Cuba and the Alleged Failure of Socialism

Elio Delgado Legon

Photo: Juan Suarez
Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Detractors of the Cuban revolution (and socialism in general) love to repeat that socialism has failed, that the Cuban economy is a disaster and innumerable other lies to try and justify the frank betrayal of their peoples.

When East European socialism collapsed (as a result of many mistakes and betrayals), the enemies of socialism began shouting that the system was a failure from the rooftops. However, the truth is quite different from this.

Like any other political system, socialism can have problems. It is, after all, a human system, and nothing that humans do can be called perfect. When one makes a mistake, however, one fixes it and moves on. What you don’t do is give up and surrender to the enemy. Having refused to do this is what makes Cuba’s socialist revolution great.

When Cuba found itself caught in the crossfire – facing both the implacable US blockade and enduring the suspension of all trade with the former members of the socialist bloc–, the leaders of the revolution told the people: “either we stand our ground or we lose everything we have achieved under socialism.”

And the Cuban people preferred a long period of privations, the “Special Period in Times of Peace”, saving the achievements of socialism, instead of surrendering to the enemy.

Any other government in any other country would probably have been overthrown by the people, intent on changing their country’s course in the search for a better life. The Cuban people, however, placed their trust in their revolution and its leaders, and they chose wisely.

It’s true we went through very rough times, but, at no point were workers laid off en masse, no one was abandoned to their own resources and, with the very few resources available, the country began to lay the foundations for its development.

When Cuba found itself caught in the crossfire – facing both the implacable US blockade and enduring the suspension of all trade with the former members of the socialist bloc–, the leaders of the revolution told the people: “either we stand our ground or we lose everything we have achieved under socialism.”

Well-trained professionals continued to graduate from Cuban universities and the development of the science and technology sector went on unhindered – anything else would have been jeopardizing the nation’s future.

One of the mistakes made at the time was having neglected the countryside, having failed to distribute idle lands to those willing to work them, as has been done in recent years, and not having raised the price of agricultural products to motivate farmers. These mistakes have been rectified and we’re all already seeing the results.

No one with at least a couple of working neurons could say that socialism has failed. In Cuba, at least, this is not the case: the country is moving forward, perhaps not as quickly as we would want, because there are many obstacles in our way, but it is growing and developing in a sustained and sustainable fashion, no matter what those who want to ignore or cover up this fact say.

Other socialist countries are also experiencing sustained growth, even today, in the midst of the world economic crisis unleashed by the capitalist system, which does appear to be in its final and dying phase.

The socialist system is not in crisis because its fundamental concern continues to be the wellbeing of the people, and everything it does is aimed at that. Great thinkers, sociologists, analysts and social activists concur on this point.

An authority as important as the Pope of the Catholic Church (an institution that has over a billion followers) has touched on this point on several occasions. Pope John Paul II raised the banner of human solidarity, a concept which is entirely foreign to the capitalist system, which is intrinsically egotistical and reveres only money and profit, indifferent to the fact that millions of children die of hunger around the world every year.

Well-trained professionals continued to graduate from Cuban universities and the development of the science and technology sector went on unhindered – anything else would have been jeopardizing the nation’s future.

More recently, Pope Francisco was even more direct than his predecessor at a mass celebrated before over 300,000 people, when he declared: “Forgive me if these words are a bit of strong, but I tell the truth when I say: the lack of work deprives one of one’s dignity. Where there is no work, there is no dignity! And this tragedy is the consequence of a system that idolizes a god called money.”

Later, the Pontiff added: “Men and women must be the center of our economic system. Our current economic system is leading us to tragedy (…) What we want is a just system that benefits everyone.”

Even the Pope is convinced capitalism has failed and that we need a just system that can help everyone. That system can be nothing other than socialism, though some, in order to justify their betrayal, continue to vociferate that it has failed.

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.

