Pros and cons of communism in Cuba

LAST UPDATED AT 02:00 ON Thu 7 Aug 2008

ARGUMENTS FOR:

  • Universal literacy and a good education for all with one teacher for every 10 Cuban students, compared with one per 15 in the United States.
  • Excellent free healthcare system which attracts patients from the US and elsewhere for treatments ranging from drug dependency to melanomas, generating more than $40m in revenue. Infant mortality is lower than America's and Cuba has twice as many doctors per 1,000 patients as the US.
  • There is very little serious crime.
  • A rich sporting life in schools with promising children given the chance to become well-rewarded professional athletes and emulate the efforts of their world-renowned Olympic medal-winners and sporting stars.
  • There are few neon signs and advertising billboards, no McDonalds and no foreign newspapers or satellite TV except in the grander hotels.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST:

  • Grinding poverty where half the population survive on less than $1 a day. Good gardeners in Miami can make $20 an hour.
  • A pitiful transport system. Perfectly adequate roads served by a completely inadequate public transport which leaves the verges lined with desperate hitchhikers spending hours to accomplish quite short and simple journeys.
  • Repressive regime which has at least 400 political dissidents imprisoned for up to 20 years. Homosexuals are severely harassed. Restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly and movement.
  • Being obliged to listen to the Great Leader's notoriously interminable speeches. Castro holds the UN record for the longest speech in the General Assembly - 4hrs 29min - though people at home were surprised at his brevity. His last domestic speech was a mere 150min long, prompting rumours that he must be ill.

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