country has an outbreak of dengue and when such crises occur, the Cuban medical students are taken from school to patrol communities throughout the province in search of persons who present symptoms of dengue, causing classes to be suspended. So far, classes have been cancelled for two weeks (Sept. 9 to14 and Sept. 16 to 21st). 

As scholarship recipients, we are in no way accustomed to lives of luxury. However, balancing a hefty course load while supporting such poor conditions is quite draining. It feels wrong to say we feel for the Cuban people in this time of crisis, because this crisis affects everyone here. I hope this letter reaches the right people and they open their hearts to help a country that has given the world so much!

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

34 replies on “Vincy students meeting it hard amidst new Cuban crisis”

  1. On Friday at the UN Barbados PM Mia Mottley highlighted the impact of the US sanctions on Cuba. Time for more international outcry. Very good letter from our student in Cuba.

  2. Concerned citizen says:

    Just reading this is tough. I hope something can be done soon to improve these circumstance because it would be very challenging as students to stay focus in these conditions and furthermore for the general population of Cubans, these living conditions are undeserving.

  3. Denise M. Prescod says:

    Thank you for speaking out. Most of us are truly surprised to discover that you are in distress, never mind to this degree. This article was shared with me, which means that you have a concerned audience who will be searching for a way to support you. Keep the faith.

  4. For years Cuba has been taking students and culling from them those that can be sent home with Marxism instilled in them. This is one of the ways how Cuba exports Marxism and their brand of communism. For instance Nicholas Maduro was a student in Cuba look what he has ended up as.

    They have been training students from all over South America to be guerrillas and returning them to their own countries to work against elected governments.

    I do not agree with sending Vincentian students to study in such countries as Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia.

    It is only happening because of PM Ralph Gonsalves affiliation to those countries and he supports and promotes their kind of socialism.

  5. At a time when the U.N is investigating the Maduro regime in Venezuela for torture, extra judicial killings and other human rights abuse, the Cuban regime like that in SVG here, continues to provide support for Maduro.

    Therefore for Vincentians in Cuba, the going is likely to get much tougher as the U.S and others pile on the pressure on both Maduro in Venezuela, and the Cuban administration in Cuba, who provides the muscle for the Maduro’s regime.

    “New round of US sanctions targets Venezuelan oil shipped to Cuba”. “US Treasury says Cuba-based entities are circumventing sanctions on Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA”.

    “Maduro’s Cuban benefactors provide a lifeline to the regime and enable its repressive security and intelligence apparatus.” “Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and should not be used as a bargaining tool to prop up dictators and prolong the usurpation of Venezuelan democracy.” US Treasury says.
    https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/sanctions-targets-venezuelan-oil-shipped-cuba-190924150422677.html

    “US sanctions Cuba’s Castro for supporting Venezuela’s Maduro”
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/sanctions-cuba-castro-supporting-venezuela-maduro-190926170330477.html

    Sadly dear student, what you and others are experiencing there in Cuba, are the sad result as to what happens, when bad people in some countries do bad things for a long, time while others continue to look the other way.

  6. I also have a son who has been blessed with a scholarship to study medicine. The Cuban government have been very generous. Why place all these embargoes in a nation that seeks to build others. This article is relevant and speak to a real crisis. So I hope many others will join in the conversation. See how pressure too in the Venezuelans is creating disaster. At the end of the day we are a human race so show humanity to ALL

    1. Cuban government is very generous with other but with the Cuban Population this government apply the worst restrictions and repression. I invite you to live in Cuba and not in a hotel or place that only tourist can enjoy, try to live with Cuban salary, Cuban currency and Cubans restrictions, prohibitions and limitations of food, water, electricity, transportation, and after give me your generous opinion.

  7. Iris Llerena León says:

    Serves you right! Why the hell would anyone want to study in a Communist country!. Lack of food has been the normal since the 60’s when I still lived there! That’s Communism for you, Venezuela is having the same problems it is not unique to Cuba.

    1. Meat isn’t short because of power outages and unreliable refrigeration, there quite simply is almost no meat, except a little pork from time to time.

