Wednesday, August 02, 2006

On the inevitable capitalist drooling over Cuba

Specifically here, just shameless. Not a single courageous or appreciative word about what makes this country, its people and its complicated history and yes, its sometimes homophobic leader with his humble, humanity-asserting beard that children sometimes tug on, so unique and truly wonderful, despite hardship (and no doubt more to come). (Speaking as someone whose friends and neighbors go down there regularly, to deliver parts and work on cars, or to work on environmental issues, you know, somewhere the government actually cares.)

Update: a little better. And from The Rhine River.

Update 2: And more:
First of all, poor as their nation may be, Cubans actually live quite well compared with neighboring capitalist countries in the Caribbean or Central America. And, speaking as someone who’s made scores of trips to the island since the 1960s, I can tell you that Cuba looks poorer and more dilapidated than it is. Buildings need paint, but its 13 medical schools and 13 universities turn out well-prepared citizens; its applauded healthcare system claims an infant mortality rate lower than that of Washington, D.C.

Cubans who listen to Miami radio or Radio Marti (Voice of America) know of George Bush’s disinclination to spend money on public service, an attitude very unlike that of Castro’s government. And if U.S.-style capitalism should return to Cuba, many on the island know they would have to start paying for medical services and education that they now receive gratis.

Further, should the floodgates to America open, many islanders believe that the influx of land-hungry Miami-based Cubans will result in their losing title to their homes or having to pay exorbitant rents as their parents and grandparents did in the pre-revolutionary era.

Right now, for better or worse, many Cubans have a very laissez faire attitude toward work and official responsibilities. It’s not hard for them to imagine how difficult and grating their lives might become once their labor goes toward enriching a true parasite class...

There’s little chance that Bush will succeed in re-colonizing the island. That much seems assured, at least with Raul in power. But Raul and his successors appear to lack the outside-the-box thinking that would inject new life into the Cuban experiment. And that is what is sorely needed. Cuba’s citizens have endured their share of hard knocks over the last 40 years—nuclear brinkmanship with the U.S., a strangling embargo, and the absence of many freedoms – all without revolting, mind you.

They deserve the right to participate in the policies that guide their nation. They have earned that much by now. Perhaps Raul’s very lack of charisma—and his advanced age—is just what Cuba needs: breathing room for a populist-driven reinvigoration of the revolutionary spirit that Fidel once sparked. But this time, the revolution would draw its energy not just from one man, but rather from all Cubans.

It would put renewed meaning, at least, into Castro’s slogan, Patria o muerte.

...and more (both well worth reading, both via wood s lot).

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