And has any Cuba Expert mentioned that - given Castro's history of pronouncements during his various economic crises (to say nothing of this one) - his pronouncements to Jeffrey Goldberg just might be insincere? Just might have an ulterior motive? Just might have meant absolutely nothing with respect to the rights and welfare of the Cuban people?
If so, I haven’t seen or heard it.
Fidel Castro converted a nation with a higher per capita income than half of Europe, the lowest inflation rate in the Western hemisphere, a larger middle class than Switzerland, a huge influx of immigrants and whose workers enjoyed the 8th industrial wages in the world into one that repels Haitians. And this after being lavished with Soviet subsidies that totaled almost ten Marshall Plans (into a nation of 6.4 million.) This economic feat defies not only the laws of economics but seemingly the very laws of physics. (Full documentation for the above here.)
Cuba’s infant mortality rate plummeted from 13th lowest in the world in 1958 (lower than in Germany, France, Japan, Israel among many other first world nations) during the unspeakable Batista era to 44th today. This rate qualifies as an “achievement” in the lexicon of “Academics” and news agencies that have earned a Havana bureau.
This current infant-mortality rate, by the way, is also kept artificially low by an abortion rate of 0.71, the Hemisphere’s (and hovering among the world’s top five for the past two decades) highest, which “terminates” any pregnancy that even hints at trouble. Cuba’s suicide rate is also currently the Hemisphere’s highest, triple its rate during the unspeakable Batista era.
And now, Castro realizes “the Cuba Model doesn’t work”? Please.
Actually, given the goal of Cuba's ruler since January of 1959 (absolute power) the Cuban economy has been EXPERTLY managed and has worked splendidly. Castro inherited a vibrant free market economy in 1959, something unique among communist rulers. All the others, from Lenin to Mao to Uncle Ho to Ulbricht to Tito to Kim Il Sung, took over primitive and/or chaotic, war ravaged economies.
A less megalomaniacal ruler would have considered it a golden goose landing in his lap. But Castro wrung its neck. He deliberately and methodically wrecked Latin America's premier economy. Castro has long believed that the Cuban capitalist is a difficult person to control. Cuba - despite a deluge of tourism and foreign investment for over a decade - is as essentially Communist in 2010 as it was in 1965. The Castro brothers are very vigilant in these matters.
“A foreign reporter — preferably American — was much more valuable to us at that time (1957) than any military victory. Much more valuable than rural recruits for our guerrilla force were American media recruits to export our propaganda.” - Ernesto “Che” Guevara in his diaries
“We cannot for a second abandon propaganda. Propaganda is vital — propaganda is the heart of all struggles,” - Fidel Castro in a letter to a revolutionary colleague in 1954.
And he’s still at it. And foreign reporters are still eating out of his hand like trained pigeons.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.