Cubans bring democracy, one letter at a time

Peter Quiddington; 5/9/09

Soon after East Timor voted for independence in 1999, Cuba marshalled its forces and sent hundreds of medical instructors to the tiny country, while preparing to receive many more Timorese for training back in Cuba. From 2004, the Cubans launched the second stage of their grassroots assault – a national adult literacy campaign. East Timor has one of the highest rates of adult illiteracy, at more than 50 per cent. In some remote areas it is as much as 90 per cent, and this is a big factor holding back economic development and building democracy.