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: http://econweb.umd.edu/~davis/eventpapers/CUBA.pdf

  • ”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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kolejka.jpeg). 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.

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