Tag Archives: Cuba

Communist Cuba’s violent suppression of dissenters under Fidel Castro

Communism in action: Cuban government arrests dissenter after a beating
Communism in action: Cuban government arrests dissenter after a beating

My mother was watching CNN on Saturday, and she called to tell me that Sanjay Gupta was talking about the great healthcare in Cuba. Now, I know that CNN hires a lot of Marxists like Gupta and Zakaria, but many people may not realize how far left they are, and how that bias affects what they say on air. Let’s see what Cuba is really like using some evidence for a change.

The Daily Signal has the numbers on Cuba’s treatment of dissidents from a respected source:

As for the dissidents, the Obama administration has abandoned them. Many have told me they feel betrayed by our president, and by extension, by the United States. Guillermo Fariñas, especially, has a reason to feel betrayed, as Obama promised him personally at a meeting in 2013 that he would take no step toward re-establishing relations with Cuba without prior consultations with the opposition. This did not happen.

And dissidents have suffered the consequences. Political arrests have intensified since December of 2014. Throughout 2015, there were more than 8,616 documented political arrests in Cuba.

And in 2016? There already had been over 8,505 political arrests during the first eight months, and they are expected to top 10,000. This represents the highest rate of political arrests in decades and nearly quadruples the tally of political arrests throughout all of 2010 (2,074), early in Obama’s presidency.

These figures come from the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which is recognized by Amnesty International, Freedom House, and other major human rights groups.

Shutting down communication with the outside world to cover up the arrests, the torture, the human rights abuses, the poverty, and the horribly ineffective health care:

And because Cuba’s communist leaders cannot allow Cubans to be in free contact with the outside world, internet connectivity has dropped. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has something called the Measuring the Information Society Report, which is the world’s most reliable source of data and analysis on global access to information and communication.

Last year, the International Telecommunication Union dropped Cuba’s ranking to 129 from 119. This means that Cuba actually has lower internet connectivity than some of the world’s most infamous suppressors of the internet, including Zimbabwe (which is 127), Syria (which is 117), Iran (91), China (82), and Venezuela (72).

What about Cuba’s health care system and economy? Didn’t Castro’s communist reforms make that better?

Investors Business Daily explains:

Before the revolution, Cuba had the 13th-lowest infant mortality rate in the world. It was lower than France, Belgium and West Germany. Today, it ranks about 40th. That still looks respectable, until you consider how it was accomplished: Cuba has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. At the first sign of any trouble when a woman is carrying a baby, it is aborted — regardless of the parents’ wishes.

That’s why their infant mortality rate isn’t even worse.

But surely health care for all is a major accomplishment, right?

No. As has been noted in many other places, Cuba has three separate health care systems. One for paying customers from places like the U.S., who go to Cuba for discount treatments of cosmetic surgery and the like.

There’s another for Cuba’s ruling Communist elite, also a good system. This is the health care system visiting journalists are taken to see, and that they later glowingly report on.

But there’s still another system for the rest — the average Cubans. It is abysmal, and even that might understate how bad it is.

“Cubans are not even allowed to visit those (elite) facilities,” according to the Web site The Real Cuba. “Cubans who require medical attention must go to other hospitals, that lack the most minimum requirements needed to take care of their patients.”

It goes on: “In addition, most of these facilities are filthy and patients have to bring their own towels, bed sheets, pillows, or they would have to lay down on dirty bare mattresses stained with blood and other body fluids.”

As for doctors, well, they make an average of about $25 to $35 a month. Many have to work second jobs to make ends meet, using substandard equipment. Drug shortages are rife. As a result, one of Cuba’s ongoing problems is that doctors leave as soon as they can for other countries, where they can make a decent living.

The country has over 30,000 doctors working overseas officially. Why? Out of kindness? No. The Castro regime earns an estimated $2.5 billion a year in hard currency from doctors working elsewhere, which means Cuba’s poor must go without decent care or access to doctors.

As for “universal literacy,” please. Primary and secondary schools are little more than Marxist indoctrination centers, where students are taught only what the state wants them to know. That’s how they keep people quiet.

Then there’s  Cuba’s higher education, in which “universities are training centers for bureaucrats, totally disconnected from the needs of today’s world. To enter the best careers and the best universities, people must be related to the bureaucratic elites, and also demonstrate a deep ideological conviction,” notes Colombian journalist Vanesa Vallejo, of the PanAm Post, a Latin American news site.

