Is Cuba the only Country with Problems?

Elio Delgado Legon

Photo: Francisco Santiago Diaz

HAVANA TIMES — Critics of the Cuban Revolution, of its political system and government keep on mentioning “Cuba’s problems” in articles and comments that they publish on different platforms, which, in the abstract, would lead readers to believe that Cuba is a country full of problems and they believe that these would be solved if there was a change in Cuba’s political, economic and social system, which by the way the Cuban people have chosen and materialized in their Constitution.

Yes, Cuba is suffering economic hardship, nobody denies that, and this is aggravated by an economic, trade and financial blockade that the US has impoIs he rest of underdeveloped nations?

Even if we were to compare Cuba with Latin American countries that have achieved a certain level of progress such as Brazil, Argentina and Chile (just to name the largest), Cuba has had a lot less problems than they have, these being countries where we watch news of large street protests making demands because of financial cuts and anti-worker laws, which leave thousands of workers living in extreme poverty and even destitution; because of an increase in public service fees such as gas, water and electricity, which reduce the incomes of those who haven’t lost their jobs.

And I’m not even going to mention the other problems they have such as violence, organized crime, drug trafficking, the paramilitary and murders of political and social leaders (evils which were wiped out in Cuba) because my readers are already full aware of them.

I am giving these examples as a comparison because in nearly 60 years of the revolutionary government, there has never been a protest making demands, in spite of the US blockade that was imposed with this goal in mind: to make the Cuban people rebel and take to the streets to ask for a change of government.

Not even in our hardest times, when we were going through the so-called Special Period crisis (which I have mentioned in previous posts) did the Cuban people complain to the government about the shortages and hardships we experienced. On the contrary, Cubans closed ranks with their Revolution instead and held out.

Today, when we have just had our general elections, which take place every 5 years, we can describe the result as the people’s overall support for the revolutionary and socialist government and their absolute confidence in their leadership. We only have to take a look at the results of this process:

A total of 85.65% of voters exercised their right to vote. What other country sees so many of its citizens go to vote in elections? Out of the total number of voters, 94.42% of the ballots were valid, which indicate overwhelming support for the political system and if this wasn’t enough, 80.44% of voters voted for all the candidates, as another sign of their confidence in the system and its leadership.

If Cuba has problems, it isn’t the country with the most problems. You just have to take a look around us. The whole world has problems as a result of the crisis that capitalism and the concentration of wealth in 1% of citizens’ pockets has caused, while 99% live in different states of poverty, who range from exploited workers to those whose salaries are less and less every day to meet the huge expenses they need to cover in order to live, to people who have even lost their homes and have to live on the street in extreme poverty. These are real problems.

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.

12 thoughts on “Is Cuba the only Country with Problems?

  • Sure, what happened is that Cuba passed through a unique type of history during the Cold War.

    I live a life of privelege in capitalist Europe, although we have also benefited from strong social provisions. I am able to travel freely and make more money than Cubans. I am able to visit their country but also a range of capitalist countries. I am allowed to speak to local people and have done so. Some of them support their system, others hate it, and still more are somewhere in the middle.

    The issue with these debates, which is why I will be leaving it alone soon, is that when you visit Cuba it is not a nightmare. You cannot compare your countrymen to Calcutta. But I can. And it means I have never been a victim of crime (unlike in Mexico), never read about armed gangs killing people (unlike Mexico), never saw a hungry child starving (India).

    I recognise my privelege but travelers and tourists from “social” Europe would not see Cuba as being particularly bad compared to when we visit Jamaica, South Africa or Mexico (Haiti is simply not on the agenda for tourism).

  • Obviously every country and people have problems – we live in a world run by imperfect people and no where is paradise. However, in the 1950’s before the Revolution a large portion of Cuban people lived in a civilized manner, including me and my family. See photos or you tube videos of people walking down the streets of Havana. Nicely dressed ladies, men wearing slacks or suits and the shops behind them selling all types of goods. The streets and building facades well maintained. People who worked could have anything within their means. Basically people in Havana lived just like those in any metropolitan European city. What happened in the past 50-60 years? Certainly there is no easy solution but I for one wish better for my fellow Cuban citizens. I refuse to compare them to people living Haiti or Calcutta and saying “you don’t have it as bad as they do”.

  • But that’s not the full picture. I live in Europe and it is a magnet for people from capitalist countries as well.

