The National Network on Cuba (NNOC) deplores and denounces all Cuba-bashing and “red-baiting” attacks on any individuals. We take particular offense to the tone and substance of the Feb. 23, 2020, “60 Minutes” interview conducted by Anderson Cooper, in which he used the example of Cuba to criticize and demean presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
In their conversation, Sanders praised the literacy campaign, one of Cuba’s first initiatives following the triumph of the revolution. The literacy campaign has been universally praised and replicated around the world for the past 60 years, including in the United States, whose own academic achievements and access to education compare unfavorably to Cuba’s.
For example, the state of California has just settled a lawsuit for $53 million due to its denial of basic education to its students. Fifty-three percent of third graders didn’t meet state standards. A similar complaint has been filed in Michigan, alleging that children in Detroit are receiving an education so inferior and underfunded that it’s as if they’re not attending school at all. We call on “60 Minutes” to report on these cases representing U.S. educational achievements, or rather lack of achievement, in the richest country in the world.
It is the height of ignorance and arrogance to denigrate literacy or to equate the Cubans’ prioritization of this as anything but exemplary. A totalitarian regime does not offer its citizens the ability to read and write, much less promote literacy. As everyone knows, it is the ability to read and understand that results in critical thinking and a well-informed populace. Cubans are an educated, cultured and curious society, not oppressed and ill-informed.
We further suggest that Cooper and the “60 Minutes” producers examine the political prison population of the United States and again suggest that they investigate and report on the U.S. children and adults who have been denied the educational opportunities guaranteed and enjoyed by all Cubans.