Cuba: Why I Defend Socialism

Elio Delgado Legon

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Photo archive: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — I could begin by saying that I lived under a capitalist regime for long enough to be able to make comparisons. It would nonetheless suffice to make a general statement: 60 years elapsed from the time Cuba achieved independence from Spanish domination to the triumph of the revolution and the country made very little or next to no progress.

The same can be said about most Latin American countries: 200 years after achieving independence, what has prevailed there is the pillaging of natural resources and the exploitation of the best lands by transnational corporations that have only left behind contaminated waters and lands and more poverty for the vast majorities in the countryside.

In Cuba as in the rest of Latin America, only socialism has brought progress for the vast popular majorities.

Illiteracy, an ill that was corroding society, was eradicated in Cuba. The sciences have been developed to levels found in developed countries. We can say something similar about education: the New York Times recently published a note saying that Cuba is one of the countries with the highest levels of education in the hemisphere. The same holds for public health: the World Health Organization (WHO) has once again declared that Cuba is to be held up as an example for other countries around the world. Neither the New York Times nor the WHO are socialist organizations. The results, however, are plain to see, even though the revolution’s detractors work hard to prove otherwise.

The development of sports and culture has gone hand in hand with that of education, for it is unacceptable to let any talent, be it scientific, sporting or cultural, go to waste under socialism.

One of the most eloquent examples of how socialism has brought progress to Latin America is Bolivia, a country which, following 200 years of pillaging and exploitation, remained the second poorest country in the continent, behind only Haiti. Bolivia, however, possesses large reserves of natural resources that only socialism, with Evo Morales at the helm, has placed at the service of the people, redistributing wealth in the form of healthcare and education and creating jobs to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. All of this explains why Evo Morales has been re-elected for a third term in office with over 60 percent of the votes.

Bolivia has also eradicated illiteracy and offers free medical attention to all of the population, with Cuba’s aid in both cases.

Another country that was pillaged by capitalist transnationals for 200 years while its people languished in hunger, insalubrity and illiteracy is Venezuela, a country with the largest oil reserves in the world. What it got in exchange for the exploitation of these resources were, however, laughable figures, the greater part of which served to fatten the bank accounts of the national oligarchy and corrupt politicians.

Ever since the late Hugo Chavez came to power and nationalized the oil industry, his government undertook several campaigns to eradicate illiteracy, the lack of medical attention, unemployment, the shortage of homes and the development of other sectors such as sports and culture. In the fields of education, sports and culture, Venezuela has relied on the aid of our small, underdeveloped country, which doesn’t have many natural resources and has been blockaded for over 50 years by the world’s greatest military power, a country that has survived all such adversity thanks to the fact it has a socialist government.

This small country was the first to respond to the UN’s call to combat the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa. While capitalist countries have only sent soldiers and small quantities of money, Cuban health personnel are on the frontlines of the struggle against this terrible disease – and this is possible only because Cuba has a socialist system of government.

Because of this and many other things that could not fit in the limited space of a post, I defend socialism and am willing to defend it, not only with ideas, but also to the last breath.

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.


62 thoughts on “Cuba: Why I Defend Socialism

  • November 14, 2014 at 1:59 pm
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    if cuba decides to follow the chinese model and encourage private enterprise its growth rate will increase. and if the US ends the embargo there will be benefit to both countries.

  • November 7, 2014 at 6:44 am
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    The question was not answered, what kind of opposition should be expected? Nothing that is pro liberal market should be permitted, or course. These people should be in jail or re educated. The only that must be allowed is anarcho communists. People should not be allowed to have something that has over 10 people. More than that, it should be companies like Mondragon. Or allowed up to 100 people, but with a 90% tax on earnings.

  • October 28, 2014 at 10:34 pm
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    Only if you manage to live in Cuba as an everyday “citizen”, for one year, deprived of all rights, privileges, comforts and yes: FREEDOM that despite whatever you may say, you enjoy in the U.S., you would be deserving of any credibility in describing “the benefits of life in Cuba”. Until then, you are a -hopefully healthier- Michael Moore. Otherwise you are just being paternalistic and racist, as you suggest that what is being dished out there is adequate for my family, but it’s not something you should endure because of your origin.

