I've got a couple of things in response. First,
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. It’s eerily dark at
night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles
through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single
tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.
Cuba was one of the world’s richest countries before Castro destroyed
it—and the wealth wasn’t just in the hands of a tiny elite. “Contrary to
the myth spread by the revolution,” wrote Alfred Cuzan, a professor of
political science at the University of West Florida, “Cuba’s wealth
before 1959 was not the purview of a privileged few. . . . Cuban society
was as much of a middle-class society as Argentina and Chile.” In 1958,
Cuba had a higher per-capita income than much of Europe. “More
Americans lived in Cuba prior to Castro than Cubans lived in the United
States,” Cuban exile Humberto Fontova, author of a series of books about
Castro and Guevara, tells me.
When the ailing Fidel Castro ceded power to his less doctrinaire younger
brother Raúl in 2008, the quasi-capitalist bubble expanded, but the
economy remains heavily socialist. In the United States, we have a
minimum wage; Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost
every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can
make a whopping $10 extra a month.) Sure, Cubans get “free” health care
and education, but as Cuban exile and Yale historian Carlos Eire says,
“All slave owners need to keep their slaves healthy and ensure that they
have the skills to perform their tasks.”
And a slight modification of a shirt:
The PM of Canada kissed the dead ass of the dictator, and a lot of Canadians aren't exactly happy.