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TRUE CRIME BOOKS BLOG

FROM AUTHOR HARRY N. MACLEAN

Cuba Libre

I was going to shut up about Rubio and Cruz and Menendez railing over Obama’s move to open relationships with Cuba. But I have to make one point: The Cuban people are a good deal better off under the Castro regime than they were under the American-supported regime of Fulgencio Batista, whom Castro overthrew. Under the brutal, corrupt dictator, the people lived in abject and total poverty, with little education and non-existent health care. The island was a haven for wealthy Americans and gangsters. Today, Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. People don’t starve in Cuba. All Cubans have access to first-rate health care. Cuba sent more doctors and nurses to Africa to fight the Ebola virus than the United States.

Yes, there is poverty in Cuba today, you see it in Havana and in the small villages.

Which leads to one of the great ironies: normalizing relations with the U.S. will inevitably lead to the economic improvement of the average Cuban. So, it almost seems that Rubio and Menendez are determined to keep Cuba and Cubans in poverty by maintaining the embargo. I realize they have to curry favor with the millions of Cuban-Americans nursing 50-year old grudges against the Castros, but the rest of us, Americans, should not let this historical bitterness drive our policy. You seldom see a situation where the right thing to do is so obvious.

I found the Cuban people to be amazingly free of bitterness toward America for having kept their country economically isolated for 50 years. They are not living in the time of the “The Revolution.” America is not the enemy to them. If you dig you will find resentment against the Castro regime, to be sure, but certainly the best way to let the country evolve out of Communism is to open them to the culture and commerce of the rest of the world.

One last point: Cuba does not have a drug problem.

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