  • October 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm
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    Great! Cuba needs the Castros as absolute owners of the farm because the U.S. is poised to gobble it up? Should the rest of the world be condemned to endless dictatorships as well? Being 90 or 90,000 miles from anywhere means nothing nowadays, as missiles and drones can be pinpointed from the other side of the world. You are quoting the decades-old manufactured paranoia of Castro billboards in Matanzas. The invasion that never happened. It’s fascinating to see how far into ridicule a feudal ruling family will go in order to defend its ownership of the farm…

  • October 28, 2014 at 10:10 pm
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    So dictatorship should be the only option!

  • October 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm
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    Believe me, if Fidel had stayed in the US -or anywhere else!- Cuba would be doing extremely well, thank you!

  • October 28, 2014 at 10:01 pm
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    No clue? Being in business here for over 36 years has given me more than my share of clues.

    I think you are studying your “patria” from afar, using very dog-eared political mantras. In my business, we’ve been importing from China, Phillippines, Costa Rica and other countries for more than 36 years! The “can’t enter international agreements” line is a decades-old soundbyte of the PIP (pro-independence party), as if we didn’t have enough international opportunities that the present idiot economy keeps squashing!

    Please, update your Cliff Notes! Thank God the Government-run phone company was sold more than 20 years ago, while a land-line based, poorly maintained phone business still had buyers. Otherwise we’d still be hostage to a bankrupt monopoly as we are with the water and electricity utilities. Imagine not being able to switch your cell phone provider when better rates are available from competing companies. Right now, the AEE (Electrical Authority) is bankrupt, still relying on oil and issuing junk bonds at 8% interest and charging upwards of $0.30 the kWh.

    For someone who’s not a supporter of the populares, you sure parrot their slogans. Fortuño didn’t cut 30,000 jobs, though he should have had the guts to do it. It was less than 12,000 jobs at government agencies. Half the population here works for a government that is inefficient, wasteful and incapable of sustaining itself, as we taxpayers are being squeezed dry to keep it pathetically unchanged. Much bigger cuts are on the way, as the island heads towards default and total system collapse. Coffee? The government can’t promote any kind of business with daily tax increases, higher than ever electricity and water cost and endless jingoism.

    And last… please, don’t embarrass yourself parroting stuff like people are leaving because capitalism is collapsing. Everyone is flocking out of here into the mainland, where capitalism continues to thrive. Unless I missed something, I haven’t heard of anyone moving to Venezuela or North Korea. Worst of all, it’s the tax-paying middle class that’s quickly moving away, making this situation even more desperate.

    Puerto Rico’s colonial status worked reasonably well for many years while the island needed an influx of cash and development. The expiration date of this backwards system has long gone by and a big change is unavoidable. The present economic woes make the future seem blurrier than ever. Still, we are American citizens and independence (including its more confusing labels, like “associated republic”) gets less than 3% of the vote, so when the time comes to make a forced choice, the decision is obvious.

  • October 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm
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    Unfortunately, the possible Cuban Mandela’s keep getting killed in car accidents, infections picked up in jail, and other mysterious ways.

  • October 27, 2014 at 9:05 am
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    Ironically while you live there you have no clue, I study the economy and politics of mi patria. Puerto Rico cannot trade freely with other countries without the permission of the United States, Congress can pass laws without the consent of Puerto Ricans, the previous two pro-statehood, governments increased the debt by selling the Phone Company (Rosello) and the dumb inept wannabe Republican fired 30,000 workers (look at the dip the economy took after) I am not a supporter of the Populares but they inheritted a mess and the US recession did not help. The local government cant protect local industry, promote coffee for example one of the best in the world and has invested foolishly in the market because corporation hardly pay taxes…..you should inform yourself an not trust El Vocero….educate your self read my piece..
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/04/colonialism-and-puerto-ricos-fiscal-crisis/

  • October 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm
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    As a Cuban living in Puerto Rico for the last 50 years, I may offer some insight. People are leaving the island because the totally inept territorial government is increasing its debt without fostering any kind of growth. It is actually killing capitalism. Folks move to the mainland, where capitalism continues to thrive.

  • October 25, 2014 at 8:00 am
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    Not to mention a diaspora anxious to assist their homeland in restoring democracy. However, there is such an abiding resentment and bitterness just under the surface among Cubans that it will take a strong leader, along the lines of a Nelson Mandela, to keep a lid on the tendency of people who have long been oppressed to exact a revenge on their oppressor at first chance to do so. I hope you are right but I know some Cubans who want their pound of flesh.

  • October 25, 2014 at 4:05 am
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    In this forum when people use “socialist” they are mostly referring to the Cuban system. That is pure Stalinist.

