Although it must have been very painful for him to admit, Fidel Castro, in an interview 2010, two years after turning over the reins of power to Raul, admitted that his economic model wasn’t working. Indeed! This had been obvious to his former close associate, Carlos Franqui, since the 1960s, and for decades to anyone who visited from the outside. More than one million of Fidel’s subjects could have told him that many years ago when they abandoned the country for America. But Raul, an avid communist from his early revolutionary days, and the leader who pushed the hardest for a communist state, has only recently begun to see the error of his ways. He has eased restrictions in order to allow some individual enterprise after nearly 60 years of rigid state control. Former President Obama recognized the futility of the 60-year-old stalemate with its close neighbour and was eager to end the feud in order to initiate friendly relations. He made some progress, such as re-opening their embassies and easing some travel restrictions, but many obstacles remain.
If one is content to put blinders on, and jump aboard the sleek, air-conditioned buses that transport tourists along well-maintained highways to opulent holiday resorts, then Cuba closely resembles an inviting, affluent country that is a delight to visit. Take off the blinders, if only for a moment, and one soon finds an impoverished population living in a beautiful, but highly-regulated, top down communist dictatorship. More than one million could not endure living under this oppressive regime and so escaped to the United States. But, strangely, those who remained appear to have accepted their fate. They are gentle, happy people who really have little choice. Unless one prefers a walled prison, protests are not an option. Most citizens are poverty-stricken prisoners in their own country, but they can take pride in an excellent health care and top-notch education system that allows doctors, when they graduate, to earn less than taxi drivers.
Their keepers, a small band of highly-privileged communist elite rulers live their lives quite differently, perhaps somewhat as we do when we visit the sumptuous resorts, but within heavily armed security compounds. They are never forced to live in squalor, to drive a 70-year-old car to work, or to hop into a Fidel taxi to shop in a town with few shops, businesses, or services. This is the legacy that Fidel Castro has left to a lovely island with such unlimited potential. This is the legacy that his 85-year-old brother, Raul, will also leave when he resigns the presidency in 2018.This has been the legacy of most communist countries around the world forced to endure this brutal form of oppression.
If Cuba were to throw off its communist yoke, it would release a pent up explosion of energy and enable its people to thrive. Fidel taxis would soon disappear as people were given the opportunity to build a rich, thriving, “Garden of Eden” in the Caribbean.