"Twenty years ago, when life wasn't so bad with the Soviet money pouring in, we still had ... paper, books and pens to write with, and the Russians sent food from the Eastern Bloc," Virginia tells me. "Oh, those plums from Poland! That all evaporated when the Soviets pulled out and then we had the years of famine. The kids today aren't blind. They see what their parents' lives consist of. I have to work like a dog to keep their interest from flagging in every class. I am not allowed to fail any student because it would make our system look bad. And even when they get a degree they will only ever earn $15 a month and have the same struggles as their parents."
There is a feeling in the air these days that I can't put my finger on -- tension, unease and sadness all at once. Three years ago, I saw hope on the faces in the streets of Havana. Now, I see none.
With the support of Chavez and Morales, Castro has been emboldened. He has sought to re-entrench the chasm between Cuban people and foreign visitors. In addition, he's announced a ban on all off-market commercial activities and satellite communication systems.
Young people have been hired as "social workers." They enter every Cuban home and inspect the number of electrical goods and determine the salary of the owner to see whether there is a discrepancy. Then they test any electrical fans. If the fan works, it is taken outside, smashed, and tossed into a truck. The person then receives a chit entitling them to buy a low-wattage Chinese fan for several weeks' pay.
The same routine occurred with light bulbs, with youth squads breaking up the good ones and replacing them with low-voltage Chinese versions. The stress from these personal assaults in one's home was run very high, especially among my elderly friends. People stood astonished on street corners as their goods were destroyed.
Read it all and you will get the flavor of a malignant and petty tyrant whose pervasive grandiosity and ubiquitous oppression intrudes even into the most minor aspects of life. This is a country that would have faltered and collapsed decades ago if not for being artificially propped up by the Soviet Union as a socialist utopia (just like the Soviet Union was). Now, in order to tighten the chokehold and keep control of his destroyed country and impoverished people, the aging Fidel must resort to harsher and harsher rule. No one is allowed to be different or live better than anyone else. No one can receive gifts from outside without extorting large amounts of money. Cuban citizens are not allowed to even enter hotels where foreigners stay (no contamination by outside ideas); and nightly rants by Castro on the radio serve to keep everyone apprised on the status of the revolution and what they are supposed to think about every topic.
A paradise, indeed.
The author of the article is from Canada where, as in America, one can easily find the unrepentant remants of 20th century socialist/communist ideology. These foolish and delusional hangers-on have chosen to ignore over a hundred years of data from the various human "experiments" in this ideology; experiments that resulted in millions dead; in widespread human poverty and misery; and the deliberate and sadistic crushing of the human spirit.
They, like Castro, are emboldened by the colorful personalities of the new 21st century tyrants emerging like horribly infected insects from the swamp of misery that characterizes Latin America. They see in Chavez and Morales a new "democratic" face on their ideology; but this is just another mask that the totalitarians like to wear as their boots trample human dignity and freedom.
How anyone can keep a straight face anymore when the pathetic "comrades" of the West march in solidarity with everything they claim to be adamantly opposed to is beyond a rational person's capacity to understand. Spouting mottos for "peace", "justice", and decrying torture and oppression, even as they worship and support the very psychopaths whose every action gives testament to evil; they offer a unique lesson in the capacity for human self-delusion and the denial of reality and truth.
As for Casto and the other puppet-masters of Latin America--they present a clear and unambiguous portrait of pure, unadulterated human malevolence and thirst for power; and are welcomed warmly by tyrants and tyrant wannabees the world over.