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Are radical reforms the beginning of the end of communism in Cuba?

10:12 UK time, Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Cuba has announced radical plans to lay off huge numbers of state employees, to help revive the communist country's struggling economy. Is capitalism winning in Cuba?

The Cuban labour federation said more than a million workers, or one in five Cubans, would eventually lose their jobs. Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises, on which some of the current restrictions will be eased.

President Raul Castro has said he the state's role in the economy has to be reduced. About 85% of the official workforce is employed by the state. Analysts say it is the biggest private sector shift since the 1959 revolution.

Are you in Cuba? What's the significance of the reforms? What effect will they have on the economy? Will they lead to political change?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Don't care.

  • Comment number 2.

    Holidayed in Cuba last year. The country is impovrished, never seen so many empty roads. The people were wonderful, very cheery and optimistic.

    One thing we did notice was the amount of 'private enterprise' going on. This was not the usual coruption you come across in 3rd world countries. The Cubans never miss an oportunity to make money or improve themselves. We found refuse collectors stopping on their collection rounds to do a spot of fishing. What looked like ex-military young men snorkel fishing.

    The Cubans know that change is coming. They are not afraid of the USA and do not believe that if the country is opened up they will be swamped by rich cubans from Florida wanting to buy up everything, (though I predict the Cuban world-class hospitals will be the first to be snapped up).

    There is almost no political indoctrination among the people. There are posters and murals everywhere but the revolution was a long time ago. The people are neither rabid socialist or capitalist. I predict that the energies of the people, currently used in trying to improve their lot will embrace the freedoms they will eventually get and the whole island will thrive.

    One thing I believe, (and hope) is that the USA does not invade the island with tourists who then go on about the 'dark days of Fidel' and how 'they' are going to improve the island. One thing I do know for certain, the Cubans do not want the american backed gangsters back.





  • Comment number 3.

    Fidel Castro helped Cuba to pick itself up by itelf up by it's boot straps, now it's time to move on and I wish Cuba & it's people well. The US could learn a lot from what Castro did but they are not so good at learning so I hope that they choose simply not to interfere.

  • Comment number 4.

    Cuba is NOT a Communist state so it will not be the end of Communism. Cuba is a Socialist State run by the Communist Party. Please read Marx and Engels, they rank with the Brothers Grimm as one of the best children’s fairy tale story tellers. In the end, if you read you history, all forms of society have been trialled in Ancient Greece. All failed except democracy as per the western model we have at present. Socialist states and socialism in general, ALWAYS fails and always will as it is against human nature. It is the Path of the Fool which only ends in supression (usually by force and mass murder) of the human spirit

  • Comment number 5.

    "
    3. At 10:53am on 14 Sep 2010, Syni_cal wrote:
    The US could learn a lot from what Castro
    "

    What like deporting to Florida of all those the leader deemed undesirable? Bad news for Mexico then.

  • Comment number 6.

    The role of the State is to provide a level playing field: the unacceptable face of Capitalism with its unchecked greed and the ineffiecency of a Communist economic system are equally bad. Both these evils need to be addressed.

  • Comment number 7.

    It took many decades for the Castro brothers to gather their senses. Socialism has failed to deliver as do American efforts at democratizing Cuba. The privatization galore in offing is a welcome move forward. What I wish for is that there should be capitalism to an extent. In fact, what Cuba requires as do most world countries is a benevolent dictator that is a rarity. Full democracies like India has its pitfalls in rampant bureaucracy and corruption although India is making rapid economic progress. According to an eminent economist, 30% of the Indians are utterly corrupt, 50% borderline corrupt and only 20% honest. Cuba should change and change for better avoiding the Indian malaise.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think the end has already begun for Cuba even before these cuts. I think the death of Castro will spur different political groups to fight for control.

    I'm not a supporter of Castro but we do have to acknowledge that some of his policies were of great benefit to Cuban society - for example their education standards are extremely high and the number of physicians they produce is incredible. They also have one of (it not the) lowest number of HIV infections due to better sex education programs than almost any other country.

    The Cuban people have suffered greatly under Castro so I really hope there is not further suffering imposed on the Cubans when there is the inevitable rush for power when Casto dies. I hope the US is able to resist from interfering. The Cubans themselves need to sort out their own future.

  • Comment number 9.

    Are radical reforms the beginning of the end of communism in Cuba?

    Countries are not what they have their people to say they are. By majority all Governments are Totalitarian Bureaucracies.

    Politics are the buffer of propaganda. Cuba is just doping the same. The psyche is being formed to satisfy the Id and capitalism is the propaganda that relieves the burdens of the state.

  • Comment number 10.

    Capitalism hasn't won - the system has continually failed (good health and education system apart). And this was a better and fairer communist system than most if all. Actually the sudden lay off and the tragedy that holds for 1 million blameless if probably mostly underemployed people reminds me of what might have happened if our Labour tooth fairies had remained in power one more term and ensured a perpetual rosy tinted socialism here too.

