First my apologies to my grammar teacher for starting this writing with the word “but”, however there is no other word available to classify every commentary I have heard from the left in the last nine days. While the Cuban people have observed an official mourning period of nine days, it appears the American left is also in mourning at the death of their “standard bearer”. Fidel Castro became the symbol of the two things the “American Left” most acclaims (“Free medical care and Free education”).
For the last nine days as Fidel has been “mourned” in Cuba; every academic, journalist, political pundit and otherwise “intelligencia” sought out for their observations on his death; have all started with a “But”. It seems when the discussion went in the direction of his atrocities they felt compelled to remind us. “but the medical care is free and they have free education”. This is a non-argument for me, because the response is quite simple.
Cuba has had free medical care and free education for over 50 years, and yes, we could argue that the quality is not at the standard of the U.S. or perhaps that it is better than in many places in the third world, end of argument; because it does not matter if these two things are true or not, what matters is the cost. You see while we could get caught up in that argument we could lose sight of the real issue, the cost of those two benefits for the Cuban People.
These costs are not up for denial, questioning or opinion, because the costs are simply facts. Here they are:
• Approximately 2 million Cubans and their descendants living outside of Cuba
• Thousands sent to the firing squad over the last six decades
• Families separated with no hope of reuniting
• No freedom of speech
• No elections and one political party (really one family) in control
• No property rights
• Restricted Travel inside and outside the island
• Thousands disappeared in the Florida Straits, attempting to flee
• Repressive government apparatus designed to track the population
• No freedom of assembly
• Limited religious and worship activity
• Limited and censured access to the internet
• Limited parental rights after a youngster reaches a certain age
• Young people forced to work in the fields, without parental consent
• Books filtered and chosen by the government and not all are available
What I have listed here are just but a few, there are many more things, many of them quite mundane which the Cuban government delights in controlling and imposing. I don’t know what my friends on the left see that I don’t see. But, I would rather be illiterate and die young.