Today in Havana, the Castro regime will stage a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, Cuba. As the revolutionary tale goes, the attack was a tactical defeat but set the stage for Fidel Castro’s victory a mere six years later. Six decades later, we can conclude that the attack was a tragedy, quite literally because it gave impetus to Castro’s tropical totalitarianism.
Last week, Fidel’s 82 year old little brother, Raul, delivered a speech that was an unwitting eulogy for the revolution. Before the powerless “National Assembly of People’s Power,” the aging dictator groused about uncouth youth who curse and urinate in public, saying, “They ignore the most basic standards of gentility and respect.” Never mind that Raul is the triggerman for a thuggish dictatorship that has destroyed the lives of young and old alike for more than 50 terrible years.
When Fidel turned over the presidency to his brother five years ago, I predicted that Raul had neither the capacity nor desire to bring about meaningful change in Cuba. I am sad to say that he has proven me right.
On repeated occasions, I have cited empirical data that expose the breathtaking destruction wrought by communism against Cubans:
· Castro apologists have painted pre-revolutionary Cuba as a repressive backwater, a picture that is not supported by the evidence. In fact, the Cuba Castro took over in 1959 was one of the most prosperous and egalitarian societies of the Americas, near the top according to most sociodemographic indicators, behind only Argentina and Uruguay and on par with lesser-developed European countries of the day, such as Spain and Portugal.
· Although, to be sure, the country suffered from the inequalities of wealth that plagued all countries in Latin America at that time (and still do), Cuba had the largest middle class of its peers in the Western Hemisphere.
· Before the revolution, Cuba had the third highest daily caloric intake in Latin America, the fourth highest literacy rate, the second highest number of passenger cars per capita, and ranked fourth in the production of rice. While the revolution touts Cuba’s low infant mortality rate today, they fail to mention that before Castro the island had the best such rate in Latin America, or that, today, regime hospitals coerce poor and uneducated women into having abortions.
· The country was also culturally advanced before Castro seized power, with the third highest newspaper circulation per capita and second highest cinema attendance per capita in Latin America.
· In the 1940s and 1950s, the island had progressive labor, land tenure, education, and health laws that rivaled those of many of its neighbors in the region.
What are the achievements of the Castro revolution? Decimation of Cuba’s social fabric and economic productivity. Destruction of its democratic institutions. Concentration of all power and coercive means in the hands of unelected leaders and unaccountable apparatchiki. Conspiracy to sow violence and death in the form of armed revolutions. A never-ending exile of the country’s most creative people. Corruption. Desperation.
This is what the Cuban regime is celebrating today? At long last, have they no shame? Of course not. That is why Raul Castro can wag his finger at unruly Cubans for behaving like – to borrow a word bandied about by Josef Stalin – “hooligans.” The desiccated Castro regime is so bereft of new ideas that its leaders can do little more than blame the victims of its old ideas. Its plan for economic survival is to find a new victim, conspiring with a puppet regime in Venezuela to bleed away what is left of that country’s oil revenue.
Depressing, huh? Not if you figure that despicable old men cannot live forever. Know what I know about Cuba its people, my formula for recovering that nation is a verysimple one: Let Cuba be Cuban, again.