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  #1  
Old 04-20-2011, 03:55 AM
phantom lamb phantom lamb is offline
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Tell me bad things about Cuba.

To cut it short, my boyfriend is convinced that Cuba is some kind of utopia and that Castro is a great guy. Everyone is equal and eveyrone gets what they need and there's no evil consumer mentality. I call BS but I admit I'm not knowledgable enough on this subject to actually offer him concrete examples of why he might be wrong.

So please offer me some counterarguments
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  #2  
Old 04-20-2011, 05:17 AM
SanVito SanVito is offline
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Before I start, I should say that I do love Cuba and have visited a number of times. Having said that...

Everyone is 'equal', but everyone is poor. A doctor doesn't get paid much more than the rubbish collectors.

Most people want to work in the tourist industry because that means access to dollar tips (the tourist industry uses dollars rather than local pesos). With dollars they can shop in dollar shops, where they can buy such exotic goods as body lotion and hairbrushes. The peso shops are basically empty.

In fact, workers in the tourist industry would rather you gave them your shampoo/razers/bikini/moisturiser than even dollars, because they just can't buy them anywhere.

In Havanna, there's the local places and then there's the tourist places. You can buy a daquiri at the famous Floridita bar in the footsteps of Hemingway for $10... which is about a month's wages to the average Cuban. Apartheid through poverty. I could give you a dozen other examples of things tourists can access (because we are 'rich) which a Cuban couldn't dream of. Now, this is true for rich vs poor people in the west too, of course, but the difference in the west is that we have the opportunity to better ourselves. That doesn't exist in Cuba. At all.

There's huge restrictions on ownership of 'stuff' – cars, homes etc. Basically, if you didn't own a car in 1959, you can't have one now (unless you work in very specific industries), which is why the old 50s cars are still in action. Of course as a tourist I can roam the country freely in a nice 4x4 hire car.

There's lots of great stuff about Cuba – free access to great healthcare and education and you don't see the extremes of poverty you may associate with 3rd world countries (beggars, cripples, starving children, overcrowded housing). But it's human nature to want more and Cubans are frustrated they can't get it, particularly as so many now get exposure to 'wealthy' tourists. Although, I must say, they are universally proud of 'La Revolution!'

Last edited by SanVito; 04-20-2011 at 05:20 AM..
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  #3  
Old 04-20-2011, 05:34 AM
medicated medicated is offline
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Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
Although, I must say, they are universally proud of 'La Revolution!'
True, though it's hard to tell how proud a given citizen actually is, what with the government's habit of imprisoning anyone who speaks publicly against the Castros or the party.

Here's some interesting reading for you...
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  #4  
Old 04-20-2011, 07:03 AM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
you don't see the extremes of poverty you may associate with 3rd world countries
You do see extremes if you look at the leaders - most Cubans are poor while the Castros are billionaires.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #5  
Old 04-20-2011, 07:32 AM
Xema Xema is offline
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The wiki article on human rights in Cuba is worth reading.

Some excerpts:

Quote:
Cuban law limits freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and the press.
Quote:
Cuba's provision regarding contempt for authority (desacato) penalizes anyone who "threatens, libels or slanders, defames, affronts (injuria) or in any other way insults (ultraje) or offends, with the spoken word or in writing, the dignity or decorum of an authority, public functionary, or his agents or auxiliaries." Such actions are punishable by three months to one year in prison, plus a fine.
Quote:
The Criminal Code mandates a three-month to one-year sentence for anyone who "publicly defames, denigrates, or scorns the Republic's institutions, the political, mass, or social organizations of the country, or the heroes or martyrs of the nation." This sweeping provision potentially outlaws mere expressions of dissatisfaction or disagreement with government policies or practices
Quote:
Anyone who "produces, disseminates, or directs the circulation of publications without indicating the printer or the place where it was printed, or without following the established rules for the identification of the author or origin, or reproduces, stores, or transports" such publications, risks from three months to one year in prison.
Quote:
Cuban law defines dangerousness (el estado peligroso) as "the special proclivity of a person to commit crimes, demonstrated by conduct that is observed to be in manifest contradiction with the norms of socialist morality." ... If Cuba determines that someone is dangerous, the Criminal Code allows the state to impose "pre-criminal measures," including surveillance by the National Revolutionary Police and reeducation for periods of one to four years. The state may detain the person during this time. The law also provides for "therapeutic measures," including detention in a psychiatric hospital, that are continued "until the dangerousness disappears from the subject." The open-ended nature of this punishment affords the state extraordinary authority to abuse the rights of political opponents and the developmentally disabled.
Quote:
The Cuban constitution says that free speech is allowed "in keeping with the objectives of socialist society" and that artistic creation is allowed "as long as its content is not contrary to the Revolution". Cuba's ranking was on the bottom of the Press Freedom Index 2008 compiled by the Reporters Without Borders (RWB). Cuba was named one of the ten most censored countries in the world by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:50 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Do all the people loaded on anything that will float and attempting to make it to the USA and dying doing it count as proof it's not all sunshine and laughter?

