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Cuba: Social Policy at the Crossroads

From the beginning of the Cuban revolution in 1959, the model of social development has underscored equity across society and universal access. Full responsibility rests on government to fund and deliver social entitlements. These values have framed the development and implementation of social policy during the last 40 years. During this time Cuba has instituted free and universally accessible health care and education and has built on its formerly weak pension system to develop a universal and government sponsored one.

Cuba's safety net of benefits includes protection of workers' employment and housing, food subsidies, utilities and other necessities, and mechanisms to assist vulnerable families without stigma. The results have been quite positive. Adult literacy is nearly 96%, and schooling rates have risen dramatically. Infant mortality has decreased, drug use and crime are subdued compared with other countries, and youth violence is minimal. Cubans feel these effects in their daily lives, and for many these transformations mean that the revolution is working for them.

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