40 thoughts on “Cuba and the Alleged Failure of Socialism

  • Before Castro, Cuba’s GDP per capita was comparable with that of Italy or some Southern states of the US such as Missisippi. Cuba was one of the most developed countries of Latin America. A scholarly paper on the issue:

  • ”When the socialist states of Eastern Europe were dismantled, it opened the flood gates for misery and poverty for everyone. Literacy, life expectancy, food consumption, employment, wages, all took a dramatic turn downwards.” – load of bullshit. In the more developed parts of the former Communist bloc (Hungary, Poland, Estonia), life expectancy is higher now. Average net salary in Poland is 860 dollars and under capitalism this really means you can buy whatever you want as long as you have the money, and not endless queues as it used to be under communism (people in queue for toilet paper in the 1980s: A bit better than the 18 dollar salary in Castro’s red paradise, no?

  • If there are ”lots of democracy” in Cuba then why are there no ”nay” votes in the parliament? In the US, even Republican sponsored resolutions occasionally attract some Republicans themselves to vote against, as do maverick Democrats in case of Democrat sponsored resolutions. How is it possible that in a democracy that you claim Cuba to be all decisions are made unanimously?

  • Can we stop arguing and start seeking a solution? Raul Castro himself admits that the Cuban economy needs a major overhaul, and that an expanded role for private enterprise is the means of jump-starting it. Cuban ideologues need to stop thinking of privatization as surrendering to the enemy and remove the controls throttling the economy. Then we can talk about whether Socialism has faile, after economic reality has had an opportunity to impose itself.

  • We use an (*) to annote Cuban economic growth because of shady accounting and self-reporting as well as the fact that Cuba nurses on the Venezuelan teat. Yoani Sanchez, like so many others, was denied permission to leave Cuba 19 times before Raulito did away with the ‘tarjeta blanca’. A single party system is by definition non-democratic. The Castros are dictators by Fidel’s own description in an interview with Barbara Walters. Participatory? Have a ever seen or heard of a NO vote cast in the Asemblea Nacional? If by a lot of countries, you mean North Korea, Belorussia, Somalia, Syria, etc. you are probably right.

  • Mao Tse Tung was a fantastic leader who brought China into the 20th century, Deng Xiaoping made his associates rich and hundreds of millions poor.

  • Cubans have civil liberties, those thousands they left because of the special period, and Fidel said anyone who wanted to leave could and that decree remained for years and look how many millions stayed. they were forced to stay, bullshit! There is a lot of democracy in Cuba. Raul Castro were started under Fidel during the special period, so that shows how much you know.

  • Scandanavia is Social Democracy not Socialism. So when the Market inevitably fails again and Scandanavia feels it there social programs will be gutted.

  • Yes they can, and guess what they can all actually read these post too because of the brilliant socialist system.

  • They actually do both, and it was more common during the special period. Also, getting a job is much easier, and security in life is much higher in Cuba and in communism in general. Argentina went fully towards capitalism and their economy imploded and left children eating old McDonalds out of garbage cans. Marxism has provided the world fairness, stability, prosperity, modernization, health, and security. You need to actually Read Karl MarX you anti-Marxist ass hole.

  • Where do I start with all of this ignorant crap. You are truly just a right-wing anti-communist clown, you really aren’t with my time, but I guess i’ll educate you. When the socialist states of Eastern Europe were dismantled, it opened the flood gates for misery and poverty for everyone. Literacy, life expectancy, food consumption, employment, wages, all took a dramatic turn downwards. In Hungary 75% of people say life under communism was better, the numbers are the same all across Eastern Europe. 1989 did not represent all of society they represented a segment of society, not society as a whole, and not all of the 1989 demonstrations were anti-communist, a lot just wanted political reform.

    Yes, Cuba was dropped like a hot potato by the right-wing capitalist governments of Eastern Europe. The USSR was Cuba’s main trading partner and they were dropped when capitalism was restored there. Also, you know nothing about Venezuelan Economics. Venezuela’s economy is actually pretty capitalist still, I mean there are a lot of government social programs but a lot of things remain in private/market hands unlike socialism where things are in public/worker hands. The inflation and shortages come from private corporations hoarding resources.