I vote for going to Florida and letting him speak to someone that used to live there.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 04-20-2011 at 07:51 AM..
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  #7  
Old 04-20-2011, 07:51 AM
Autolycus Autolycus is offline
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Sounds like heaven to me.
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  #8  
Old 04-20-2011, 10:02 AM
wevets wevets is offline
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Human Rights Watch has a report on Cuba describing Raul Castro's government as using the same methods of repression as Fidel's.

It can be found online here: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/1...stro-same-cuba

Some exerpts from the Executive Summary:

Quote:
Despite significant obstacles to research, Human Rights Watch documented more than 40 cases in which Cuba has imprisoned individuals for “dangerousness” under Raúl Castro because they tried to exercise their fundamental rights. We believe there are many more. The “dangerous” activities in these cases have included handing out copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, staging peaceful marches, writing news articles critical of the government, and attempting to organize independent unions.

The Raúl Castro government has applied the “dangerousness” law not only to dissenters and critics of the government, but to a broad range of people who choose not to cooperate with the state. We found that failing to attend pro-government rallies, not belonging to official party organizations, and being unemployed are all considered signs of “antisocial” behavior, and may lead to “official warnings” and even incarceration in Raúl Castro’s Cuba. In a January 2009 campaign called “Operation Victory,” dozens of individuals in eastern Cuba—most of them youth—were charged with “dangerousness” for being unemployed. So was a man from Sancti Spíritus who could not work because of health problems, and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in August 2008 for being unemployed.
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Dissidents are a small and significantly isolated segment of the population. However, their marginalization is evidence not of the lack of dissent in Cuba, but rather of the state’s ruthless efficiency in suppressing it. Fear permeates all aspects of dissidents’ lives. Some stop voicing their opinions and abandon their activities altogether; others continue to exercise their rights, but live in constant dread of being punished. Many more never express dissent to avoid reprisals. As human rights defender Rodolfo Bartelemí Coba told Human Rights Watch in March 2009, “We live 24 hours a day ready to be detained.” Ten days after making that statement, Bartelemí was arrested and taken to prison without trial, where he remains today.
Quote:
Dissenters are punished daily in nearly every aspect of their lives. The Cuban government routinely uses short-term arrests to harass dissidents or prevent them from participating in groups or activities considered “counterrevolutionary.” Dissidents are beaten, publicly humiliated, and threatened by security officers and groups of civilians tied to the state. They are denied work, fired from jobs, and fined, placing significant financial strain on their families. They are prevented from exercising their right to travel within and outside of the island. And they are subjected to invasive surveillance, which violates their privacy and gathers information that can later be used to imprison them. These tactics of repression are consistently visited on the families of dissenters as well.
Yeesh.
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  #9  
Old 04-20-2011, 10:12 AM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
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Once, Cuba borrowed a jacket from me. Even though I gave it to Cuba on a hanger, I got it back in a shopping bag. And Cuba didn't even have it dry-cleaned and there was some weird stain on the lapel. Totally gross.

