Author: Yenia Silva Correa, November 6, 2017
The United States economic, financial, and commercial blockade of Cuba has caused around 1.5 million USD in losses to the country’s higher education sector in the last year alone.
This figure includes increased costs associated with sourcing supplies from distant markets, problems with bank transfers, lost revenue, and obstacles to accessing globally renowned publications.
One of the most significant consequences of the policy is the technological blockade, which forces Cuba to purchase technologies and equipment from distant markets such as China, resulting in significantly higher shipping costs.
Meanwhile, the blockade also prevents Cuban researchers from accessing over 200 websites, and makes it difficult for international experts and professionals to travel to the island, given the extraterritorial nature of the policy, which also limits Cuba from exporting its services and obtaining vitals sources of revenue.
In regards to its impact on higher education, the blockade encourages Cuban professionals to emigrate, thus depriving the country of some its top professionals and years of investment dedicated to training them.
In addition to the aforementioned damages, production and services are also affected by blockade regulations which restrict the island’s access to certain supplies and materials essential to the development of teaching staff.
Regarding the impact of the United States’ criminal policy against Cuba, María Victoria Villavicencio, director of International Relations at the Ministry of Higher Education stated, “Today, many of the problems caused by the blockade affect a significant number of opportunities for our development and progress.”
JUST ONE CLICK AWAY
In the case of the University of Computer Sciences, the blockade is just one click away. Thus far this year, the institution has identified 209 website which are readily accessible worldwide, but blocked against the University’s IP address – a significant increase from the 116 registered last year.
The institution has also been unable to access professional certifications needed to prepare and develop software.
Havana’s Agrarian University meanwhile, has also suffered the impact of the United States’ genocidal policy. For example, every article in its agriculture and livestock magazine must have a digital identifier, however the blockade prevents Cuba from accessing such services.
Likewise the policy has a significant impact on the work of staff and scientific research at the University, above all those linked to agriculture and livestock degrees; as the institution is currently unable to acquire equipment for its laboratories, or farming supplies and materials from U.S. firms, making the cost of obtaining such products very expensive.
IMPACT ON REVENUE
One of the ways the National Center for Agricultural and Livestock Health acquires financing, to continue its work on scientific development, is through exports.
Since 2015 the institution has faced serious problems transferring funds from Nicaragua after technology exchanges with establishments in that country, with losses currently estimated at 50,000 USD.
What is more, this also deprives the institution of the vital resources it needs to continue carrying out its main line of work, which includes the identification, control, and prevention of exotic diseases which affect animals, as well as undertaking initiatives linked to the development of the country’s economy.
Recently the blockade has made it extremely difficult for Cuban scientists to participate in international congresses, which constitute an opportunity for the country to present its results in field of Agriculture and Livestock Sciences, and exchange with international experts.
THE UNIVERSITY OF HAVANA
The University of Havana, Cuba’s oldest higher education institution, meanwhile, also faces financial damages and obstacles to accessing technologies and other vital resources, as a result of the U.S. blockade.
For example, the criminal policy prevents the institution’s Chemistry, Physics, and Biology faculties and research centers from not only obtaining equipment but also basic supplies.
Meanwhile, restrictions regarding financial transactions and money transfers also make organizing visits and exchanges between professionals difficult.
Furthermore, the United States’ new Cuba policy announced by President Donald Trump could significantly reduce academic exchanges and visits by students, professors, and researchers from the U.S.
Despite such difficulties, the Cuban government has maintained its commitment to continually raising the quality of higher education, and supporting university students and professors, ever since the triumph of the Revolution.
According to María Victoria Villavicencio “The only reason that the damages are not more severe today, is because we have an important number of incredibly creative, dedicated, and highly professional professors and researchers, with a strong commitment to our institutions, and country, who create ways to mitigate the effects of the blockade.”