The Cuban Revolution Has Over-fulfilled Its Commitments

Elio Delgado Legon

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — One of the accusations made by some of those who criticize the Cuban Revolution is that it has not achieved what it promised.

Nonetheless, the Moncada Program —  as outlined by Fidel Castro in his defense and published under the title History Will Absolve Me, which identified all of the ills afflicting the country at that time and promised that they would be eliminated — has been over fulfilled, despite all the obstacles erected by our country’s foreign and domestic enemies.

It’s true that mistakes have been committed, but none of them were ones of principle. The errors have been due to ignorance about how to build a society “with all and for the good of all,” as Marti dreamed.

It’s very easy to govern in a capitalist society, where the government serves only a decorative function: collecting taxes, paying its public employees little and implementing some public works of which half of the budgets are stolen by corrupt politicians.

Basic services provided to the public are in private hands in most of these countries, and those that are in the hands of the government lack adequate funding and function poorly.

Beginning January I, 1959, the revolutionary government began enacting laws to benefit the people. The Agrarian Reform Law gave land to about 100,000 small farmers who had worked land that wasn’t their own.

Prior to that, they — like feudal serfs — had to pay the land owners a portion of their crops and were under constant threat of eviction if that land was sold or if a higher paying tenant farmer was found. I myself was a victim of one of those evictions when I was just an 11-year-old boy.

The situation confronted by the revolutionary government in the Cuban countryside was one in which more than half of the best arable land was in foreign hands, while 200,000 campesino families didn’t have a square yard of land to plant though close to 10 million acres (around 4 million hectares) laid fallow.

On most of this land and other large farms that were expropriated, state-run farms were established, which provided a solution to unemployment in the countryside. At the time it seemed like the best alternative, however over time I realized that this was a mistake.

I believe that other than large agricultural concerns producing sugarcane, rice or livestock, small farmers should have been given ownership or use rights over the rest of the land. This would have allowed them to produce sufficient food for the rapidly growing population.

Also, agricultural workers began to seek alternative work in cities, and as the children of campesinos had opportunities to study whatever they wanted for free, the countryside began experiencing tremendous labor shortages and therefore food production declined.

With the recent enactment of Executive Order 259 in 2009, this situation is beginning to be remedied. More than 3.2 million acres have now been turned over to campesinos – who have already put much of it into production.

Many farmers who had left the fields are returning to farming, convinced that it’s a good investment because everything that’s planted can be sold, and at good prices.

Part of the production is sold to the government to supply state-run agricultural markets, which keep prices affordable for everyone, and the other part is sold on the open market, where prices are regulated by the law of supply and demand, though at higher non-subsidized prices.

Another problem confronted by the revolutionary government was the high cost of rental housing, often consuming more than half of workers’ wages. This situation was addressed through the Urban Reform Law, which made into homeowners everyone who was paying rent and established legal standards so that in the future, everyone who purchased a home would continue to making monthly payments, but not more than a third of their wages.

In terms of education, when the Moncada attack occurred, the illiteracy rate in the country was about 30 percent. Ten thousand teachers were unemployed and thousands of children were unable to attend school. Illiteracy was eradicated in 1961 and education was declared free at all levels.

Today there is not a single child who doesn’t attend school or a teacher without work, including retired teachers, who have returned back into the workforce and receive their full salaries. I’ll return to that subject again in another commentary.

Other achievements of the Cuban people that can’t be mentioned here due to space will be discussed in future articles, since the corporate media abroad fails to devote a single line to these accomplishments.

This is part of the campaign of lies and misinformation that is waged against the Cuban Revolution. My main objective is to present the truth, and the truth is far from what was or is reported by the international media and some bloggers inside Cuba paid from the United States to discredit the revolution.



12 thoughts on “The Cuban Revolution Has Over-fulfilled Its Commitments

  • Like ‘Mark G’, I noticed a certain lack of personal experience in what Elio wrote about the capitalist world but took it for that. To claim this somehow removes credibility from what he writes about life inside Cuba doesn’t make sense, however. It would be preferable if Mark G elaborated on his own knowledge of reality under capitalism.