Also, Cuba always asks you to buy it drinks when you go to the bar, even though Cuba never picks up a round itself.
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Old 04-20-2011, 10:21 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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It's a shining example of the great lie that is communism. Castro's goals were noble back in the day when he was hiding out in the Sierra Maestre. He had high ideals and wanted to purge the nation of corrupt people like Batista and the American gangsters that were running Havana. He eventually became convinced that his ideals and communism were a good fit, but like all long-term leaders he became corrupt himself, developing a stern, paternal outlook on his people. I have to say that the guy has been indesructible over the years: he's survived assassination attemps, coup attempts, poisonings, bombings, shootings, you name it.

Last edited by Chefguy; 04-20-2011 at 10:25 AM..
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  #11  
Old 04-20-2011, 10:26 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantom lamb View Post
To cut it short, my boyfriend is convinced that Cuba is some kind of utopia and that Castro is a great guy. Everyone is equal and eveyrone gets what they need and there's no evil consumer mentality.
Almost everyone is equally wretched, they tend to get what they absolutely need though not what they want, and there's essentially nothing to consume. So he's mostly right about those aspects.

Tell me bad things about Cuba.

My mind's on not-so-good things about your boyfriend. I think it takes a certain naiveté to see those admirable aspects in isolation from the negative components. It speaks to me of willful ignorance, lack of critical thinking, and a rather juvenile "the world would be so wonderful if only..." worldview that fails to recognize human nature and political reality. I'd be worn out from rolling my eyes and shaking my head if I had to listen to that pap. Of course, he's not my boyfriend, so carry on.
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Old 04-20-2011, 11:55 AM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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Where's Commisar when you need him?
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:17 PM
puddleglum puddleglum is offline
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The reason the is no evil consumer mentality is that for most of the population there is nothing to consume. Average Cubans eat meat maybe once a month, the only shops that have goods to buy are open only for those who can pay with dollars which are forbidden to the average cuban. It is illegal to open a business. Those who criticize the government are beaten and imprisoned. The hospitals for ordinary cubans are dirty and dilapidated with old equipment and very little of even basic medicines. The ruling class lives very well while the vast majority of cubans are ill fed and ill clothed. Many are forced to become "jinetoros" or prostitutes for tourists.
Tell your boyfriend to do a little research, these things are not happening in a corner. People are risking their lives everyday to escape that hellhole, their stories are not hard to find.
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:59 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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The tourist apartheit is the reason I've never actually gone to Cuba, even though package holidays are cheap from Toronto. Well, that and the repression. I'd actually like to see the place; it must be one of the last places on earth without a McDonalds.
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:13 PM
even sven even sven is online now
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You'll find the "tourist apartheid" quite handily in every poor country. Heck, you can find it quite handily here in beautiful Washington DC- somehow my bus manages to come precisely on time during the mostly-white downtown commute hours, but wander lazily by at random during the (largely not white) off hours.

I believe people in Florida are often people who specifically lost in the revolution, and thus may not actually be upset about conditions now, but more about what their family specifically lost out on.

Anyway, like any country, Cuba has it's ups and downs. Anyone who characterizes it as a paradise clearly is wrong. But there are certainly places in the Carribean that are a lot worse.
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:56 PM
code_grey code_grey is offline
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Anyway, like any country, Cuba has it's ups and downs. Anyone who characterizes it as a paradise clearly is wrong. But there are certainly places in the Carribean that are a lot worse.
those other Caribbean "places" do exist, but they are not inhabited by white people. Cuba is scary as an example of a (mostly) white nation reduced to utter destitution under Communist rule. Just like North Korea after around 1990 is an example of a NE Asian nation with a similar fate. That's not to say that there were no reasonably successful Communist nations (East Germany comes to mind) but Cuba is not one of them.

Incidentally, by the same reasoning the cases of great deprivation induced by post-Soviet "reforms" in many parts of the former Soviet Union are a solid indictment of the ideology and its implementation that stood behind them. Just because life in Ukraine has always been better than life in (pick a hellhole place) does not mean that the collapse of living standards there after the messed up Communism got replaced with even more messed up capitalism is nothing to worry about. Being a Commie, a capitalist or any other ideological persuasion is not a good enough reason to think that "keeping trains on time", "keeping people gainfully employed" and other principles of good governance somehow don't apply.

