Declaration of the Committee for French-Cuban Scientific and University Collaboration
Greetings to the Committee from his Excellency, Dr. Baudilio Castellanos Garcia, Cuban Ambassador to France
Paris, 10 October 1969
In recent years, French scientists and academics have had the opportunity to visit Cuba, notably in 1968 for the Cultural Congress organized in Havana, during which the problem of the underdevelopment of science and technology was studied.
The blockade of the island makes contact between Cuban universities and scientists and their West European and American counterparts difficult, impeding the free circulation of scientific information.
It therefore seemed useful to create an organism charged with the establishment of academic and scientific collaboration between Cubans and French. It is our Committee that proposes to play this role. […]
The goal of the Committee is to promote French-Cuban cooperation in the domains of teaching, research, technology, and culture.
Of course, the Committee hopes to see official relations between France and Cuba develop as much as possible through the signing of agreements for scientific, technical and cultural cooperation, through the exchange of delegations of experts and of grant-holders. […]
Before the official creation of the Committee, a certain number of activities took place.
In the first place, in collaboration with the Havana University, we were able to organize Summer Schools in various fields.
In 1968: Mathematics (probability calculus), statistics (test planning in view of applications to agronomy), solid-state physics (basic course and technical course on the problems of transistors), molecular biology and immunology.
In 1969: Mathematics (functional analysis), statistics (following the 1968 course), programming, process planning, solid-state physics (following the 1968 course), molecular biology (following the 1968 course), genetics (directed at practical work), plant physiology (directed at specific applications for Cuba), geography and soil study, problems in forestry, organic chemistry (physical methods of separation), history (problems in methodology), child and learning psychology.
In 1968: thirteen teachers gave courses; there were forty this year. For next year, numerous courses have already been conceived and discussed, dealing at the same time with the problems of teaching the sciences and the basic humanistic disciplines, but also with specific technical problems. The number of courses in technological fields in particular will be considerably increased. […]
For these summer schools, the Committee collaborated with some highly qualified foreign specialists, notably from America. England, Germany (Federal Republic), Italy. On the whole, these schools were a success. They enabled very useful discussions to take place on teaching (programs and methods), on techniques of practical work and the use of material, on the relation between theory and practice. Numerous personal and social contacts were established, and French teachers were able to experience first-hand the inherent difficulties of developing countries, and to observe entirely new experiences. For our Cuban colleagues, these human relations often help them to break out of their professional isolation.
The Committee’s activities are not limited to the summer schools. We made great efforts to send French teachers to Cuba for periods ranging from six months to two years, as well as researchers who were capable of leading a team. We have benefited from the interest shown in this problem by the Directors of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique. We try to favor Cuban grant holders coming to France and sending young French voluntary workers to Cuba by way of military service; a possibility that French students and young technicians are unaware of. Finally, we can facilitate the purchase of material for our Cuban colleagues by providing them the necessary documentation. […]
We would like to associate with our efforts the highest number of scientists and academics interested in the problems of cooperation with a country that is making great sacrifices to develop its culture, as has been shown by past campaigns for literacy and mass education, and now shown by current efforts to introduce modern technology to agriculture, industry and the economy.
Cuban authorities and colleagues have always put great trust in us. The cordiality of their acceptance, the efforts and economic sacrifices they made in establishing a close collaboration among the scientists and academics of the two countries leave us in no doubt that it is necessary to vigorously develop the activity of our Committee and to associate to it the highest possible number of academics, researchers and engineers.
For the Committee officials:
Mr. HELLER, President of the Committee, Professor at the Parisian Faculty of Sciences
Mr. D. DACUNHA-CASTELLE, General Secretary, Master of Conferences at the Strasbourg Faculty of Sciences
and the honorary members of the Committee:
Mr. Raymond FEVRIER, General Inspector of the I.N.R.A.
Mr. POITOU, Dean of the Orsay Faculty of Sciences
Mr. Jean JACQUE, Research Director of C.N.R.S. at the Collège de France
Mr. Yves LACOSTE, Professor of Geography at the Institute of Geography
Mr. Adam KEPPES, Research Director of C.N.R.S. at the Collège de France
Mr. Pierre LEHMANN, Professor of Physics at the Orsay Faculty of Sciences
Mr. Laurent SCHWARTZ, Professor of Mathematics at the Parisian Faculty of Sciences
Mr. Pierre VILAR, Professor at Sorbonne
Mr. Charles THIBAULT, Director of the Station Centrale de Physiologie animale
[Greetings from Dr. Baudilio Castellanos Garcia, Cuban Ambassador to France, to the members of the Committee … ]
French university researchers and scholars, together with Cuban and other colleagues of many other nationalities, organized summer courses in 1968 and 1969 in Havana, Cuba. To launch and develop their plans, they organized themselves into a committee known as the Committee for French-Cuban Scientific and University Collaboration.
We consider these activities to be one of the most impressive human adventures currently unfolding in the formation and diffusion of science.
Professors from France, England, Germany, North America and Italy lectured at a summer school that they themselves organized. Their courses were offered during the last weeks of July, in August, and sometimes during the first week of September. The duration of the courses varied, in general, between fifteen and forty days.
With no intention of offending the modesty of these professors, we should point out that in giving these courses, they renounced their summer break, thus sacrificing time with their families during the traditional holiday period. In doing this inspiring deed that is worthy of recognition, we should point out as well that their services were offered for free, and moreover, that their work in Cuba involved costs for books, materials and air transport from Paris to Madrid.
The first summer school is devoted mainly to natural sciences. The second expands this essential activity with courses in the humanities and technology.
These courses were aimed at Cuban professors at our three universities, at students in their final years, and at technicians and researchers at various research institutes and ministries.
Once in Cuba, the professors were not satisfied with simply giving their respective courses, they helped, moreover, to revise our curricula, both for university teaching and for secondary, technical and primary education.
Furthermore, the professors visit our facilities and laboratories, discuss with our technicians, travel in the regions of our country, and finally offer their advice and criticisms.
The remarkable aid offered to our country by the Committee and by the professors supplement the assistance already received from international organizations such as UNESCO, WHO and others, as well as that granted by the French government and by other countries, in particular, the socialist countries, and that what we have received from the industrial and commercial firms with whom we have relations.
The leading members of the Committee have given themselves the objective of honouring the higher qualifications within the national framework of our country in order to launch during the next decade the creation of autonomous and high-quality schools in Cuba.
In the coming months, the Committee proposes to expand both horizontally and vertically. For the current scholarly year of the Cuban universities, several professors have already been sent. And young Cuban researchers are already in France in laboratories chosen by the Committee.
Making use of experiences from previous years, the Committee, in collaboration with Cuban universities, is now planning the activities for summer 1970. It is up to us to create, with farsighted and meticulous work, the summer school 1970 and, after Cuba has obtained a large crop of ten million sugar canes, a fruitful scientific event.
Three hundred men of science from twenty or thirty nations or disciplines could produce a chain reaction of human intellectual energy and generate a fusion of neurons that could shake up the international scientific community and release new forces so that summer schools may be created in other countries of the underdeveloped world.
The delay in the cultural, scientific and technical development of the peoples of the third world is more acute than the delay in its economic development and more noticeable since it denies any effective means of solving the problems of modern society.
It is agreed that the importance of the sacrifice and of the magnificent tasks carried out by the Committee and the researchers at universities in France and other nations are not only a service to Cuba, but also to the whole of humanity.
To them, the infinite gratitude of our people.