    Cuba just isn’t a “forsaken island”. It is a wonderful, incredible place. People everywhere, food getting better than it was, every city safe to visit. Local people clearly struggling and can’t afford to travel abroad, but pretty similar to any other Latin American country (but safer).

  • Really? I have been to Cuba like you and met so many Cubans. People who are struggling but not “hopeless”. Whatever communism has done in Cuba, it has not destroyed “people’s souls”.

    So have you been to rural Guatemala and Nicaragua? Have you seen the slums in Brazil? These are people stuck in the same problem situation as people in Cuba, except with violence. All countries face these challenges and nobody has got it right yet.

    Cuba’s problems are beatable. The country has good human capital. Whatever the effects of socialism, it is a very attractive place, visitors from all over the world cannot stay away, because the people are alive and vibrant. The infrastructure is poor but so is parts of China, so it is in capitalist countries like India and wherever else.

  • Is Cuba the only country with problems?
    The answer is obviously “no.”
    What brilliant insight! That explains everything!
    I have a hangnail; my neighbor has cancer. We both have problems….

  • Of course Cuba has problems, and they are serious problems, and you cannot just blame the embargo, but Cuba has been steadily working on these problems for the past sixty years, perhaps not as fast as some folks would like, and perhaps there have been times when there were two steps backwards and one step forward (e.g. when all small and medium-sized businesses were closed down, in 1968, leaving only state enterprises, but most of the time it has been two steps forward and one step backward. Moreover, if you take a look at U.N. stats. you will see that with its “1950’s equipment” the Cuban health care system, spending around $970 per year per citizen, has arrived at the same longevity as the U.S., which spends ten times as much! Although private education in the U.S. is good–for those who can afford it–for the most part public schools, especially those in deindustrialize towns and in rural areas are in tatters. While the Cuban educational system has serious problems, still, most Cuban parents still have the faith and see education as the key to the success of their children. Cuba does not have the pervasive crime problems of its neighbors. Sure, there are all sorts of scams, but these are quaint in comparison to the major mayhem of Mexico, Honduras, Salvador and, yes, Venezuela! Cuba is neither the heaven depicted by some First World idealists, nor the hell depicted by many apologists for capitalism and imperialism. As I’ve often said, Cuba lies somewhere betwixt heaven and hell, but at least its leaders and most of its citizens believe in applying reason in attempting to remake the economic and social spheres.

  • Some predictably forthright and near hysterical comments.
    Elio has a very valid point.
    Despite the fact that he glosses over all of Cuba’s ills, he poses the following question:
    Is Cuba the only country with problems?
    The answer is obviously ‘no’.
    And it is irrefutable that there are countries that have certain problems that Cuba simply doesn’t have.
    Just to give one example:
    You drop off yer kids at school and you get a phonecall later on in the day saying that yer kids are riddled with bullet holes. They’ve been shot to bits.
    That kind of problem just simply does not occur in Cuba.
    It is impossible to imagine even in one’s wildest dreams/nightmares that such a revolting circumstance could possibly occur in Cuba.
    In certain other parts of the world with different chains of power and influence this type of atrocity is an entirely normal day to day occurrence (thankfully a new generation in the USA is trying to take a stand – albeit a stand that is being belittled by the disturbingly deeply entrenched powers that be)

    In Cuba such an atrocity would be a totally unimaginable outrage.

    Nowhere’s perfect.

  • Elio
    Cuba has major problems but according to your thinking , that’s ok because so does USA ???
    Also , you lost the thread…we are talking about Cuba NOT USA .Yes we know there are problems in the free world .
    Also what a weak argument that so many Cubans are literate , great ! But what do they have toread except trash like Grandma and a whole load of Government propaganda …Like me knowing how to snow ski but living in Cuba…..
    Free health care ???in decrepet hospitals with 50s equipment …I’ve met more doctors operating taxis and casa particular than in practice ?????Why is that ???
    Ever hear of doctors for Oil ???or Venisuala ???why is that ????
    Did you know you still have ration cards in Cuba ???why ?
    Using the old embargo story was worn very thin by Fidel…You still deal with manyeuropean countries but don’t pay your bill ….so they don’t deal with you …surprise !
    Cuba owes billions to creditors and are not making their payments. Why is that ???
    Even China I’ll no longer sell Cuba anything ???
    Why are most of the sugar Mills broken down and rusting away and why is sugar production so low you can’t supply your own people ???
    Why is most of Cuba covered in mirabu and spreading ???
    Why can Cubans not eat beef with fear ofbeing jailed ????
    Why is the beautiful traditional cuban music being rap!aced wit rageton garbage …Government sanctioned ..???
    I could think of several more example of how Cuba is broken but enough time spent on a blind and deaf man

