This revolution — in addition to 55 years of poverty and humiliation for the Cuban people — has delivered a lucrative business into the hands of regime officials and the Castro family.
But even using the term “revolution” for the rebels’ guerrilla strategy between 1953 and 1959 is pure rhetoric, glossing over what was in reality a coup, as crude and bloody as any guerrilla movement elsewhere in Latin America.
In reality — and the Castros know this better than anyone — there was not a genuine revolution in Cuba in 1959. The “revolutionary” movement that included, among others, the international criminal Ernesto Guevara (who, by the way, left the island with his tail between his legs) did not enjoy the support of the people.
Nor, as we know now, was it a noble endeavor aiming to foster social justice.
Revolution By the Few, For the Few
From one dictator and violator of human rights, Fulgencio Batista, Cuba fell into the hands of another. The changeover took place under the same lie as the Russian “proletarian” revolution, which Lenin and his Bolshevik henchmen exploited for their own ends. In reality, the events in St. Petersburg in 1917 and all that followed after were a bourgeois revolution, and Russia’s proletariat might as well not have existed.
Fidel Castro followed the same socially destructive and politically isolating strategies as the USSR. His first action when in power in Cuba, in true socialist style, was to create the infamous Defense Committees of the Revolution: strongholds of spies in every neighborhood at the service of the regime. Their task was to defend those in power from their very own subjects. So much for the so-called freedom island!
Readers should bear in mind that Cuba before communism was not an underdeveloped country, as Castro sympathizers routinely assert. Data from the United Nations, UNESCO, and other international organizations leave no doubt in this respect: Cuba had never experienced extreme poverty. It was one of the world’s most literate nations, with more and better doctors than most European nations, and Havana University back then was a world-class research center.
One should also mention the technology of the time: railways, aviation, radio, telephones, and television arrived in Cuba soon after they reached the United States, and several years before the rest of the Latin-American continent.
Forced Labor: The Best Education
The Castroist banner of socialist education for Cuba has turned into indoctrination of the most vulgar kind. At this moment, several generations of Cubans — and foreigners — believe that before the “revolution” nothing existed in Cuba, “only darkness.” (I quote a Cuban Castroist professor who works in a Mexican University, but who doesn’t feel compelled to return to his “socialist paradise.”)
With regards to Cuban educational standards and their famous “literacy campaign,” we mustn’t forget that all these indexes and studies are sent to international organizations based on data collected by the Cuban government itself. Cuba is one of the few countries in the world — but among good company with other totalitarian regimes — that doesn’t permit international assessors to carry out research within its own territory.
The most striking and grotesque case is that of children’s rights. The regime claims to safeguard the well-being of minors, but the reality is totally different. Those who go to Cuba are inevitably shocked by the teens and children working on the streets of Havana, Santiago, Pinar del Río, and many other locations.
While traveling the rural roads of the island — potholed parodies of modern highways — visitors are treated to the sight of children and young adolescents hard at work in the fields, harvesting sugar, cultivating pineapples, and engaged in other agricultural tasks. Let alone the notorious levels of child prostitution in Havana, attested to by the US State Department, which attract perverts from the world over.
Defenders of Castro’s Cuba also ignore the fact that mandatory “labor education” for students effectively constitutes child slavery. Children are forced to take time out of their studies to work in the countryside, or for state-owned enterprises, without pay.
Nor does the law only content itself with failing to actively protect minors: from the age of 16, teens can legally be prosecuted like adults.
Successive calls by international bodies — ranging from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to the Organization of American States (OAS) — for the Cuban government to raise the age of legal majority to 18 have only fallen on deaf ears.
Another much vaunted and completely mythologized subject is Cuban medicine. But that topic will have to wait for a another post.
Translated by Adriana Peralta. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.