Consider this comment from a knowledgeable Cuban critic who was asked if the country's brand of socialism, created by Fidel Castro after his 1959 revolution, could be of use in other countries: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore." That remark would have gotten him in trouble with authorities, if his name were not Fidel Castro.Norteamericanos may feel the same way about Obama. His brain is dead, but they are shackled to his corpse.
There may yet be admirers of Cuban communism in certain precincts of Berkeley or Cambridge, but it's hard to find them in Havana. The 84-year-old Fidel (who later said he didn't mean to say that) has turned control over to brother Raul, whose faith in the shining power of Marxism-Leninism has also dried up.
This week, the regime said it will dismiss 500,000 people from government jobs, which account for 84 percent of the work force. Reflecting ruefully on the perils of sheltered bureaucracy, Raul Castro declared recently, "We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where one can live without working."
...Roger Noriega, a researcher at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, notes that before communism arrived, Cuba "was one of the most prosperous and egalitarian societies of the Americas." His colleague Nicholas Eberstadt has documented that pre-Castro Cuba had a high rate of literacy and a life expectancy surpassing that in Spain, Greece, and Portugal.
Instead of accelerating development, Castro has hindered it. In 1980, living standards in Chile were double those in Cuba. Thanks to bold free-market reforms implemented in Chile but not Cuba, the average Chilean's income now appears to be four times higher than the average Cuban's.
...But even economic failures and political tyranny have been not enough to deprive Castro of Western admirers. On a 2000 visit to Havana, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asserted, "Castro's regime has set an example we can all learn from." His lieutenant Che Guevara has been endlessly romanticized. Movie director Oliver Stone once marveled of Fidel, "I'm totally awed by his ability to survive and maintain a strong moral presence."
Cubans may differ. About 1.5 million of them have fled since Castro arrived, many in rickety boats that put their lives in peril. And the government, for some reason, doesn't let ordinary citizens decide if it remains in power.
That's the grisly fate of modern Cubans. Communism is dead, and they're shackled to the corpse. _ReasonMag