    You are correct that the term “socialist” can be used with lots of meanings ranging from democratic socialism (social democracy) to Maoism and Stalinism.

    When I use any term, even socialist, I prefer to use that term for the democratic variety and “communist” or”Stalinist” for the repressive form. That kind of sets the ground and avoids that those defending the Castro regime get ways with a term with so many meanings to describe what is a Stalinist dictatorship.

    Evn within the socialist camp lots of people make the distinction between socialist and Stalinist. An interesting debate on Cuba is:

    “Is Cuba socialist?”
    Paul Hampton of Workers’ Liberty spoke in debate with Bernard Regan, a leading member of the Socialist Teachers’ Alliance, at a London Workers’ Liberty meeting on 3 February 1999.
    Source: Workers’ Liberty #54 – Is Cuba socialist? March 1999. – http://archive.workersliberty.org/wlmags/wl54/cuba.htm

    I do grasp the complexity of words and because of that I try to use the most adequate word to describe a system. Using the vaguer term “socialism” for the Castro regime is just confusing and does not adequately describe the system.

    Crimes committed by systems that you refer to in the name of “socialism” ( Russia, China, Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola, Ethiopia, Eastern Europe) were communist systems of the Maoist / Stalinist kind. Those are the most abusive and repressive systems.

    Actually you are preaching to the converted. We are in a way on the same side: I am someone who attempts make sure that such trivial linguistic evasions of evil aren’t possible. That is why I say: Cuba is Stalinist, communist and that is why I deny that it is socialist. That term I reserve for better systems like social democracy.

  • October 24, 2014 at 7:33 pm
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    Oh please, get off it!

    Accept the fact that words like “socialism” can have a variety of meanings. Its a label which can be applied to a variety of subtly different political and/or economic systems. The fact is there is a large and historically well documented tradition of political ideology which has been called “socialist” by honest observers and which calls itself socialist.

    To insist that this tradition is not socialist, that only your preferred version of socialism is the real socialism, is an intellectually weak discourse issuing from a position of morally cowardice.

    Weak, because you cannot grasp the complexity of words and the capacity of language to label different things with the same word.

    Cowardly, because the obvious motivation behind your urgent insistence to deny the other system’s use of the word “socialism” is to distance your preferred version of socialism from the catastrophic failure and horrific human destruction accomplished under the banner of “socialism” in Russia, China, Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola, Ethiopia, Eastern Europe and anywhere else on earth where the Red Flag has been unfurled.

    You stand at the edge of the Killing Fields, mud on your jackboots, downwind of the charnel houses of the Gulag and try to point the blame at the other guy. It wasn’t me! They did it wrong! Next time we’ll get it right!

    You might fool yourselves, but you don’t fool anybody else. I have nothing but contempt for anybody who attempts such trivial linguistic evasions of evil.

  • October 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm
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    Eloquently said. The Castro’s stole Cuba’s future and destroyed the country.

  • October 24, 2014 at 10:47 am
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    Elio: My parents fled Cuba in 1960 and for my mother it was the heartbreak of her life. I
    read your comments and would like to give you a quote from the North American
    Indian Chief Seattle ”

    ” We have not inherited this earth from our parents to
    do with it what we will. We have borrowed it from our children and we must be
    careful to use it in their interests as well as our own.”

    In 1959 Batista handed Castro the richest and most prosperous country in Latin America – Fidel handed his brother Raul in 2006 a broken wreck of a country which of course The Castro regime blames on the embargo. Mr. Putin just wrote off 32 billion in old Soviet debt to Cuba. How much is that per Cuban?
    You describe Pre Castro Cuba as a worse than Nazi Germany which is absurd.
    Pre-Communist Cuba was the not the paradise on Earth my mother remembered but
    it was far advanced by Latin American standards by the late 50s and was poised
    for strong progress into the 1960s had communism not robbed it of this future. The
    sad fact was at the time Fidel Castro was the only leader in national history
    in 1959 to really push through social reform in Cuba but instead went the other
    way and Cubans present and future will be paying a horrible price. Yes
    there have been advances in Heath Care and education but the cost of these
    gains have been too high and will likely be higher for future generations when
    they are confronted with the bill.

  • October 24, 2014 at 9:28 am
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    I read today, that Venezuela is now importing oil. Oil! They have the world’s largest conventional reserves of petroleum, yet they have to import oil.