    Yes, public service workers tend to be better paid but only because their large numbers have been able to unionize and to fight off the forces trying to do away with unions by ‘privatizing’ the public sector in the name of ‘efficiency’ but designed primarily to bust unionism. The fight is currently going on in Toronto where I live where the right-wing mayor is trying to privatize garbage collection.

    ‘Mark G ‘ exhibits his own naiveté, claiming corrupt politicians will be found out. Corruption exists in many forms. Money “under the table” is a more crude one. It’s common knowledge that all elections in the US and Canada are bought by special interest groups. Is this not corruption? One of the starkest examples is every politician in the US and Canada supports Israel due to the massive, in terms of money, Israel lobby in both countries, despite universal condemnation of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. If a politician votes in favour of Israel whilst abhorring what it is doing, is this not corruption? I have talked to a number of my local representatives and they have told me they are forced to vote for Israel if they want to be re-elected. This certainly seems like corruption to me.

    It’s informative for Cubans to tell us in the web pages of Havana Times the good, the bad and the ugly within their country. Why don’t those of us overseas do the same for our country?

  • From Elio’s post: “It’s very easy to govern in a capitalist society, where the government serves only a decorative function: collecting taxes, paying its public employees little and implementing some public works of which half of the budgets are stolen by corrupt politicians. Basic services provided to the public are in private hands in most of these countries, and those that are in the hands of the government lack adequate funding and function poorly.”

    Elio, if your intention is to be the least bit convincing to other than a few pro-Castro die hards, the above paragraphs are good illustrations of either a complete lack of knowledge of life outside Cuba or a parroting of regime propaganda.

    Public employees are paid very well in democratic countries as I believe they should be. If even a tiny percentage of public works monies were stolen by corrupt politicians, it would be front page news and that politician would either be forced to resign or face losing the next election. Most public services (health, education, pensions, welfare, police, fire, courts) are either directly government run or delivered through non-profit agencies.

    If you are so badly misinformed about life outside Cuba, why should we trust anything you say about life inside Cuba?

  • Well done Elio. I look forward to reading more of your positive articles about the unquestionable achievements of the Revolution. I’m confident that the majority of Cubans will defend those achievements and will work together to develop a future based on equality for all. Most importantly it will be Cubans in Cuba who will make those decisions. Viva la Revolucion! Viva Fidel & Raul!

  • Thanks for your eloquent defense of the Revolution’s accomplishments, Elio! Many folks who comment here, including many who write both diaries and features, think the Revolution can do no right; others, that it has done no wrong. As always, the truth lies somewhere betwixt these two opposite extremes, in “The Golden Mean.” Since revolutions are made by humans–and not gods–they reflect the mixed natures of their creators. As you say, mistakes have been made. Still, the Revolution’s accomplishments have been breath taking. I am one of the few regular posters here who can remember what Cuba was like at the beginning (if not before) the Revolution. During my first visit to Cuba in 1959, just after the triumph of the Revolution, but before many of its reforms had sufficient time to reflect better conditions, I saw heart-breaking poverty, including: lack of decent housing, begging, unemployment, and hunger. During subsequent visits, in the 1960’s, 1970’s, I saw dramatic progress, which has continued to persist even after the Special Period. And as you’ve observed, Elio, the Revolutionary Government has recognized many errors–both in following the Soviet model, and in initiating utopian schemes without taking into account pragmatic conditions. (The latter was recently analysed in another article on how the Ministry of Agriculture, rather than relying on the fundamental experience and knowledge of the guajiros, instead implemented hair-brained schemes imposed on high by the bureaucrats!) Insofar as the Urban Reform was concerned, anyone with an ounce of practical knowledge could see that both older housing and commerical stock, and the newer, post-revolutionary stock, needed to be maintained and, without such maintainance, buildings will eventually fall down! It is like blithely continuing to drive your car, never changing the oil or taking it in a couple of times a year for diagnostics and a tune-up to forestall more serious problems down the line. Perhaps both up here–and also in Cuba–many folks fail to do this due to poverty. They are living so close to the edge that they can’t do maintainance on their car, or can’t visit a doctor on a regular basis. (At least the latter is not the case in Cuba!)
    Although many basic structural flaws need to be repaired, it seems that the Revolutionary Government has now seen what needs to be done. Will they do it? Hope so! In the meantime, many of those in Cuba who feel that the Revolution can do nothing right are probably enraged by all the daily frustrations they have to endure. Since they’re forced to endure these daily indignities, I can’t really fault them. Still, to develop a greater awareness, like a traveller in the the jungle, it is necessary to climb a tall tree into the upper canopy, so as to look around and see where they really are, from whence they’ve come–and to where they wish to go; otherwise, they could bumble further into a trackless swamp!

