Friday, July 15, 2011

439. Cuba's Population Slowly Declines

Youth in Havana

By Maria Elena Alvarez Ponce, Granma International, July 14, 2011
HAVANA.—The celebration in Cuba of World Population Day 2011 turned into an opportunity to reflect on the current and long-term demographic dynamics in Cuba and the challenges that this implies for society as a whole and, youth in particular, in terms of finding a solution to the serious population decrease while aging is growing.
Social science researchers met in a workshop in Old Havana’s San Gerónimo College to discuss the implications and demands of this situation in terms of opportunities, challenges, decisions and action.
The figures speak for themselves: the worlds will have seven billion inhabitants by this October and 10 billion by 2083, while in Cuba, with the demographic patterns of a developed country, the opposite will happen unless current trends are modified, given that its population, currently standing at a little over 11 million, could decrease to as little as 7.6 million.
For example, it is worth noting that, at this point, in the Cuban capital 12 more people die than babies are born, and that all age groups, except for that of 60 years and over, are decreasing to the extent that the current rate of 100 young people for every 60 senior citizens is set to be inverted in the not-too-distant future.
Is it possible to reverse such a complex situation? Specialists like Juan Carlos Alfonso, director of the Population and Development Studies Center at the National Statistics Office, affirmed that, more than becoming alarmed, it is important to act.
The experts stated how useful it would be to create a national demographic observatory, a government agency for comprehensive attention to older adults, and also noted the need for an explicit and integral population policy, and to redesign, expand and improve other social and economic policies.
While the celebration of this July 11 called for thinking that in a world of seven billion inhabitants every person counts, the scientific workshop coordinated by the Cuban Youth Studies Center and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) insisted that the future of Cuba brings together all generations and has in the new generations an essential locomotive force.
Investing in youth and ensuring that they feel part of this present is a way of strengthening the future, the participants agreed. They also confirmed that public policies directed at such a heterogeneous socio-demographic group, more than being related to welfare and inclusion, need to be drawn up with and from young people.
Perhaps the key is in love, that saving formula to which Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal alluded, while reflecting on the need “to win the commitment of every youth to that piece of the world, earth and sky called Cuba.
“Let us all, the young and less young, take advantage of the time in which it has befallen us to live and apply ourselves energetically to change, to the search for prosperity, for the communion between nature and country, between homeland, nation and people, in order to move forward,” urged the likewise member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
UNFPA representatives consider Cuba an example of how much can be done and achieved in relation to the wellbeing of all citizens, the protection of vulnerable sectors, even with limited resources, when the political will is there. (AIN)

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