Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cuba and U.S. Propaganda

200 million children in the world sleep on the streets, none of them are Cuban.

The above billboard reads:
"200 million children in the world sleep on the streets, none of them are Cuban."

If you are going to measure the relative success of a nation, you must observe real, quantitative factors. Good indicators are poverty, literacy, and infant mortality. So lets look at what is actually there, as opposed to the disinformation we have had hammered into our collective subconscience.

The accepted perception of Cuba is a poverty stricken, politically repressed country. But this is illusory. The end product of 40 years of imperialist propaganda against a sovereign nation, with a democratically elected government. There is certainly political repression in Cuba, which is obviously not good, but we don't know for sure how accurate the reports are, and neither do most people, because almost all reports of it, come from either the US media, or Cuban's who disapprove of the Cuban government. But this is not the topic of this discussion, and besides, if we were really worried about political repression, we need only look to our own government. Come on, what political repression?, you say, we have no political repression here in the US, no, of course not, we have free speech. Yes, thats true, if you want to redress your grievances with the government as the constitution requires, you are free to do it in the barbed wire "free speach" pen down the street from the political event. As a disclaimer, let me say I don't really know all the facts about the Cuban government and Castro, and I am not glorifying it, or voicing support for it. I am just trying to set the record straight. The statistics are readily available from the UN and even the CIA factbook. Because of this, I have a major problem witht some of the absurd rhetoric that I have been reading, for example: Aaron at wrote:
And Cuba's economy is now largely based on the black market. The Cuban "solution" is widespread poverty, drugs, prostitution & gambling.

Black market? Think economic blockade, a criminal economic blockade, which has been unilaterally held up by the U.S. for 40 years, despite the efforts of the U.N. For example, here are the results from the 2004 UN vote for a resolution against the U.S., to end the economic blockade:
General Assembly calls for end to US embargo against Cuba
The resolution passed with a vote of 179 in favour, four - the Marshall Islands, the United States, Israel and Palau - against and the Federated States of Micronesia abstaining.

And the November 2005 vote:
- 2005: (A/60/L.9): 182 to 4

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the resolution means anything though. Fortunately, the "coalition of the willing", the Marshall Islands, and Palau also voted with the US. Israel almost always votes with the US, and as you must know, the US, THE global empire, can veto any UN decision, all they need is Israel or the UK to vote with them, and from time to time, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. However, the United States deems all resolutions pertaining to the US itself to be irrelevant.

Can you imagine what would happen to the US if most of its trading partners were eliminated? You could watch the collapse unfold within days. I often hear the above arguments and laugh, especially when you compare some of the arguments to the United States, recently Bill Bonner from the Daily Reckoning wrote:
During the 1950s, Cuba was no paradise, but it must have come close. American tourists - especially the rich - came by the boatloads. There, they could gamble, drink, swim in the warm sea, take drugs, smoke fine cigars, fish, and relax. Everything was cheap, sweet and warm: the hotels, the liquor...the women. The island was growing rich off of tourism and exports to the United States. By 1957, Cuba had the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America (the 13th lowest in the world), and the third-highest number of physicians and dentists per capita - more than Britain. In terms of literacy, daily nutrition, and access to mass media, Cuba was a leader in Latin America and crowding the heels of many developed, Western nations.

Valid points? I think not. The rich certainly did come by the boatloads, and many came for the "warm" women, because under Batista, women were denied reasonable employment:
Prior to 1959, the only “jobs” available to women were those of domestic servant and prostitute — Cuba was even known as the “whorehouse of the Caribbean.” Since the revolution those “jobs” have been all but completely eliminated, while an continually increasing number of women are entering into the labor force in all fields or taking up positions in government. Cuba has the world’s most advanced system of benefits for mothers-to-be, and free birth control and abortion has been made available to all women. Also, Cuban women are guaranteed a living wage whether they work or not, so they do not have to marry or remain married out of financial considerations. In Cuba, whether a couple or not, both parents are obligated to support their children. No child is considered illegitimate, and both men and women are responsible for the maintenance of the home.