    Marxist socialism has been an utter failure everywhere it has been applied.

  • October 24, 2014 at 9:26 am
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    I am more optimistic for the success of a liberal democracy in Cuba than for Iraq or Libya (or Egypt, Syria… etc.) Despite the considerable expense in blood & treasure, the US found only barren soil for liberty in the Middle East, which has no tradition of democracy. Authoritarianism and sectarianism seems bred in the bone over there.

    Cuba, on the other hand, has a relatively homogenous society, no serious sectarian traditions, and an educated, literate population. Given the chance, they will find a way to work together to build a prosperous & democratic society, while still protecting the vulnerable and truly needy.

  • October 23, 2014 at 3:50 pm
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    The USA is the largest contributor of disaster aid in the world, bar none! (Look it up) However Jeffry you are confusing and economic system in capitalism, with an authoritarian political system. The USA is a democracy, it can’t, for instance, come into my home and demand or coerce me to go “render aid” or anything else. Cuba on the other hand, because it’s a totalitarian state uses it’s doctors as chattel; indentured servants to be used as a cash cow, as in South America, or in this case as an attempt to get PR. Attributing altruistic motives to the Castro regime would be a mistake.

    I can see by your comments however that you would enjoy someone taking away your personal rights and freedoms and coercing you to do their bidding …….no wonder you like Cuba so.

  • October 23, 2014 at 3:43 pm
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    US/Mexico migration statistics: http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/04/23/net-migration-from-mexico-falls-to-zero-and-perhaps-less/
    After democracy and free elections come to Cuba, there are indeed many risks. Iraq and Libya are recent examples of what can go wrong, very wrong, in nascent democracies. That said, for all the pitfalls that democracy brings, it offers a fresh hope that dictatorships and totalitarian regimes like the Castros will never have. Ask any of the people who live in the baby democracies of the former Soviet bloc if they would like to back to the days before the breakup and overwhelming majorities still say no despite the “law of the jungle” that may currently exists.

  • October 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm
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    But the capitalist West is responding, and with far greater resources (human, technical, logistical & financial) than the non-capitalist states.

    In response to the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004, the US contributed more than $2.8 billion in aid, Canada gave $743 million and Australia added $1.322 billion. China pledged $63 million, but only gave about $50 million. I have been unable to find any information that Cuba gave anything at all.

  • October 23, 2014 at 1:56 pm
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    It’s not capitalism that has collapsed in Puerto Rice, it was high spending & borrowing by the government, the high numbers of state employees and the uncompetitive electrical monopoly which drove the economy down.

    Puerto Rico’s homicide rate is still half what it is in Venezuela.

  • October 23, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    Any cursory review of what is happening on the ground in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc. reveals that something more is at work. Most are essentially failed states, with drug gangs terrorizing the population, especially the poor. These gangs act with impunity, often with the collusion of the state (as was the case recently with the “disappearance” of 41 Mexican students). I doubt your stats. regarding “US/Mexican immigration for 2013 is at a ‘net zero.’ ” Many emigrees from Mexico travel back-and-forth, bringing $$$ back, then returning to the States to earn more (and this is increasingly true in Cuba and other Caribbean and Central American nations as well). Many of these problems were caused by the mass deportation of Salvadorenians, Guatemalans, Mexicans and Hondurans, who were active in gangs here in the U.S., back to their native countries, where they brought our culture of violence back with them. That, added to the astounding corruption in these countries, adds up to failed states (or at least, where it comes to the peasantry, working class and lower middle class) states who have little interest in providing basic security, be it physical or economic, to their citizens. Your recipe for return to (psuedo-) “democracy” to Cuba would result in just such a return to the “law of the jungle,” where “life would be brutal, unpredictable and short!”

  • October 23, 2014 at 10:48 am
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    Thanks for stating a truth that Moses et al cannot see.
    It needs to be pointed out that the benefits of life in Cuba , medical care, education, housing , sufficient food, public safety are all aspects of democratic socialism that have been effected by a totalitarian Leninist ( cadre-led ) (not Stalinist) government .
    The totalitarian aspects of the Cuban government have those aspects in common with most capitalist states: totalitarian rule by a boss or corporate board. .

  • October 23, 2014 at 10:32 am
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    Clearly a failure of the capitalist system to be able to respond to a humanitarian emergency.

