I believe that the poor people in Cuba really suffer. The overwhelming majority have no recollection of what it was like before the revolution. Batista was a crook, no doubt, but I don’t know if the people are better off than they were. On the positive side, they have excellent health care available to all, and it’s easy to come by. That’s iffy here in the USA. They also have the highest literacy rate in the world. But that’s about it. For example, one of our drivers was a graduate engineer. But he made more money driving a cab than he could working in his profession.
The Cuban people are suffering by contemporary standards. The reason that this country treats Cuba the way it does is because the State of Florida has a huge Cuban immigrant community. Florida is the third largest state and therefore has a great deal to say when it comes to national elections. Is it because they are socialists? China is socialist, and that doesn’t stop us from buying 500 billion dollars worth of stuff from them every year.
We went to the flea market down by the wharf. The government has allowed a small amount of private enterprise. It consisted of a huge warehouse lined with maybe a hundred and twenty tiny cubicles . There were about 10 different types. One would sell t-shirts, one would sell statuettes, one would sell leather goods, etc. And they all sold the same things for the same price. They have no idea about competition or, if they could get it, alternate or unique merchandise. If you buy something from them for 10 pesos they are ecstatic. As you walk past the cubicles everyone says “Hola” to you, hoping you’ll buy something from her. It’s very sad.
I hope our next administration rejoins the effort to normalize relations with them.