In response to Laura Wayne's May 24 article on U.S.-Cuban relations, Mr. Tony Urbizu of Palm Bay, Florida, expressed that Cuba's healthcare and education systems do not compensate for the lack of personal freedoms on the island:
You may try to hide under the umbrella of free information, but your report is totally bias to the left. Your assumption that Cuba is a paradise because of healthcare and education is incorrect. You failed to mention that Castro has ruled Cuba with an Iron fist, he has robbed property from Cubans, the repression is impossible to tolerate. In addition, there is no civil freedom or human rights. For 40 some years, Cuba is under a ration card dictated by the government. The work force is controlled by a big union called the Government. If you decide to peacefully demonstrate and criticize the government, you are thrown in jail for several years by a kangaroo court. The lack of freedom and repression and basic human rights outweighs the other. If this was such a great paradise, why are there over 2 million Cubans in America and spread all over the world? If the healthcare was so great, why Castro asked for Spanish doctor to come to his rescue, and he didn’t use the local Cuban doctor? Do you think that we left because it was such a paradise? We were robbed of property, freedom, basic human rights, and the right to vote in a free society. In addition, the lack of ambition to be the best in this world. This does not outweigh the meager healthcare and free education that you so vehemently proclaim. Please do not insult my character with your left bias reports. This doesn’t make any sense.
Let me clarify that I have in no way meant to portray Cuba as a paradise. In fact, if you would take the time to read my article in its entirety, you will see that I pay considerable attention to the hardships of life in Cuba. My point is that many of these difficulties are the direct result of an unproductive U.S. policy. There is no denying, for instance, that the trade embargo has made the acquisition of medical supplies considerably more difficult for Cuba, which might explain why Castro turned to a Spanish doctor when on the brink of death.
As for demonstrations, perhaps you should recall the hundreds of thousands of Cubans that took to the streets last November to celebrate Castro’s 80th birthday. As they marched through the streets, it was anti-Bush placards that they proudly paraded.
I disagree that Cubans were robbed of freedom, basic human rights and the right to vote etc. – under Batista, Cuba was a country of extraordinary inequalities. What indignant exiles were robbed of was a privileged way of life that was earned on the backs of the poor.
Let’s face it, the exile group in Miami has never been known for its deep concern for human rights in any other part of the world. Why have they not rallied behind the five Cubans being unjustly detained in U.S. prisons? China, which was under communist rule and is reputed for its far worse record of human rights violations, is now our second largest trading partner, soon to the first. Selective indignation in Washington demonstrates that there is much more to the picture where Cuba is involved than concern for human rights. The ugly secret is that for the White House, Cuba is not a foreign policy but a domestic one, which the exile community has long held hostage with its voting power and campaign donations.
The embargo has done nothing to alter the political system in Cuba but it continues to make life difficult for Cubans left behind on the island. As I mentioned in my article, the United Nations has called for an end to the embargo for the past 15 years. In its most recent vote, the U.S. had the support of only three other countries, all of whom are heavily dependant on U.S. economic assistance. The fact is that as we approach the end of the Castro regime, Cuba has never been more politically accepted by the rest of the world or economically stronger. The U.S. government denies the use of diplomacy to produce the goals it seeks – does it not strike you as problematic that we attempt to achieve democracy through completely undemocratic and unconstitutional means?
I am not hiding under the umbrella of free information – I am sharing my observations after having spent a considerable amount of time living with a Cuban family and studying at the University of Havana last fall. I believe that you and I share a common desire, which is to see the betterment of life on the island. Where we differ, perhaps, is in our strategies, but I hope we can both agree that increasingly draconian policies are not the answer.