  • October 23, 2014 at 10:04 am
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    Actually, hundreds of thousands leave the island because the capitalist system is collapsing, PR has one of the highest murder rates in the Americas (almost the level of Mexico), health care is in shambles with a epidemic of a dengue like disease ravaging the country….long live the free enterprise system. Freedom to die of hunger or violence.

  • October 23, 2014 at 9:11 am
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    For an informative report on Cuba’s medical missions, the following article provides some interesting facts and context:

    CUBA’S BUSINESS OF HUMANITARIANISM: THE MEDICAL MISSION IN HAITI

    http://www.ascecuba.org/c/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/v21-werlau.pdf

    Cuban medical internationalism brings in billions of dollars from Venezuela and Brazil. In Haiti, the local government was too poor to pay Cuba for their doctors, but several Western nations and UN agencies stepped in to provide the funding for the Cuban missions. In this way, the Cuban government has co-opted the humanitarian missions as a means for generating income for the regime.

    The Cuban medical workers are kept under close watch by their political minders, compelled to attend political meetings and contribute a share of their wages to the Cuban Communist Party. The Cuban government uses these missions as a means to generate positive media coverage and through their agents of influence in Western media, place positive articles in Western media sources (several of which have been linked in other comments).

    While the headlines proclaim the generous humanitarian acts, there is another less honourable side to the Cuban medical missions.

  • October 22, 2014 at 3:33 pm
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    Unlike totalitarian Cuba, the USA can not muster private citizens to do its bidding. Its a sufficient testimonial that so many private citizens and institutions have volunteered to aid West Africa.

    This in no way diminishes the very important contribution of Cuban doctors. Those who are desperate and suffering do not care about political ideology

  • October 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm
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    Cuba is a lesson on how not to run a country. The Castro brothers have destroyed the nation.

  • October 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm
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    When the Castro Regime respects the rights and freedoms of the Cuban people, then things will change.

  • October 22, 2014 at 2:07 pm
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    Bolivia is a liberal democratic state with multi-party elections. The current government is lead by Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism party. The official opposition is formed by the Plan Progress for Bolivia – National Convergence, a party alliance of centre-right and right wing parties. The National Unity Front and the Social Alliance parties are also represented in the House of Deputies.

    Cuba does not allow any political parties other than the Partido Comunista de Cuba. There is no legal opposition to the Castro Regime in Cuba.

  • October 22, 2014 at 1:21 pm
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    If you were rural poor in Venezuela, you would be faced with shortages of basic food stuffs, and soaring prices due to hyper-inflation, thanks to the socialist policies of the corrupt Chavez-Maduro government.

  • October 22, 2014 at 12:45 pm
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    John, I can see that your holy grail is the name “socialism”. In your world, no nation-state that has ever existed (or likely will exist) should be called socialist. Really, I get it. From now on when Fidel Castro and I use the term socialist to describe the economic system in Cuba, you can assume (wink, wink) that what we mean to say is “state capitalist’. I hope you feel better now.

  • October 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm
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    Capitalist? Maybe, but ‘realist’ for sure. The rural poor in Venezuela, enticed by access to Cuban doctors and Cuban school teachers, are voting for the system that has put food on their table. I don’t blame them. But how long can Venezuela, or any government for that matter, continue to subsidize houses, cars, healthcare and education without an increase in productivity? For those who can’t work, government should provide. But when government becomes the substitute for hard work, the system fails. The failure of Socialism is proof that there is no substitute for hard work and innovation.

  • October 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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    US/Mexican immigration for 2013 is at a net zero. Immigration from Guatemala, Honduras and other Central American countries is driven by economics of course. So what? Are you suggesting that because the economy in Honduras is struggling, it is acceptable to deny basic human rights in Cuba?

  • October 22, 2014 at 12:08 pm
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    Reason? Mouthpieces like Elio have no interest in being reasonable. There are no debates between the Castros and their opposition in Cuba. Guys like Elio only care to hear their own voice and the voices of those who think as they do. There is no “reason” to anything Elio says.

  • October 22, 2014 at 11:52 am
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    Hahaha! Self-appointed actually. RODRIGVM, for example, I have big problems with the police violence that is being exacted against young black males in the US, it would not serve any purpose to hear this violence justified because of worse police violence in Spain or South Africa. Why do Castro supporters like you try to defend Castro tyranny by recounting problems elsewhere? I can’t think of no perfect country. Everywhere has its issues but this blog is called HavanaTimes. The issues addressed here should be focused on Cuba. Denying basic human rights in Cuba is not somehow acceptable because Saudi women can’t get driver’s licenses. I encourage you to stay on topic.