Last edited by code_grey; 04-20-2011 at 03:57 PM..
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:16 PM
code_grey code_grey is offline
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I would say that sex tourism industry in Cuba is a pretty solid indictment of their economic system. I cannot find any hard numbers, but it sounds like this is a significant part of the economy at this point. Given the power of the Communist state, it should be obvious that if this is happening it's not because the understaffed police are losing a "war on vice". It's happening because the Communist state needs the money more than it cares about moral principles and even basic prestige involved.

Under capitalists Cuba was a major exporter of sugar while sex tourism was limited, among other things, by the relatively expensive transportation back then. Now under Communists they can no longer grow sugar efficiently enough to sell, but they sure can service the capitalists looking for a good time, arriving via capitalist-run airlines.

Anyway, I wish them all the best, and maybe their local Commies will eventually follow the Chinese example into running the country decently while "democratic" politicos elsewhere amongst their neighbors will only deepen the various problems facing their countries (gradual decay of Jamaica especially comes to mind). But for the time being, boy, what a shame.
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:09 PM
Furious_Marmot Furious_Marmot is offline
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If you want more information about the depressing and absurd food situation there, check out the article '30 days as a Cuban' by Patrick Symmes. It appeared in Harper's magazine in December (I think). Harper's website requires a subscription, but the full text pdfs are readily available through Google.

I read it while flying across the continent for vacation, which I imagine I wouldn't do very often if I was a Cuban (instead of American) working stiff. Made me feel like a huge dick for complaining that all of the food at the airport was overpriced and crappy.
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Old 04-20-2011, 06:18 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Originally Posted by code_grey View Post
Under capitalists Cuba was a major exporter of sugar while sex tourism was limited, among other things, by the relatively expensive transportation back then. Now under Communists they can no longer grow sugar efficiently enough to sell, but they sure can service the capitalists looking for a good time, arriving via capitalist-run airlines.
There was a brief heyday of sex tourism during the casino years before Castro. Airlines ran cheap and continuous flights to Havana for gamblers, and the sex trade catered to all economic classes. It was a natural byproduct of gambling and it flourished not only in whorehouses, but also in the casinos and hotels owned by the mob. According to Traficante, even Senator John Kennedy had a threesome in one of their hotel rooms, which they watched through a two-way mirror. Castro's troops were busy burning down canefields and bombing businesses, but it really didn't put much of a dent in what was going on until that fateful New Year's Eve.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:03 PM
pinguin pinguin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantom lamb View Post
To cut it short, my boyfriend is convinced that Cuba is some kind of utopia and that Castro is a great guy. Everyone is equal and eveyrone gets what they need and there's no evil consumer mentality. I call BS but I admit I'm not knowledgable enough on this subject to actually offer him concrete examples of why he might be wrong.

So please offer me some counterarguments
If he speaks Spanish, show him this Youtube. It talks about Castro as a Taino Cacique, and God-King, that dominated the island as a he wishes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXkYOXGeZKg

Or show this picture with desesperated people trying to escape

http://www.dailyplunge.com/wp-conten...truck-boat.jpg

Or tell him known people is suffering hunger in the island and that sometimes there is not even toilet paper! They are escaping anywhere they can go, even to South America. Any place is better.

Last edited by pinguin; 04-20-2011 at 07:04 PM..
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  #21  
Old 04-20-2011, 07:27 PM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
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First, read this book:

http://www.amazon.com/This-Cuba-Outl.../dp/0813338263

When I visited I found his observations to be dead-on.

- Havana is a wreck. A once beautiful city that is in such disrepair that buildings (that were once very impressive) are collapsing at the rate of about one a day. If a building isn't used by the government or is generating dollars from tourists then it just deteriorates. You can't believe until you see it how deteriorated Havana is.

- There is no real social safety net. If a person is of no value to the government then the government would just as soon they die. Despite the talk about socialism and health care, if an AIDS patient shows up at the hospital the only real care they will get is from charitable volunteers.

- You cannot survive unless you are in some way dealing on the black market. Necessary goods simply aren't available.

- Cuban citizens cannot go into tourist hotels and beaches even if they can afford it. Discrimination against it's own citizens is sanctioned and enforced by the government.