Nor is it “free.” In fact, those who graduate from college must work for a number of years for the government at a substandard wage of $9 a month. They are in effect slave labor. As with most “free” things the socialists offer, the price is very high and nonnegotiable.

In sum, Castro took a healthy country and made it sick. Those who glorify him deserve the scorn they get for propagating such a longstanding lie.

Regarding health care in Cuba, here are a couple of videos that were smuggled out of the actual health care system used by  ordinary Cubas:

And:

So, that’s the truth about Cuba – very different from what the regime itself and its wealthy supporters in Hollywood and the far left mainstream media want you to believe.

I’d really like to read what Mary Anastasia O’Grady has to say about the death of Castro in the Wall Street Journal, and I hope she writes about this story soon. UPDATE: Here it is, finally.

New study: incomes of the poorest 20% of households are much lower than in 2007

Is Barack Obama focused on protecting the American people?
Does Barack Obama’s knowledge of policy match his confidence?

Now, many American voters like to think that if the President expresses concern about things like poverty and income inequality, then that means that whatever he does to “fix” it will automatically work to benefit the poor. Is it true?

Here is an article from Investors Business Daily, which talks about a study from the respected, leftist Brookings Institute.

Excerpt:

President Obama’s upbeat assessment of the economy is not likely to sit well with low-income families living in major urban or metro areas. For them, economic decline is a harsh reality, not “fiction.”

In his State of the Union speech, Obama declared that “anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling a fiction.”

But a new report from the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution finds that incomes among the poorest fifth of households was significantly lower than it was in 2007. Of the 100 cities it examined, incomes fell an overall average of 12%, according to the report’s data. In some, the drop was huge — 34% in Stockton, Calif., 31% in New Haven, Conn., and 30% in Lakeland, Fla.

At the other end of the spectrum, the top 5% of households saw incomes climb, but not by much. The average income for this group was basically unchanged over those years.

As a result, income inequality has increased, but not — as Obama, Bernie Sanders and the chorus of liberal Democrats would have you believe — because the rich are getting richer.

“It’s really about the poor losing ground rather than these upper-class households pulling away,” Brookings senior fellow Alan Berube told AP.

[…]Added to this, many of the cities that saw the biggest increases in income inequality — like Boston; New Orleans; Providence, R.I.; New Haven, Conn.; San Francisco, Washington, D.C. — have been bastions of “spread the wealth around” liberalism.

Another example of this would be Obamacare. Obama got up in front of his teleprompters and told everyone that he was going to make changes to health care policy. He promised that it would not add one dime to the deficit, that we could keep our doctors, that we could keep our health plans and that our health insurance premiums would go down. Every single one of those promises were lies.

We don’t know if Obama knows that he is lying when he says these things. I prefer to think that he is just too stupid to know what he is talking about. He says things that make him feel good. Things that would have pleased his professors in college. But since he has no practical experience of achieving results in any of these areas, he fails again and again. He is confident because he assumes a knowledge of how to obtain results that he does not actually have, owing to his lack of experience. And yet we elected him, then re-elected him.

He is in his own little world, where the people around him carefully insulate him from a reality where all his confident prescriptions have failed to produce what he intended.

Could it be that the free enterprise system of economics that was “built in” to America at the founding actually works better than the failed systems of socialism and communism that Obama was taught in college? Could it be that if we just stuck with the free enterprise system that made us the most powerful economy in the world, that things would be better for the poor than in places where capitalism is rejected for socialism?

We don’t have to guess at what the economic policies of the left produce. You can see it with your own eyes in socialist countries like Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Argentina, and so on.

Does foreign policy matter? Obama’s appeasement policy comes with a cost

Obama shakes hands with communist dictator Castro
Obama shakes hands with communist dictator Castro

Just a quick rundown of the foreign policy news that just ruined my day.

Investors Business Daily:

Just as its patron Venezuela hit the rocks, Cuba got a last-minute rescue from none other than President Obama, who announced a Santa Claus-like package of wish-list goodies for the Castro brothers. Why?

In many ways, President Obama’s announced plan to normalize relations with Cuba, lift the embargo, extend trade credits and remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list is about on par with the rest of his foreign policy.

It was done by executive order without consulting Congress, just like last month’s decision to temporarily legalize 5 million illegal immigrants.

It was justified by a claim the U.S. embargo was “not working,” comparable to Obama’s claim the U.S. immigration system is “broken.” In reality, the problem in both cases is that of a halfhearted willingness to enforce the law, rendering it full of holes.