  • October 22, 2014 at 11:41 am
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    Wrong again…
    460 + 165 = 625 vs 600
    _____________________________
    “Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said in a letter published Saturday that his country would send an additional 460 doctors and nurses to West Africa…
    The team of medical personnel will join the 165 Cuban doctors and nurses who are already in Sierra Leone to help fight the epidemic.”

    “By comparison, the United States has sent about 600 medical staff to the region, and an additional 565 military troops to assist with containment efforts.”

    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/20/cuba-ebola-who-cdcus.html

  • October 22, 2014 at 9:49 am
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    When were you appointed as the censor here?

  • October 22, 2014 at 9:49 am
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    A quick look at the numbers of folks emigrating from Mexico to the U.S., not to mention from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, etc. reveals the faultiness of your analysis. These are all so-called “Free World” countries, from which there have always been significant numbers of immigrants. With the disasterous neo-liberal, “free trade” policies instituted by the U.S., beginning in the 1990’s, however, this trickle of– some legal, but mostly illegal–immigrants has become a tidal wave. For example, the dumping of corn by the giant corporate farms of the Mid-West, , has ruined the small, independent, Mexican farmers (just as the large latifundias, worked by chatel-slaves, ruined the independent farmers of Italy as Rome transformed from a republic to an empire). Recently, I saw a documentary about a Mexican town being depopulated as a result of these neo-liberal policies; most of its citizens headed the the North. At one point, only 5% of its citizens remained. Now, thanks to local efforts by its remaining citizens to stem this outflow by setting up a cooperative, local population has rebounded to 35% of its previous population.
    Although I don’t fault those Cuban, Mexicans or Central Americans heading North in search of a better economic future, I don’t buy that they are heading North due to lack of political freedom (save in the case of Honduras, where a U.S. sponsored coup overthrew an elected, albeit leftist, president and replaced him with yet another right wing stooge for the multi-national corporatins).
    Finally, I have more respect for those who remain in Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, etc., trying to better their nations. Where would Cuba be if Jose Marti–or Fidel–had decided to immigrate, and remain permanently, in the U.S.? Then again, both these heroes wouldn’t, and didn’t, because they had larger views of the world.

  • October 22, 2014 at 9:45 am
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    The Bolivian economy is doing reasonably well lately, largely because they have reduced corruption, privatized some inefficient industries which attracted foreign capital investments, and diversified their economy. Soybeans are now their largest agricultural export, not coca. Bolivia has the world’s largest deposits of lithium, with a growing demand for use in renewable batteries. When the government nationalized the oil & gas industry, they compensated private investors, as a result, foreign energy companies continue to invest & do business in Bolivia.

    This is in contrast to Cuba which deliberately drove foreign investment out of the island, thereby starving the economy of capital.

    It can be seen that Bolivia is pursuing a sensible, balanced socialism which aims to improve the lot of the poor, without attempting a radical reorganization of all aspects of politics, the economy & society (as per Cuba). The Movement for Socialism party forms the current government in a functioning liberal democratic system, with a modern mixed economy with socialist & capitalist aspects. In practice, Bolivia is more like Canada than it is like the single party dictatorship of Marxist Cuba.

  • October 22, 2014 at 9:23 am
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    Large numbers of people leave Puerto Rico because they enjoy the right to free movement, unlike the people of Cuba who are trapped on their island by the repressive Castro regime. Puerto Rican are also free to return to the island as often as they like, without fear of harassment from the government.

    The recent economic troubles in Puerto Rico have more to do with unsustainable social spending, than “capitalism”. Over the long run, the economy of Puerto Rico has been doing very well. Since 1970, the per capita GDP has grown from less than $8000 to $21,000 today. By comparison, the per capita GDP of Cuba has gone from $2000 in 1970 to $5400 today. It seems that socialism has killed Cuba.

    If you look at the growth, and decline, of GDP in Cuba over the past 55 years, the only growth came from external subsidies. Cuban socialism has destroyed Cuba’s economy. The Cuban economy today is being kept alive through the external subsidies of Venezuelan oil, selling cheap Cuban medical workers abroad, tourism (run by capitalist resort corporations), a nickel mine ruin by a Canadian corporation, and remittances from Cuban ex-pats.

