Capitalism’s True Face

Elio Delgado Leon


HAVANA TIMES — Recently, after one of my articles had been published on Havana Times, a person commented that Cubans leave Cuba because they like capitalism more than they like socialism.

This is a very superficial conclusion and ill-intentioned, of course, as the only socialist country in the Americas is Cuba, and more people from all of the other countries on our continent emigrate to the US than they do here in Cuba, in spite of the fact that we Cubans have many services here that citizens in other countries don’t have.

I’m talking about the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet-foot/dry-foot policy”, which gives Cubans residency and the chance to work as soon as they set foot on US soil, regardless of how they managed to get there.

I ask: If Cubans emigrate because they like capitalism more, why don’t they go to any other country of our continent, which are just as capitalist as the US?

They don’t immigrate to other capitalist countries on the continent because they don’t want to see capitalism’s true face. It’s one thing to have capitalism as a system but development is another very different thing.

Gigantic countries with a lot of resources, like the US, have been able to develop; also on top of these two conditions is the fact that they’ve exploited other countries that haven’t had the slightest opportunity to develop. Some of these countries, even those who do have a large supply of natural resources, have lived through centuries of neocolonial exploitation and those who do try to recover their natural resources in order to give their people a better life, are blocked, attacked and demonized, just because they don’t allow multinational corporations from developed countries to exploit them anymore.

The saying goes that a picture is worth more than a thousand words, so I won’t continue to write about what everybody already knows about capitalism, but they try to hide it, showing only what’s good. I’ll show you a few photos, which you can find by the thousands on the internet, not only of underdeveloped, poor and exploited countries but also of developed ones too. I have to make it clear though that, even though they’ll accuse me of being a chauvinist, none of the scenarios you’ll see in these photos happen here in Cuba.  These photos are the true face of capitalism.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

33 thoughts on “Capitalism’s True Face

  • That maybe is what should happen but the current leadership does not want to do so. I believe that Cuba needs to allow many small enterprises and change the treatment of the hiring of workers by both Cuban and foreign companies to be competitive with Mexico and India. Many people in Canada have given up on sending money (or investing in )to Cuba until this happens.

  • Socialism taken to its extreme is a fools bargain. Every attempt at extreme socialism has lead to corrupt leaders and shared poverty. Capitalism with state regulations and taxes to fund social goods is only system that has been proven to work. The path forward for Cuba is to embrace a certain measure of capitalism with a regulated market place. Only a mixed economy saves Cuba.

  • I own affair bit of land and a small trucking company. Yet in the last year and a half. I slept across the front seat of a pickup over 300 nights while worked and made sure the people I loved were looked after. In 2003 I had 500 bred dairy heifers when bst hit losing 1.2 million $ I am currently in a legal fight with my insurance company as a large wind storm hit my farms 3 years ago and my house is considered to need of repair that case is still before the courts. I am not living in poverty but this past summer when i was sleeping in my pickup when 2 people were shot to death with feet of my pickup and another time a person was stabbed within a 100 feet of me. There is a huge housing shortage in the Toronto area and in parts of B.C. I have donated to the food bank but never used it. This summer I have been doing local work in the GTA. and there are many places on can get a free meal shower or clothes washed. The housing shortage is caused by a lack of planning both by local government and the builders. I make too much money to get rent controlled to income housing. Many people in Canada spend money on beer or smokes then go to the food bank to get food. It is true many people live in vans or cars in Canada or basement rooms. By Cuban standards they would be well off. I would say that over one percent of the population sleeps in a car a shelter or bank ATM area. By the way 10 years ago I won farmer of the year for living in my car for a month at Queens park in the winter to protest government inaction. I got letter of congrates from the Ontario and the federal government . In Cuba I would have went to jail. I almost went jail in Canada during the protest . I understand how the bottom 10% live.