  • I can certainly attest to Sr Legon’s statement that the corporate media abroad, while not able to deny the achievements of the Revolution, avoids dwelling on them as much as possible and I agree, it is part of a campaign of lies and misinformation that is waged against the Revolution that threatens to awaken citizens in capitalist countries to the shortcomings of their governments.

    ‘Moses’ is all too ready to attribute Cuba’s successes on anything not having to do with Cuba’s idealistic values – Soviet subsidies, Venezuelan subsidies and perceived improvements in contrast to the Batista years. Does one need further proof that capitalists feel threatened by what the Cuban government has achieved?

    A chord was struck with me when I read Elio’s statement, “It’s true that mistakes have been committed, but none of them were ones of principle.” This is what essentially blew me away when I visited Cuba – it has a government that is firmly based on idealistic principles that are still being serviced, maybe imperfectly, unlike in capitalist countries where they are parroted without any intention to fulfill them. The US president is the current most visible and vivid example.

    Most times, principles here are simply ignored. A recent pointed example occurred shortly after I returned to Canada. On May Day no political leader in Canada at any governmental level took part in May Day celebrations. I read about the hundreds of thousands of people who turned out all over Cuba, especially in Havana in the Plaza of the Revolution and about the support given to the event by the government. May Day is workers’ day, a day to celebrate the contributions of the 99%. Yet governments here studiously ignored it.

    ‘Moses’ admits the US embargo has been an “impediment” to Cuban development but states the most destructive obstacle has been the regime – with no evidence presented of course, downplaying the affect of a blockade by the most powerful country on earth that is bound to effect the policies of all other countries, no matter how sympathetic or powerful they may be, not wanting to take on the ‘alpha dog’.

    ‘Cubaverdad’ has a rather rosy picture of life in Cuba before the Revolution – even using the notorious “Pearl of the Antilles” term – true only for the privileged, which we can assume is the class ‘Cubaverdad’ is a member of.

    ”Cubaverdad’ criticizes Cuba for lacking food self-sufficiency, neglecting to read the labels on supermarket shelves in his country where much of the contents come from overseas, putting local workers out of work. Here in Canada, the government wants to sign a “free trade agreement” with South Pacific countries that are likely to see New Zealand eggs and butter in our supermarkets – traveling 7,000 miles to get here, while local farmers less than 100 miles away will be put out of business.

    As for housing, at least Cubans have them at affordable prices, more than what most Americans can say, including the ones who lost them in the great banking sub-prime scandal that none in the banking industry has had to answer for. There is a term here, “sleeping rough”, for people who are forced to sleep on the street – or in their cars. I see ‘car residents’ all over the place when I travel to California where it warm enough to live in a car.

    In San Diego, home of a giant naval base, I read about military families whose husband or wife are in Iraq or Afghanistan, having to apply for food stamps as they didn’t have enough to eat. Apparently ‘supporting the troops” doesn’t include feeding their families.

    If we are going to write about the worts in Cuba – and there certainly are some, I think we need to give equal time to blemishes that exist in countries that some folks here would have you believe don’t exist. It’s so much easier writing about others’ imperfections. As the old aphorism goes, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.

  • If you think the conditions in the PIIGs (Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece) are comparable to the conditions in Cuba, you are out of your mind. You know why those countries are in deep trouble? They became welfare states even though they couldn’t afford it. Sort of like Cuba, with the major difference that the the Caribbean country relies on subsidies from other countries in order to survive.

