In the reams of fiction generated from within and outside Cuba, probably none equals the supposed "excellent" healthcare system on the island. It is true that some good health care is available, but only for the elite who can pay for it with hard cash and for the communist hierarchy and military commanders. Everyone else is forced to take what little he or she can get.
Liberals blame the American economic blockade of Cuba for its economic woes and substandard health care for ordinary Cubans. The Cuban American National Foundation interviewed a group of Cuban doctors who had managed to get out of Cuba and come to the United States. They told the organization they were "mystified" by claims in a report from the American Association for World Health blaming the U.S. embargo for Cuba's health care struggles. According to the Cuban doctors, "we . . . can categorically and authoritatively state that our people's poor health care situation results from a dysfunctional and inhumane economic and political system, exacerbated by the regime to divert scarce resources to meet the needs of the regime's elite and foreign patients who bring hard currency."
Castro's brother, Raoul, has been handed the reins (or in this case chains) of power, so little is likely to change in the near future. However, if President Bush is right about all people wanting freedom, then the ultimate collapse of communism in Cuba is as certain as its collapse in Eastern Europe. The question is what comes next and will the United States learn from its previous mistakes in dealing with Cuba, or will it repeat them, causing further damage to U.S. interests in Latin America? One hopes history will not repeat.
The best thing that could happen in Cuba is for the regime to collapse. Then, properly restored, Cuba could become an engine for democracy that, instead of fueling revolution throughout Latin America, would be part of what President Kennedy called an Alliance for Progress that would promote economic growth and human freedom throughout the region.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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