  8. Caribbean governments should each provide one million dollars eavh to caribbean student fjnd. Because they steal much more than that xnnuslly.

  9. CUBAN PARASITES !!! WORK!! FIND A JOB! STOP LIVING FROM OTHERS ! STOP SENDING YOUR THUGS TO VENEZUELA! THE KILLERS CASTROS DESTROY VENEZUELA!! GET OUT OF VENEZUELA! LEAVE US ALONE!

    1. You are quite right Marion, during student protests Cuban special forces snipers were shooting the leaders from rood tops.

  10. Very much a myopic view from Jolly and Marion,. Cuba is first a Caribbean country and sacrifice it’s people and resources to free South Africa , Nanibia and Angola from the bosom of apartheid regimes of South Africa. Neither of these countries that are now free are communist regimes.

    So Jolly where is your proof that Cuba exports communism? You have a habit of thinking with your bottom foot and not much thought into what your are saying. Your thoughts can never stand up to the test of empirical verification.

    1. JB, Cuba was in Africa as nominees for the Russians who wanted to convert those countries to communist states and to take them over and control them. The Russians hid behind the Cubans, the Cubans were relying on the Russians to supply them with oil oil, which they are now stealing from Venezuela.

      Many young Cubans were sacrificed in this rather nasty episode of African history. The Russians didn’t give a damn.

      Today Putin is again looking to rape Africa. He has a private army in Africa and a number of companies which he has a part of, have signed mining and mineral rights with 32 state entities.

  11. Como Cubano es muy triste leer o escuchar semejantes palabras. Pero hay algo que mentes muy jóvenes y pasionales olvidad, es el costo de una Revolución. Todas las Revoluciones traen un cambio radical desde la Comuna de París hasta la Cuba de los Dictadores Autocratas Hermanos Castro, sean Fidel y Raúl.
    La Revolución de los Castros cerceno de cuajó, todo intento de pluralidad sea verbal, democrática o Económica y Psicosocial.
    Convirtiendo a un país agrícola con una diversa producción en un monocultivo y sus derivados, me hago entender, Azúcar, Tabaco y Ron.
    Luego un partido único, el Partido Comunista como un Loro en una Mezquita.
    Seguido de expropiaciones injustas y sin indemnizaciones de bienes ganados por sus propietarios.
    Convirtiendo a un país con una amplia oferta de bienes y artículos libres en una oferta limitada y racionada.
    Por último, un sistema que humilló la privacidad, el civismo y el respeto por sus ciudadanos. Pasando de ser Sr., Sra, Sta, jòven, niña. A llamar a todos Compañeros.
    En el lenguaje de la calle Asere, Ecobio, Maceta, Cohete.Jineteras y Putos.
    Un largo etc.. Traduzco del ambiente o sustrato más bajo de la sociedad, colega, compadre, adinerado, o que hace negocios, pautas y trasvestidos, prostitución femenina u homosexual.
    Aclaro, que antes que Amsterdam y su barrio Rojo existía la Habana y sus Prostíbulos y Clubs de alterne, antes que las Vegas, Nevada, existía la Habana.
    Antes que Japón fuera un paraíso de los lumínicos y pantallas comerciales, lo era la Habana.
    Entonces que pasó?..
    Qué Socialmente, la Revolución fué un Éxito!.. Rotundo. Pero Económicamente un Fracaso experpentico, que ha llevado al exilio sus mejores valores.
    Cómo decía Castro un viejo refran:
    El que no quiera caldo, que le den 2 tazas.
    Finalmente todo lo que rechaza y se reprime finalmente retorna. La Historia tiene miles de ejemplos.
    Para terminar te comento hasta que punto llegó la Barbarie, a principio de los 60 en los medios de comunicación como La Revista Bohemia, se daba un aviso de que las ejecuciones rn juicios dumarisimos eran tantas y tan imparables que para no seguir mostrando el baño de sangre decidieron por orden de Raúl y Ché Guevara, colgar a todos los enjuiciados.
    Una nota final.. Jajajajaja qué creéis que pasará, cuando toda esta barbarie acabe?.
    Ruego a Dios que nos perdone a todos.
    P. D. Botana.

