Newsweek magazine just hailed Cuba among “The Best Countries in the World,” quality-of-lifewise. “Cuba outdoes its fellow middle-income countries in quality of life,” explains the 1993 “National Magazine Award for General Excellence” winner who recently fetched one dollar on the auction bloc.
Some perspective: Between two and three hundred people (out of an average population over the decades of 18 million) died trying to breach the Berlin Wall or otherwise escape East Germany—no runner-up in the “quality-of-life” awards, even by Newsweek standards.
Well, between sixty-five and eighty thousand people (out of an average population of 8 million over the decades) have died trying to escape Castro’s Cuba, Newsweek’s “quality-of-life” winner.
German Stalinism is now happily asunder and mourned nowhere. Cuban Stalinism is alive and kicking and lavished with economic succor by many of the same governments who celebrated the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Castro’s fiefdom is also glorified by everyone from PBS to the Congressional Black Caucus to Michael Moore to Newsweek.
"A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in... And how many want out," famously quipped Tony Blair. Well, prior to Castro’s Stalinist coup in 1959, Cuba took in more immigrants (primarily from Europe) as a percentage of population than did the U.S., including the Ellis Island years. In the 1950’s, when Cubans were perfectly free to emigrate with all their property and U.S. visas were issued to them for the asking, fewer Cubans lived in the U.S. than Americans lived in Cuba.
“I can see that Cuba is much more impoverished than Haiti,” observed Gelsy Lavéque, a recent Haitian visitor to Cuba. “People here in Cuba are all sad. I watch on Cuban TV how they say Haitians are all poor. But in reality we’re less poor than Cubans. Yes, my family is poor but we have a car. We’re never hungry and were free and generally happy. Cubans, come to Haiti, we have a country much better and happier than yours.”
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.