    Cuba’s rate of science and engineer act., is extremely impressive and they end up working at their chosen profession, it is because of the economic isolation that they faced that made it so they drove taxis that is not Fidel’s Fault, pre-1959 only a select few could become engineers ect. The pay they get is very livable.

    This last paragraph is full of very stupid questions. Cuban infrastructure suffered from loss of Soviet subsidies, this plus other resulting problems made it so Cuba put everything it had into maintaining schools, hospitals and necessities, gleaming golden buildings are not important maintaining the second lowest infant mortality rate in the western hemisphere(which Cuba has after Canada) is. It’s important to note that the place with the highest infant mortality rate in the hemisphere is Capitalist Haiti, which is right next to Cuba.The public transportation also suffered because of loss of Soviet subsidies and because of the peak oil crisis. Cuba imports it’s food? BULSHIT!You clearly know nothing of Cuban agriculture! the United Nations even recognized Cuba has a global achiever in food production, distribution, consumption, and environmental sustainability. Cuba has the lowest rates of crime, so robbing employers? please! The wages of Cuban may add up to that in U.S. dollars, which is very sleazy to try to delegitimize Cuba for that, because the U.S. is the U.S.! in Cuban currency their wages are much much higher while everything is excessible. Net immigration from Cuba is zero, it’s very low, the reason why people were leaving(which Fidel authorized) is because of the special period, things were hard. I have nothing more to say except get educated.

  • Patronage? you mean helping a poor country develop? You mean Watching the injustice of a brutal embargo and deciding to do something about it? Okay in 1959, the USSR helped Cuba significantly, because they needed it, but they were free to decide their own future. Venezuela looked at Cuba and decided to show solidarity to a nation under economic attack while still performing very well. Cuba’s economy was growing at a rate of 4% annually from 1961 to 1990, and in 2008, when the capitalist world was imploding Cuba’s economy free by 5%. “Escaped the Regime”, okay so Fidel has never forced anyone to stay in Cuba in fact, during the special period he said anybody who wanted to could do so no questions asked. Also Cuba is very democratic and participatory.A lot of countries, a lot of people would be genuinely lucky to have a leader like Fidel Castro Ruz. VIVA MARXISMO!

  • I would love to hear from a Cuban currently living in Cuba report of the human rights and access to information on this feed. ohh wait they can’t.

  • Moses, look up “extra-territoriality”.

  • .. and no Stalinist state has ever been able to create the wealth to support “socialism”. Even the Soviet Union with its massive wealth of raw materials miserably failed. Venezuela, floating on oil, is failing.
    There is s a big difference between democratic socialism with a mixed economy and Stalinist failed countries like Cuba and North Korea.
    Cuba first consumed the expropriated wealth. Then it lived off the 30-35% of GDP subsidies (plus loans) from the Soviet Union. Now it lives of unpaid moans and Venezuelan aid. Cuba never generated any wealth (in the economic sense of the word). Castro just squandered other people’s money and still failed to provide decent living standards with 50+ years of rationing.

  • I am right, Dan. Cuba was a net exporter of food before Castro and yes for Cubans sugar has always been a part of their diet and a supplier of energy. During the so-called “special period” a glass of water with some sugar was “breakfast” for my Cubans.

    Cuba was self sufficient in much of the staple foods like rice, beans, pork, … Cubans had good access to fruits and vegetables.

