OxBlog

Monday, November 06, 2006

# Posted 8:41 AM by Patrick Porter  

FIDELISM ON THE FLY: London's mayor Ken Livingstone dropped into Cuba recently to praise the revolution, without qualification, as one of the high points of the twentieth century:

Cubans created the best education and health care system anywhere in the Third World and they've done that in the face of an incredible blockade - quite an illegal blockade - by America.

Cuba's education system is indeed impressive. Literacy rates are so high that everyone can read the restricted literature approved by the one-party state.

Of course, you need to be careful when using your literacy skills, or this might happen to you.

And its health system is indeed admirable, but I would expect a decent standard of public healthcare too if I lived in a prison:

Cubans are well educated, but they cannot speak their minds. Castro does not allow other political parties, rallies or free elections. Those who voice opinions he does not agree with are driven from the country or thrown into jail.

According to Human Rights Watch, Castro’s regime “denies its citizens basic rights to free expression, association, assembly, movement and a fair trial” and imposes its will through “surveillance, detentions, house arrests, travel restrictions, criminal prosecutions and politically motivated dismissals from employment”. Amnesty International says that there are up to 70 political prisoners in Cuba; Human Rights Watch puts that figure at more than 300.

Castro bars Cubans from leaving the country without government approval. Those caught trying to escape are punished with hefty fines or thrown in jail. Cubans are not allowed to read, listen to or view foreign media. Only state-controlled television or newspapers, extolling the virtues of the Cuban leader, are permitted.

Way to go, Ken.
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Comments:
Is the health system all that good anyway? I don't know, but I can recall paens to the Soviet health care system--with the occasional "despite all the other oppressiveness at least they do that..."--and it turned out that their system was downright dangerous.

I'd want to see some objective evidence because the track record of totalitarian regimes in this area isn't nearly what it's often cracked up to be.
 
The most fundamental test of any regime is, which way do the border guards face?
 
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