The communist apologists over at the Nation, the self-described “flagship of the left,” have outdone themselves. The liberal rag, notorious for its long record of useful idiocy in the service of tin-pot dictators and tyrants, has once again fallen in love with Castro’s Cuba. You would think it was the sixties all over again.
A self-congratulatory article about the Nation‘s educational staff trip to Cuba sets a dangerous precedent by commending the Cuban government for its political and economic advancements. But the Castro regime is just as guilty of crimes against humanity as it was four decades ago. Just because the island is showing feints at “progress” does not make the regime worthy of praise.
Last week, Cuba renewed its ties with Russia—Big Brother’s Big Brother. Putin forgave 90 percent of Cuba’s debt, amounting to $32 billion. There are also reports, and denials, that Russia has agreed to fund the Lourdes electronic eavesdropping base in Cuba.
The Nation article points to the following as an example of positive government-induced change: the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education “is considering legalizing same-sex marriage, subsidizing sex-change operations, and banning sexual discrimination at the workplace.” Firstly, it is not government’s obligation to subsidize a sex-change operation. Furthermore, the fact that one person—center director Mariela Castro, President Raul Castro’s daughter—is deciding the policies according to her whims, and her whims alone, is itself a frightening fact of communism.
The Nation goes on to claim:
Cuba’s infant-mortality rate is lower than ours, for example, and in indicators like Uneven Economic Development, Poverty, and Economic Decline, the separation between Cuba and the United States is narrower than you might imagine.
There are many things wrong with this statement. First, Cuba’s infant-mortality rate is known to be a government-fabricated lie. The real rate is 34 percent higher than in the U.S. Castro’s regime pays doctors to manipulate the statistics.
Second, economic indicators of third-world countries mirroring economic indicators of first-world countries are not surprising. Normal statistical distributions are exactly that—normal. We may have a similar proportion of people under the poverty line. But our poverty line represents a standard of living notably higher than what’s available to much of the Cuban middle class. And standard of living is what matters. Most Cubans are embarrassed to welcome foreigners into their houses because of how little they have. A desk fan costs a month’s worth of wages. One-room homes contain wooden lofts to create more space for sleeping.
Cubans are not allowed to guide foreigners without permits. Locals are prohibited from visiting Varadero Beach, a primary destination for many foreigners. Visitors use an entirely different currency than native Cubans. Like North Korea, Cuba does its best to portray its country as thriving: look at how great the facades are! And writers at the Nation have once again fallen for the ruse.
For example, the author declares that it is a false assumption that dissent is prohibited and punished in Cuba. On my first trip to Cuba in 2006, I asked a Cuban named David if he was allowed to speak about politics. He took me into a room, closed the windows, and shut the door. “I am afraid,” he told me, “if my neighbor overhears me speaking of this he will turn me in to the police.”
On each block in Cuba there is a building with a symbol of an eye on the door. This houses a member of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), who is responsible for tattling on his neighbors and making sure his block is adhering to the current government mandate.
What the Nation calls “an education exchange” was a tour for communist sympathizers. And the primary evidence for the Nation‘s arguments is the word of a government-approved guide. In 2008, I had one such guide tell me that John Lennon was murdered in a CIA plot. Right, and North Korea won the World Cup.
What the article ignores is that the only source of positive change in Cuba lies in the resourcefulness and resilience of the Cuban people themselves. Their social pressure initiated the changes that the government was helpless to prevent save for by a use of overwhelming military force. Cuba had a strong black market for everyday goods, so the Cuban government legalized small businesses and private professions that already existed. Cubans backwards-engineered cell phones, so the government was forced to allow citizens to have cell service. The growing homosexual scene in Havana pressured the government to begin changing its stance.
Therein lies the true story. It’s the people, not the regime, that deserve praise for progress.