    “After WW2 imported rice was difficult to obrtain and costly, so Cuban farmers had an incentive to grow rice. In 1949 Cuba produced 10 percent of domestic consumption. In 1960, the year after Castro came to power, the Cuban rice harvest was 400,000 metric toms, making Cuba for the first time self-sufficient in rice. During the decade of the fifties, Cuban producers had successfully adopted the latest methods of rice farming employed in Louisiana and Texas. From the point of technological expertise, rice production outstripped that of any other branch of Cuban agriculture; and in terms of money value, rice became one of Cuba’s major crops.
    By 1962, with Cuban agriculture socialized, the rice yeld was reduced by 50%. The same year, as has already been noted, the rationing of foodstuffs was introduced, with the rice ration set at 6 pounds per person per month. …. That lowered per capita consumption by two thirds… More over, for low-income Cubans, for whom rice formed a more substantial part of their
    diet, the reduction was even greater.”

    M. Halperin, Return to Havana, Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville, 1994, p.49-50.

    A well functioning free market ensured that from a shortage in 1949 break even was achieved by 1960. Castro ruined the industry by 1962. In two years 50% of the annual need in rice were no longer met.

    In 1966 the rice ration was again reduced by half to 3 ponds per person per month. that is down from 18 to 3 ponds since the start of the dictatorship.
    The reason was: the deal that Castro himself had made with China on the supply of rice fell through when Castro didn’t deliver the promised support in their “polemic” with the SU.
    (for details on the rice Crisis and the Cuba – China quarrel see: M.
    Halperin, Taming of Fidel Castro, Bereley: University of Calmifornia Press,
    1981, p. 195-207.)

    “Thus in 1965, Cuban rice production had dwindled to 50,000 tons…”
    M. Halperin, Return to Havana, Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville, 1994, p.50.

    On the situation in Cuba:
    “”Armando Hart, a member of Castro’s innermost ruling group, made the extremely significant observation that:
    . . . it is certain that capitalism had attained high levels of organization, efficiency and production that declined after the
    Revolution. . . (Juventud Rebelde, November 2, 1969; quoted by Rene Dumont, Is Cuba Socialist?)

    Paul A. Baran, an ardent pro-Castroite in the equally ardent Monthly Review pamphlet, Reflections on the Cuban Revolution (1961) substantiates what every economist, as well as amateurs like Castro, has been saying: …the Cuban Revolution was born with a silver spoon in its mouth. .

    The world renowned French agronomist, Rene Dumont, has estimated that if properly cultivated as intensively as South China, Cuba could feed fifty million people. . . the Cuban Revolution is spared the painful, but ineluctable compulsion that has beset preceding socialist revolutions: the necessity to force tightening of people’s belts in order to lay the foundations for a better tomorrow. . .(p. 23)

    Theodore Draper quotes Anial Escalante, (before he was purged by Castro) one of the leading communists, who admitted that:
    …in reality, Cuba was not one of the countries with the lowest standard of living of the masses in America, but on the contrary, one of the highest standards of living, and it was here where the first great . . . democratic social revolution of the continent burst forth. . . If the historical development had been dictated by the false axiom [revolutions come first in poorest countries] the revolution should have been first produced in Haiti, Colombia or even Chile, countries of greater poverty for the masses than the Cuba of 1958. . . (quoted in Draper’s Castro’s Revolution: Myths and Realities; New York, 1962, p. 22)”

    More see:

    Cubans, even the poor had access to meat (pork, chicken, ..), fruits, plantains, sugar, real coffee (not the crap they are now sold), eggs, …
    Camaguey had large herds of dairy and beef cattle. Miles of them along the carretera central.

    Cuba imported wheat (in growing quantities as more was consumed through rising living standards), non-native fruits (apples, pears), out of season fruits and vegetables, beverages and luxury food items.
    Now it imports 80% of the food it consumes including rice (Vietnam), wheat (USA, Europe), beans (Latin America), ….
    Cubans have very little fruit and vegetables in their diet and sugar is still a large supplier of energy.

  • Your sarcasm is slightly amusing. Each of your examples demonstrate the impact of the embargo on those companies that have chosen to violate US law. As an American, I do not want my tax dollars aiding a regime which oppresses it ‘s people. If we are going to maintain the embargo, we should enforce it to the fullest extent of the law. It would also appear that you are changing your story to include a minor invasion of Panama as a military threat to Cuba. Likewise, naval exercises in nearby international waters is somehow a threat as well. Everyone always thinks their mom’s cooking is best and that their struggles are harder. Apparently, you feel that way about the ‘special period’.