  • October 22, 2014 at 6:58 am
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    Immigration reform in Cuba was implemented January 14, 2013. If taking to the shark-infested Florida straits in an innertube is not an indicator of dissatisfaction, what is? There is no “tactic” necessary when you pay medical doctors $30.00 a month. They leave because they want to.

  • October 22, 2014 at 12:40 am
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    He’s not nuts. You just think like a capitalist, and put ‘economy’ before human health. If you were rural poor in Venezuela you’d vote socialist too.

  • October 22, 2014 at 12:02 am
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    There was immigration and travel reform in January of this year. So that’s really just a lot of would-be immigres that would have left sooner if able. It’s not a real indicator of dissatisfaction. Not to mention there’s the issue of brain drain (among other tactics with various levels of harm employed by the US)

  • October 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm
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    If you think the US really cares about Africans or anyone else
    you are quite mistaken. Any “good” that the US does is merely a pretext.
    In Africa it is all about expanding Africom to counter the growing
    Chinese influence.

  • October 21, 2014 at 11:50 am
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    That may be true. Please direct that comment to San Juan Times.org. It is not relevant to this thread.

  • October 21, 2014 at 11:40 am
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    Sorry Elio. You fail to understand that it is capitalism that benefits a country most, but it tends to get screwed up by poor leadership more intent in keeping power and less interested in growing the middle class. Certain basic human or citizen rights such as education, health care and other social programs for the poor and our seniors should be part of the equation in a free market system, but plain socialism doesn’t work and Venezuela in spite of its natural resources is suffering because of a socialist government.

  • October 21, 2014 at 11:25 am
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    Sorry, Bolivia does not have the US 90 miles aways and neither has Bolivia received so many incursion, subversion, invasion (and a base in Guantanamo), 100 attempts on Fidel’s life etc etc. When the USA respects Cuba…then things will change…

  • October 21, 2014 at 11:22 am
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    300,000 have left Puerto Rico which is proportionately larger than the Cubans who have left Cuba….capitalism is killing Puerto Rico…

  • October 21, 2014 at 11:21 am
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    Thanks Elio, it is good to read a voice of reason in the mist of the acacophony coming from the bitter Miami exile community. No revolution is perfect, but Cuba is an inspiration. Viva Cuba!

  • October 21, 2014 at 10:01 am
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    You are mistaken. The US has sent doctors, nurses, engineers and logistics specialist, all of which are needed to support an effort of this magnitude. The engineers will be building hospitals, wells & water treatment facilities. Medical educators will be there to train locals in basic healthcare.

    In addition, the US mission also includes soldiers to provide necessary security for the healthcare teams. In case you are unaware, the affected countries have experienced decades of civil wars, terrorism and banditry. Troops are needed to protect the healthcare workers as well as the civilian population.

    Cuban medical missions always include a contingent of MININT agents whose job it is to keep an eye on the Cuban nurses & doctors, lest they become “lost” and wander away. Thousands of Cuban medical workers have already skipped out of Venezuela and made their way to the US.

    Finally, no medical mission is of any use without money to support the operations. Western countries are contributing billions of dollars in aid money. The Cuban teams have always been woefully under-funded by their government. it is likely they will be receiving supplies and working out of facilities built by the US team.

  • October 21, 2014 at 8:16 am
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    Elio makes the same egregious error as the enemies of Cuba like Moses and the others who conflate totalitarian Leninist governments with socialist societies .
    Cuba, like the Soviet Union, like China , like the DPRK is STATE CAPITALIST .
    True and undeniable are the benefits gained across the entire Cuban population by means of a socialist-STYLE distribution system through that benevolent dictatorship but Cuba cannot be said to have a socialist economy without that economy being under the DEMOCRATIC control and management of the workers; from the bottom up.
    As it is , the state capitalist Cuban economy is run from the top by the government and the state officials are the hiring and firing powers while under capitalism those bosses are rich individuals and corporations.
    Both are totalitarian.

  • October 21, 2014 at 7:41 am
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    Elio mentions Venezuela’s past where the oil wealth “served to fatten the bank accounts of the national oligarchy and corrupt politicians.”

    He then claims that ever since Hugo Chavez came to power, the people now enjoy the fruits of socialism. In reality, the national oligarchy and corrupt politicians continue to fatten their bank accounts at the expense of the people. All that has changed is who constitutes the oligarchy.

    Today, they are the senior military officers and corporate cronies of the Chavez-Maduro regime. They are raking in billions while the poor and middle class are robbed by hyperinflation, shortages and corruption. The murder rate is now one of the highest in the world.