Yes, Mr. Bonner's warm women didn't really exist after the revolution, as this source states:
Cuba, considered to be free of prostitution since the 1960s, is experiencing an increase in prostitution and prostitution tourism as a result of the poor economy. (Jeszs Zzqiga,"Cuba: The Thailand of the Caribbean" Independent Journalists’ Cooperative, 18 June 1998)

The increase, like the small percentage of the population that has fled, was a direct result of being cut off from oil supplies, ALL of Cuba's problems are a result of this and the sanctions. Regarding women, here are some interesting numbers:

Women In Parliamentary Seats

  • Haiti 4%

  • Honduras 6%

  • Brazil 9%

  • Colombia 12.2%

  • United States 14%

  • Mexico 15.9%

  • Argentina 31.3%

  • Cuba 36%

Source:United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 2003 Human Development Indicators and Project On Human Development

The US is almost as impressive as Columbia. In Cuba, 50% of all skilled workers or professionals (including physicians) are women & 29% of management positions are held by women. Impressive, but Mr. Bonner would rather see women in their rightful place, yes? As prostitutes and domestic servants?

Next we hear that “Cuba had the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America (the 13th lowest in the world), and the third-highest number of physicians and dentists per capita - more than Britain. In terms of literacy, daily nutrition, and access to mass media, Cuba was a leader in Latin America and crowding the heels of many developed, Western nations.” Today the statistics for infant mortality are as follows:

  • United States 7.00

  • Cuba 5.80

•The number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year.

Interesting, now it looks as though Cuba’s is one of the best in the world, not just in Latin America. And literacy in 1957 was about 50%, as Mr. Bonner notes, and was the best among Latin American countries, and today, it is a whopping 99.8%, again among the best in the world. Cuba is a great example of what to do in a post-peak oil scenario, because they did it. Certainly, Cubans lost an average of 25 pounds after the cutoffs, but they survived. What do you think America would look like with the same conditions applied to it? Do you think the worst that we would see is an increase in prostitution, and black market economies, and weight loss? And Doctors? He is right about that, but they were almost all Euroeans, isn't that great!, Cuban's didn't have access to those jobs. Today 1 in 10 Doctors and Scientists in Latin America is Cuban, even though Cuba has only 2% of the population. So, my question is, how do you define widespread poverty? Here are the stats:
Human Poverty Index*

  • Haiti 42.3%

  • Honduras 20.5%

  • Brazil 12.2%

  • Mexico 9.4%

  • Colombia 8.9%

  • Cuba 4.1%

Lower is better.Source:United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 2003 Human Development Indicators and Project On Human Development

It is hard to find tables including the US with developing nations, although the US ranks below many, for example, as George Monbiot reports:
The US is the only rich nation with teenage pregnancy levels comparable to those of developing nations: it has a worse record than India, the Philippines and Rwanda

And what about the Human Poverty Index for the US, you ask? Human Development Reports says the US has a 15.8 compared to Cuba's 4.1. And yes, Mexico has a much better Poverty Index than the U.S.

The total poverty in the US as of 2003 was:
In 2003, the poverty rate was 12.5 percent, or 35.9 million people, up from 12.1 percent, or 34.6 million people in 2002.

And in 2005 the USDA reported:
More than 38 million Americans go hungry, including nearly 14 million children Waltham, MA, Oct. 28, 2005 –Hunger in American households has risen by 43 percent over the last five years, according to an analysis of US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data released today. The analysis, completed by the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Brandeis University, shows that more than 7 million people have joined the ranks of the hungry since 1999.

Who is it that has WIDESPREAD POVERTY? Not Cuba. America is the one with widespread poverty. But to really understand why the US media paint such a grim picture of Cuba, you must first pull back the curtain of propaganda, and also look past the imperialistic economic measurement that is GDP. As we all know, a countries poverty rate can go from 50% to 90% at a time of constant GDP growth. However, as point out after admitting that Cuba’s illiteracy rate and infant mortality rate are the best in Latin America, (they will not admit best in the world), they point out:
On the other hand, many economic and social indicators have declined since the 1959 revolution. Pre-Castro Cuba ranked third in Latin America in per capita food consumption; today, it ranks last. Per capita consumption of cereals, tubers, and meat are today all below 1950's levels. The number of automobiles in Cuba has fallen since the 1950's -- the only country in Latin America for which this is the case. The number of telephone lines in Cuba also has been virtually frozen at 1950's levels. Cuba once ranked first in Latin America and fifth in the world in television sets per capita. Today, it barely ranks fourth in Latin America and is well back in the ranks globally.

So there it is folks, right from the horses mouth, successful societies are not measured in terms of income equality, discrimination, social services, hunger, homelessness, health care, education, or any of these trivial ideas, “Development” is strictly and completely relegated to how many morbidly obese cell phone users, SUV drivers, McMansion dwellers, and foreign made plasma flatscreens owners you have! Welcome to America.

All above statistics were compiled from UNESCO, UNDP, UNSD, EPICA, CIA World Fact Book, UNICEF & the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.

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