Since January 1, 1959, when Fidel Castro walked into Havana with his
“revolutionary gestures” and seized power, the illegitimate government
of Cuba has not tired of lying and creating myths. The great media
campaign of Cuban “socialism” has focused on swaying international
public opinion. Regardless, Cubans of the island and the ones who
managed to flee know better than anyone the reality that is life in the
Castro brothers’ hell.

The biggest lie began with Castro’s promise of democratic elections in
1959. It was one of the main reasons why the majority of Cubans, tired
of the atrocities of dictator Fulgencio Batista (1955–1959), supported
the revolution.

Three months passed — March, April, May — and Castro said not a word
about releasing power. Instead, he began his atrocities against the
opposition and the Cuban people, all led by him and his henchman Ernesto
Guevara. At that time, many Cubans understood that they had been fooled
once again by a vile politician.

It is not worth one’s effort to enumerate the achievements of 55 years
of the Castro regime; their socialism, as a matter of fact, has achieved
nothing but misery for the Cuban people. Let us instead open our eyes
and acknowledge the so-called Cuban achievements as a smokescreen of
brazen lies — from the famous “blockade” to “social equality,” all of
them lies.

Once lodged in power, Castro lessened his rhetoric against Batista.
Little by little, he introduced the “anti-imperialist character” of the
revolution and the Cuban political system. Eventually, however, the new
regime was a satellite of the Soviet Union — the greatest imperialist of
the 20th century — and with all the consequences.

But even using the term “revolution” for the rebels’ guerrilla strategy between 1953 and 1959 is pure rhetoric, glossing over what was in reality a coup, as crude and bloody as any guerrilla movement elsewhere in Latin America.

In reality — and the Castros know this better than anyone — there was not a genuine revolution in Cuba in 1959. The “revolutionary” movement that included, among others, the international criminal Ernesto Guevara (who, by the way, left the island with his tail between his legs) did not enjoy the support of the people.

Nor, as we know now, was it a noble endeavor aiming to foster social justice.

The regime’s confrontation with the United States, an enemy presented as
ardent, fierce, and only 90 miles away, has been ideal for Castro and
his younger brother Raúl. As is widely understood, the starting point
for manipulation in politics is the common threat of an enemy. If there
isn’t one, it must be invented. From that flows the famous saying, “the
people united will never be defeated.”

And so began the expropriation of properties from US citizens and Cuban
businessmen — under the enduring and monstrous cry of “the oppressors
exploit the workers.” Castro’s exploitation subsequently exceeded that
of Batista, whom he fought so furiously.

The regime conducted expropriations under the promise of fair-price
compensation for the businessmen, but not a penny has been paid. Let us
tell it like it is: Castro and his allies stole private properties. And
the thief deserved to be punished with the embargo the United States
imposed on Cuba in 1962.

Cubans were led to believe that their neighbors envied socialism so much
they imposed the embargo — as though the constant reiteration of a crude
lie makes it true. As the regime has blamed the “blockade” for the
economic disaster, one must remember that the Castros have been able to
trade freely with the rest of the world, including neighbors on the
continent such as Canada.

Nevertheless, with the embargo in place, the Castros have maintained the
Cubans as a flock, whose shepherds are decrepit imposters. The same goes
for the economy — or what is left of it — like a business run for
themselves. The main ploy of the authoritarian regime has been to
survive at the expense of others, especially of capitalism. Any pretense
of socialist self-sufficiency has fallen by the wayside.

Keep in mind that Cuba’s empty socialist economy has always leaned on
other people. The Soviet Union, for example, sold everything Cuba needed
below the cost of production. Meanwhile, they bought sugar from Cuba —
sometimes even when they did not need it — at prices several times
higher than the international market.

During the 1990s, when the Soviet Union disintegrated under its own
weight, Cubans suffered. With “solidarity” providing no new industries
nor agricultural development, starvation could have spelled the end for
the Castros. However, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (1999–2013)
stepped in and was their salvation.

From one dictator and violator of human rights, Fulgencio Batista, Cuba fell into the hands of another. The changeover took place under the same lie as the Russian “proletarian” revolution, which Lenin and his Bolshevik henchmen exploited for their own ends. In reality, the events in St. Petersburg in 1917 and all that followed after were a bourgeois revolution, and Russia’s proletariat might as well not have existed.

Fidel Castro followed the same socially destructive and politically isolating strategies as the USSR. His first action when in power in Cuba, in true socialist style, was to create the infamous Defense Committees of the Revolution: strongholds of spies in every neighborhood at the service of the regime. Their task was to defend those in power from their very own subjects. So much for the so-called freedom island!

Readers should bear in mind that Cuba before communism was not an underdeveloped country, as Castro sympathizers routinely assert. Data from the United Nations, UNESCO, and other international organizations leave no doubt in this respect: Cuba had never experienced extreme poverty. It was one of the world’s most literate nations, with more and better doctors than most European nations, and Havana University back then was a world-class research center.

One should also mention the technology of the time: railways, aviation, radio, telephones, and television arrived in Cuba soon after they reached the United States, and several years before the rest of the Latin-American continent.

The Castroist banner of socialist education for Cuba has turned into indoctrination of the most vulgar kind. At this moment, several generations of Cubans — and foreigners — believe that before the “revolution” nothing existed in Cuba, “only darkness.” (I quote a Cuban Castroist professor who works in a Mexican University, but who doesn’t feel compelled to return to his “socialist paradise.”)