    1. Estimado señor, gran fraternidad a este sitio.

      No estoy seguro de por qué publicó algo en español cuando este sitio tiene texto en inglés.

      Seguramente tienes un dominio del inglés para saber de qué se trata este sitio.

      Pero bienvenido de todos modos. He traducido lo que ha escrito, bien puede haber algunos errores en mi traducción.

      As a Cuban it is very sad to read or hear such words. But there is one thing that very young and passionate minds forget, is the cost of a Revolution. All the Revolutions bring a radical change from the Commune of Paris to the Cuba of the Autocrata dictators Hermanos Castro, be Fidel and Raúl.

      The Castros Revolution closed in the making, every attempt at plurality whether verbal, democratic or economic and psychosocial.

      Turning an agricultural country with a diverse production into a monoculture and its derivatives, I make myself understood, Sugar, Tobacco and Rum.

      Then a unique party, the Communist Party as a Parrot in a Mosque.

      Followed by unjust expropriations and no compensation of property earned by their owners.

      Turning a country with a wide range of goods and free goods into a limited and rationed offer.

      Finally, a system that humiliated privacy, civics and respect for its citizens. Going from being Mr., Mrs. Sta, young, girl. To call all Companions.

      In the language of Asere street, Ecobio, Maceta, Cohete.Jineteras and Putos.

      A long etc. I translate from the environment or lower substrate of society, colleague, compadre, wealthy, or doing business, guidelines and translucent, female or homosexual prostitution.

      Of course, before Amsterdam and its Red District existed Havana and its Brothels and Clubs of alterne, before Las Vegas, Nevada, there was Havana.

      Before Japan was a paradise of lighting and commercial screens, Havana was.

      So what happened?..

      How socially, the Revolution was a success!.. Resounding. But economically an extra-perpentical failure, which has led to exile in its best values.

      As Castro said an old saying: Anyone who doesn’t want broth, give him 2 cups.

      Finally everything that rejects and is repressed finally returns. History has thousands of examples.

      Finally, I told you how far the Barbarie arrived, in the early 1960s in the media such as Bohemia Magazine, there was a notice that the annjuous rn trials executions were so many and so unstoppable that to not continue to show the bloodbath dec on the orders of Raul and Ché Guevara, hang all the prosecuted.

      A final note. Hahaha haha what do you think will happen, when all this barbarism is over?
      I pray to God that he forgives us all.

      Personally I do not think this was written by a Cuban Spanish speaker, it lacks Cuban words and technology which one would expect to find in such a letter.

  12. This is a very touching article. It takes a lot of courage to write such an article. I must commend the student for meeting the standard to be able attain a scholarship. It shows that you are very hard working. This is a matter that our Prime Minister must address early through it’s consular office in Cuba.

    Our respective Governments within the Caribbean need to find a solution for this. Can Caribbean Governments provide grants in the form of food aid to the Cuban people and their respective students. Is it not possible to send weekly shipments of rations to Cuba by air through a charter service?

    Basic food items like the following would be very helpful:

    1. Rice, beans, lentils, split peas

    2. Sardines, mackerel, sausages, tuna, eggs

    3. Sugar, milk, flower, tea, cooking oil, salt, seasoning

    4. Soap, toothpaste, washing detergent, bleach, Deodorant, body lotion,

    I am sure something can be done despite the embargo. Jamaica, Bahamas, Haiti and Cayman Islands are right next door to Cuba.

  13. Franklin Dorset says:

    Irrespective of how some people think and some of these negatvie comments ther are those of us with good brain but no money to study.cuba provides this opportunity for our children. Thank god for cuba. I have a daughter thereand i pray that god would help them out of their situation. God bless the students and m
    Ķ7ay god continue to bless the cuban people..

  14. Looks like your “free” education is not without its costs. But, in all fairness, that was your decision. Why are you not protesting the lack of freedom of speech in Cuba? Why are you not protesting the fact that Fidel Castro promised (free) elections if he and his “agrarian reformers” took over, but never delivered on that promise. Why are you not protesting against environmental abuse in Cuba?

