Cuba’s ‘Si Yo Puedo’ Helps Panama Cut Illiteracy

I live in western Panama in the area that is home to the Gnobe Bugle, the largest Indigenous group in Panama, and the people who likely met Columbus when he put into the area around today’s Bocas del Torro to repair his damaged ships.  Many of our friends, neighbors, and workers are Gnobe Bugle.  And I have a love affair with the people and island of Cuba.  Pearl Cruises has visited Cuba sixteen times, and I have worked on all but the first cruise, and i will be back in Cuba again this winter.  Which is why I find this article so intersting!

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The largest percentage of those who are illiterate in Panama is concentrated in the comarca of Ngabe-Bugle and the provinces of Veraguas and Panama.

Cuba’s internationally recognized literacy program, Yo si Puedo, has helped Panama reduce its illiteracy rate by half over the past 11 years.

In 2010, Panama’s comptroller demographic census revealed that a total of 148,747 people were illiterate. However, 2018 statistics compiled by the Ministry of Social Development, or Mides, show that the total number of illiterate persons has been reduced to 74,080.

In its quest to reduce the illiteracy rate, the Panamanian government adopted Yo Si Puedo, which uses numbers and letters to teach adults how to read and write. One-hundred and fifty Panamanian volunteers were recruited to implement the program said Freddy Alvarez, head of the Cuban collaborator group.

The program lasts for a period of three months and is divided into equal parts: learn how to read and write; transitory period improving reading and writing; and post-literacy or schooling, according to Prensa Latina.

Alvarez emphasized that audiovisual tools and innovative techniques are used to support classes. Each classroom is equipped with a board, television and DVD player and students are provided with pencils and notebooks.

Clara Mendes, the director of Mides, said the largest percentage of those who are illiterate in Panama are concentrated in the indigenous comarca of Ngabe-Bugle and the provinces of Veraguas and Panama.

More than 10 million people in around 30 countries have now learned to read and write through the Cuban literacy program, which currently operates in around 30 countries, from Venezuela, Nigeria, Spain and Australia. Many of the countries that have used the program have seen their illiteracy rates fall dramatically.

Si Yo Puedo is adapted specifically to the geographic areas where it is implemented. Local vocabulary is also used.

TELSUR Prensa Latina

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Cuba Marches Forward

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While some in the US seek to move the clock backward when it comes to recognizing individual rights, Cuba is eagerly marching forward.  As the US works turning back the clock on US/Cuban relationships, Cuba is eagerly courting partners that will step in and fill the gigantic vacumm that exists in Cuba as it developes its own version of economic socialism, much as the US trading partners of Viet Nam and the Peoples Republic of China have already done.  Both China and Russia are eagerly developing ties with Cuba, while the US chooses to ignore the opportunities next door and continues a haughty “we are better than everyone,’ including everyone else in the neigbhorhood, which might include our neighbors the Canadians, the Mexicans, and all of Latin America including Cuba.

If the US wants it, and works hard enough to achieve it, we can have another Cold War, or Hot War.  But Cuba marches forward.

Under the new, proposed Cuban Constitution same-sex marriage would be allowed.  Attitudes in Cuba toward sexuality have changed radically since the early days of the Castro Revolution, led largely in recent years by Raul Castro’s daughter.

Accordidng to Andrea Diaz, writing for CNN, ” the current constitution, written in 1976, defines marriage as “the voluntary established union between a man and a woman,” but an article in the new proposed constittion was modified and doesn’t specify the gender of individuals getting married. Instead it will say “a consensual union between two people.”

“Homero Acosta, secretary of the Council of State, told lawmakers during last weekend’s hearing session that the concept of marriage has been modified to represent the future of Cuba.

“‘We are not the first, nor would we be (in) the vanguard in this matter because there are around 24 countries that have this concept incorporated; we could not turn our back on this issue when preparing a new constitutional project,” Acosta said during the assembly, according to Granma [the official Cuba state newspaper]’

“Acosta also stated that the lawmakers studied international laws to have a better understanding of human rights and prevent any form of discrimination toward the Cuban people.In addition, he argued, whoever discriminates can be punished.

“The state has to educate our people on the principles of equality, and support for the most disadvantaged, the elderly, people with disabilities. It is a principle of social justice and humanism of our system,” he said.

“The senior official explained that once the constitution is ratified, lawmakers will have a year to modify aspects of the Civil and Family Code that stem from this change, including inheritance, as well as rights to adoption and assisted reproduction for same-sex couples.”