  • I guess they shouldn’t have been worried about escapades like Operation Just Cause (a/k/a Jus Cuz We Can) in Panama. No. the countless nearby maneuvers practicing invasions, (even unannounced like in Oct 1981) the threats, it was all meaningless from a military standpoint. Castro “hype” as you put it. You’re right again, Moses. The best defense when confronted w/ a very unfriendly neighbor who can “decimate you within days” is ……….. ignore it !

  • Who knew things were so simple Moses ! You need to contract with the oil services industry. You could have saved them years and millions building the Scarabeo rig. You can work for Credit Suisse too when they get fined hundreds of millions by OFAC for doing dollar based transactions w/ 3rd parties for Cuba. Or what about the shipping industry, getting a tanker back that was confiscated by the US government b/c it had been in a Cuban port in the last 6 months, or maybe help the travel industry get B-1 visas issued to executives barred from entering the United States b/c their company ….
    You get the picture. Just tell them, the embargo is a big warm and fuzzy joke from Washington on those humorless communists. BTW I should point out that neither the Jewish Holocaust nor apartheid in South Africa, were governments. People suffered. They had no choice. My point, which you missed by a mile, was that the Cuban Government was able, despite incredible adversity, to provide the minimum for it’s people. No one was left behind and there was no revolt.The US was barely able to handle hurricane Katrina.

  • Still, to the point, there is nor has there ever been a military threat from the US against Cuba since the Cuban missile crisis. Frankly, Cuba would be decimated within days should an invasion be launched. However, most Cubans, my in-laws included, have grown up believing that the risk of a US invasion is imminent and therefore eternal vigilance is required. This is the hype trumped up by the Castros to justify the loss of civil liberties. “A country under siege” is a common refrain used by Castro sycophants to defend the repressive tactics the regime uses to maintain control. There are too many prominent Miami Cubans with grandmothers who live near the Plaza de Revolucion for there ever to be cruise missiles launched against the seat of Castro dictatorship.

  • Here we go again with the ‘hero worship’. The US Civil War, 1920’s depression, and WWII weren’t cakewalks either. Cubans are human beings just like everybody else, including Americans. The ‘Special Period’ was a tough time but not more so than the Jewish Holocaust or apartheid in South Africa. The Venezuelan oil subsidy to Cuba is worth an estimated $10 billion per year. Yes, it is reasonable to equate the soft costs of increased import expenses to the Venezuelan subsidy. Don’t fall for the hype, the embargo simply blocks Cuba from buying goods directly from US sellers and requires that Cuba seek private financing which usually is more expensive than international banking fees. Nothing more.

  • Wait a minute, there’s that implied comparison of life in 3rd world Cuba w/ Superpower USA. Fairer would be, do you prefer the sewage in Havana ( I’ve been to Cuba more than 30 times since 1993 and I’m not sure what sewage you are talking about) to the children -killing Mara Salvatrucha in El Salvador, the drug addicts in Honduras, the garbage pickers and Narcos of Mexico or the death squads in Colombia ? Common, pick a capitalist paradise in Latin America next time.

  • You are wrong. Net exporter of food only b/c sugar is a food. It had to import everything else. That’s why the 1st agrarian reform occurred in 1960.

  • Cuba is under constant threat of military attack, how’s that Griffin ? Just how many trillions have the US, which you obviously adore, spent, to together w/ the infringement on civil liberties, ect to “protect” us from some dirt-poor Jihadis on the other side of the world, who have no ship, no airplane to their name ? Cuba faces a Super power 90 miles away which has no qualms whatsoever about Shocking and Awing whoever they choose, for whatever reason they choose. Or do I have to start listing examples for you, serious Griffin ?

