Our Dastardly, Terrorist Latin Enemies
"Cuba's medical internationalism is extraordinary, and in many ways the extent of its outreach programme puts the developed world to shame. It is impossible to fit Cuba's actions into any neat theoretical box—quite simply the revolutionary process follows no established paradigm. This exceptionalism is seen both in its approach to foreign relations and in its medical internationalism policy. Indeed, even during the days when it was economically dependent upon the Soviet Union, Cuban actions showed an exceptional degree of political independence. But because Cuba is so different, it is also difficult for developed nations to understand. This is a tremendous pity, for there is much to learn from Cuba's approach to developing sustainable public health systems in poor, Third World countries. There is also a great deal that, on a moral basis, wealthy nations can also learn about Cuba's policy of internationalist solidarity."
"The State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras –"El Sistema" – gives children a clean shirt, lunch and admission to a new world of music, camaraderie and empowerment.
When their children enroll, parents become part of the equation, too. They have to make a commitment to support attendance, even if this means they can't send their offspring out to boost the family's earning power.
"When families discovered that music was helping keep kids off the streets and off drugs, they became our most important allies," El Sistema's founder, José Antonio Abreu, said in an interview on radio station WGBH following El Sistema's flagship Simón Bolivár Youth Orchestra's debut in Boston two years ago. Teens who attend El Sistema are less likely to quit high school; their drop-out rate is 6.9 per cent compared to 26.4 per cent of their non-participating peers, according to one study.
By the time the youth graduate from high school, they are accomplished singers, instrumentalists and conductors – El Sistema boasts that 85 per cent of students achieve a level of music proficiency considered good to excellent. They have learned how to work with others in common purpose and how to see beyond the gangs, violence and the dead-end life of the barrios."
"According to the El Sistema website (www.fesnojiv.gob.ve), there are established or budding Sistema-like initiatives in 25 countries now. In Canada, projects are already underway in Ottawa and in New Brunswick.
"It is one of the most profoundly moving experiences, and certainly one of the deepest experiences of music I've had in more than 25 years of being professionally involved in the field," says Glenn Gould Foundation managing director Brian Levine, who came from the recording industry