Zimbabwe should draw lessons from Cuba on how to survive sanctions

by | May 1, 2020 | Politics | 0 comments

Tafadzwa Nyikadzino

Cuba has been under economic sanctions imposed by the United States of America for decades, but despite their crippling effects on her economy, the country has managed to stay afloat owing to its thriving health and tourism sectors.

Cuba went under economic sanctions in the 1950s which hindered her to trade and conduct business with the United States of America (USA). On top of that, the USA also threatened to cease financial aid to other countries if they trade non-food items with Cuba, a plot which was designed to isolate her from trading with the rest of the world.

To thrive through the sanctions, Cuba transformed into a communist state where the government assumed control of most industries in the country.This enabled the state to boost its tourism and health sectors that turned out to instrumental in keeping the country afloat. Tourism is one of Cuba’s primary sources of foreign currency and Cuba has managed to attract tourists from all over the world. According to Forbes magazine, the country welcomed an estimated figure of 4.78 million visitors in 2018 who generated an estimated revenue exceeding 3 billion dollars in foreign currency.

The money has enabled the country to develop its infrastructure and investment in key economic sectors. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation notes that Cuba also attracts health tourists who generate an estimated annual revenue of $40 million. These returns show the effectiveness of organized tourism in generating foreign currency for the country.

For her to come out of international isolation, Cuba invested in its health system by providing subsidies to citizens for them to venture into health and medical studies. This resulted in the country having an abundance of trained doctors that are now being used to foster international relations through what is called “health diplomacy”.

Health diplomacy enabled Cuba to establish relations with more than 70 countries where doctors were sent to provide medical assistance. Recently, Cuba sent a brigade of 52 doctors and nurses to Italy to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuba also sent 216 health workers in South Africa to help combat the novel virus. To date, the country has dispatched over 1,200 health workers across the world to provide assistance in combating Covid 19 . This means that every country that receives medical assistance from her will establish bilateral and unilateral relations, thus taking the country out of isolation.

Zimbabwe can execute similar strategies to survive the economic sanctions imposed on her by the USA that many politicians site as the cause of the country’s economic turmoils.

Since the country is facing serious capital and foreign currency shortage, the government can use tourism as a means to generate much-needed capital. Zimbabwe is blessed with many tourist destinations and good climates that can attract visitors from all over the world. It only needs the government’s efforts to excessively market the country in order for it to get the much-needed revenue to fund its economic developmental programs.

Zimbabwe can also take advantage of its educated citizens to foster relations with other countries in Africa and beyond. The country boasts of being among the states with the most educated citizens in the world. Unfortunately, most of its citizens are being driven out of the country due to lack of employment opportunities and this has seen most of its skilled citizens going to work in other countries, with the state getting nothing out of it.

Zimbabwe should find ways of working with its skilled citizens to foster international relations. It can embark on a series of government to government programs where it can send its skilled citizens to develop certain areas in other countries for returns that benefit the country.

For example, there are countries like South Sudan where education levels are low. The country can send its teachers to provide education services to that country in exchange for economically beneficial relations. Zimbabwe can send its educated citizens to countries all over the world where educated people are needed to train their citizens. This can boost the country’s efforts of trying to come out of international isolation.

Zimbabwe may not be able to meet the conditions required by the USA to lift its sanctions so it is time for the country to be open-minded and employ strategies that can enable it to strive through the effects of sanctions just like what Cuba did.


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