  • Totally agree with you Aih. Capitalism, in its truest form, really doesn’t exist any more but the system we have in the US is fine with me. Regarding those who won’t make it, the choice is theres. You want to drink everyday, go to the track and gamble, get addicted to drugs, spend money frivolously and then wonder why you’re on the street or can’t make it so be it. Look at the Korean’s and those south of the US who come here with nothing and now are owners of homes and major real estate in Manhattan. Some of these folks and families worked over 80 hours a week, with children contributing as well that gave these people an opportunity they rode with. I used to live in Chicago and would walk to an area at night where the streets had to be ripped up. Most of the workers were from Mexico and on their breaks would be making dinner right on the work spot. They weren’t spending money going to fast food restaurants, they were saving their money for future investments. That’s how it works and again, you want to take the road to destruction that should not be my problem.

  • In 1984, I had discussion with a group of volunteer ladies who were interested in starting a food bank. I emphasized to them that the first essential was to have some money in hand and organized an auction sale with goods provided by local farmers. That raised just over $800. Next I arranged rent free premises for them.
    I little dreamt that over thirty years later food banks would be in operation across Canada some with semi-commercial structure. I cannot agree with Ben Weaver however that there is “deep poverty”. That there is poverty is factual, but that expression is relative to the average conditions of a country. If in 1955 one had said that people with TV’s, washing machines and old trucks were “poor”, many would have scoffed.
    One of the themes that runs through contributions made to Havana Times is that Cubans are fortunate compared with people in certain other countries. Such comparisons will always be possible, but do not alleviate the reality.
    Elio lives in Cuba, where the True Face of Socialismo is all around and reflects that phrase previously quoted of Winston Churchill:
    “The inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”
    If people Ben are going to be able to dig themselves out of that misery, they require a degree of individual freedom in which to utilise their abilities and energy. It is erroneous to consider that the world’s problems can be solved by socialism – the USSR proved that, as do other socialist countries. Venezuela has practiced under Hugo Chavez and Nicholas Maduro the preaching of Fidel Castro and demonstrated that they are a disaster in practice.

  • Canada is a rich country which operates as a private, free enterprise, Capitalist economy. In 2007 the Government of Canada estimated 150,000 Canadians were homeless [in shelters or sleeping outside] Other estimates put the number closer to 300,000. Among the factors behind the rise in homelessness in Canada is deep poverty & substandard housing. During the last nine years these numbers have grown substantially. The number of food banks operating across the country has also grown substantially over the years. I trust, Steve, that you’re not sleeping in your car or living in deep poverty in otherwise, one of the richest countries in the world. As Elio has correctly pointed out, the True Face of Capitalism is all around us.

  • Ben, what percentage of the US budget goes on defence and what percentage of the Cuban budget goes on defence?

  • I live in Canada I am free to sleep in my car To not work and get a government check and spend it on drugs. You are about the $7,50 us job or other parts of the world 75cent per hour job. That is why in Canada our government gives everybody with a kid who does make enough money $500.00 per child per month and education and health care paid for out of the taxes of working people. The US. model is far from perfect. The best would basic food and health care provided to everyone. A living wage for those over 21 and fair tax rate on profits and income earned. Money is tool to not be misused. Money is payment for goods and wages. Things in Cuba could have been combination of both but the current leadership in the last 25 years has proven unable to give private enterprise enough freedom to turn Cuba around.

  • Your expertize about socialism/communism is no doubt greater than mine. I have only observed over a reasonably long life, its application and it appears, almost inevitable failures. I have observed that inevitably under socialism expenditures exceed income, that the desire by those in power to dictate and control the lives of others is insatiable.
    That individual freedoms are regarded as running contrary to creating the desired malleable mass.
    Note, that I am not including those, be they of left, centrist or right wing persuasion who recognize democratic elections. I am not speaking in favour of one particular political party, I am speaking against the imposition of a political belief upon others without consideration of their views. That is what has occurred in Cuba.