  • Dear Brother Ken, Any man who hides behind a mask rather than showing his face for the whole world to see the courageous person who believes in what he says, is a FAKE, A FRAUD, a COWARD, an UNTRUSTWORTHY PERSON. Such a person is devoid of manhood and the drivel that he writes, just cannot be believed, for they bear no weight and have no substance.The Great USA, the Bastion of capitalism, has 14% of its 330 million or 46.2 million of its inhabitants cannot read or write, whilst Cuba is illiterate free, just imagine that?

    In the dead of winter, there are thousands of homeless people walking the streets searching the garbage bins for food to eat in the so-called richest country in the world -The USA. There are families who live in their vehicles because they just cannot cope with the exhorbitant house rent. The Prison Population in the USA is larger than the 11 million inhabitants of Cuba, could you believe this? There is rampant discrimination in the USA. There is shyrocketing exploitation of undocumented workers who work for endless hours and whom no Social Security is paid for; they are not given holidays and the employers get filthy rich from this exploitation.

    The average worker is unable to pay Medical Insurance and many die from want of medical attention, whilst in Cuba, this is FREE of CHARGE. What about the spiralling crime rate, what about the drug trafficking? What about the Sexual Harassment of women? What about the shooting down of INNOCENT BLACK PEOPLE by the Police? What about youngsters taking up guns and shooting dowm innocent school children? And, Brother Ken, you and Brother Moses have the heart, the gall, the bareface, the nerve, the brazen features to condemn Cuba when you have so much to condemn in the USA?

    Come on Brothers, there is an USA Economic Embargo on the Country. Cuba cannot even use the USA Dollar to trade Internationally, and yet, despite all these DIFFICULTIES, these BOULDERS set in its pathway, Cuba is able to provide Scholarships to THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES and even from the USA, to train their Professionals who would otherwise be unable to realize their dream. Cuba was able to LIBERATE ANGOLA and NAMIBIA from the TENTACLES of the WHITE SOUTH AFRICAN APARTHEID REGIME which was supported by the anti- BLACK PEOPLE, anti- WORKING CLASS, USA. Let the world know who is Brother Ken and who is Brother Moses. I believe in what a write and I am not afraid or ashamed to let the whole world know who I am. This gives me CREDIBILITY!!

  • Well said. I agree completely. I am amused but not surprised that Elio would allege that the Cuban people did not complain to the government about the shortages and hardships they experienced during the Special Period. Really? Had they complained, what would have happened to them?

  • Its hard to believe your rhetoric when the United States, Canada and Europe has become a haven for your country. Your citizens desperately leave your forsaken island under desperation. Why? Are you so old and blind that you no longer see or comprehend what has been going on in your country? There has been 5 or 6 waves of refugee’s out of your homeland and it continues today where many are trapped in South & Central America making their journey north to the USA. Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering & migrations, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. Any individual/government that drives its own citizens into the ocean, risking their lives to escape from their home land, has failed catastrophically.

  • What a load of crap…get your head out of the sand ..Cuba is a country full of problems .
    I have spent more than a year of my life in Cuba . I am born and raised Canadian and have ridden my bicycle from Barracoa to Pinar del Rio and everywhere in between several times .Everywhere you look Cuba is falling apart…from agriculture to infrastructure to electrical production to water purification .No other country I’ve visited is in such poor shape and I have spent time in 10 other Latin American countries .
    Cuba has a much greater potential than most but is totally wasting that by muzzling , restricting and stopping people from developing in a free society .
    Cuba can be compared to East Germany before the wall went down . I was there., I saw the poverty ,the look of total hopelessness in people’s eyes .
    Communism destroys the physical country but also the souls of those held in it’s grip !
    East Germany , North Korea ,and China are lucky …some day as in Germany the other half will restore the destroyed part …but who would want to shoulder the billions of dollars it will cost to bring Cuba into the modern world ?? The Castro regime must abandon the sinking ship now in hopes that something might right the wrongs of 60 years of mismanagement and opression

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