  15. I have read this letter from a student and can identify with the simply cry for attention, and alert to a situation which yes, unfortunately exists.
    One reader questioned why would anyone study in Cuba and the answer is simple, because it is an offer of an education that comes free and without any strings attached. I remember when we were at the initial stage of learning the Spanish language and one dialogue asked “ Why are you studying? With the response being: “Because my country needs professionals” As simple as that.
    Never were we asked to return home to pick up arms and overthrow our governments; never were we asked to become communists or anything of the sort. As I told a local radio host earlier this week, if the US government does not like students going to Cuba from all of these Third World countries that can be solved easily: simply offer scholarships to all these thousands who go to Cuba under the same terms, free of cost; or even at a fraction of the cost that a university education costs there. After all the US is the richest, most powerful country on this planet.
    So yes students enjoy the hospitality of the Cuban people who do not treat them badly, notwithstanding the fact that most of the foreign students are on the surface, materially better off that the average Cuban student or teachers who sacrifice to impart an education to them.
    What is happening In Cuba is simply the continued immoral economic and commercial blockade of the Cuban people by the United States which hurts ordinary Cubans more than anyone else.
    By tightening the noose around the necks of the Venezuelan regime and people and preventing or making it more difficult for fuel to be delivered to Cuba, the knock on effect of transportation and other problems become multiplied.
    The victims of this aberrant behavior which is moreover unChristianlike are being blamed for a situation created. God never meant for us to be spiting each other and attempting to starve other people with whom you have a disagreement.
    If the US can be great friends with Saudi Arabia which is ruled by a royal family which recently cut a journalist into bits; of the US can be great trading partners with Vietnam which defeated the US at war only a few years ago; if the US can be great trading partners with the Chinese government which like Cuba also has a one party state, why not with its closest neighbors only 90 miles away?

    1. Dexter Rose: Very Excellent comment! It is true that Fidel Castro was a brutal killer of innocent people in the beginning. I am not qualified to judge but know that the USA was perpetrating terrible things onto the Cuban People before Fidel. Clinton, Bush, Obama and probably Trump are all guilty of crimes that deserve the death penalty. Note: the Venezuelan Government is a total mess that is just as much at fault for the suffering in thier country than the Cruel policies imposed against it by the USA
      Your comment exposes the fact that even countries like Cuba have policies that contribute greatly to the betterment of humanity. The USA on the other hand is the country responsible for more wars, sanctions, deaths and poverty of innocent peoples than any other country on earth.
      This should cause Vincentians to look at our country. We barely exist when we could be in a much better place. We are in a sad state although no one is imposing any sanctions upon us. What would it be like if they did!

  16. We do not really know who wrote this, or if it’s genuine, let the young person give an email address if he wants help from the readers.

  17. Anti communist says:

    Great brainwash on the Vincy student! Any human being that defends the Cuban Revolution can’t be an intelligent person. I’m glad for the sanctions. Look what Cuba has done to Venezuela. Waiting for Venezuela to send them free oil? The Cuban Govt are parasites!!

  18. The question for the moment for both you DEXTER ROSE & J.B is this; what is free in this world? Who is living off who? Karl Marx for all that he was, had never done a day’s work in his entire life but lived, like all parasites, off others like all wretched parasites.

    That in the end is the essence of Socialism! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlXqFgqOviw Call it what you wish, Communism, plain Socialism or National Socialism. Or just authoritarian parasites! And we do not have far to look in SVG now, do we?

    1. They, and as they I mean the Rose family and the Gonsalves dynasty and all the other Vincentian scrounge hierarchy call it 21st Century Socialism, they dislike the word communism or being described as commies. Which I suppose they are not because they live a top life style, its all the other poor idiots who suffer the name commies, the shortages, no food, no proper medical attention. That has been happening in Cuba ever since the revolution, they have never had better times than they currently have.

      About half of the female population in Cuba are into some form of prostitution, doctors, nurses, college students, and even school girls.
      https://www.reddit.com/r/cuba/comments/346agm/prostitution_in_cuba/

      Its a great place for visiting foreign dignitaries to be able to molest young women with impunity. I just hope they get the clap or something worse.

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