29 September 2010


Professor Carlos Eire, one of 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children airlifted by to the States in Operation Peter Pan, received a very rude letter about his 2003 memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana, to which he replied courteously and at some length. Key extracts:
The fact that I was born into privilege has little to do with it, for thanks to Castro and company I ended up at the very bottom of American society, a penniless orphan and a "spic" who was constantly reminded by teachers and counselors that his proper place in the world was at the bottom. So, I've been there, with the poorest, living in the same slums, facing all of the discrimination and obstacles that those at the very bottom must surpass. And no one helped me out of the pit. I climbed out because I was lucky enough to live in a free society where effort and accomplishment are not punished, but naturally rewarded. I know poverty, and have lived much longer as a poor man than as a child of privilege.
But I don't think that creating a murderous dictatorship that enforces the redistribution of goods is the solution to poverty. 
The three so-called benefits that you think were provided to the Cuban people by Castro and company are illusory. First of all, Cuba had plenty of education, culture, and medical care before Castro came along. In 1958, Cuba had a literacy rate of nearly 80%, a lower infant mortality rate than many European countries, a vibrant mix of European and African culture (which gave the world the rumba, mambo, and cha-cha-cha, along with Jose Raul Capablanca, a world chess champion), more television sets and more newspapers per capita than Italy, and attracted over one million European immigrants, and so on... I could send you a long list of items that prove that Cuba was no third world country before it became Castrolandia.

Anyway... what about these so-called achievements of Castrolandia? What is the
use of educating people if you restrict freedom of expression and communication? What is the use of health care if you deprive people of autonomy and bar them from all of the privileges enjoyed by tourists to their country? Slave owners provide health care for their slaves, after all, because they are investments. And they educate them too, so they can perform their assigned tasks.
But as he says:
I know I can't change the way you think. I am now old enough [me too, Don Carlos!] to realize that it is very hard to convert anyone who is committed to their faith. And it seems to me that you exhibit all the signs of a pious enthusiast, for anyone who thinks that the so-called Cuban revolution is a good thing is indeed a religious zealot, for seeing the destruction of Cuba and the enslavement of its people as a good thing takes commitment to a very specific ideology, that of the prophets Marx and Lenin.
Hat-tip to Charles Santos-Buch

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