It has become routine for Bernie Sanders and other self-described democratic socialists to praise Cuba for its high literacy rates and universal health care. More recently, Black Lives Matter released a statement supporting the communist regime while criticizing U.S. sanctions against Cuba.
Meanwhile, the Cuban people cry for freedom and protest in the streets.
Why would a country with such a healthy and well-read population be so unhappy with their rulers? Why would Cubans risk their lives to traverse the 90-mile strait to Florida?
Let us peel back the layers around what so many self-described socialists admire about Cuba – which are the very same things Cubans risk their lives to escape.
First, while Cuba does not rank high on many other worldly standards, it excels in literacy. When Fidel Castro took power in 1959, he and his ruthless central planner Che Guevara saw education as critical – not for the pursuit of knowledge, but for the pursuit of indoctrination. Cuba’s educational system is focused around Marxist ideology.
Given that almost everyone can read and write, can’t the Cuban people simply choose to read something else? Perhaps some Adam Smith or Russell Kirk? Unfortunately, the government decides which books are allowed and who can read them, with a specific focus on children.
So can everyone in Cuba read and write? It is debatable.
Regardless, the Cuban people do not have the freedom of expression or press to make such literacy fully meaningful. A literate population does not necessarily translate to being a learned population.
Bernie Sanders and other self-described socialists assert Cuba got at least some things right, particularly when it comes to free healthcare. Yet ambulances can rarely go out in time. Understaffed and underfunded, immediate care transportation more often looks like Cubans commandeering a nearby taxi to take the person to the hospital. The nice hospitals are reserved for the elites and the tourists.
What about Cuba’s reputation as a wonderful exporter of doctors? Cuba does send many doctors out around the world, which was a key part of former Fidel Castro’s original strategy for establishing multinational influence. Yet overseas doctors are monitored closely and are often mistreated by their home government. Some even try to escape once they are placed overseas, but are held back because of family left in Cuba.
Self-described socialists and others are duped into believing the Cuban regime’s façade for true state ownership and oppression. Meanwhile, the Cuban president, Miguel Diaz-Canal (and more recently Black Lives Matter) blames U.S. sanctions, claiming them to be a policy of “economic suffocation.” Maybe so, but people are not protesting the embargo in front of the U.S. embassy; they are protesting communism and the prevailing regime of their homeland.
Another instance of economic suffocation is the communist party’s grip on Cubans making $30 a month, even as the Castro family amasses extravagant wealth, estimated by Forbes magazine at $900 million dollars, $400 million more than Queen Elizabeth.
Communism is the next and inevitable step of socialism. According to Alexander William Salter, a business professor at Texas Tech University, “socialism is not public services,” but rather state ownership of the means of production eerily similar to that next step of communism.
Cuba has been built by inducing fear among its own people and every political device is a way to control the population. For Americans to also be duped by the regime’s lies is a tragedy of ignorance.
Practically, the ideals of communism in Cuba act as a smokescreen so dictators like Fidel Castro can seize power, wealth, and control their people – limiting their freedom, indoctrinating their children, and denying them the opportunity to live a healthy and flourishing life.