    The main service provided by Cuba to the Maduro regime is security: over 4000 Black Avispa soldiers are deployed to Cuba along with agents of the Cuban state security apparatus. The Castro regime is bound and determined to keep Venezuela as a vassal state and the crucial oil tap flowing.

  • October 21, 2014 at 7:39 am
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    What kind of opposition? Liberal market oppositions?

  • October 21, 2014 at 4:23 am
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    Cuba has no “socialism”. Speak clearly: it has a Stalinist state capitalist system controlled by a ruling elite.
    That can not be defended honestly in any way.
    The author is wrong in claiming that “only socialism” has brought advances to Latin America. Brazil and Chile expose that fallacy.
    Venezuela has shown the devastation “socialism” Castro style inflicts on the people.

  • October 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm
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    If you really believe what you have written then why don’t most Cubans believe as you do? Why are they trying to leave Cuba in record numbers?

  • October 20, 2014 at 10:15 pm
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    I am now convinced that Elio is a little crazy. Your comment says it all. Does Elio know anything about the economies of Chile, Peru, Colombia and even Mexico? He thinks Venezuela is doing well? Yep, he’s nuts.

  • October 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm
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    Elio, what fantasy world are you living in? Thos 60 years you lament prior to the disaster of Castro’s rise to power produced what little public infrastructure remains in Cuba. Your warped idea of socialism has caused a situation in which even sugar has to be imported into Cuba…..sugar! And Venezuela? ….it’s now on the brink of economic colapse, a product of the failed Cuban model….and they don’t have any sort of embargo which to blame for their failures. Although that doesn’t keep them from comming up with all sorts of Boogy men. In fact the only thing thing this failed ideology produces in abundance are excuses

  • October 20, 2014 at 5:30 pm
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    One thing that is certain, when Elio Legon posts, one can be sure the comments will be plentiful. I won’t defend capitalism nor will I condemn socialism. What amazes me is how you use Bolivia as an example of socialism in action and the election of Evo Morales when I know you realize he had an opposition to confront
    during his election. Yes he won the election but why doesn’t Cuba have an opposition candidate when elections are held in your country? Bolivia doesn’t
    have a rubber stamp assembly that votes 100% party line but Cuba does.
    Elio, you’re not dumb. I would venture to say you are sincere but Cuba is a country with vast potential that needs to be tapped. It cannot remain the way it is.

  • October 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm
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    Elio, you need to read something beyond the party pablum Granma. The Cuban medical teams being sent to Africa to fight ebola are neither the first nor the largest contribution. The first groups of Cuban medical workers arrived in early October, 2014.

    Doctors Without Borders began their West Africa Ebola response in March 2014.

    By the beginning of August, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had placed staff in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria to assist the local Ministries of Health and WHO-led response to the outbreak.[108] On 8 September, United States President Barack Obama announced that the United States government would send military personnel to the epidemic area. The military would assist in the setting up of isolation units and would provide additional safety to health workers in the area.

    On 16 September, President Obama announced that the Department of Defense would take the lead in overseeing the response to the epidemic.[112] The military would dispatch up to 3,000 personnel to West Africa in an effort that could cost up to $750 million over the next six months. U.S. Major General Darryl A. Williams, Commander,United States Army Africa,[113] would be in place in Monrovia, Liberia, within the week to lead the effort.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responses_to_the_Ebola_virus_epidemic_in_West_Africa#United_States

    Read the wiki entry for a list of the many nations and international charities involved.

  • October 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm
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    Thanks for reminding us, Elio, of why the Cuban Revolution does matter, and that It has made a great difference in improving the lives of most Cubans. Although I first visited Cuba the year of the Triumph of the Revolution, at that early date the Revolution had not yet been able to put into effect many of its programs in education, health care, employment, etc. In the Summer of 1959 I could still see most of the consequences of 60 years of neglect, exploitation and cruelty under the psuedo-republic. Ten years later, during my visit Nov.-Feb. of 1969-70, I could already see great improvements, and still more, despite the intervening Special Period, during my visits in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Despite Cuba being a small, poor, 3rd World country, great progress has been made. Much remains to be done. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “If men were angels, then there would be no need of laws and government.” Men–including myself–are still far from angels; yet the aspirations of the Cuban Revolution are essentially the “mission statement” for the New Jerusalem, which “shall be builded here, amidst these (falling down buildings if not) satanic mills,” with apologies to William Blake!

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