Confusion About the US-Cuban Relationship

[ Written sometime while in Havana shortly after finishing The Cuba Reader: History. Culture, Politics ]

So here is where I am confused:

  • Batista was corrupt and Cubans were happy when he was ousted.  But many wealthy Cubans emigrated (immigrated?  I forget the difference) from Cuba to the US.
  • Revolution: The most poor were no longer hungry and now had land of their own.  But, Fidel, and the state, took businesses and property, money and possessions from everyone who had them in order to redistribute the wealth.
  • “Infant and child mortality and life expectancy continue to rival or surpass those of other wealthy industrialized countries, including the United States” (p.  596 Cuba Reader).  But people can’t afford (or it isn’t available to them) to buy soap or cooking oil.
  • Cuba sends thousands of medical workers overseas a year to volunteer their services, but leaves a starving dog to die in the street.  (As far as I’m concerned this can not be brushed off as cultural, if you have the expertise to have one of the highest infant and child mortality, then you can see a starving dog and know that it too can be helped.  And should be helped.)
  • Pedro Pan was set up so that Cuban children could come to the United States to escape Castro and Communism, but Castro said that the rumors circulating that he was going to round up children and sent them to the Soviet Union for indoctrination was perpetrated by the CIA and United States in order to undermine him.
  • “Since 1990, the Cuban government, without outside support, has fought just to stay afloat, to retain basic medical and soil services, as well as its vast education complex, and to provide some subsidized food and other goods to the population.” (pp. 624 Cuba Reader) But, in 1993 the US tightened the embargo, the 1996 Helms-Burton Act “impedes foreign investment by opening US courts to lawsuits against foreign companies that do business in Cuba (how this is even allowed is beyond me…), the 1994 Clinton lead “wet foot, dry foot” (not necessarily unfounded but another notch), on 9 November 1999 the UN voted on whether the US should lift the embargo and the vote went 155 to 2, the US and Israel the only “no,” the US had “lifted bans on the sale of food and medicine to Iran, Libya, Sudan, and North Korea, the only country that was still denied humanitarian assistance was Cuba.”  (All this knowledge and the wording of the first quote, makes me really sad and disappointed in our country, I get that the Cuban Missile Crisis was really not good (like could have destroyed the entire planet) but is that still a reason 54 years later we are still punishing the people?  Punishing Castro is probably what we tell ourselves but as usually it's the people as pawns that pay.  I want to look into whether there were humanitarian, private based ones, organizations coming to Cuba to help.  Tom said he’s been coming here with doctors from Texas for 17 years.)
  • Fidel tried, tries, hard to keep his people free from capitalism and imperialism, tries to keep society egalitarian but at the cost of a city in steep decay?  (For me I can’t stop thinking about the ethical question surrounding this.  I still think capitalism and free-markets are a better reality than what I can see around me right now, but then I know that capitalism does come at the cost of having a class of poverty.  Which is more ethical?  An entire nation in poverty or a small number in poverty?  Then I say, well the more well-off people will help those in poverty.  Or I think that communism stifles desire for change, it kills the spirit and motivation for working hard to do better, and possible in its place leaves a “What the point of trying attitude?”  I want to know how Fidel and Raul live, how do the state diplomats live?  Is Castro starving?  Is he rationing out his own food, can he buy soap and cooking oil?  Does his house lose electricity for at random times, does he have to access the internet from the public streets?  Is his house crumbling and falling apart?  Me thinks not.)