Guardian readers respond to news of Cuban economic reform

Cuba for me is a bright flame in a dark world. I am fully aware that it is no utopia and that there are many shortages and imperfections but they have learnt many interesting lessons during the special period after the USSR collapse and so are building from a self sufficient standpoint.
When one looks at the madness of the US and the EU where freeloader bankers run and ruin the economy, where corrupt central banks print more debt onto future generations and where all rationality and sustainability has left the room…Cuba is a beacon in front of all of this. I think the most humiliating lesson they have thought the world(And more importantly the US) is that you can provide free and excellent healthcare despite being bullied by exterior forces. Cuba is particularly interesting in the case of Greece with a similarly(but with no embargo!!!) crippled economy, they could really learn alot from Cuba who is also blighted by a heavy civil service.

I’ve long wondered about that health care myself. Even to the point that it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that a communist dictatorship had been fiddling the figures. But even if not it’s an interesting justification isn’t it?

No democracy, gross poverty but free health care. I’m just wondering why this beats democracy, great wealth by historical standards and not free health care?

Or they could decide for themselves just a thought…………….. what kind of government they want ………………………………………… Elections in Cuba involve nomination of municipal candidates by voters in nomination assemblies, nomination of provincial and national candidates by candidacy commissions, voting by secret ballot, and recall elections

Since Cuba became a one-party republic and the Communist party became the official political party to which candidates are elected , they seem to have feared well. Free and fair elections interesting concept and a good idea any examples of that working out

Interesting, no? People still supporting stalinist “democracy”?

30 comments on “Guardian readers respond to news of Cuban economic reform

  1. Typically disingenuous comments in the Guardian on the elections then.
    Yes, final voting is free and by secret ballot but as always the devil is in the detail. Nominations are public with no scret ballot. CDR representatives are present to note down any objectors or proposals of alternatives to the official nominees. Thus people don’t object and no alternative candidates come forward. After that point who cares how many votes are cast “freely and fairly”?

  2. But the box-dadger believes that poverty causes ill health and early death. Not in Cuba? Maybe it’s all the vitamin D.

  3. The wikileak stuff had a ton about the Cuban healthcare system from the US embassy, none of it matched the ‘excellent’ status it seems to carry.

  4. US stance on Cuba is amusing. Not forgetting of course that embassy estimates of something can be presented to give the required support for a position.

  5. The healthcare in Cuba is so good that people have been swimming through the Caribbean, punching bull sharks in the face on the way, to get to the hell that is Miami, via Guantanamo. The fools!

  6. The certainties of life: death, taxes and the existence of some totalitarian shithole that the left believes is a shining beacon of how things should be done.

  7. @David
    I’ve quite a few Cubans I know & it’s a question I’ve asked. There is a visible, showcase healthcare system. But it’s not much visible out in the campo where a lot of Cubans live. Village might have a clinic but whether there’s a doctor or nurse to go with it or any drugs is another matter. Much the same applies to Cuba’s showcase system. Shortage of staff & drugs so whether you get treated depends on how you get prioritised. I’ll leave you to work out the prioritisation system yourselves. How good the whole system is can probably be judged by big cheese Cubans not using it. They go abroad.

  8. “where corrupt central banks print more debt onto future generations”

    A fairly staggering comment to read in the Grauniad. I thought they were all for spending financed by massive unsustainable borrowing?

  9. I thought they were all for spending financed by massive unsustainable borrowing?

    The consistent disconnect on this one is quite staggering, even by the standards of the Left.

  10. The Cuban healthcare thing is partly pure Adam Smith on the relative merits of occupations. Cuba had (until very recently) the same salary for everyone, for every job. Total levelling of income. So people are going to distinguish themselves by other aspects of the job. The status that comes with it, the chicks it gets you, and when every third Cuban is a doctor, the short hours and ease of life.

    If there are staff shortages in the boondocks, again, would you work in Havana or the boondocks for the same salary? Or just leave, as rather a lot of Cuban-trained doctors so.

  11. “The consistent disconnect on this one is quite staggering, even by the standards of the Left.”
    Not really if you see it from the narrative point of view most left thinking is done.
    “Borrowing is bad” riffs off of the “never a lender or a borrower be”. It’s just a truism requiring no further thought. Spending money you don’t have is the other narrative, where all State spending is some sort of investment . So not spending at all.

  12. @bloke in spain”
    @David
    I’ve quite a few Cubans I know & it’s a question I’ve asked. There is a visible, showcase healthcare system. But it’s not much visible out in the campo where a lot of Cubans live. Village might have a clinic but whether there’s a doctor or nurse to go with it or any drugs is another matter. Much the same applies to Cuba’s showcase system. Shortage of staff & drugs so whether you get treated depends on how you get prioritised. I’ll leave you to work out the prioritisation system yourselves. How good the whole system is can probably be judged by big cheese Cubans not using it. They go abroad.”

    That is what I thought might be true. Of course Cuba’s good health might be explained by the fact that you have to walk or cycle to get around (because there is not many other choices). I quite like the idea that you can cycle safely to get to work, however the idea of making it compulsory or destroying the economy seems a too expensive price.

  13. @BIS ‘I’ve quite a few Cubans I know & it’s a question I’ve asked. There is a visible, showcase healthcare system. But it’s not much visible out in the campo where a lot of Cubans live.’

    A Potemkin system? I refuse to believe it!

  14. Pingback: Lunatic quote of the day (to remove those Monday blues) « Samizdata

  15. Healthy albeit very dull diet, lots of exercise, not much drinking or smoking (tourists do the cigars and daiquiris) and decent basic medicine as we’ve known about for 50 years (antibiotics etc). All equals a pretty healthy population.

