Michael J. Totten weaves a portrait of modern day Cuba in tightly written prose that would make any serious writer envious. Totten said he “had to lie to get into the country.” Free rein for media isn’t a policy the Castro dynasty embraces. No tyrant relishes free speech.
Totten’s narrative in City-Journal puts modern-day communism in perspective—a beer costs as much as most workers make in a week.
Totten wrote in his essay, The Last Communist City:
“Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished.”
The essay would be a great addition to history classes where the reality of Castro rule is often watered down by romanticizing revolution. To an American, no one in his or her right mind would willingly live in Cuba, unless he or she is connected to the political class whose members live far better than the everyday worker.
Communists promise everyone gets the same, but it never works out that way.
President Barack Obama has attempted a different approach towards Cuba, shaking the hand of Raúl, anointed to rule after his brother Fidel Castro stepped down. Obama extended the gesture during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
Obama follows the policy of the Clinton era when then-Sec. of State Madeleine Albright knocked back drinks with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-il. Befriending tyrants sounds good on paper, and makes for great photo ops, but does little to advance an agenda of freedom the U.S. historically promoted.
Cuba imports twice as much as the country exports.
Communism levied poverty and tyranny on most Cubans. That is the takeaway in Totten’s essay, and any student of history will benefit from this firsthand account of life in a country where one typical Havana store “carried rice, beans, frozen chicken, milk, bottled water, booze, a small bit of cheese, minuscule amounts of rancid-looking meat, some low-end cookies and chips from Brazil—and that’s it.”
(Filed by Kay B. Day/May 13, 2014)
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