Cubanálisis - El Think-Tank
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Cuba today as viewed by a journalist friend
Bill Miller Sr., Missourian
A little over 10 years ago we visited Cuba with a National Newspaper Association delegation. Conditions were pitiful then. They are even worse now. A journalist buddy on overseas study missions, Gary W. Meyer, publisher and editor of several newspapers in Minnesota, visited Cuba again recently and sent us clippings of stories he wrote.
Cuba continues on its downward fall under communism. That system has failed the people for 52 years, since Castro overthrew the corrupt Batista dictatorship. Castro promised the people a better life — food, free health care, free education, an improved quality of life. Didn’t happen. Oh, there is a free health care system, a free educational system, both of which are behind the times, and there are few job opportunities. Overall, the quality of life stinks! And is getting worse.
Gary wrote this: “Cuba today is a country adrift. Since the loss of aid payments from Russia and East Germany following the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1991, Cuba has experienced a disastrous downward economic spiral.
The government can no longer afford to employ its people. Plans are to lay off up to 1.1 million within a short time. There is no infrastructure to create a good job climate for those pushed out of the employment nest. Schools are dark. No lights, few textbooks. Whereas 20 years ago all who wanted college got college. Now, entrance exams wean the legitimate students from the others.
“Their birth rate has fallen from two per family in 1990 to only one per family. And the government no longer promises jobs to the college graduates. Bottom line. The government can’t promise much of anything to its people anymore.”
When we were there, the people were very friendly, government officials we met with mouthed the communist doctrine, still trying to instill hope that conditions would improve, and services for the people had fallen way under normal standards. In other words, the people were very poor and there were no opportunities for improvement. According to our journalist friend, conditions have gotton worse.
He wrote that Cuban agriculture has slipped back into the 1930s. Much of the land is not being worked because the government owns it and can’t afford to work the land. Cuba doesn’t export sugar any more. Cuba and the U.S. did agree on the sale of some American products to Cubans. Our boycott of Cuba-produced items, enacted in 1961, still is in force. Horse-powered carts are seen in rural areas.
Cubans are hungry and have been ever since Castro took over. They still get some food subsidies, but if they get meat once a month, they are lucky. Most Cuban workers remain hired by the government, but, as mentioned, layoffs are coming. The government workers are paid about $20 per month whereas a wage to live on is about $80. The government employs more than 5 million people now. It’s a make-work system. The people do almost anything to make an extra buck. There is a black market, such as selling cigars and almost anything else they can get their hands on to sell on the street.
Cuba is an outstanding example of the failure of communism. We have felt that America’s policies have been wrong in dealing with Cuba. If our country would allow a free flow of travel between the two countries, the Cubans would be better off and it would lead to an improved economy there. The U.S. has relaxed its restrictions regarding Cuba, but too many barriers remain. The prediction here is if there would be a free flow of people between the two countries, it eventually would lead to the demise of communism, either forcefully or peacefully. Castro has permitted some capitalistic ventures, but very little.
We feel sorry for the people of Cuba. In his report, Gary concluded: “So, what lies ahead for our countries? Socialism will continue in Cuba. Three generations of people know nothing else. Their trough is too wide. Officials beg for a slice of America’s wealth. We could beg for some of their humility. But it won’t work.”
What if we had been successful in the Bay of Pigs invasion and what if that would have led to the overthrow of Castro? What would Cuba be like today if democratic reforms resulted and there would be a stable government? The answer is Cuba would be booming and the people would have a life!