Responses to Fidel Batista!

National Post
February 3, 2003

Re: Lawrence Solomon’s article, “Fidel Batista!” published in the Jan. 25, 2003, issue of the National Post

Thank you, Lawrence Solomon, for confirming my suspicions that tales of pre-Revolution misery in Cuba were largely exaggerated.

On a recent visit to Havana, I couldn’t help but notice the physical evidence of a once-thriving middle-class. Mid-century suburbs filled with tract upon tract of modest suburban homes ring the city. Despite years of neglect and sloppy conversion into multi-family rooming houses, they wouldn’t look at all out of place in 1950s Don Mills or any other Canadian suburb. These reminders of the corruption of the Batista era are far more desirable places to live than the newer Soviet-inspired blocks that blight the urban landscape.

Raymond Girard, Montreal

I am shocked at the Financial Post’s insistence on discrediting Cuba.

The United States did not liberate Cuba from “oppressive Spanish occupation.” The Cubans were fighting and gaining their independence by themselves when the United States decided to intervene in order to replace the Spanish occupation with their own. Soon after the so-called liberation, the Platt Amendment was placed in the Cuban Constitution, in 1901, giving the United States the right to intervene for any reason and establishing a U.S. military base at Guantanamo. The United States militarily intervened in Cuba in 1906, 1912 and 1917. The military base is still in Cuban territory now.

Education is one of Cuba’s major success stories after 1959. The suggestion that student registration at primary schools now is lower is simply wrong. Cuba has a growing aging population, thanks to an extended life expectancy of over 75 years and a low birth rate (about 12 per 1,000 population). Therefore the overall proportion of school-age children has decreased over time. This is true in Canada as well. When the student registration is correctly measured relative to the total number of children of primary school age, the picture is totally reversed and Cuba fares an impressive 98% proportion of school registrations. The same applies for higher education.

Finally, Mr. Solomon refers to the fact that Americans cannot travel to Cuba “due to U.S. government regulations.” However, there is no reference in the article to more damaging U.S. government regulations such as the Torricelli law, the Helms-Burton law and the virtual blockade of Cuba for over 40 years that not only prevent Americans from trading with Cuba but try to force other countries not to trade with Cuba. I doubt Canada could survive such a situation with minimal human suffering.

Nino Pagliccia, Vancouver

Imagine that in 1960 the United States had imposed a crippling economic blockade on Canada, and then imagine a visitor to Canada in 2003 writing about the country’s current economic situation without mentioning this blockade or the fact that it violated international law and was regularly condemned by over 95% of UN members.

Well, such an economic blockade is the real, not hypothetical, situation with regard to Cuba and the United States. And Canada is one of the 95%+ of nations which regularly condemn the U.S. blockade. And yet these crucial facts about Cuba’s economy are never once mentioned in Mr. Solomon’s latest diatribe against Cuba.

On the political front, his analysis of current Cuban democracy in comparison to the Batista government it replaced is even more distorted. For example, he never explains how the Cuban government is now able to mobilize millions in support of its policies, whereas the only thing Batista could mobilize was the U.S.-subsidized Cuban army to violently put down protests and strikes and to terrorize the vast majority of the Cuban population.

Marvin Glass, co-chair, Canadian Network on Cuba

Having just read Cuba: ‘An Equitable Society in an Ocean of Inequality’? (Letters, Jan. 27), I am left with one conclusion: Cuba is a nation of healthy slaves.

Keith Read, Chilliwack, B.C.

Read the article ‘Fidel Batista!’

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