As for the hostage swap in the bargain, that of U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor Alan Gross and another U.S. agent for three professional Cuban intelligence officers linked to the murder of U.S. citizens in the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shootdown, it was a deal that gave far more than it got, just like the hostage swap with the Taliban of U.S. army deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five terrorists.

[…]One is the strange timing of the announcement, coming just as Venezuela and other nations ruled by petrotyrants are on the verge of collapse.

Venezuela has played sugar daddy to Cuba for years, shipping 100,000 barrels of free oil to the communist state. It can no longer afford to. Rather than use that as leverage, Obama rescued Cuba despite its repressive human rights record. That’s one odd bailout.

And the bailout won’t be free for U.S. taxpayers.

Obama administration officials have said they are moving swiftly to extend trade credits to Cuba so the $483 million in American goods Cuba now pays for in cash can expand further, thanks to taxpayer-supported U.S. ExImBank trade credits.

In effect, we’ve handed the odious Castro brothers Uncle Sam’s credit card. Given that the Castroites have defaulted on all of their trading partners since 1961, to the tune of at least $70 billion, it’s assumed the Castros, having no sustainable economic model, will eventually default on us too.

Washington Post:

IN RECENT months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker. The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime’s refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms. Worse, the acceleratingeconomic collapse of Venezuela meant that the huge subsidies that have kept the Castros afloat for the past decade were in peril. A growing number of Cubans were demanding basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly.

On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regimeeverything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.

[…]No wonder Yoani Sánchez, Cuba’s leading dissident blogger, concluded Wednesday that “Castroism has won” and predicted that for weeks Cubans will have to endure proclamations by the government that it is the “winner of its ultimate battle.”

[…]Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.

We lost our diplomatic leverage by propping up a communist regime.

But maybe communism is working well for the middle class and the poor in Cuba? Is it?

City Journal:

Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now. Fidel Castro, Argentine guerrilla Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement forced Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959 and replaced his standard-issue authoritarian regime with a Communist one. The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.”

[…]Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.) Sure, Cubans get “free” health care and education, but as Cuban exile and Yale historian Carlos Eire says, “All slave owners need to keep their slaves healthy and ensure that they have the skills to perform their tasks.”

[…]The police expend extraordinary manpower ensuring that everyone required to live miserably at the bottom actually does live miserably at the bottom. Dissident blogger and author Yoani Sánchez describes the harassment sarcastically in her book Havana Real: “Buses are stopped in the middle of the street and bags inspected to see if we are carrying some cheese, a lobster, or some dangerous shrimp hidden among our personal belongings.” Perhaps the saddest symptom of Cuba’s state-enforced poverty is the prostitution epidemic—a problem the government officially denies and even forbids foreign journalists based in Havana to mention. Some Cuban prostitutes are professionals, but many are average women—wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers—who solicit johns once or twice a year for a little extra money to make ends meet.

[…]Citizens who take public transportation to work—which includes almost everyone, since Cuba hardly has any cars—must wait in lines for up to two hours each way to get on a bus. And commuters must pay for their ride out of their $20 a month. At least commuter buses are cheap. By contrast, a one-way ticket to the other side of the island costs several months’ pay; a round-trip costs almost an annual salary.

[…]As for the free health care, patients have to bring their own medicine, their own bedsheets, and even their own iodine to the hospital. Most of these items are available only on the illegal black market, moreover, and must be paid for in hard currency—and sometimes they’re not available at all. Cuba has sent so many doctors abroad—especially to Venezuela, in exchange for oil—that the island is now facing a personnel shortage.

[…][A]lmost everyone in Havana lives in a Detroit-style wreck, with caved-in roofs, peeling paint, and doors hanging on their hinges at odd angles.

[…]Even things as simple as cooking oil and soap are black-market goods. Individuals who, by some illegal means or another, manage to acquire such desirables will stand on street corners and whisper “cooking oil” or “sugar” to passersby, and then sell the product on the sly out of their living room. If they’re caught, both sellers and buyers will be arrested, of course, but the authorities can’t put the entire country in jail. “Everyone cheats,” says Eire. “One must in order to survive.

When Barack Obama uses American taxpayer money to prop up communism, he keeps this system going. The only solution is for the people to revolt against communism, but when he hands money to the government, they buy more guns and keep the people down in poverty and squalor while the rich communist elites rule over them. It’s evil.

