Thursday, February 21, 2008

Castro Myths.

Just one more for the time being. When discussing Cuba there are two kinds of people who annoy me, those who are outright apologists for the regime and those who acknowledge the lack of democracy but make various attempts to mitigate it in some way. The first type are generally recognised as fools and lowlifes so I won't spend any time on them. The second type need to be considered.

In fact the second type can be further subdivided into two types those who go for "Yes Castro has problems but...." who are basically trying to excuse tyranny and those who go for the "Cuba has accomplished many good things but what about..." approach which is made by well intentioned democratically minded people but is still too kind to the Maximum Leader.

There are three big myths about Castro that have to be confronted, that Cuba has made tremendous advances in health and education, that Castro's predecessor Batista was a US puppet who was only opposed by Castro and that the USA has spent the last half century trying to kill Fidel Castro and overthrow his regime.

Myth One, Cuba's fantastic record on health and education.

As the normally reliably left wing US economist Brad Delong points out Cuba's purported high standards of living is only good when you compare it to countries that were far poorer than Cuba fifty years ago, when Cuba is compared to countries that it was level with fifty years ago like Spain or Ireland its standards are dismal.

Before Castro came to power Cuba had the 13th best infant mortality figures in the world, today it ranks somewhere between 25 to 30 on that list. It invested a higher proportion of its wealth on education than any other country in Latin America. Cuba's health and education system have gone backwards relative to the rest of humanity under communist misrule.

Myth Two, Batista was a brutal US backed puppet and Castro was the only alternative.

Hint to leftists, the USA doesn't usually impose arms embargoes on client states! Furthermore it doesn't condemn regimes it supports for rigging elections. In reality the Batista was a populist thug whose supporters included the Cuban communist party. Furthermore the USA generally backed his legitimate democratic opponent Carlos Marquez-Sterling whom the US embassy believed had won the 1958 election. Cuba had a viable democratic alternative.

Myth Three, Cuba has been under seige from the USA for the last 50 years.

Nope, as part of the deal that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis the USA agreed not to overthrow Fidel Castro. The USA has not been a threat to Castro for about 45 years.

Update: Exiled Cuban academic Humerto Fontova demolishes some more myths of the Castro apologists here.

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