  • Well dani, I am glad to learn that you act upon your convictions. You see merit in socialism and communism as the answer to the world’s social problems and obviously I don’t.
    So, Cuba has experienced the application of “socialismo” (remembering that for Fidel Castro socialism and communism are the same) for fifty seven years. As you and I both recognize, the system does not provide sufficient resources for the average Cuban to live a reasonable life and that assisting them as best we can is all we can do.
    In the UK, you have opportunity to change the political party in power. In my view it is somewhat naïve to lay fault for all that is wrong at the door of those of conservative view. if that is the case, why have the voters in the UK not re-elected the Labour Party – which appears from outside to be in disarray with the majority of elected Labour MPs being opposed to their supposed leader?
    I dani for better or worse, detest the removal of individual freedoms and human rights by those who seek to dictate the lives of others – whether they be dictators of left or right.
    I seek freedom of expression for the people of Cuba and freedom for the people to decide whom they wish to elect to form government, which could be of socialist, centralist or rightist persuasion – but in each case democratic and supporting free open elections- is that bad?
    Eden Wong has criticized me for being tendentious because of my finding fault without merit in the Castro regime. That reflects my concern for others and that wish to see Cubans given the opportunity to develop a better life. The status quo is in my view counter to the best interests of Cuba and its people. History demonstrates that with communism there is no compromise and that those who oppose it – as for example John Paul II have to possess prolonged determination if it is to rot from within as it did in the USSR.
    There are numerous contributors to these pages who support the communist regime imposed by the Castros by giving examples of where life is even worse – although they avoid mentioning Zimbabwe, North Korea and Syria – elsewhere and in the case of Americans explaining all the faults, errors and peculiarities of the US. Doing so does not excuse or alleviate the actions of the Castros in Cuba.
    There is tendency to concentrate upon Havana and the popular tourist spots as if they are representative of the whole of Cuba. Any reasonable analysis of Trinidad for example would show that it has a substantially higher standard of living than say Candelaria or Pinar del Rio because of the injection of tourism revenues. My family and I live in a town where tourism is virtually zero and where in consequence the reality of life is a dismal reflection of life without the support of tourism dollars and tips. You correctly speak of inequality in Cuba and I too observe it.

  • I don’t doubt your caring nature, but that isn’t the point. It isn’t a matter of personal virtue. I criticize conservative policies which have caused a lot of homelessness in the UK and I criticize US conservative policies which ignore the past shooting of homeless children in Brazil, and then use “human rights” as a reason to impoverish the Cuban people.

    As it happens I do support my friends in Cuba financially as I’m aware that things are a lot tougher than in the UK and as a protest against the embargo. And when I’m in Cuba a lot of my money goes to helping people out. But I’m not trying to compete with you or anyone else.

    Though as I have argued before, making Cubans dependent on family remittances isn’t good for the Cuban economy. It ramps up inequality without creating increased quality and productivity.

  • YOU talk about being boring ?

  • Yes, as an African American, having an equal opportunity does excite me. The handouts that socialism promises end up costing way too much anyway. Review your history, socialists governments have held their own in making war. Finally, why compare Cuba time Honduras, Nicaragua or El Salvador. Is it because they speak Spanish? Why not compare them to Chile or Peru? There are simply too many variables to control to make a valid comparison.