  16. Shinsei1967
    “not much drinking or smoking (tourists do the cigars and daiquiris)”
    Can see you’ve not known many Cubans, then.

    But living on an island, absent the Commies who run it, would be the W. Hemisphere’s #1 resort destination, does have advantages.

  17. I gather the cigars for domestic consumption are pretty crap though. Sub-Guantanamera, or those dreadful machine-made shorts that get sold with the Montecristo label for people who want to be seen smoking Cuban but not pay for it.

    The good stuff gets turned into art and exported.

  18. “When one looks at the madness of the US and the EU where freeloader bankers run and ruin the economy, …”
    US per capita GDP around $52,000
    EU per capita GDP about $32,000
    Cuba per capita GDP around $10,000.
    I think I prefer the ‘ruined’ economies.

  19. I have two close friends who had the misfortune to be involved with another person in a road accident in Cuba a couple of years back (rather common, as Cuban vehicles are antique due to the ban on buying new ones) and their first hand account was very clear about the quality of Cuba’s health care system. Key points – no ambulance service (locals rescued them and took them in). No drinkable water at local clinic. No food in hospital (at all. Patients fed by relatives). One clean water tap in hospital (this was a provincial capital) which was in the “intensive care room” – also only one with air conditioning (incredibly noisy and old and worked only occasionally). Doctor had no paper to make notes on. Sheets filthy and unchanged for a week. Treatment for mix of numerous broken bones and internal injuries was bandaging and x-rays at clinic, none at hospital. As in none at all. They were convinced that a person they were travelling with (more severely injured) was going to die there. When the Canadian medevac team turned up a week later (thank you travel insurance provider) they cried with relief – and all the Cuban medical staff (30 of them) crowded in to see the team because they had all this wonderful gear (completely basic) that the Cubans had never seen. The Cubans then demanded their sheets back – torn and filthy though they were. It’s a Potemkin health care system all right, utterly useless and fake from top to bottom – but the problems are nothing to do with shortages of medical equipment or any embargo. They are inherent in the nature of the system and the economy. No doubt there’s a good hospital or two in Havana for rich foreigners and show – but the rest of the system is an empty shell.

  20. John’s description sounds very close tot the way Cubans tell it. it’s a very different from the version the son of a friend (BBC producer & guest of the island’s hospitality on numerous occasions) would tell.
    Another source on Cuba’s legendary hospitality was a Venezuelan lass who went there in journalistic mode & inquired in areas not to be inquired into & spoke with people not to be spoken with. Raped & tortured by the security thugs. Cigarette burns are an unmistakeable accessory to beachwear.

  21. “cradle of Latin American revolutionary fervour, ”
    Simon Bolivar turns in his grave.
    “the Hemingway Marina, which has been upgraded to provide more berths for luxury yachts and better facilities for the international sports fishermen who visit each year for the annual marlin competition.”
    “sports” – and these people condemn bullfighters who actually get into the ring with the bulls they fight!

  22. I think Naipaul is wrong, though.

    There seem to be only three choices.

    Go and come back.
    Go and don’t come back.
    Don’t go.

    I can’t criticise people who take option one – not least because seeing stuff for oneself is always a very useful adjunct to what one reads.

  23. Fidel went to a Spanish hospital when he got ill and had to give up the presidency.

    Seems a long way to go when your local health service is excellent.

  24. Cubans make in a month about what I make every 90 minutes or so and I’m not exactly a plutocrat. The healthcare system available to actual Cubans is shite on an absolutely mediaeval level. The society is nightmarish – it has been so thoroughly ground down by decades of socialism that attempting to get an honest answer out of anyone there is virtually impossible. Trust and fellow human feeling have been stamped out. Grauniad scum who hold it out as an example of actual working socialism should be forced to live there, as ordinary Cubans. They’d soon change their tune, but that wouldn’t win them a reprieve. If they can swim to Florida then they get to recant.

  25. I have had personal experience of the Cuban health service as it exists for ordinary Cubans on more than one occasion. It is pretty awful. There are few drugs, no medical equipment beyond blood pressure measurement, and little expertise in most towns. Emergency treatment is pretty much non-existent except in the largest cities, so don’t get injured out in the sticks. There are regular rows about the appalling standards of emergency care: many people die unnecessarily. There was one incident recently when a man who needed a blood transfusion after being stabbed died because nobody could find the key to the fridge. Pulling political strings gets you moved up the list for chronic conditions. Bad sanitation means that the cholera outbreak rumbles on, but nobody knows how bad it is because they don’t trust the media. The one positive is that most health workers are well motivated by Cuban standards, not sure why, but more so than I see in Britain. Sure Hugo Chavez got good care in Cuba, and doubtless the Castro brothers do too, but those facilities are definitely not available for ordinary Cubans.

  26. David Gillies – “Grauniad scum who hold it out as an example of actual working socialism should be forced to live there, as ordinary Cubans.”

    Just in passing, the New York Times, of all lying rags, did a nice piece on Cuba’s HIV prevention schemes. Well worth looking up. Because the reporter doesn’t want to come out and praise them, but he does anyway. What are their policies? Well they have these neighbourhood committees who report on anyone who is Gay or sleeping around. The State then requires mandatory testing. Anyone found to be HIV positive is then locked up.

    I would like to see the Guardian run an article suggesting we do the same.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/08/health/a-regimes-tight-grip-lessons-from-cuba-in-aids-control.html

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>