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Jul 16, 2020

86 Belizean Students in Cuba Appeal for Help!

Eighty-six Belizean students on scholarships in Cuba say they are faced with extreme hardships and don’t know what will be their next step.  The students say they are in urgent need of food and hygiene products but the COVID-19 pandemic has made their situation difficult to navigate. The students in Cuba have made a public call for help – as they say that their stipend of one hundred and fifty US dollars monthly was cut down to one hundred US dollars monthly. They say that this move is crippling – and they are also faced with the struggles to access basic necessities in Cuba. The students now hope that a cargo could be made available for their families to send help.  The Embassy in Cuba has been helpful.  Today we spoke with Amber Williams, she is a Belizean student studying medicine. She spoke on behalf of the students sharing their plight and appeal for help.


On the Phone: Amber Williams, Belizean Student in Cuba

“The reduction of stipend from one hundred and fifty US dollars  to a hundred dollars – we feel that it is inconsiderate. We know and we understand that cost of living everywhere is going up and we understand that government of Belize is trying to cut costs in order to make adjustments so that the economy doesn’t collapse. However, Cuba operates under an embargo from the U.S and the more sanctions that the US hands, the more scarce and expensive everything in Cuba becomes. So, cutting our stipend to a hundred and fifty dollars, we still need to buy school supplies, hygiene products; pay for internet access and transportation. We need to pay for things like laundry. And all these things, the prices have been going up and doubling or tripling. Whereas you may say that in Cuba you operate with Cuban pesos, while that may be true, Cuban pay in Cuban pesos but students have to pay in CUC which is the equivalent of the US dollar. In addition to the stores being empty, they are also rationing the amount of items you can buy. For example, if they put soap in the stores, you will find that you would have the lines outside from the day before and when you get there you join a really long line and you wait for approximately six to eight hours only to get inside the store and be able to buy one soap. Currently we don’t have any options because we are unable to go home because borders are closed both in Cuba and in Belize. So, what we are left with is that for food we have to depend on the school cafeteria which is and has been proven to not be enough and in terms of toiletries, we can either buy the items off the black market for four or five time the original price. Or we can just suffer and do without, which isn’t something that we can help.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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