  • As I pointed out, children in Cuba don’t need to be homeless to beg on the streets. Secondly it is correct that those who are homeless are picked up by the MININT state police and institutionalised and that as Elio pointed out there are numerous such institutions necessary in each and every province in Cuba.
    I cannot share your enthusiasm for Venezuela and the consequential effects of socialism for its people. It like Zimbabwe and North Korea effectively demonstrates the effects and folly of socialism.
    You ought not Dani to assume that those who differ from your left-wing views are not considerate of others or unconcerned about poverty whether it be of living standards or of mind. When I speak of begging for example, I have actually gone to the home of children begging on the streets in our town and spoken with the parents and then with the teachers of their children. As a member of a Cuban community, I have concern about the conditions which are causal to such actions. when children aged from 8 to 18 (yes 18) are out begging it demonstrates the abject poverty to which they and their families are subjected. They spend much time daily upon ‘resolver’.
    You should note that my purpose in writing the book that I wrote, was concern for that imposed poverty and that is why it is dedicated to the people of Cuba. If your concerns about the people of Cuba are as deep as mine, then follow my example and contribute all that you can to helping provide better living for a Cuban family. Adopt one and contribute to housing or improving their housing, accept supporting a Cuban family (in addition to my own).
    It is all too easy for you from the distant privilege of the UK to criticize those of us with deep knowledge and experience of the country where we live or have lived. But put your views into action. I am willing to help you to identify a Cuban family for you to assist. Do let me know if you wish to do so – through Circles.
    I have no form of objection to those with political views which differ from my own, providing that they support the freedom of others and address reality rather than myth.

  • Thank you for reminding us of the killing of street children in Brazil. I had forgotten that.
    As for begging in Cuba, I can say that in my brief visit in 2013 I did not see children begging. But I did see adults begging and in one case what appeared to be a mother and child. She seemed to be very distressed to be standing so close to people who could reach into their pockets and give her a months income without thinking about it. Presumably she was afraid to approach us because she could be picked up for begging.
    I did see some agitated and distressed people. I am quite certain they were not acting.

  • For non-Canadians following these columns it may help to explain that Ben as a Mennonite is expressing the views of his Church predominantly a supporter of the Canadian New Democratic Party, which has never held power as a national government in Canada.
    Centred in Manitoba the Mennonites are related to the Amish and to the Hutterian Brotherhood (which includes Darius, Schmidt and Lehrer Leute).
    There have been exceptions to their usual left wing views, for example Jake Epp who became a Cabinet Minister in the Progressive Conservative Government of Brian Mulroney and who came from Manitoba.
    Maybe Ben would like to add to that?

  • In Ben Weaver one can detect the voice of failure. The multitude of assets of freedom are of little avail to those who prefer systems creating obedient masses. Such systems not only include communism/socialism, but certain religions.
    Equality of poverty is the ultimate objective and for that reason the US makes an excellent whipping boy as it opposes such views. However, the constant repetition by US citizens in these pages of what they regard as problems within their own country do become boring for others.
    Why not talk about the problems of Mali or Morocco or Russia, for they are equally irrelevant to these particular pages.

  • For once I find some merit in Dr. Jones views. As a veterinarian he might with benefit address the pitiful conditions which most dogs in Cuba experience. they need a crusader urgently. There is much to admire in Cubans as a people and in Cuba as a beautiful country but both need to be released from the oppression of “Socialismo”.
    Mesa Redondo as Dr. Jones points out has little respect amongst the people of Cuba although broadcast on four channels simultaneously at 7.00 p.m – peak viewing time. All selected ‘panellists’ agree with whatever viewpoint is expressed by the smarmy host Randy Falcon Alonso who in turn obviously serves as a mouthpiece for the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba. Having panellists who all agree with the Party line leads to extreme boredom for viewers as there is no true discussion. Why would the regime as Dr. Jones says ever discuss with the population “the myriad of problems that affects its daily life.”? The view of the population at large is of no significance when the purpose is the retention of power and control.

  • Capitalism never promised anything but an opportunity. It has never failed anyone. People fail, and some continue to fail until they succeed. Others stop trying. That is not the fault of Capitalism. And by the way, Assault rifles are illegal in the US, too.