Cuba’s existing medical programs allow for gender-changing operations to be performed, covered by the Cuban free medical system.

Cuba’s march toward equality is radically different than the stated goals of many in the current US administration who are seeking to turn back the clock in the US.

Interestingly the proposed new Constittuion “eliminates the term ‘communism’ and marks ‘socialism’ as a state policy, which contradicts the current constitution that calls it a ‘communist society,’ says Granma.

“Esteban Lazo Hernández, president of the National Assembly, pointed out it is important to remember many things have changed since 1976 when the present constitution was written.

“This does not mean that we renounce our ideas, but in our vision we think of a socialist, sovereign, independent, prosperous and sustainable country,” Lazo said, Granma reported.

“In April, Miguel Diaz-Canel was named Cuba’s new President to succeed Raúl Castro, and there were talks of restricting the presidency to two five-year terms, a clause that has been added to the new draft, as well as stating that the minimum age to run for the presidency should be 35 and the maximum 60.

“Even though the office of the presidency is not going away, under the new constitution, the president will no longer be the head of both the Cuban Council of State and Council of Ministers. Instead, the new position of prime minister will be created to lead the Council of Ministers.

“‘The new constitution will take into account all human issues and bring social justice to build a better political system for our people, and strengthen the national unity,’ Diaz-Canel said, the Ministry of National Affairs reported.

“The constitutional reform also opens a path to owning property and will recognize private property and businesses as part of ‘Cuba’s socialist economy,’ which Cuban officials note is a big step to improving the island’s wealth, and a move forward from the current communist constitution that only recognizes state property and agricultural businesses.”

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Cuba is an exciting destination and the time to explore Cuba is now, before it is overrun with mega cruise ships.  I invite you to join me this fall on the intimate PEARL MIST as we sail around the island of Cuba visiting the main areas including Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba.  I’ll be on the ship at least from November 4th through Christmas and New Year’s.  Come join us!

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Last Christmas the chrech above the entrance to the Cathedral in Santiago de Cuba.  The sign reads, “Christmas is rebirth.”  Cuba is making progress, although the star above the manger is red.  Who knew?

A Matter of Opinion

Not to knock housewives from Utah, except for Ms. Foster  who judges books by their title, or cover, or heaven knows, and pretty much killed sales of my CUBA book.  Maybe she thought it was a romance novel, or a cruise travel books with hints how to pour vodka into plastic water bottles and try to smuggle it on board, or how to travel around Cuba on $5 a day using US money, I don’t know.  I did do a little research on Amazon about her, her background, and what other books she had reviewed.  I promise, I did not judge her by her picture, nor that she reviewed the movie BAYWATCH and called it “A great movie!”  I’m sure if we’d met under different circumstances I would like her, which is the same way I felt about the woman who back ended my car, if you could forget about the damage.

I wrote this book primarily for the guests who travel with me on 10-day cruises around Cuba, so folks who’ve come to know Cuba.  I’ve never purchased my book on Amazon, but I have purchased a few hundred on Amazon’s Create Space company which I sell on board.  Uniformly the guests LOVE the book, judging it not just by the title or cover, but on the basis of their experiences in Cuba.

Ralph de la PortillaSo rather than just fret about Ms. Foster’s, in my humble opinion, warped review, I asked someone who really does know Cuba and know Cuba travel.  Ralph de la Portilla  describes himself as an “A B C” or an American-born Cuban.”  He is a professional travel guide, conducts gastronomic tours and other tours working with Little Havana Tours in Miami,  organizes group tours to Cuba, and has led tours for Collette, Classic Journeys and Road Scholar.  He holds a Master of Science degree from Florida International University School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

So here’s what Ralph had to say about the CUBA book …

Detrich’s publication on Cuba, “Cuba: A Guide For Cruising Around Cuba,” is required reading for the modern American traveler planning on visiting the island nation via cruise ship. It really is concise and delivers a realistic perspective of what one can expect of the ports of call that are frequented by cruise lines that circumnavigate the country. The book also offers a unique take on other destinations within Cuba that are certainly off the beaten path. The historical background and the various onshore activities are expertly delineated in this easy-to-read piece, and considering the fact that Cuba is one of the most complicated touristic destinations on Earth, it’s that simplicity which readers will truly appreciate.  Not just “worth-the-read,” but compulsory if considering a cruise to Cuba…