Biotechnology know-how transfer from Cuba to Turkey

Biotechnology know-how transfer from Cuba to Turkey

Cuban-American relations are rapidly normalizing with the two countries’ decision to open embassies in each other’s capitals on July 20. This prompts the questions: Will the last stronghold of Marxism change? If so, to what extent will it change?

I was among those who thought it would be wise to visit the country before it changes completely. Ahead of my 10-day trip to Cuba, I had the opportunity to meet Cuban Ambassador to Turkey Alberto Gonzalez Casals.

During our conversation, I learned from the ambassador that Cuba was among the top five countries in the world in biotechnology, with 1,200 patents. It is ready to convey its know-how in the field to Turkey.

In a factory to be built in the Central Anatolian city of Kayseri in the coming months, as a joint venture of Turkey and Cuba, new-generation medicine will be produced including a hepatitis-c vaccine and cancer drugs. Cuba is hoping to enter the EU market through Turkey. 

Indeed, biotechnology is one of the most significant items in the ongoing U.S.-Cuba talks. Cuba is also cooperating with China in this field. 

In order to strengthen its biotechnology industry, in 2012 Cuba brought together 38 of its biotech and pharmaceutical firms under the umbrella of “BioCubaFarma.” The country now has 53 institutes in this field. 

Cuba is a country that offers an alternative to capitalism. Our wonderful guides in Cuba told us that the country’s model of socialism is not a model for the world, because it is not even tailor-made for Cuba. Rather, it is a cloth that is being sewn with countless seams before being torn apart and sewn back again. For this reason, it is a laboratory where unique sociological and economic experiences are had. 

We will all see together how this laboratory will develop after the normalization of its relations with the United States.

I particularly want to share a piece of information that our Cuban guide Yosetti Herrera told me. 

The latest trend in this country where the Internet is quite limited and where YouTube is banned is Turkish soap operas. 

Herrara told me that the Turkish series “What’s Fatmagül’s Crime?” (Fatmagül’ün Sücü Ne?), “Black Rose” (Karagül), “Sıla,” and “Noor” (Gümüş) are all popular in Cuba at the moment. 

The same shows have also attracted a huge mass of fans in the Middle East, but it may be surprising to hear that these shows are being watched by Cubans. Locals buy them at a reasonable price as a package in which they have been downloaded in CDs or flash discs. 

It is sure that popular culture absolutely does not have any boundaries and does not respect any bans.