With regards to Cuban educational standards and their famous “literacy campaign,” we mustn’t forget that all these indexes and studies are sent to international organizations based on data collected by the Cuban government itself. Cuba is one of the few countries in the world — but among good company with other totalitarian regimes — that doesn’t permit international assessors to carry out research within its own territory.

The most striking and grotesque case is that of children’s rights. The regime claims to safeguard the well-being of minors, but the reality is totally different. Those who go to Cuba are inevitably shocked by the teens and children working on the streets of Havana, Santiago, Pinar del Río, and many other locations.

While traveling the rural roads of the island — potholed parodies of modern highways — visitors are treated to the sight of children and young adolescents hard at work in the fields, harvesting sugar, cultivating pineapples, and engaged in other agricultural tasks. Let alone the notorious levels of child prostitution in Havana, attested to by the US State Department, which attract perverts from the world over.

Defenders of Castro’s Cuba also ignore the fact that mandatory “labor education” for students effectively constitutes child slavery. Children are forced to take time out of their studies to work in the countryside, or for state-owned enterprises, without pay.

Nor does the law only content itself with failing to actively protect minors: from the age of 16, teens can legally be prosecuted like adults.

Successive calls by international bodies — ranging from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to the Organization of American States (OAS) — for the Cuban government to raise the age of legal majority to 18 have only fallen on deaf ears.

The field of medicine is another key area in which the illegitimate government of the Castro brothers has deceived the world. Progressives worldwide praise to the heavens the “achievements” of Cuban medicine, the “quality” of its doctors and the “disinterested aid” that the Cuba gives underdeveloped countries though sending specialists to combat illnesses. But these three claims are as false and deceitful as any propaganda that comes out of Havana’s Palace of the Revolution.

From January 1, 1959, the greater part of Cuban intellectuals — among them Cuba’s doctors — began to realize that the “Revolution” was fast becoming just another dictatorship, even crueller than that which preceded it, and they began to emigrate in droves. Many of the island’s medical practitioners, then famed for its excellent sanitation and levels of medical care, felt forced to leave in search of a more dignified life.

This resulted in a health crisis due to the severe shortage of doctors. The government found no better solution than to implement a plan of accelerated training for doctors. What resulted was the famous Baeza Plan: thousands of doctors graduated within four years, the same time that it takes in other countries to become a qualified nurse.

After numerous educational reforms carried out in the course of 55 years of dictatorship, training to be a doctor now requires between five and six years, while the rest of the world demands seven to eight years. From the very first year of their course, future doctors attend to patients and even operate on the sick.

All the training focuses on the practical side, with almost no theoretical preparation, which is vital for a doctor. This is the reason why even countries allied to the Castro regime such as Brazil or Bolivia don’t recognize the medical qualifications issued by Cuban universities. Upon renewing their licenses, most Cuban medical graduates tend to fail their exams.

Despite all this, Cuba and its Latin-American School of Medicine (ELAM) have become a major center for students from abroad, deceived with generous funding allowances, to come and study medicine. Neither the warnings that their qualifications won’t be recognized, nor the disastrous experiences they go through in the factory-line of training, seem to diminish the flow of new recruits from abroad.

As ELAM students like to joke: en casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo: “In the house of the blacksmith, wooden knives.” The expression, even if it loses something in translation, refers to the practically non-existent medical facilities available to ordinary Cubans: empty pharmacies, dilapidated and filthy hospitals, and the complete failure of the “family doctor” plan once lauded by the government.

Any foreigner who comes to Cuba interested in its “successful health system” is shown various luxury hospitals with up-to-date technology. However, his or her guide will fail to mention that these clinics are a government business — they neither care for Cuban patients, nor do they provide anything for free. And strangely enough, they neglect to reveal that the majority of doctors that work in these hospitals are neither Cuban nationals, nor have they carried out their studies in the “medical paradise” that is Cuba.

The harsh reality usually contradicts the statistics of the United Nations, UNESCO and the World Health Organization (WHO). These institutions, on the basis of data given to them by the Cuban government itself, tend to place the island among the most developed countries when it comes to health. But the fact that these data aren’t gathered by international observers themselves is crucial for understanding that we’re dealing with manipulated, if not outright false, information.

In the streets of Havana, as in the rest of the country, you can truly appreciate the complete collapse of public health: children suffering from illnesses due to a poor and insufficient diet largely based on beans and rice, filthy streets and poor sanitation, among other problems.

But Cuba places such a premium on solidarity that it sends thousands of doctors to less well-off countries around the world, many might try to argue. It certainly sends medical staff in industrial quantities. This is partly an element of the Castro regime’s plan to manipulate the international media cover up for its worst qualities.

But the other side of the coin is much less picturesque than the idea of Cuban solidarity with their poorer comrades around the world. Cuban doctors abroad are little more than cash cows to the regime, an unending source of income. The regime receives a monthly average of US$1,0000 to $2,0000 for every doctor it sends overseas. But the doctors themselves are paid $400 at best. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that it’s a lucrative business for the regime.

Perhaps, amid all the misery, we can snatch at something positive. In dodging the totalitarian prohibitions imposed by the government and in ingeniously scraping through life on the island, the Cuban people are survivors, and have learned a lot about creativity and entrepreneurship. We can be sure that, after the regime falls — which it looks increasingly likely to do — the Cuban people will adapt rapidly to freedom and forge a new prosperous life for themselves.

Originally published at PanamPost and translated by Laurie Blair

Libertarian. University professor. Columnist at (Colombia), radio show Liberpraxis host and producer (Guatemala). I write in Eng, Spa & Rus here