- Cuba is not a "communist" country, it is a dictatorship. Communism is a far second to keeping power in the hands of a few.

- The is a lost generation in Cuba. Those that stayed have been oppressed and are miserable. Unfortunately, the ones that left influenced US foreign policy to the detriment of the Cubans in Cuba. When there is change, the Cubans they stayed will get screwed over once again. The Cuban leaders never suffered due to US foreign policy. The Cubans in Cuba bore the brunt of it.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:44 PM
Rand Rover Rand Rover is offline
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Originally Posted by even sven View Post
You'll find the "tourist apartheid" quite handily in every poor country. Heck, you can find it quite handily here in beautiful Washington DC- somehow my bus manages to come precisely on time during the mostly-white downtown commute hours, but wander lazily by at random during the (largely not white) off hours.
Uh . . . what? What do white and non-white have to do with tourists? And the only reason that busses run on time during commuting hours is because that's when white people ride?
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:27 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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lalenin is a Cuban emigrant and should be able to supply some particulars.
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:47 PM
even sven even sven is online now
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Uh . . . what? What do white and non-white have to do with tourists? And the only reason that busses run on time during commuting hours is because that's when white people ride?
Well, it's less about race and more about money, but that's my basic theory and I bet if you did a study on DC transit options you'd see something similar- this is a very divided city. The point is that it's not unusual anywhere, but especially in poor countries, for public infrastructure to be geared towards those who make money for the local government.

China still has quite a few subtle but very real rules about the ways that tourists and locals mix. Some train stations, for example, have special tourist ticket windows. Chinese people are technically required to register with the police if a foreigner spends the night at their home. This stuff happens.

I do like the idea that Castro invented the sex trade, though. Heh. I guess in other Latin American countries you'd expect to find a lack of brothels then, huh?
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:51 PM
pinguin pinguin is offline
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Nope, but the Caribbean countries are famous because the high level of prostitution for tourism.

Last edited by pinguin; 04-20-2011 at 09:52 PM..
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  #26  
Old 04-20-2011, 09:58 PM
Rodgers01 Rodgers01 is offline
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Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
Do all the people loaded on anything that will float and attempting to make it to the USA and dying doing it count as proof it's not all sunshine and laughter?

I vote for going to Florida and letting him speak to someone that used to live there.
Seconded. When people are dying to escape a country, it should be fairly obvious that a "utopia" it's not. Surely your boyfriend knows this.

phantom lamb, have you showed him this thread, or told him any of this? Any reactions so far?
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Old 04-20-2011, 10:33 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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The healthcare in Cuba is also horrible for locals. The "great" healthcare that Michael Moore and others talk about is available only for the medical tourist who pay CASH for it.

The local doctors are hard pressed to come up with antibiotics, which to be fair, the government of Cuba blames on the embargo by the USA.
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Old 04-20-2011, 11:25 PM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
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The healthcare in Cuba is also horrible for locals. The "great" healthcare that Michael Moore and others talk about is available only for the medical tourist who pay CASH for it.

The local doctors are hard pressed to come up with antibiotics, which to be fair, the government of Cuba blames on the embargo by the USA.
Correct. The locals are hard pressed to come up with any pharmaceuticals.Walk into a drug store in Cuba and there is hardly anything on the shelves. (Same for the food stores that are suppose to honor the ration coupons.)

The doctors may be well trained but the availability of drugs and medical supplies are so limited that they can't treat patients the way they know they should. Terminal patients rely on charity workers just to get aspirin or acetaminophen, not to mention pillows and blankets. (In Puerto Rico the family has to bring the pillows and blankets so it's not just Cuba).

Yes, if it generates dollars, you can get good stuff. But, if you really tried to live withing the system you would starve to death. A doctor, which is the highest paid profession make about $30 US a month. A retired government worker will get less than $5/month in pension. Over 30% of the population is being subsidized by relatives outside the country. That's why the black market is so huge.

If that's an ideal system then try to go live in it.
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  #29  
Old 04-20-2011, 11:25 PM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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Ever any Black people in important political positions in Cuba. Interesting, that it.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:18 AM
phantom lamb phantom lamb is offline
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Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
Do all the people loaded on anything that will float and attempting to make it to the USA and dying doing it count as proof it's not all sunshine and laughter?

