Fidel Castro is dead and Cubans in the United States and other free countries say, “Good riddance!” Meanwhile, the good Citizens in this communist state must fake tears and mourn for the dearly departed dictator or there will be hell to pay.
Unfortunately, life will not change for the people of Cuba because of Fidel’s passing for brother Raul has picked up where his evil brother left off.
Nevertheless, I am appalled at how, in the wake of the elder Castro’s death, major networks, even the more conservative Fox News Channel, continue to perpetuate myths about his educational and health care achievements.
Perhaps it is a feeble attempt to appear “fair and balanced” that reporters continue to mention that Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates and one of lowest infant mortality rates in the world. The latter claim doesn’t pass the laugh test; however, health care is no laughing matter to the average citizen of this hellhole
Make no mistake, the Cuban government cares deeply about this statistic because it helps perpetuate the myth that this country has a “superior” health care system. Therefore, pregnant women are screened and, if any abnormality is suspected or identified, an abortion is performed whether or not the mother is willing to have one. Also, birth certificates are not issued until two days after birth so, if a baby dies before this occurs, he or she simply did not exist.
It is no secret that Cuba has two, some say three, health care systems. One is for foreigners who visit the island with cash in hand for medical (mostly cosmetic) reasons. There is another for the political class, military officials and “famous persons.” However, the one reserved for the average human being in Cuba is subhuman by today’s standards.
It has been well documented that basic medical supplies are in short supply in these hospitals, if available at all. There is a black market for these items. Patients must bring their own linen and pillow or do without. Sanitation is poor, so poor, in fact, that most residents prefer to stay at home.
If you are ill or in need of dental care, most Cubans offer a bribe, or present, in order to receive care as doctors and dentists are paid very little. The better the present, the better care one receives.
As a visitor to the island you will never hear a complaint as this is considered a crime against the state and those who dare to complain are severely punished. Statistics are kept by the regime and freedom of the press is nonexistent so there is no one who can question what the government releases.
Yes, school is mandatory, but there is a shortage of teachers so many students are taught by the students themselves. UNESCO reports that Cuba has about the same literacy rate as Costa Rica and Chile, which has change little since the 1950s. Yes, most Cubans can read and write but many books are banned so Cubans are taught only what the government wants them to know. As for the benefits of higher education, those who graduate with professional degrees and manage to flee the island report that they received more in tips as waiters then they did working in their professions. Those professionals lucky enough to have cars use them for taxi service in order to survive.
Cuba boasts more than 74,000 doctors but at least half of those are serving abroad, creating a shortage back home. They are mere hired hands, or slaves of the Cuban government, bringing in some $2.5 billion per year. They have minders — pimps for Raul Castro if you will — who watch their every move. Not surprisingly, Cuba sends mostly married doctors abroad. They must leave their families at home. This is to keep them on a tight chain so they won’t defect.
While repatriations and tourism have helped the Cuban people hang on, Barack Obama did little more than throw the younger Castro a life preserver, one that he will use to continue his reign of oppression.
We can only hope that Donald Trump will revisit Obama’s normalization agreement and negotiate one that will truly help the people of Cuba and not simply the tourist industry and business interests that are content to capitalize on their plight.
If we are to deal with Cuba, one of Trump’s first demands should be that Castro dismantle those Chinese spying facilities that are just 90 miles from our shore.
As it is, Obama’s agreement is a bad deal for the people of Cuba and offers nothing that is of real benefit to the people of the United States.