  • Those seven years of hard Special Period are not insignificant. I was in Cuba during the time. I have know doubt whatsoever that the USA would have fallen apart after 1 year under such conditions. And do you mean to say that subsidized oil for Venezuela even begins to make up for the insurmountable obstacles to the Cuban economy that the blockade imposes ?

  • LOL…..It’s you who hasn’t been to Cuba. Having been there many times myself I can tell you that Cubans, like everyone else, measure themselves by the dollar. It’s why doctors, scientists and teachers, abandon their profession to work as taxi drivers, waiters and maids, and generally try to get into a position where they can get CUCs or dollars. The Cuban government created the CUC precisely because they needed to get there hands on the stuff. It’s the same reason Venezuela and Argentina have implemented controls in order to keep the dollar in the country.

    The only thing that Marxism has ever provided is failure and misery wherever it’s been implemented.

  • Good old Elio…it’s good to see that you are not letting the facts get in the way of writing yet another post based entirely on failed Castro propaganda. You write “The socialist system is not in crisis…”. Really? What truly socialist country is that?

  • Likewise Walter, Cuba, since 1961, has never been without the significant patronage of either the Soviet Union or Venezuela except during the seven or so years between the fall of the USSR and the military coup that landed Chavez in control of Venezuela. The extent of the negative impact of the embargo continues to be debatable. As a result, the positive impact of foreign support, including remittances from Cubans who have escaped the regime may very well offset the embargo. You may choose to give the Castros a pass on the failure of their leadership and blame all that is wrong on the embargo, but there is no reliable empirical evidence to support your claims.

  • Cuba is under constant military attack from the USA? Well that explains all the cruise missiles & bombs falling on Havana and the US Marines storming the beaches of Veradero.

    To write such a thing displays your utter detachment from reality, Walter. You are unserious.

  • Nothing “alleged” about the failure of Castro’s “socialism” (Stalinism).
    Before Castro Cuba was a net exporter of food. It was self-sufficient in its staple food: rice. Today Cuba imports 80% of the food it consumes.
    Cuba has a growing economical base. Today the economy is destroyed. Castro third the third developed nation of the Americas in to a third world nation.

  • If you are a new reader of the Comments, please take note that the habitual critics of the Cuban revolution and efforts to build and maintain an independent and socialist state, never mention one major fact. Cuba’s problems and successes have taken place under the constant military, economic, and political attack for over 60 years from the most powerful nation in the world! The U.S. has tried to destroy the Cuban experiment by every mean possible, and they have not succeeded. Would Cuba have problems if this were not so, probably, but they would certainly be quite different in degree and kind. We can’t really know, since the US empire, and it is an empire in all senses, has never allowed another country to freely experiment with socialism. So all these comments that focus only on the negatives as if they came about either naturally because of Cuban socialism or leadership are just plain dishonest. Even those who don’t know they are essentially lying, are just victims of years of capitalist domination of their education and acculturation. If they object to my characterization, let them suggest an answer to the question: What might Cuba be like if the US hadn’t been on the attack from 1959 on? (And actually years before that too.)

  • What aberration of article. I wonder to whom this person is talking to. Perhaps to his bosses at the PCC?

  • There is a huge difference between what the Cuban government calls “socialism” and the social programmes introduced by the various social democratic parties of Europe & Canada. All of the democratic countries which provide social programs, and this includes Scandinavia, the UK, and even the USA, all have capitalist economies along with a robust respect for the rights and freedoms of the people.

    Cuba has attempted to build a socialist society along Soviet Marxist lines, as interpreted by Fidel Castro. The centrally planned economy is non-capitalist. The Cuban regime has consistently been cited as one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights. The people are denied the basic rights of free speech, freedom of religion, economic freedom, freedom of travel, freedom of association, and free & independent labour unions.

