Oedipus in Havana
When Oedipus, the tragic hero of Greek mythology, realized in agony and shame the calamity he had brought his city, he could not bear to see the results of his hubris. Overwhelmed with the knowledge of his wrongdoings, Oedipus stabbed his own eyes out, and went into exile.
In Cuba, the Castros, blinded by their egos and unwilling to change course, simply rewrite the history of their failure and seek to reinvent themselves in designer clothing.
By any objective socio-economic measure, pre-Castro Cuba was a relatively advanced country. In the 1950’s Cuba’s infant mortality rate was the best in Latin America and the 13th lowest in the world. In the region Cuba ranked third in per capita food consumption, fourth in literacy, and first in television sets per capita. Pre-Castro’s Cuba had 58 daily newspapers of different political hues and ranked eighth in the world in number of radio stations.
After 53 years of the reverse alchemy of central planning, Cuba has been transformed from one of the most prosperous countries in the hemisphere to one of the most miserably poor.
Moreover, according to the latest (2013) “Freedom in the World” report by Freedom House, Cuba remains the only country in the Americas deemed “Not Free” with scores in the worst-of-the-worst categories for political rights and civil liberties. Of the 47 countries in the world designated as “Not Free”, only 9 have scores slightly worst than Cuba (North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Somalia).
Yet, the architects of this tragedy are not disgraced, but honored as Raúl Castro was recently in Chile where he was delusively sworn in as president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
Given the abject failure of Cuba’s socioeconomic model, the sycophancy of Latin American leaders toward the Cuban leadership is perhaps best explained as a petulant form of anti-Americanism. It is not that the Cuban revolution has accomplished much for the Cuban people; it has not. It is that the Castros have successfully confronted the Goliath of the North. That seems to be what Latin American leaders value from the disastrous Cuban experiment.
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