  • The freedom to rise above the very things you mention, Ben Weaver. You sarcastically mention these things as if they are a feature of Capitalism, but I assure you, they are not. Capitalism most certainly does not CAUSE any of the things you mention. It provides a free market, and when unfettered, prevents the things you cite. Socialism guarantees happiness, and makes excuses when it does not happen. It blames Capitalism, usually, the very Capitalism that would keep these things from happening if you would just let government get out of the way. You suggest Capitalism somehow is responsible for a crime being committed, namely a shooting. I look forward to your response on how a criminal shooting up a theater has anything to do with Capitalism. As for health care, if the US government would actually let health care compete in the free market, instead of limiting its model to the state boundaries, perhaps we would have a system that would be better than it was before Obamacare came in and forever ruined it. I’ll say this, our health care system, before Obama, with all its warts and problems, was still the best on the planet. No matter how well-intended, more government involvement has never been the answer, as places like Cuba and Russia have proven time after time.

  • Agree with the essence of the article, as far as it goes.
    Arguing thusly: World culture’s economic problems are deeper and more fundamental than capitalism vs. socialism.
    In Anthropocene, because of the reach of our species’ numbers and tech, cultural selection increasingly drives natural selection.
    Essentially, we’re using world culture’s dominant code, monetary code, to do natural selection.
    How’s that working out? We’re converting the sky and ocean into terrorists, arming them with weapons of mass extinction.
    More here: Culture, Complexity & Code

  • “Capitalism promises opportunity” A promise? That’s what excites you! Capitalism fails for a great many people. What Capitalism does deliver on is endless wars. And an inflated military budget. I know you like to compare the United States to Cuba. Why not compare Cuba with conditions in Honduras or Nicaragua or El Salvador. More meaningful.
    In Canada we have a social democratic party with Socialist leanings that over the years has been instrumental in passing a Government run Universal Health Care System, a Social Security System, Gun controls [assault rifles are illegal] along with many other measures that have benefited the population.

  • There are plenty of countries without any socialist input that have extreme child poverty and problems of homelessness eg Honduras, Mexico, Colombia. The situation was much worse in Brazil and Venezuela before Socialist/Social Democrat parties came in to power. Brazil used to to shoot street urchins on sight at one time on a daily basis. Funny that that never caused any issue for Conservative human rights defenders.

    In the UK during the Blairite years the UK had a small amount of homelessness, which was down to the progressive programs put in place to counter the Thatcher years. But since austerity and Cameron’s reign the problem has increased massively. In my view it is worse that countries that are fairly wealthy by world standards do nothing about it.

    I’m still waiting for the evidence to back up your claim that there are many homeless children begging in every Cuban town and city.

  • …Interesting that they don’t flee South to Cuba. And Cuban’s, who are very familiar with conditions in the U.S. risk their lives to come here. I wonder why?

    Ben, I would suggest you move to a zoo. There, all your needs will be met. You will be well taken care of.

  • You are quite wrong. Capitalism promises opportunity. Socialism promises outcomes. When capitalism has failed, and at various times it has, despite the best of efforts, the opportunity to succeed did not exist. But when socialism has failed, and it ALWAYS has, the promised outcome did not exist either. If you choose to compare economic systems, the only fair and rational way to do so would be to compare median incomes, average household wealth and other economic indices taken across a broad spectrum. There’s poverty in all systems. Crime exists everywhere. Finally, and far more simply, where are people migrating? Towards your socialism or away from it?

  • Well said.

  • The most important thing to extrapolate from these diverging opinion is that poverty, human suffering and unnecessary deaths exists literally everywhere. If some of my writings comes closer to Elio’s and diametrically opposed to a few who sees nothing right or good in Cuba, it is because of my age and I have lived on both sides of this issue.
    I have tried hard during my 35 years living in the US, to reach out, suggest and work with social groups trying to make life better for its citizens. But I focus more and my denunciations and harshest critique are on things that are wrong in Cuba because, I truly belief they are correctible.
    Cuba has proven that these social ills need not to be, that for 30 years illiteracy, poverty, indigent, violence, hatred, theft and more, was foreign in Cuba. Therefore I encourage all the Elio’s of this world that loves Cuba, that truly believe there is a better world, not to waste their precious time pointing fingers outwards, but do it inwards and point out everything that is wrong, demand change, do not fear, as the only avenue to achieve the country we dream about.
    Cubans have lost their fighting spirit, their willingness to confront what is wrong, they have been cowed and tamed by corrupt functionaries and silenced the clamor of the people. If we continue presenting Cuba in a glowing image of excellence and perfection, we refuse to call it as it is, we are doing Cuba the worst can for our people.
    A case in point is La Mesa Redonda who never discuss with the population the myriad of problems that affects its daily life. The result is clear, they has very little audience, respect or admiration in the country. Good friends like good parents, points out our shortcomings, failures and demand excellence. Enemies do not!