I vote for going to Florida and letting him speak to someone that used to live there.
Okay thanks for that point. He told me that "Castro allows anyone to leave if that's what they want but they just don't want to". Obviously not true.

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Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
My mind's on not-so-good things about your boyfriend. I think it takes a certain naiveté to see those admirable aspects in isolation from the negative components. It speaks to me of willful ignorance, lack of critical thinking, and a rather juvenile "the world would be so wonderful if only..." worldview that fails to recognize human nature and political reality. I'd be worn out from rolling my eyes and shaking my head if I had to listen to that pap. Of course, he's not my boyfriend, so carry on.
Well, apart from his political views we get along quite well

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Originally Posted by Rodgers01 View Post
phantom lamb, have you showed him this thread, or told him any of this? Any reactions so far?
Not yet - I plan on giving him all this information the next time he starts praising Castro and Cuba.

Thank you guys for your replies, some interesting reading here. And damn, it really sounds a lot more awful than I thought. Sounds like hell over there.

Last edited by phantom lamb; 04-21-2011 at 05:19 AM..
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  #31  
Old 04-21-2011, 09:06 AM
Scuba_Ben Scuba_Ben is offline
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More on the tourism / foreigner business in Cuba.

I was on a religious mission to Cuba a few years ago, Treasury license and all. Most of the places we went had prices posted in pesos (CUP) and convertible pesos (CUC), such as "4 CUP, 5 CUC."

Backplot: CUP is the currency for Cubans, CUC is the currency for foreigners. Dollars, Euros, Yen, you need to buy CUCs. Naturally the government takes a cut on top of the exchange rate.

So on the face of it, you the foreigner are paying slightly more than the locals, which is a normal "tourist tax," yes?

NO. The internal exchange rate is something like 1 CUC = 20 CUP, and only through authorized money traders -- Cubans can use only the CUP at the Cuban-only businesses. So you the foreigner are paying many times what the locals pay.

The mission I was on was well managed to keep us away from anything sensitive, such as real businesses for locals. So I cannot speak with firsthand knowledge to the lack of basic supplies. Given that, we brought as humanitarian supplies lots of toiletries. I leave the conclusion as an exercise for the student.
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:15 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Get him to read The Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana by Isadora Tattlin, charting 4 years in Cuba during the nineties. She was living in a wealthy expatriate household, but was able vicariously to experience life as a Cuban through servants and friends. I don't know if this woman has any axe to grind - I don't think so - and the portrait she paints is pretty grim. It's also absolutely fascinating, and very well written.

Last edited by jjimm; 04-21-2011 at 09:15 AM..
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:22 AM
Sarahfeena Sarahfeena is offline
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Okay thanks for that point. He told me that "Castro allows anyone to leave if that's what they want but they just don't want to". Obviously not true.
Ha ha ha! I have family there, and no, that's not true. Seriously, not true.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:08 AM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Originally Posted by phantom lamb View Post
To cut it short, my boyfriend is convinced that Cuba is some kind of utopia and that Castro is a great guy.
Tell your boyfriend to change his name to Elian, go to Miami, rent a boat and head due south. When he gets to Cuba, he can tell them he wants politcal asylum. They will welcome him with open arms.

And your problem will be solved.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:08 AM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Back in college my Spanish teacher was a Cuba escape. She painted a pretty grim picture. And this was way back when the Soviets were doing their best to prop up Cuba financially and industrially/socially and the Cuba infrastructure was still coasting on what had been built in better times.

If it was pretty grim 30 to 40 odd years ago, I can't image 30 years of decay and no more Rubles flowing in has improved the situation any.

As far as I can tell, Cuba does only about one thing right. They make sure everybody gets a basic education. To extrapolate just that to "its a paradise" is just plain silly (I am being polite here).
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  #36  
Old 04-21-2011, 11:30 AM
code_grey code_grey is offline
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Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Tell your boyfriend to change his name to Elian, go to Miami, rent a boat and head due south. When he gets to Cuba, he can tell them he wants politcal asylum. They will welcome him with open arms.

