[b] A Threat to the Western Hemisphere[/b]

A current thread on third world exploitation/sweatshops by corporations has prompted me to bring up the situation in Cuba which has not been discussed in at least three months. Being a firm capitalist, at least philosophically, I am somewhat surprised to** not** hear of any real negative concerns in Cuba, following over 10 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. After all, Cuba had universal health care, and full employment, the envy of third world citizens, but there was no doubt that massive subsidization from the Soviet Union to support the Marxist jewel right under the nose of America was the cause.

Why then is Cuba still functioning without any serious escalating opposition. Are they still maintaining universal health care and education, two pillars of a healthy society in the face of the American embargo?

If so, shouldn’t third world countries have another look at Castro’s miracle?

How many people have risked death to escape Cuba for the freedom of the US? And how many people have risked death to leave the US and live in Cuba? I think that the people have made it clear what’s important to them, and it’s not what Cuba is offering.

I’m sure that in many cases the perception of risk was not significant. In any event, is it freedom or economics due to the perception of the wonderful life provided by the American media and the politically powerful Cuban exile community? Are there not more Puerto Ricans in New York than Cubans in Miami? Are there not millions of ex-patriate Mexicans legally or illegally in America, that undergo significant risk in getting into the states, and suffering unscrupulous employers who take advantage of lack of immigration status? In any event, before one is concerned about political freedom their basic needs must be met first, and that I suspect is being addressed far better in Cuba than most other third world countries.

Actually, Cuba’s economy has tanked for the last ten years. Without the massive Soviet subsidies, Cuba’s back to being a typical impoverished third world country. Are you asking why they haven’t strung Castro up? Well, there’s those secret police, political indoctrination in kindergarten, neighborhood informers, etc. Sure, Cuba has doctors, but they get paid something like 50 cents a day, and have no supplies. State jobs are worthless, people only take them because they get their ration cards that way.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amusing that the same people who get upset at the Cuban embargo are those who are against free trade? It doesn’t add up. Cuba’s impoverished because we won’t trade with them, while the other countries are impoverished because we DO trade with them. Go figure.

I don’t consider free aspirin and band-aids to be effective “Universal Health Care.”

Cuba seems to be doing OK. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Russian aid amounted to only $4-6 billion annually. This surprises me; I would have guessed the figure to be many times larger. Russia still gets a lot of Cuban exports. So do Netherlands and Canada.

In 1995 Havana admitted that GDP declined by 35% during 1989-93, the result of lost Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. Since 1995, GDP has grown: 2.5% in 1995, 7.8% in 1996, 2.5% in 1997, 1.2% in 1998, big jump to 6.2% in 1999, estimated 4-5% for 2000.

Cuba has a net migration rate of -1.52/1000. Given their population that’s a net loss of 17000 annually, which raises the question ‘Where they all going?’. Add up Miami landings and drownings in Straits of Florida and you’re still way short of 17000.

I can’t find anything about health care, universal or otherwise but life-expectancy there seems comparable to that in western democracies: 73.8 men, 78.7 women.

Re the embargo, I think it has outlived whatever merit it might once have had. I don’t think we risk US or hemispheric security by allowing direct tourism or permitting the sale of foodstuffs. Farmers here would love to sell them all the chickens and peanuts and soybeans they want.

Methinks there’s more to their universal health care than that.

Cuba health statistics are very comparable to that of America’s. The life expectancy of both countries is 76 years wheras Mexico, a capitalist third world country provides a life expectancy of 72 years.

The infant mortality rate for both countries is 6 deaths per 1000 births. For Mexico it is a whopping 25.

Cuba’s literacy rate is 96%, less than America,97%, but much higher than Mexico at 90%.

However, when it comes to per capita income, America’s $29,647 dwarfs Cuba’s $1,523, and Mexican’s earn over four times as much as Cubans at $6,923.

It seems to me that Cuba is far better situated to take off and become a first world country than Mexico. The Mexicans can’t seem to do much with all the extra money for their people, except perhaps American vacations for their upper middle class.

My statistics were drawn from http://www.mrdowling.com/800life.html and I can not vouch for their accuracy.

This actually doesn’t surprise me too much. I think many of the social programs undertaken in Cuba are prerequisites for sustainable growth. Health care, education and land reform are sorely needed in many third world countries – although socialistic, these efforts are not at all incompatible with economic growth.

Most of the countries that have pulled themselves into “developed” status have mixed strong central governments (Korea, Japan, Malaysia, etc.) with export-oriented trade (not the same as the “free trade” model relentlessly trumpeted in the U.S.). The key for Cuba will be to find the right balance.

The thing to remember, again, is that statistics on Cuba are inherently unreliable since they are completely politicized. The Cuban dictatorship uses these numbers for propaganda purposes, which means that they can and do make up any numbers they want. In non-totalitarian countries, it is harder to fake your numbers, since there are independent ways of checking them but the Cuban government does not have the irritation of civil rights to worry about.

And yes, the embargo on Cuba has outlived its usefullness. However, it’s not going to be lifted till Castro dies. No US president wants to be seen as soft on Castro. When Castro goes, we can maintain the fiction that the regime is reforming, although continuing dictatorship is just as likely as democratization.

Many don’t realize the reason why Castro is so popular-the people were starving before. They NEVER KNEW freedom before, so what difference does it make?
Not to mention the Bay of Pigs made us look like Goliath to Castro’s David.

The problem is, people are thinking about Castro from an American’s point of view-consider the fact that some of the poor Cubans who supported him were oppressed and hungry. They’re still oppressed, but they’re surviving. That’s a big difference. They haven’t experienced the freedom we have had.

Note: I’m not saying the people are ignorant. Just that they have a different background. It’s like, they had a choice between oppression and starvation and oppression and food. They chose food.

You can’t eat votes, people.