Cuban Wretch "Escapes" Castro's Paradise
Written by Bruce Walker
Friday, 15 July 2011 10:31
On Thursday, July 14, 2011, a young Cuban who tried to stowaway inside
the landing gear of a Spanish airliner died during the nine-hour flight
from Havana to Madrid. It was, ironically, Lenin who invented the term
"voting with their feet" during the Russian Civil War to describe people
moving into areas controlled by the Communists. Collectivists have never
found occasion to use that term again.
The flight of Cubans out of their horrific prison camp nation to anyway
else is a 60-year-old story. Fidel Castro inherited a nation that was
among the most prosperous in the Western Hemisphere. Although there was
much to dislike about Fulgencio Batista, the Cuban leader who Castro
ousted, there was also much to admire about Cuba before Castro. Indeed,
there was much for collectivists to like about Batista himself.
Indeed, there was a great deal for collectivists to admire about
Batista. Sumner Welles, Undersecretary of State under Franklin
Roosevelt, actually described Batista as a communist. Batista was the
first Cuban leader to bring members of the Cuban Communist Party into
his Cabinet. Batista described himself as a "progressive socialist."
When Castro attacked Batista in 1953, the Cuban Communist Party actually
accused Castro of "Putchism," another one of the surreal words invented
Batista had won election during a competitive election in 1940, although
he later effectively usurped power. Nevertheless, after his first term
as President, Batista left office peacefully. Unlike Castro, who came
from an affluent upper-class family, Batista grew up in poverty. He
worked in the sugar cane fields, on railroads, and in the hard labor
that the poor must do to survive.
Fulgencio Batista was part black, part Chinese, part American Indian,
and part European. Unlike Castro, Batista genuinely was a "man of the
people" and his rise to power, from being a sergeant in the Cuban army
to being leader of his nation, reflected that connection with ordinary
people. When he won the 1940 election with about 60 percent of the vote,
he was the first non-white Cuban to win that office (the Barack Obama of
Cuba before Castro is uniformly depicted by the establishment media as
horrific. The reality is dramatically different. While Batista and
others ruled Cuba, the nation flourished. (This is in spite of the
socialist policies of Batista, not because of those policies.) How well
off was pre-Castro Cuba?
The Cuban peso had the same value as the United States dollar. There
were 101 privately owned newspapers. Cuba had one radio per five Cubans
and one television set per 28 Cubans. One out of every 40 Cubans owned a
car, and one out of every 38 owned a telephone. These were among the
best rates of ownership in the world. The infrastructure of Cuba —
highways, ports, etc. — was considered by the U.S. Commerce Department
to be the best in Latin America.
How well was labor compensated? The average Cuban industrial worker
earned $6 a day in 1958. Although that figure sounds low to us in our
hyper-inflated world, that wage level can be understood only in
comparison with nations' average daily industrial compensation at the
time: Sweden ($8.10), Switzerland ($8.00), New Zealand ($6.72), Denmark
($6.46), and Norway ($6.10.) Cuba also had the seventh-highest level of
compensation for agricultural workers in the world, behind only Canada,
America, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and Norway. Unemployment in Cuba
was the lowest in Latin America. Even the leader of the Cuban Communist
Party until 1962, Anibal Escalante, said, "Cuba is one of the countries
[in Latin America] in which the standard of living of the masses was
The per capita income was the third-highest in Latin America, after
Argentina and Venezuela. Ginsburg's 1959 Atlas of the World Economy
placed Cuba at 22nd out of the 122 nations surveyed. Income surpassed
that of Spain and Portugal and was comparable to that of Italy.
The Cuban public educational system received a higher percentage of the
government's budget than any other Latin American nation, with Costa
Rico, a famously peaceful and orderly nation, second. Cuba also had 900
private schools and three private universities. Rural education received
special attention and was supplemented by a mobile library system.
According to the United Nations report of 1953, the literacy rate in
Cuba was 82 percent, higher than in any other Latin American nation
except Argentina and Costa Rica.
How healthy were Cubans before Castro? Cubans ate very well. Per capita
consumption of meat was 65 pounds per year, exceeded only by England,
Australia, and Denmark. Caloric intake was the third-highest in Latin
America, after Argentina and Uruguay. The nation had the third-lowest
mortality rate in the world, lower, in fact, than America or Canada. The
infant mortality rate was 3.76 per thousand, while next in line in Latin
America was Argentina at 6.11 and Venezuela at 6.56. In fact, the infant
mortality rate in Cuba was lower than in France, Italy, Belgium, or
Austria. Only Argentina had more doctors per citizen than Cuba. Life
expectancy was significantly higher than in Latin America in general.
Cuba was doing well, but it was doing well in spite of the "progressive"
policies of Batista, not because of Batista. What this nation needed was
a return to free markets, the end of incessant government intervention
on the side of labor, and public expenditures (which were often
inefficient) to improve education and health. What Cuba did not need was
a collectivist totalitarian like Castro.
In the Never-Never land invented by Marxists which divides mankind into
"progressives" and "reactionaries," where was Castro? In his youth,
Castro owned the complete works of Benito Mussolini. When he was tried
in Cuban courts, his oral argument was virtually modeled on Hitler's
"History will absolve me" speech. When Francisco Franco died, after
Castro had been in power over 15 years, Castro ordered a day of respect
for the Spanish dictator.
Fidel Castro believes in power. The Cuban people have suffered during
the last 50 years. From 1959 to 1994, more than one million Cubans have
left their island home for anywhere else. The horrors of Castro's Gulag
are as awful as anything in the ghastly history of modern
totalitarianism. This nation that was once among the most affluent in
the Western Hemisphere or, indeed, the world, now languishes in a
poverty and has persistent shortages of even the most basic items like
milk, soap, and clothing. Rationing is the norm.
The incidental byproducts of Castro's Cuba are found in baseball players
and other athletes who abandon their communist prison as soon as they
can, in the grinding poverty of those who cannot leave, and in those
desperate enough to hide in the landing gear of an airliner traveling
across the Atlantic Ocean from Havana to Madrid.