And your problem will be solved.
sounds like an interesting thought experiment. Does Communist Cuba allow Americans who are not ethnically Cuban to immigrate, whether as political asylum or under any other name?

Could somebody pull a Jim Jones, leading his sect of followers to settle there and, inter alia, integrate into this whole "Communist economy based on American remittances" thingie? I mean, Cuba has got to be a nicer place to wait out imperialist oppression than the jungles of Guyana.

Last edited by code_grey; 04-21-2011 at 11:31 AM..
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  #37  
Old 04-21-2011, 11:38 AM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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They let that fraudster Robert Vesko (sp?) live there, but that seems to have been a cash deal.

Last edited by Paul in Qatar; 04-21-2011 at 11:40 AM..
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  #38  
Old 04-21-2011, 11:56 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Originally Posted by even sven View Post
I believe people in Florida are often people who specifically lost in the revolution, and thus may not actually be upset about conditions now, but more about what their family specifically lost out on.
Most of South Florida's Cuban population is 1967 exiles/refugees and their descendants, but there are also lots of post-'67 refugees.

It's not quite true to say that the pre-'67 emigrants are the "losers" of the revolution, though. Lots of them are just people who were (or would have been) harrassed, arrested, or "disappeared" following the revolution: intellectuals, political leaders and so on.

IIRC, most of the Bautista government types fled to other Latin American states rather than the US.
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:54 PM
Rodgers01 Rodgers01 is offline
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Originally Posted by code_grey View Post
sounds like an interesting thought experiment. Does Communist Cuba allow Americans who are not ethnically Cuban to immigrate, whether as political asylum or under any other name?

Could somebody pull a Jim Jones, leading his sect of followers to settle there and, inter alia, integrate into this whole "Communist economy based on American remittances" thingie? I mean, Cuba has got to be a nicer place to wait out imperialist oppression than the jungles of Guyana.
I dunno about a Jim Jones situation, but I bet the Castro brothers would love it if some Americans tried to defect to Cuba and claim asylum. What a PR coup that would be!
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:09 PM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
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Originally Posted by phantom lamb View Post
To cut it short, my boyfriend is convinced that Cuba is some kind of utopia and that Castro is a great guy. Everyone is equal and eveyrone gets what they need and there's no evil consumer mentality. I call BS but I admit I'm not knowledgable enough on this subject to actually offer him concrete examples of why he might be wrong.

So please offer me some counterarguments
Uh, people are generally hungry and have no freedom of expression. The internet is severely restricted, nobody can afford to live alone or with their families, nobody can afford computers or basic electronics.

Here's the best example: every time a Cuban athletic team comes to the US, somebody defects. As in, runs away from their family and everything they know to live in the US. Do happy people run away from their loved ones and their home?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
Do all the people loaded on anything that will float and attempting to make it to the USA and dying doing it count as proof it's not all sunshine and laughter?

I vote for going to Florida and letting him speak to someone that used to live there.
For full disclosure, my mom is a Cuban emigre. She left with the clothes on her back and was often hungry in her childhood. My grandfather was a hospital orderly who changed bedpans in the US; in Cuba he was a physician who had delivered over a 1000 babies. Eventually my grandparents retired well off and my mom and her siblings are well off today but they bear the scars of their childhood. You never really get over being hungry, ya know?

Their friends who didn't flee in 1960 were murdered.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:57 PM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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Originally Posted by code_grey View Post
sounds like an interesting thought experiment. Does Communist Cuba allow Americans who are not ethnically Cuban to immigrate, whether as political asylum or under any other name?
Assata Shakur (sister of rapper Tupac's stepfather) was a 1970s black activist who, after being convicted of murder and imprisoned, escaped in 1984 to Cuba. She's been living there ever since and obligingly provides a steady stream of pro-Cuban writings.

