In these last two years in which the Covid-19 pandemic has marked the daily lives of families on the planet, surely many of us ask ourselves:What would have happened if Fidel had not promoted biotechnological development in the country, despite economic shortages and external pressures? An answer immediately awaits: “the dead would have been many, but many more. Perhaps neither you nor I would be telling the story,” people often hear in Cuban homes and streets when they talk about it.
There are those who recall the Commander’s speech at the opening ceremony of the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM), on December 5, 1994, -in the midst of the Special Period-, when he emphatically said:
It is not a luxury, it is a promise of health for our people and it is a promise of income for our economy.
“Many of us called it ‘crazy’, because what we were going through was not easy, there was nothing in the country, no food, no clothes, no shoes. A very difficult situation, and Fidel allocating millions for the construction and equipment of that place, well, one could not understand that, we saw it as nonsense. But shortly after we had to agree with him; the man knew what he was doing. That center and others it created have been saving us the bell for a long time,” says a Cuban who is fighting lung cancer, thanks to a vaccine produced at the CIM.
Millions of people in Cuba and in the world, who directly or indirectly, receive the benefits of the scientific development promoted by the Commander in Chief in Cuba. Those who learn to read and write with the Yo Sí Pod method of literacy. Those who still walk thanks to the “miraculous” Heberprot-P. The peasants who achieve higher yields and quality crops, by new varieties of rice or other cultivars, fruits of the different experimental stations existing in the country. The population that can prepare to face the onslaught of meteorological phenomena because there are specialists in the field and weather forecast centers. A society that advances in computerization.
And so, we could mention many examples, because regarding scientific development, Fidel had a comprehensive and far-reaching vision, so he was not only promoted by science in the field of medicine, but he understood it as a foundation in the solution of the main problems that the nation would have to face in the complex path towards economic and social development, limited to a great extent by external factors.
“One of the great merits of Fidel Castro was, from the beginning, prioritizing the value of knowledge to guarantee the future. Hence his determination to achieve mass access for the people to education and culture (…) A milestone in this determination was the creation of the Cuban Academy of Sciences in 1962, under an integrating conception of all the spheres and disciplines of science, to which was added the deployment of the university reform and the creation of the National Center for Scientific Research (CENIC) in 1965, matrix of other institutions that were later developed until forming a powerful and efficient infrastructure for the development of science in the country”, state the authors of The Cuban Revolution, Fidel and Science, and add:
“From those pillars, raised by Fidel, science ceased to be an activity of elites or isolated scientists, to become the patrimony of the people from the universalization of education. This became evident, with singular force, throughout of the 70s and 80s, in which, together with the creation of universities and multiple research centers, entities such as the Science and Technology Forum, the Youth Technical Brigades, the Movement of Innovators and Rationalizers emerged and others, linked to the labor and union movement, which would have to play a leading role in the arduous task of counteracting the disastrous consequences derived from underdevelopment and the economic blockade imposed by the United States.
Special mention deserves the impulse, strategic design and founding presence of Fidel in the emergence of various research entities in the field of biomedical and agricultural sciences, among others, with an interdisciplinary projection and colossal vision of the future. In this framework, the creation of the Biotechnology Sector stands out from 1981, when its deployment was monopolized by countries of the so-called first world. Therein lies one of the most important antecedents of the Cuban scientific strength that has allowed today the successful confrontation with the new coronavirus.
What Fidel generated is not limited to the rescue of intelligence, nor to the creation of scientific institutions, although this alone would already be a great merit. His great contribution in this field has been to generate a policy for the development of science and technology imbued with ethical values, with a humanistic sense and collective work, inter-institutional collaboration, international solidarity and promotion of the various fields of research. science, including the basic sciences, the technical and nuclear sciences, as well as the no less important sphere of the social and humanistic sciences.
This conception was validated by concrete actions that raised the level of scientific development of the nation, particularly the organization of scientific poles from 1991, whose integration generated capacities to enhance the country’s scientific, technological and organizational resources and attend to prioritized programs that would provide solutions to multiple problems in society.
In the same way, and as an expression of the materialization of this line of thought of Fidel, it is created, in 1994, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, as an institutional tool for the projection and concretion of the national scientific-technological policy and the protection of the environment, in line with the ideas presented by him at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 , and that had such an impact on the international community”.
In the decade of the 90s, these conceptions of Fidel were put to the test, given the need to strengthen an economy based on science to face the terrible consequences of the collapse of the socialist camp and the tightening of the United States economic blockade against the Island. In that context, the Commander’s capacity for foresight was decisive and on January 15, 1960, in the commemorative act for the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the Speleological Society of Cuba, proclaimed that the country’s independence depended on the development of science and technology.
“Between what Fidel said that day and what Cuba has built in the last six decades, there is an unbreakable thread: the coherence of a statesman with a strategic vision of the future and fidelity to a political program centered on human development as a goal. last, above economic criteria.
Aware of the profound limitations of a small, underdeveloped and dependent nation, whose sense of freedom would make the neighboring powerful power uncomfortable, from very early on Fidel opted to achieve technological and scientific sovereignty; and with the active participation of the people, it filled the Island with schools, health institutions and scientific centers!”, explained the First Secretary of the Party and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez at the Virtual Meeting “Fidel man of science with future vision”.
More than half a century of life in which, from his position as leader of the Cuban revolutionary process, he stimulated and strengthened the production of intelligence and knowledge, aware that these factors would play a strategic role in the development and future of the nation. . For what many consider that he was the author of the greatest social project in Cuba: the Revolution and its transformative work.
Thanks to Fidel, today in Cuba, science is a powerful weapon against the coronavirus and against all human “pandemics.” Life and science go hand in hand on this Island.