Meanwhile, North Korea is able to attack our private industry without even a peep from cowardly Obama and his retreat from Iraq now allows Islamic State terrorists to execute 150 captured women, many of them pregnant, who refused to become “wives” to the terrorists. Any husbands they had would have been shot right in front of them. There is only one way to do something about these problems in the world and that’s with a strong U.S. military, strong sanctions and tough negotiations. Obama has failed these victims in every way because of his approval of the evildoers and his rejection of our democratic allies. We need to have more confidence in the goodness of American power and the American way of life.

If you want to annoy the left, then raise your children to be like Texas senator Ted Cruz

Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz
Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz

Here’s a profile in National Review of my one of my favorite senators.

Excerpt:

The party’s highest-profile Texans, George W. Bush and Rick Perry, tended to match inarticulateness with cowboy swagger and lend themselves to mockery as intellectual lightweights. Bush went to Yale and Harvard Business School, yet no one naturally thinks of him as an Ivy Leaguer. The two Lone Star State governors played into the Left’s stereotypes so nicely that if they didn’t exist, the New York Times editorial board would have had to invent them.

Cruz is different — a Princeton and Harvard man who not only matriculated at those fine institutions but excelled at them. Champion debater at Princeton. Magna cum laude graduate at Harvard. Supreme Court clerkship, on the way to Texas solicitor general and dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cruz is from the intellectual elite, but not of it, a tea-party conservative whose politics are considered gauche at best at the storied universities where he studied. He is, to borrow the words of the 2008 H.W. Brands biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a traitor to his class.

Democrats and liberal pundits would surely dislike Cruz no matter where he went to school, but his pedigree adds an element of shocked disbelief to the disdain. “Princeton and Harvard should be disgraced,” former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell exclaimed on MSNBC, as if graduating a constitutionalist conservative who rises to national prominence is a violation of the schools’ mission statements.

[…]In a Washington Post column a year ago, Dana Milbank noted Cruz’s schooling and concluded that his tea-party politics must be a put-on, that he is, underneath it all, an “intellectually curious, liberal-arts conservative.” Note the insulting assumption that an interest in books and ideas immunizes someone from a certain kind of conservative politics.

One of the Left’s deepest prejudices is that its opponents are stupid, and Cruz tramples on it. At hearings, Cruz has the prosecutorial instincts of a . . . Harvard-trained lawyer. Watching Attorney General Eric Holder try to fend off Cruz’s questioning on the administration’s drone policy a few months ago was like seeing a mouse cornered by a very large cat.

Cruz hasn’t played by the Senate rules that freshmen should initially be seen and not heard. In fact, he joined the upper chamber with all the subtlety of a SWAT team knocking down a drug suspect’s front door.

For people who care about such things — almost all of them are senators — this is an unforgivable offense. At another hearing, as Cruz says that the highest commitment of senators should be to the Constitution, another senator can be heard muttering that he doesn’t like being lectured. Chairman Pat Leahy (probably the mutterer) eventually cuts him off and informs him he hasn’t been in the Senate very long.

Cruz lacks all defensiveness about his positions, another source of annoyance to his opponents, who are used to donning the mantle of both intellectual and moral superiority.

And here’s a quick review of where Ted Cruz came from:

Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, invigorated the crowd during tonight’s FreedomWorks Free the People event.

Describing his own personal journey escaping Cuba and working hard to build a life for himself in the U.S., the elder Cruz noted comparisons that he believes exist between Fidel Castro’s governance and President Barack Obama’s executive actions.

Upon rising to power, he said that Castro, like Obama, spoke about hope and change. While the message sounded good at the time, it didn’t take long for socialism to take root in his home country. And he paid the price.

For his part in the revolution — one that many originally assumed would yield a more vibrant country — Cruz was punished while in Cuba.

“I was in prison,” he said. “I was tortured, but by the grace of God I was able to leave Cuba on a student VISA and came to the greatest country on the face of the earth.”

Cruz described his efforts working as a dishwasher in America and paying his own way through the University of Texas. From there, he built a life for himself — one that was filled with experiences that caused him to greatly appreciate the country that had given him so much.

His plight in Cuba colored his American experience

“You can’t understand a loss of rights unless you’ve experienced it,” Cruz told TheBlaze following the speech.

His unique perspective leaves Cruz with the ability, he argues, to see the troubling signs surrounding socialism. Young people in America today, he told TheBlaze, take for granted the rights and privileges that the U.S. has afforded them.