I'm sure if there was any way the Castros could spin you as an persecuted revolutionary and use you for propaganda, they'd be thrilled to have you.
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:31 AM
Attack from the 3rd dimension Attack from the 3rd dimension is offline
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Originally Posted by lindsaybluth View Post
Uh, people are generally hungry and have no freedom of expression. The internet is severely restricted, nobody can afford to live alone or with their families, nobody can afford computers or basic electronics.
The boyfriend should come on the dope and talk to the many Cubans here. Oh, wait. We have lots of other nationalities, but I don't think anyone from Cuba. I wonder why?
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  #43  
Old 04-22-2011, 08:15 AM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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Actually, we do - lalenin is a Cuban émigré, IIRC.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #44  
Old 04-22-2011, 08:35 AM
Attack from the 3rd dimension Attack from the 3rd dimension is offline
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Actually, we do - lalenin is a Cuban émigré, IIRC.

Regards,
Shodan
I should have said "We don't have anyone IN cuba."

Thanks,
Attack from the 3rd dimension
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  #45  
Old 04-22-2011, 08:52 AM
Attack from the 3rd dimension Attack from the 3rd dimension is offline
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Actually, we do - lalenin is a Cuban émigré, IIRC.

Regards,
Shodan
I should have said "We don't have anyone IN cuba."

Thanks,
Attack from the 3rd dimension
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  #46  
Old 04-22-2011, 09:35 AM
pinguin pinguin is offline
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Originally Posted by Attack from the 3rd dimension View Post
The boyfriend should come on the dope and talk to the many Cubans here. Oh, wait. We have lots of other nationalities, but I don't think anyone from Cuba. I wonder why?
I wonder if Cubans have money to pay Internet. Given that the big chief of the island allowed them to navigate the web, anyways
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  #47  
Old 04-22-2011, 09:51 AM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
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Originally Posted by Attack from the 3rd dimension View Post
I should have said "We don't have anyone IN cuba."

Thanks,
Attack from the 3rd dimension
It's worse than that. Private citizens aren't suppose to have VCR's or DVD players. When you see a cistern on a roof you assume that it is hiding an illegal satellite dish. (Note the word "illegal").

Intercity transit mainly consists of standing by the side of the road hoping someone will give you a ride. The place is a wreck.
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  #48  
Old 04-22-2011, 10:14 AM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
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This woman, Yoani Sanchez, is a prominent critic of the Castros. Here's an article where she says she's been beaten. If you do more research on her, she'll detail how she sneaks away at various cafes and pays a premium to blog. Here she is as Time Magazines 100 most influential people, here she is in Mother Jones.
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  #49  
Old 04-22-2011, 10:31 AM
simple homer simple homer is online now
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Originally Posted by R. P. McMurphy View Post

Intercity transit mainly consists of standing by the side of the road hoping someone will give you a ride. The place is a wreck.
The only public transportation between cities that I observed was flat bed trucks.
People would wait under bridges for a truck to stop, and then everyone would stand in the back of the truck.

A friend of mine and I once rented a car in Havana , and drove most of the way across Cuba.
The national highway did not have any street signs or lights at night.
The strangest part of the journey was the hitchhikers that we encountered in the middle of the night.
Several times we would be the only car on the darkened highway, and then we would see 5 or 6 people walking in the middle of the road. When we would stop we would discover that they were policemen. The cops did not have any form of transportation, they were all walking.
We would offer the cops rides, and that is the only time in my life that I have driven drunk on Cuban rum, 200KPH, Lenny Kravitz blasting on the stereo, and with cops singing in the back seat.

(this was many years ago, and I was much younger and stupider, I would never condone drunk driving)

Last edited by simple homer; 04-22-2011 at 10:34 AM..
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  #50  
Old 04-22-2011, 10:35 AM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
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This is Yoani's blog. If this doesn't make you queasy, I don't know what will:

"A drop slid down my leg, I maneuvered it into the hollow between my ankle and my shoe and did a thousand pirouettes so my high school classmates wouldn’t notice. For months, my family had had only mineral oil for cooking, thanks to pharmacist relative who was able to sneak it from his work. I remember it heating to a white foam in the pot and the food tinged with the golden color of a photograph, ideal for food magazines. But our bodies could not absorb that kind of fat, made for creating lotions, perfumes or creams. It passed right through our intestines and dripped, dripped, dripped… My panties were stained, but at least we got a break from food that was just boiled, and could try another, slightly roasted."
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