Response to ‘Cuba is not the enemy’

Cuba and its “free health care” are failed communist projects.

Scott Deeney

Those who view Cuba as a threat are not all prone to ignorance. I know it is trendy in college to question the U.S. government or economic system, but that does not automatically make you more enlightened. I have completed a minor in Latin American studies and took a semester-long course on contemporary Cuba, taught by two journalists who lived in Cuba for five years. We covered the history of the revolution, watched Cuban films, read Cuban literature, interviewed Cuban people and studied the politics and economy. I was able to listen to the two visiting Cuban students on Monday as they spoke to the medical school. They will tell you that the Cuban health care system covers everybody without charge, but at what cost? The Cuban people have traded freedom for free health care. What the two visiting Cuban students wonâÄôt tell you is that a large number of their doctors have to work night jobs just to sustain their family because the government pay isnâÄôt enough. They wonâÄôt tell you about the incredible inefficiency, waste, bribes and corruption in their government system. They wonâÄôt tell you CubaâÄôs economy is in large part sustained by an underground, capitalist-style black market, or that many products such as computers and microwaves were illegal until just a few years ago. They wonâÄôt tell you that many of their buildings are completed without key parts because they were skimmed off by workers seeking to add to their insufficient government incomes. They wonâÄôt tell you the governmentâÄôs monthly food quota isnâÄôt enough to feed a family for a week. They wonâÄôt tell you that the RevolutionâÄôs idealistic plans of making Cuba an artistic Mecca failed due to poor financial competence and that their grandiose national art schools now lie unfinished, empty and abandoned, and their artists canâÄôt directly challenge the government. They wonâÄôt tell you what itâÄôs like to not have a government thatâÄôs directly accountable to the people for its decisions. They wonâÄôt tell you because they themselves may not even know. CubaâÄôs way of life is the only thing theyâÄôve experienced. They are products of a country where only one side is told. They donâÄôt have a free press, they were educated in an atmosphere of idealistic propaganda and they have yet to see how communism works (or fails to work) in the real world, beyond the pages of their schoolbooks. Even their parents and grandparents were raised under this system, so they donâÄôt know what true freedom, representative government, what individualism really looks like or why anyone would even want these things that we take for granted. Now, this isnâÄôt to say there arenâÄôt many good things about Cuba or that it wasnâÄôt created with the best of intentions. Cuba is a complex place, and its relations with the United States are equally complex. But people should take the time to really look at how things work there from many sources and resist the urge to jump to the conclusion that everyone against CubaâÄôs government is ignorant, or that there can be such a thing as âÄúfreeâÄù health care. Scott Deeney University medical student