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D.C. Mayor Led ‘Exploratory Mission’ To Havana In 2016, Lauded ‘Quality’ Cuban Education And Healthcare Systems
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser visits a coronavirus testing site in the Anacostia neighborhood June 10, 2020 in Washington, DC.
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Alongside other leaders from Washington, D.C., Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser led an “exploratory mission” to Cuba in 2016 — during which she lauded the island’s “strong” education system and “quality” healthcare.

The mission served “as a platform for the regional delegation to learn best practices” from communist officials.

According to a February 2016 press release:

Today Mayor Muriel Bowser toured the University of Havana, the oldest university in Cuba, to learn how the country’s literacy, graduation rates, and university and college retention rates remain consistently high.

Mayor Bowser was joined on the university visit by DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, representatives from American and Howard University’s Business Schools, and other members of the exploratory mission delegation.  

Other topics of discussion included commitments to share educational attainment and retention information and results. An invitation was also extended to Cuban officials to visit DC Public Schools in the near future.

“Washington, DC has seen great gains in our education system,” Bowser said in the press release. “Given Cuba’s emphasis on a strong education, I know there’s a lot we can learn from each other. The District will continue to draw on best practices from around the globe as we close the achievement gap and prepare the next generation for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Another statement issued on the same day offered a high view of Cuba’s healthcare system:

Mayor Muriel Bowser met with Cuban healthcare leaders, including Dr. Mariela Castro, Director of research institution CENESEX and daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro. Cuba has consistently maintained high health standards, despite a scarcity of resources. 

Dr. Castro led Mayor Bowser on a tour of CENESEX, a teaching and research institution in the area of ​​human sexuality, best known for advocating for tolerance of LGBTQ residents, and a leader in education concerning contraception and AIDS.

“A city is only as strong as the health and well-being of its residents,” remarked Bowser. “No matter your background or economic status, everyone has the right to quality health care — and it’s encouraging to see that Cuba has made that a top priority. The District will continue to identify opportunities — at home and abroad — that lead to expanded medical research, more affordable preventative care, and proven programs that protect the health of future generations.”

Earlier this week, activists in Washington painted “Cuba Libre” — “Free Cuba” — in front of the Cuban embassy located on 16th Street. Bowser ordered officials to remove the mural one day after it appeared — even though she ordered the painting of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on another portion of 16th Street in June of last year.

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