Monday, January 29, 2007

This Is What I’m Talking About
To recap: Fidel Castro—not a nice guy. I went to Cuba (legally) in 2002 uncertain what I thought about the Communist regime. I certainly had concerns about humanitarian issues, but I went there wondering if there were any possibility that trading free speech and property rights might be worth the perks you always hear about: free health care and free education for all.

At the end of a week in Havana and Trinidad, I had decided that in theory, there probably is no way to justify that trade-off, and that the reality of life in Cuba certainly fell short of being a warm, fuzzy workers’ paradise. I got tired of hearing, “But—free health care!” as an answer to any challenge about human rights violations, and by the end of the trip, I’d realized that the health care wasn’t all it was made out to be—the sight of a customs official who had repaired her shattered eyeglass lenses with Scotch Tape made me realize that treatment may be free, but you can’t just run down to Lenscrafters and pick up a new pair of glasses whenever you want.

Plus, the glaring gap in the quality of life between those who area able to participate in the tourist industry (alive and well despite minimal American involvement) and those who have to scratch a living out of the socialist peso-based system was too great to ignore. My impression is that Communism has helped almost no one in Cuba, and that it has harmed just about everyone.

That said, this is just wrong. Celebrate the end of Marxism if you must (and if it happens). But celebrating the end of someone’s life? You can’t do this and expect to find your appropriated ranch waiting for you in heaven when you get there.

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