Health, Humanity, and Revolution: An Analysis of Cuban Healthcare and Cuba’s Emphasis of Health as a Human Right

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies


Linda Carty


Cuba, Health, healthcare, Human rights, Socialism

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


In the midst of a fifty-year blockade, Cuba has had the ability to support its most vulnerable populations. Despite limited resources, the Cuban state has maintained a health profile comparable to developed countries, and one that would shame the health profiles of disadvantaged racial groups in the United States. The Cuban state owes this success to its practice of socialism. Because of socialism, health is considered a priority, rather than a privilege that is accessed as a commodity. This project is an analysis of Cuba’s healthcare structure and how it’s emphasis of health as a human right is not only a result of an emphasized ideology that focuses on the moral responsibility to humanity, but also a result of a system that has disrupted racist capitalist narratives. The purpose of this project is to highlight how and why the Cuban state has created a structure designed to service all populations, especially those that would typically be considered disadvantaged in an American context. Additionally, the purpose of this project is to demonstrate how the Cuban healthcare structure enables and sustains the idea that health is a human right. And lastly, the purpose of this project is to reveal that because of a racialized capitalist system, the United States has failed to experience similar successes in health as Cuba. My claims are supported by ethnographic participant observation, analysis of preexisting data sets, extensive database and text research, and oral interviews. My findings support the claims that Cuba has not only created a healthcare structure that supports the ideology that health for Cubans is a human right, but one that supports the idea that health should be a human right globally. Moreover, my findings support that Cuba has the ability to dismantle racialized capitalist systems, and is an example of how socialism can successfully function not only in theory, but also in practice.


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