JO - Cuba might well be another socialist myth
Cuba might well be another socialist myth
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
In a world in which Yankee-baiting is a major sport, Fidel Castro became a legend for his defiance of the USA. To a worldwide intellectual community whose conceit makes the members uninterested in the unexcitng mechanics of economic development, the Cuban experience is proof positive that exploitation is the source of all human misery and the abolition of private property can transform poverty into plenty in the twinkling of an eye. They admire Cuban socialism from their ivory towers in Europe and North America, and make tunnel-vision tours that confirm the myth of the perfect system. Any reference to the hard realities of life in Cuba is dismissed as American propaganda.
We know from Jamaicans who lived there, from Cuban exiles who left there and from writers who had no socialist axe to grind, that life is very hard, nothwithstanding the high literacy rate and the low infant mortality. The fact is that the socialist economy has never been able, under Castro, to generate an adequate supply of basic foods at a reasonable price. No socialist system has done so, and a system that cannot do that is a failure. This kind of system fails because of political interference with economic management, concentration of risk, misallocation of resources and lack of motivation. And you cannot blame Cuban failure on the US embargo. That embargo was for years compensated by heavy Russian subsidies in oil and material that came to billions of dollars. Cuba had alternative sources for supplies like Canada, Spain and Argentina, so the yanks are not to blame. The abuse of human rights and the suppression of religious worship have for long been the focus of Cuba's critics who accepted the myth of a well-fed people.
The irony of it all is that the Caribbean admirers of Castro continue to ignore the amazing economic success of the island of Barbados which ranks among the top 30 nations of the world in quality of life, without depriving their people of their faith and freedom. If Barbados is too small, there is Costa Rica, and neo-capitalist Singapore, smaller countries which out-produce Cuba and give their citizens a higher standard of living. Socialism has been a failure everywhere. The USSR admitted it in the 1980s, and when the thrust for freedom becomes too strong for Raul Castro to contain we will find that the story of prosperity under Fidel was just another socialist myth.