  • Let’s take two items from the authors post:

    Before Castro Cuba was – depending on how you classify sugar – a net exporter or small importer of food.
    Even Fidel Castro admitted there was no hunger.
    “Cuba, the “Pearl of the Antilles,” though by no means a paradise, was not, as many believe, an economically backward country. Castro himself admitted that while there was poverty, there was no economic crisis and no hunger in Cuba before the Revolution.”
    (See Maurice Halperin: The Rise and Fall of Fidel Castro, University of California, 1972, pgs. 24, 25, 37
    Cuba was self-sufficient in rice in 1958. By 1962 the rice production was halved. Today Cuba produces less than half the milk it produced before Castro. The farming practices the regime imposed on farmers in Oriente contributed to salinization of the land which still has its effects today (see the disastrous potato harvest). Collectivization resulted in ineffective state farms that controlled 2/3 of the land and produced only 1/3 of the food. Sugar went in to decline. At one post 50%+ of the Cuban arable land was left unproductive.
    Now Cuba imports 80% of the food the Cuban people consume. Rationing is being reduced and food is highly expensive in farmers markets and “divisa shops” (TRD).
    Cuban economists have calculated that an average family of 4 would need 7 times the average income to make ends meet.
    Source used:;

    Cuba need lacks adequate housing for it’s people. Over 500,000 houses need extensive repairs and lots more need to be built.

    The CAstro regime in fact has consumed Cuba’s wealth and third the third developed nation of the Americas in to a third world nation.

  • Yeah, sort of like the monopoly bankers and capitalists who are bankrupting “relatively well-off” Europe, North America and Japan with military-industrialism and worldwide usury servitude, creating massive poverty, unemployment and social degradation, and bringing the world to the brink of irreversible environmental catastrophe.

  • Thank you, Elio, for a superb defense of the Cuban Revolution. Everything you’ve said is undeniably true.

    The part you’ve expressed that seems most relevant to me is the third paragraph: “It’s true that mistakes have been committed, but none of them were ones of principle. The errors have been due to ignorance about how to build a society “with all and for the good of all,” as Marti dreamed.”

    Yes, but this “ignorance” came from a bogus core principle of socialism as being a society in which the state has monopoly ownership of all things productive, including the land. This comes directly from Engels and Marx. And the reason this core principle has not been properly critiqued and discarded is that its originators have been raised to the level of infallible Popes, or even supernatural god-heads.

    Even now, Elio, you yourself seem unable to dig into the ideological heritage of socialism and see the wrecking job accomplished by the covertly counter-transformationary ideology and core principle of Marxism, i.e., state monopoly ownership. This incorrect ideology and principle always results in choking bureaucratic administration and one-party political and social control.

    Even so, Elio, thank you for a fine article. Please keep writing to help balance the knuckle-heads who attack the Revolution and its leadership ignorantly and unfairly.

  • This is a well written and necessary piece. It’s critical that you continue to educate people on the successes of the Revolution. This is paramount. Cuba is the historic text for future countries looking for growth alternatives and civil partnerships after years of capitalist exploitation. The rest of the pre-emerging-market world will study the mistakes of Cuba and apply the corrective measures where necessary.

    The details of what Cuba did right and wrong have to be documented in a central location for use by other countries. This is critical. CRITICAL. The poorer nations have to have access to this blueprint. If they don’t then Fidel didn’t complete his objective.

    Fidel wasn’t perfect but his heart and mind were in the right place all the time. The world will mourn when he travels to heaven. Mourn Hard.

  • Elio, if the triumphs of the revolution achieved through the 1980’s had been sustained until today, I would say “Amen” to your post. However, this is not the case. Educational standards are deteriorating rapidly, State agricultural production of potatoes and sugar are at historical lows and though you did not mention the successes in public health access, even those achievements are distant memories. The Soviet subsidies, not the Cuban socialist model were the keys to those early successes. Not to mention, the republican period of Cuba is marked with corruption, inequality, racism and heavy-handed foreign intervention. By comparison, anything would have been an improvement. Without Venezuelan oil subsidies, the Cuban regime would have long ago failed to exist. While the US embargo has been a constant impediment to Cuban development, the most destructive obstacle has been the regime itself. The priority of the Castro leadership has always been and remains self-perpetuation. Your post is more than the glass half-full versus half-empty analysis. You fail to see that the cracks in the glass and inability of the glass to be refilled.

  • The commitment to send a relatively well-off nation to the dogs? Sure, you guys have done it very well indeed.

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