Here is a question that I think properly educated people might ask after the news hit that Fidel Castro died and that, in dishonor of his death, people were celebrating in Miami, in response to the fact that even the most liberal cable news organizations hardly mentioned at all what it was that Castro had done in Cuba, what his regime had replaced and what a comparison of pre-revolution life with post-revolution life in Cuba really was.
I have studied Cuba and its revolution for years and, too, the force in American politics that is the “exiled” Cuban American community. Who are these people and why do they tend to have the kind of political views they hold? Too, who were these people and what were they about before the left Cuba? Good politics, bad politics, really for freedom for the people or really for a dictatorship that channelled the Cuban people’s wealth to them even if it meant supporting a government of savage methods of control over the people with a will to keep those people uneducated and subservient, even to the degree that they would accept the sale of their children into forms of slavery and prostitution?
I not only studied from afar but visited Cuba on three occasions. What does one really find there today? Is it a Cuba as described in the various American sources or is it something different. Are people in Cuba better off today than they were when the United States had a Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar regime to support with money and guns?
I do know that the eyes can deceive and that it is possible for a government to cause people to see what is really not there and prevent them from seeing what is really there. But I travelled freely in Cuba, from one end of the island to the other and I talked to a good many people, a number of whom were–and this may be hard for some American educated/American media saturated to believe–rather happy in what the revolution had allowed them, very good medical care and education, for example–all modern day Cubans exhibit health and high levels of literacy–along with sufficient food (hard place to farm but everyone eats enough and can have a healthy diet). Culture abounds and one does not have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to see the talented of the island perform, the talents many and the exhibitions sublime.
It is lacking, the island of Cuba, the kind of commercialism the non-communist nations of the world offer and this does bother many Cubans on the island who long for access to the products that seduce. Many want greater freedom of press and religion and better access to the free market of ideas that is available through open access to digital means of communication. There are travel restrictions and so on and so forth making Cuba something far less than a paradise.
And so on and so forth, my jaded view of the place and my view against that view that most Americans have of Cuba and its leaders (who, I do think were some of the most intelligent and right minded people of the 20th century–really, despite the news reports, leadership did not take vast riches for themselves and live what could be called luxurious lives–which of them ever stayed at the world’s best hotels or bought for themselves the best vintages?
Perhaps I am the bullshiter. But maybe I am not and maybe my perspective is on that deserves to be scrutinized and not dismissed out of hand?
Would you know to do this, have the will or the sense of responsibility to do this considering how you go about discovering what is true and what is not? I know what I think and I think that we all deserved a much better education.