    Fidel Castro knew before he started that the people would never accept the system he was imposing on them. That’s why he lied about it, denying he was a Communist until it was too late. And he knew it would never actually work, which is why he made it impossible for the people to get rid of it. He chose Soviet Communism as the best vehicle for perpetuating his grip on power. Period.

    These are the reasons why Cuban socialism has failed. Marxism doesn’t work. Crushing human rights doesn’t work. Personality cult dictatorships don’t work.

  • This made me laugh. I don’t think socialism is a “bad” system, look at most of Europe and Canada. The problem with Cuba is not socialism, it Fidelism.

    “And the Cuban people preferred a long period of privations, the “Special Period in Times of Peace”, saving the achievements of socialism, instead of surrendering to the enemy.”

    This is laughable when you have thousands of Cubans risking their lives on rafts to get to American soil. The Cuban people did not prefer the special period over capitalism, they were forced to stay. Only until recently did Raul Castro lift restrictions on travel outside of Cuba. How can this idiot say the Cuban people chose this if there is no democracy! The weaker Raul Castro is now crippling under pressure and opening up the market. Hopefully he will change something on the civil liberties front

  • Actually, socialism works well when the State or country has the wealth to support socialism (i.e., many European countries, particularly Scandinavia). Cuba is poor and the government is fortunately trying to do something about it now (finally!) by instituting market reforms (capitalism) and the freedoms that must follow whether it stays as a 1-party or becomes a multi-party State some day. If you look at the U.S. 2-party system which is currently a disaster, a 1-party State could quite frankly be a better choice. However, where 1-party States fail or fall short is in the checks and balances to prevent or reduce greed and all that follows with it such as corruption and a 1-minded approach to solving problems. Socialism in its purest form provides a social support mechanism for all, but it takes a lot of money and people resources to make it work well. Unfortunately, the Castro brothers were clever enough to be survivors, but it took them a long time to realize that communism, Marxism, all-powerful dictatorships, etc., work against the people it is supposed help and it creates a neurosis that brings about a lack of freedoms that in Cuba today continues to exist. Freedom of travel and of artistic expression has more or less improved, but freedom of the press and freedom of political expression are still suppressed as are many other things that the State feels are counter-revolutionary because it may show weaknesses that the State doesn’t want to admit and it has this great fear (neurosis) that people will rise up and try to defeat the current power structure. Yes, homeland security is important as we Americans have seen and you could argue that the American people and the U.S. government are also neurotic, but we still have great freedom to contribute and to improve our quality of life. The majority of Cubans don’t yet have that ability because their government hasn’t done enough and is only now realizing that they can emulate many of the things we do here in the U.S.A. without sacrificing their principles to never again be hostages of foreign corporations.and instead be partners where both sides can benefit from the fruits of our labor and our respective natural resources.

  • I’ve been to Havana. The people I met were fed up with Castro, with the serial failures of the revolution and with the constant police state repression. The regime promises a fairer society but it delivers the worst abuses of human rights.

    As for the weaknesses and failures of capitalism, there are many. However, because of the respect for the rights and freedoms of the people in democratic countries, their elected representatives will eventually sort it out. This is not the first time congress has failed to fund the government and it wont be the last. It’s just one of the negotiating tools they use. There is no such thing as a perfect system. Ireland has voted to support a wiser economic policy and that country is well on the path of recovery.

    My country, Canada, has the strongest economy in the G8. We also enjoy democracy, full human rights & freedoms, and publicly funded healthcare and education. Capitalism can work when wisely managed.

    Despite your professed admiration for Cuba and Venezuela, I suspect you prefer to live in a prosperous capitalist & democratic country, rather than enjoying the “happiness and dignity” of the Cuban ration book, the police surveillance, the leaking sewage and the collapsing buildings of Havana.

