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No curtains for Castro

Only the BBC could possibly publish a full-page editorial about the 50th anniversary of Castro’s revolution in Cuba without once mentioning the word ‘communism’. Not overlooked, however, is a bit of fawning over the Beard himself:

Mr Castro, then a 26-year-old revolutionary, led about 120 fighters in a raid on the Moncada barracks – with a garrison of about 800 soldiers – on 26 July 1953.

So brave! So dashing! So bold! Our hero! (swoon).

Still there are some brief, grudging but nonetheless damning admissions:

His country has gone from being the third-richest in Latin America to one of the poorest.

Its economy now relies heavily on funds sent from Cubans abroad and on tourism.

Untold numbers of Cubans flee the island every year, trying to cross to nearby Florida – including via a truck turned into a raft this week.

Grim reading indeed but completey overshadowed, of course, by Castro’s laudable ‘humanitarian achievements’:

Cuba boasts the highest life expectancy in Latin America and one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.

It has one doctor per 166 people and one of the most extensive free public health systems in the world.

It also has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, with just over 95% of the population being able to read.

Makes you wonder why so many Cubans are so hell-bent on getting the flock out of Cuba. Perhaps they are all ‘extreme right-wingers’.

In any event, I wonder if those oft-touted statistics actually bear any resemblance to reality? Or are they, like Soviet grain harvesting figures, a mere device to provide Western leftists with a tool of apologia. The ‘best healthcare in the world’ schtick is now such familiar copybook mummery that it is even accepted by people who should know better. Perhaps somebody should ask those fleeing Cubans what life is really like.

10 comments to No curtains for Castro

  • Cassie

    My husband and I went on holiday to Cuba a couple years ago. It has a lot of charming old crumbling buildings and a certain faded grandeur about the place once you get past the all pervasive smell of rotting and decay (literally not figuratively). I met a couple very nice people there too, but the service was quite dire, not just inefficient but arrogant to boot. The place is quite simply a smelly third world hole. If I HAD to live in Cuba (i.e. I was kept there at gunpoint), that much vaunted long life expectancy would probably drive me to suicide. The year after I went to Florida and met several Cubans there and all I can say is that it is not hard to see why they risked life and limb to get out of the place of their birth. Anyone who praises Cuba must address the following question: if it is such a great place, they why are the population not free to come and go as they please? Why does anyone who wants to leave the country become an ‘enemy of the people’? And the answer is?

  • S. Weasel

    I listened to a few minutes of the BBC World Service yesterday enthusiastically smooching Castro rump. If anyone needed a concrete example why the ‘international community’ can’t be trusted to run an International Criminal Court impartially and fairly, Fidel’s your poster boy.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    S. Weasel:

    The BBCWS was no better this morning. They visited the town where the revolution began, and did a glowing report on how everybody in the town loves Castro, including an interview with one citizen. Unsurprisingly, no mention was made of how people who talk to Western journalists are watched very closely. Of course this man was going to say good things about Tio Fidel. If he didn’t, he’d be sent to the Cuban Gulag.

    Contrast this with reports about how everybody is worried what Berlusconi’s being in charge of RAI will do to Italian political thought.

  • veryretired

    The last sentence in your posting is the critical question. The mainstream media pointedly ignore the millions of Cubans who have fled the island and are vehemently anti-Castro. If they are mentioned, it is with a snide reference to their “maniacal” anti-communism or some such dismissive comment.

    Cuba is a slave plantation. Like any good farmer, Castro takes good care of the livestock, providing medical treatment, minimally adequate food, and starts his training program early with plenty of pre-school day care where hymns to the glory of the revolution can be sung.

    There is no difference at all between Saddam, Kim Il Sung and his Caligula-like successor, or Castro. They are utterly corrupt, totalitarian murderers. It would be a very good thing if someone with the skill would keep a log of things like this program, and the other fawning testimonials that are regularly made by western leftists about Cuba.

    When Castro fall or dies, and the Cuban people are able to breathe freely again, the authors should be required to present these comments personally in a Cuban soccer stadium before as many tomato bearing members of the “revolutionary proletariat”
    as can cram themselves into the seats.

    My guess is the reviews would be less than flattering. There are a lot of very good pitching arms in Cuba, and sitting ducks make great targets.

  • Actually, not only the BBC. I-Télévision almost made it too! (it’s a french news channel on cable tv, owned by “canal plus”, yet another leftist channel).

    See my post (sorry, that’s in french) there: 50 ans de liberté

    To sum what I saw on I-TV: while Cuba was a nice place in the 60’s (no missile crisis ?) with free education, great social security system etc, “current” economic failure and dictatorship are not because of communism but because of US blockade and US conspiracy to overthrow Castro

    Only sentence including the word “communism” was about the US hating it. Why do they hate communism ?

  • dave fordwych

    “Castro’s laudable human achievements”

    I suspect the key word here is “boasts”.

    Has any independent research ever been done into the veracity of these claims?

  • Don Eyres

    Some of the BBC’s (is that now Bravo Bueno Castro?) statistics are probably correct.

    # of doctors? Reasonable. But keep in mind that doctors in communist countries are undertrained, underpaid, and especially in Cuba now, have virtually no resources to work with. (It’s like boasting that a country has more miles of road than any other- but no cars – or horse-drawn wagons- to use them.)

    Literacy rate? Almost certainly true. One of the very few positive features of Communist countries has been their literacy drives. Just don’t ask how the state treats competent writers. And avoid “Socialist Realism” in literature at all costs.

    Life expectancy? Until very recently, that probably was true… especially since life expectancy in the rest of Latin America was no great shakes. The Communists contructed a medical system that probably delivered good basic care while it was funded. But when the Soviets dropped their support, the funding dried up. Add to that the AIDS epidemic, and I suspect the numbers are far different than they were just a few years ago.

    Infant mortality- probably much the same.

    But the key is that none of this was sustainable. Castro accomplished it only because the USSR poured money into his island. Had Castro been forced to deliver out a home-grown product, the story would be a lot different.

  • Oh yeah… the Cuban medical system.

    Every time someone is born with some strange congenital medical problem — three hearts, no liver, four heads, Bill Clinton — off they jet to err ummm Cuba?

  • Communism: egalitarian in theory, feudalistic and totalitarian in practice.

  • Cobden Bright

    Out of interest, does anyone know what the penalty would be if a citizen of the US or other western country performed a “compulsory retirement” on Castro? If the “crime” was committed on Cuban soil, and presuming that Cuba has no extradition treaty with the west, then surely our hypothetical sharp-shooter would be able to get away scot-free, in a legal sense at least.