Bernie Sanders made headlines by praising Cuba’s literacy program during the 2020 presidential primaries. He’s also on record praising Cuba’s public transportation system and healthcare system, saying that they deserve praise for the good that they’ve done. Here is the truth about life in Cuba under the Castro regime, along with some fantastic memes to help drive the point home that socialism never works, even if some idiot praises a tiny party that is moderately successful.
Poverty Is Rampant
The average Cuban lives on less than $15 US dollars a month. Don’t be fooled by Instagram pictures of picturesque buildings and back drops. These are mainly taken in the parts of the country where tourists are allowed and that the government has spent millions of dollars fixing and upgrading.
Models and Tourists Don’t Share the Ugly Parts
We found these pictures while looking at Cuba. Look at the first three pictures: A lovely woman in a lovely dress with a perfect backdrop. However, we found the uncropped version of the third picture below.
This picture is perfect: only the model is in focus with an old, but clean street behind her. However, a simple internet search found the same picture below. Note how in the original the unsightly laundry hanging out of someone’s balcony is cropped out to give a more pleasant impression.
This picture was posted displaying a young, attractive couple enjoying a beautiful day out on the ocean. There is no mention about how the people helping them are being oppressed by the government, practically starving because of the socialist government practices.
Government mandated demonstrations, protests, and celebrations
There’s lots of portrayals of Cuban parties and celebrations, always marked as joyous and happy. Cuba is a beautiful land with gorgeous beaches and they put this front and center. The people are portrayed as in good spirits and welcoming.
However, these events are government mandated. Some citizens are required to show up to these celebrations and give prepared speeches to fuel the government’s propaganda efforts.
When Fidel Castro died, for example, the country was placed on a nine day mourning period where everyone in public was required to be dressed in black and act somber. No parties were allowed for any reason, no alcohol or cigars were sold, no music was played in public to give the appearance of the nation mourning a great leader.
This was in stark contrast to the Cuban expats in Miami who celebrated the death of one of the world’s most prolific murderers and tyrants
Capitalism is the Cure for Socialism
Much like China has begun to do, Cuba is slowly implementing capitalist practices, but only for the select few. After Fidel Castro’s death, power transferred to his brother Raul. Although he’s every bit as evil as his older brother, Raul knew that he would have to bend on a few of Fidel’s hard line rules. Tourism opened up, hotels were cleaned up, and a few homes owned by the Cuban elite were allowed to become Air BnB hosts. All of the photographs and advertisements you’ll see for Cuba are taken in the “cleaned up” sections of Havana. The real Cuba is run down, unpainted, the people are starving and put on government rationed food.
Food is rationed
The idea is great: Provide the rations that everyone needs at an extremely low rate. It was exactly what the government promised, until the government ran out of supplies.
Castro came into power promising everyone that the government would provide everyone free healthcare that was previously only available to the rich.
The reality is that while they do have doctors, they don’t have medicine. They pride themselves on their “preventive medicine” approach to healthcare, but the reality is that they simply don’t have medicine. It’s easy to brag about having a low amount of smokers when cigarettes aren’t available.
Reports from Cuba are hard to come by because the government punishes those who protest, even through Facebook or email, but the stories that do come out are frightening. Hospitalized? You better bring your own sheets and pillows. Prescribed a special diet? Well, you won’t be getting any of it unless it’s on the government ration card.
The Only Thing That’s Plentiful is Shortages
Food is the biggest thing that people discuss but the reality is that everything is in short supply: clothing, fuel, water, cleaning supplies, and more. Running water is only available for 1-2 hours a day in many places, for example The reason that the buildings are in disrepair isn’t that it’s charming and makes for interesting photography, it’s that they don’t have the materials to repair them.
The Black Market Reigns Supreme
Because of the scarcity of items, the black market is alive and well in Cuba. People need to survive so they use their relationships or power in the government to purchase scarce items and then trade them for other items. Bartering is common, such as trading a can of tuna for a motor for a house fan.
Everyone Who Wants A Job Has A Job
Whileveryone in Cuba has a right to federal employment, whether there’s anything to do is another matter. All citizens are paid a set amount for whatever job they’re doing, with some jobs getting paid more than others. They’re all roughly equal, except for higher ranking government officials. However, keep in mind that by equal, we mean equally poor. The doctors are eating the same scoop of rice for dinner as the janitors.
Shortages Are Masked As Being For the Public Good or Caused by the Evil Americans
This is universal and central to their propaganda machine. Beef is unhealthy when it’s out of stock. Homemade toys are superior to commercial ones because they build imagination and ingenuity.
Coffee has become more expensive world wide thanks to gourmet companies like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean and the Cuban government decided to cash in on this by exporting their coffee at a higher price, meaning shortages for the people.
Rather than admit this to the people, they simply masked it as a healthcare initiative. Coffee on the island is cut with dried and powdered peas or garbanzo beans under the guise of being healthier and infused with vitamins. Tourists aren’t affected, though, and can get some of the famous Cuban espresso at their hotels and restaurants.
The Secret Police is Everywhere
Despite the changes made after Fidel Castro’s death, the totalitarian government is still alive and well with a robust secret police to keep it’s citizens in line. School children are tricked into ratting out anti-Cuban speech. Neighbors are rewarded with extra food or supplies in exchange for information on each other. People are commonly arrested in the middle of the night or simply disappear with no explanation given, and their families scared to ask for fear of them too being arrested.