  • Venezuela has been a country since 1811, Brazil since 1822. In all that time, how many governments were there that claimed to be socialist? How many would actually qualify as socialist?

  • I guess what you’re saying that it was Socialism that crept into the United States in the late 1920’s that caused the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Lasted ten years until the Second World War. Those damn Socialists anyway. Yes, Capitalism gives a citizen lots of freedoms. The freedom to live on the street. To live in poverty and to complain about it. To live in your car, if you have one. To be able to have an assault rifle. To shoot a lot of people in a theatre or a shopping mall, or a dance hall. To loose your job and to experience the freedom of foreclosure of your property. A lot of people enjoyed this freedom during the Great Recession of 2009/2012 To live without affordable and available health care. A lot of Americans are enjoying this freedom at present. To have a steady supply of opiates including meth , crack cocaine, and assorted street drugs. To enjoy rampant crime in the inner cities. To enjoy gun violence that takes the lives of 33,000 people each year in the country. To live in a country with a child mortality rate higher than the Island of Cuba. The freedom to live in parts of the country having a minimum wage of $7.50 an hour. The freedom to try and live on it.
    “The great thing about Capitalism is that everyone has the ability, through Capitalism, to rise above” To rise above what?

  • Your ramblings in this post Kennedy Earle Clarke are even more irrational than usual, but I think that you are endeavouring to say that after many years of socialism in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Equador etc. that the people are living in “the squalor, the illiteracy, the faces of hopelessness” that is normal under such systems.
    Suddenly you introduce Africa into the mix and “a continent riddled” – I expect you intended to add “with socialism and dictatorship”.
    I have travelled fairly extensively and far prefer the conditions created by the capitalist system in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Western European countries and yes, even the US, than those of the communist and socialist countries exemplified by North Korea, the South American socialist countries, Russia, Cuba, Zimbabwe- once the bread basket of Africa – and Venezuela which although having the largest oil reserves in the world is wallowing in debt, penury for the people and hunger!

  • Does poverty exist in the US? YES, but not because of Capitalism, which never promised anything. Capitalism is freedom to do what you want to, but with no guarantees of success. Socialism promises everything At the cost of all freedom.
    Those pictures are the direct result of the corrupt socialism which has crept into and infected the US over the many years. Capitalism and its defenders know how to prevent this kind of poverty from starting in the first place, but it is the socialism veiled as compassion and social justice that ultimately wins out and fools the people who know not their very own history and the true concept of Liberty. The great thing about capitalism is that everyone in the pictures you post has the ability, through capitalism, to rise above. With socialism, they never will have a chance.

  • I did not expect any other answer than this from you. Travel to any capitalist country in the world and you will see, after so many centuries of the system the degradation in Latin America, the squalour, the inhumanity, the illiteracy, the faces of hopelessness in Africa, a continent riddled.

  • As usual poor misguided ill-informed Elio is making factual errors.
    There are lots of Cubans in Canada enjoying life and daily observing the true face of freedom and capitalism.
    It is fair to describe Brazil and Venezuela as huge countries. Their growth potential has been inhibited by socialism.
    Anyone with an hour to spare and a camera can walk around a Cuban city and capture photographs of conditions which fully match those selected by Elio.

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