  • And capitalism is a great success? The USA on shutdown because its farcical ‘democracy’ can’t agree on the idea (which most mature democracies have had for decades) of universal healthcare, or even Obamacare, which is several steps behind a true healthcare system.
    Meanwhile, the USA is living on credit, with $12 trillion debt it admits, but underlying debt of $70 trillion according to some finance experts. Likewise the rest of the capitalist world, which has handed over all its cash to the emerging economies.
    And meanwhile, the rich and super-rich throughout the world continue to amass wealth, with personal stashes which exceed the US debt, and growing wealth accumulating at over 12% a year, while working folk have wages frozen or cut and have taken a net cut in pay while the rich get ever richer. And now 750,000 hard-working Americans have no job, no wage, and no idea when the odious and unelected Republicans will agree to a scheme proposed by the elected President. What a glorious example of capitalism that is: as a wit once said, ‘The best democracy money can buy.’
    Maybe Cuba will have to have a political hybrid to survive but not because their system doesn’t work; the wealthy capitalist nations will not allow it to work. Just this week, Venezuela has had to kick out US diplomats it says were a threat to its national security. And Chavez faced endless US-sponsored coups, which failed because democracy triumphed.
    Ireland has also watched tens of thousands of its young people flee in the last five years because of the state of its economy, and that had nothing to do with socialism and everything to do with capitalism. They are paying – we are all paying – for the failure of capitalism. Oh, apart from the banks and the rich; they don’t have to pay a dollar.
    I suspect you haven’t been to Havana. I have. The Cubans don’t measure their wealth by the dollar, they measure it in happiness and dignity, something capitalism thinks it can dole out with LCD TVs and platitudes. Only now we’re listening to socialism; because it promises a fairer society in a world riven by gross abuses of power.

  • What a load of BS! So many factual errors in such a short piece.

    When the socialist states of Eastern Europe collapsed, they did not turn to improving the flaws of socialism: they dropped it. Not one of the former Communist countries follows socialism today, not even Russia. China & Vietnam are still ruled by their Communist parties, but neither country is socialist in any way. Oh right, there’s still North Korea!

    Cuba was not suspended from trade with the former socialist countries. They were free to buy and sell anything they wished, provided Cuba paid for it. But without the massive Soviet subsidies, Cuba could no longer pay its own way. In fact, since 1959, Cuba has never paid her own way, always relying on a sugar daddy to pick up the tab. First it was the USSR, now it’s cheap oil from Venezuela. And then there are thousands of tourist sugar daddies spending their vacations in Cuba, fuelling a notorious surge in prostitution, yet another proud achievement of the Revolution.

    And what about Venezuela and Chavez’s “Socialism for the 21st Century? The economy is in recession, inflation is the highest in the Western hemisphere, and corruption is rampant. Socialism has failed there, too. It’s being kept on life support, much like Hugo, by legions of Cuban “experts” in Caracas, perfecting a new form of Marxist imperialism. Got to keep that oil flowing!

    Yes, Cuban schools still graduate people with degrees in engineering and science. But they end up working as taxi drivers and waiters, as there are too few jobs in their chosen field, and what few there are pay next to nothing.

    Why do buildings continue to collapse for lack of repairs? Why are the busses always late, overcrowed and breaking down? Why does Cuba import most of their food, instead of growing it in their own fertile soil? Why does the state rent out thousands of medical workers for cash, while the hospitals and clinics are starved for doctors, nurses and supplies? Why are workers robbing their employers? Why does the State continue to exploit their workers for a measly $18 per month? If Cuban socialism is such a success, why do tens of thousands of young Cubans continue to flee the island?

  • A frog in a slow-boiling jar is unable to or unwilling to move out so save itself until its too late.

  • socialism was failing in china until its leaders decided to unleash the private sector. since that time china has been growing at 10% a year. socialism collapsed in eastern europe but not its economies are growing rapidly as it becomes part of the european union. social programs under a free enterprise system offers the best hope. cuba is learning this slowly and it took more than 50 years to do so. eliminating private enterprise in 1968 was the biggest mistake of the castros. unfortunately venezuela is sinking because it is relying on socialism and restricting free enterprise.

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