Fascinating.

Now people always complain when I say that I am trying to find a wife with the background, education, experience and temperment to raise effective, influential children. I have a whole list of influential people I want to clone, in fact. I want a William Lane Craig, a Wayne Grudem, a Michael Licona, a Guillermo Gonzales, an Ann Gauger, a Jennifer Roback Morse, a Scott Klusendorf, a Mark Regnerus, and… a Ted Cruz. And I’ve saved the money to be able to get at least a few of those, too. The truth is that I had some of the experiences that Cruz’s father had, and if he can make a Ted Cruz, then so should I be able to. They have to come from somewhere!

Now of course it’s hard to guarantee outcomes when it comes to raising children, but there are some things you can prepare for. You can study things you hate that are hard, and save your money for Ph.D tuition. You can go to grad school yourself and publish research. You can look for a wife who shows the ability to nurture people so that they get better and rise higher. And maybe, you might just raise the next Ted Cruz. I think the old adage “if you aim at nothing, then you will surely hit it” is a good saying for marriage. If you are going to put hundreds of thousands of dollars and decades of your life into a marriage, then you should aim at something. You might hit it. You’re not just there to make another person feel good – you’re there to make the marriage serve God. Raising influential, effective children is one way of doing that. But it doesn’t happen by accident. And it isn’t necessarily going to be “fun”.

Marco Rubio’s speech exposing the horrors of socialism in Cuba and Venezuela

Here’s an article from the Miami Herald about a recent 15-minute speech by Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

Excerpt:

The U.S. senator from Florida had listened patiently to Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa speak favorably about his recent trip to Cuba, all the while omitting any real references to the oppression of the totalitarian government there.

To Rubio, like many Cuban exiles and their descendants, it was too much to bear.

“Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at,” Rubio said Monday when he took to the Senate floor. “What they are really good at is repression … They have exported repression in real time, in our hemisphere, right now.”

[…]For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.

That’s what the speech was about.

Here are some of the details from the speech:

As an aide flipped through over-sized photos of Venezuelan protests, Rubio ticked off the struggles of living in the country, the horrors of its citizens dying and being jailed at the hands of its government.

“This gentleman here is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. His name is Leopoldo Lopez,” Rubio said. “And this is the National Guard of Venezuela pulling him into an armored truck last week. You know why? Because he’s protesting against the government.”

Then came the next photograph, a picture of a young woman being driven off on a motorcycle.

“This is Genesis Carmona,” Rubio said. “They shot her in the head. She died last week.”

Rubio continued: “Let me show you the next slide. Here’s a demonstrator detained by police. Look how they drag him through the streets. This is in Caracas, Venezuela.”

Rubio also took issue with a recent survey, cited by Harkin, that indicated a thaw in American and Floridian perceptions of relations with Cuba.

“He cited a poll, ‘More Americans want normal relations with Cuba.’ So do I — a democratic and free Cuba,” Rubio said.

“But you want us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a serial violator of human rights, who supports what’s going on in Venezuela and every other atrocity on the planet? On issue after issue, they are always on the side of the tyrants. Look it up,” Rubio said. “And this is who we should be opening up to? Why don’t they change? Why doesn’t the Cuban government change? Why doesn’t the Venezuelan government change?”

Rubio said that, just as the United States has sanctions against North Korea and Syria — allies of Cuba — it should keep pressuring the governments in Havana and Caracas.

And he disagreed with the notion that the embargo hurts the Cuban people. Instead, he said, it’s the totalitarian-socialist government that’s to blame for problems in Cuba — As well as in “oil-rich” Venezuela.

“We don’t have an embargo against Venezuela,” he said. “They have a shortage of toilet paper and tooth paste. Why? Because they are incompetent. Because communism doesn’t work. They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.”

Rubio repeated that last line elsewhere in his speech:

“They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day. What’s the first thing the Venezuelan government did when these broke out? They shut off access to Twitter and Facebook and the Internet. They ran CNN out of there. They closed down the only Colombian station. Years before, they had closed down all the independent media outlets that criticized the government.

“Where did they learn that from? From Cuba. And yet we have to listen to what a paradise Cuba is.”

I am not a fan of Marco Rubio anymore as a candidate for VP or President, nor am I a fan of Paul Ryan. Both have made mistakes that rule them out as conservatives. However, this speech should be seen by all, especially by Americans who do not appreciate how different like is in countries that are further along the socialist road to serfdom. But we’re getting there.