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When Cuba beat illiteracy
Teacher of the primary level teaches spelling classes to students in a school in El Quemado, in the municipality of Frank País in the province of Holguín. Photo: Lisandra Cardoso (archieve)
On December 22, 1961, Cuba was proclaimed a Territory Free of Illiteracy, and with this, what was promised by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, to eliminate that scourge in the country. That date was instituted for obvious reasons such as Educator's Day

Since then 56 years have elapsed, but I keep as an indelible memory the emotions experienced in that extraordinary concentration in the Square of the Revolution in Havana, which I attended when I was member of the brigade Conrado Benítez

Conrado Benítez García was a young volunteer teacher killed by the enemies of the Revolution on January 5, 1961. The response was immediate, and 100 thousand young Cubans stepped forward and continued the work of the martyred teacher to eradicate illiteracy in Cuba.

I was 12 years old, but being almost a child I had the privilege and the honor to join that crusade for Education in Cuba, and I served in an intricate mountainous area called Mameycito, in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra.

From that time I keep pleasant memories and I feel proud of having fulfilled that mission, because the National Literacy Campaign, traced the course through which the educational development reached, in fact one of the main achievements of the Cuban Revolution.

Personally, that December 22 in the Square of the Revolution of the capital, was the only time I saw in person Commander Ernesto Che Guevara, the immortal Guerrilla Heroico, who fell in Bolivia in October 1967, of which I have been a unconditional admirer

The example of Cuba and its proverbial solidarity and internationalist vocation has multiplied, and consequently Cuban teachers have offered their help in numerous sister countries, thus helping to bring the light of knowledge to the poor of the earth.

On December 22nd, commemorating the 56th anniversary of the proclamation of Cuba as a territory free of illiteracy and, at the same time, celebrating the Day of the Educator, I interpreted in its proper sense the Martian phrase that dignifies and exalts this profession: "and I became a teacher who is becoming a creator. "

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