  • Comment number 11.

    Castro (either of them!) are not especially good men, their legal system is harsh, the regime repressive and their system of government isn't great. However compared to the Batista regime and most of the governments in central and south America, the middle east and Africa they're doing a pretty reasonable job and while poor the people at least have food and healthcare.

    What I've noticed so far in all these posts is a total failure to remember that there's another country with a large population, few natural resources and a totalitarian government thats doing rather nicely by encouraging private enterprise: China.

  • Comment number 12.

    2. At 10:31am on 14 Sep 2010, JohnH wrote:
    "One thing I believe, (and hope) is that the USA does not invade the island with tourists who then go on about the 'dark days of Fidel' and how 'they' are going to improve the island."

    Americans aren't allowed to travel to Cuba. Until the US lift the travel ban that won't change.

    However do you hope US tourists won't come to Cuba for the benefit of the Cubans or because you don't want your holiday destination crowded with other tourists? The Cuban people could certainly use the dollars and any American fool enough to sit in Cuba bad mouthing the Cubans is likely to have the chef spit in his dinner.

  • Comment number 13.

    Socialism has never been viable,the more rules and regulations you put on a person and then take away the rewards of hard work destroys a persons individuality and drive.Communism is recipe for failure always will be.

  • Comment number 14.

    Capitalism is winning in Cuba more by default than by merit.Just like the capitalism has lost more by default in US after the near nationalisation of auto giant GM by US govt. to save the auto industry from bankruptcy.With near empty treasury Cuba has no 'Communism' capital left to sustain cummunism any longer and provide jobs or create new ones.The next stage would be to open up trade with next door neighbor and invite capital from US and even EU.The only thing of interest is whether this will be before or after the 'final exit' of Castro from the political scene.

  • Comment number 15.

    8. At 11:20am on 14 Sep 2010, Icebloo wrote:

    The Cuban people have suffered greatly under Castro so I really hope there is not further suffering imposed on the Cubans when there is the inevitable rush for power when Casto dies. I hope the US is able to resist from interfering. The Cubans themselves need to sort out their own future.

    ###########################################################

    The main reason the Cuban people have suffered in the 50+years since Castro came to power is the attitude of the USA who are outraged that a blatently anti-american government can exist on their doorstop.

    Castro had to go cap-in-hand to Moscow when the USA made him their personal demon, (including trying to invade with CIA backed cuban exilies associated with the mafia). That the Soviets used Cuba to get back at the USA in the cold war is old history. You would think that the USA would try and talk to the Cubans and try to forgive and forget, but no.

    If a communist country, like Cuba disn't exist on their doorstep the USA would have had to invent one. Without an enemy the USA cannot ignore it's failures at home with 40% of americans in almost 3rd world poverty, (my boss recently went on holiday to LA, San Francisco and Las vegas and said he had never seen so many beggers, I went to Cuba last year and did not see a single begger).

    Cuba is not your usual corrupt communist country like Eastern Europe or the far east. There is little evidence of leaders with big houses and an expensive lifestyle.

    The reveloution is old history. The Cuban people are not indoctrinated, indeed they are very well educated (100% literacy - better than us!). The future really looks good for the country, just wait and see!






  • Comment number 16.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    The next thing you know, Cuba will be eating hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, and milk shakes. Will the world be able to tolerate such gustatory aggression from the North? We'll have to wait and see. Will a change of diet lead to political change?

  • Comment number 19.

    You can not really say Capitalism has won, Cuba is just reacting to the global crisis which has affected it as much as any other country. You can not exactly say that the USA or UK has done much better, as there are millions out of work in both countries.

  • Comment number 20.

    If we see from afar, the General Public of Cuba are mild, patriotic and bear a very gentle character of decent nature and always remained united against all odds faced by the Country under the leadership of Mr. Federal Castro who too bear a similar character. Now we further find that he is most open to discussion than remaining dogmatic about everything all the time ignoring the happening in the surrounding environment, carrying viewpoints which are not necessarily good to the common General Public of the Country and hence it is expected that we all should whole heartedly welcome him to join us irrespective of what position he is holding. From the latest various interviews of him, it is more than clear to us to know of, what character he is bearing with him at present which was however devoid of much of deep analysis within himself earlier, in-spite of staying very near to a Great Power.

    While we welcome his recent decision of not remaining as a backup force only to Public Sector Enterprises without allowing Private Enterprise to grow together as just and correct and expressing of greatness of him to fit Cuba appropriately within us, we appeal to all to help Cuba with all our might to overcome all its hurdles as faced by the General Public of Cuba alone over a very long period of time nonetheless the Globe is still turbulent financially. Since Cuba had never seen much of development, each and every Business we set-up there together with Cubans bound to produce a positive effect to both parties. Had the World is filled with such Leaders who are open to accept realities and have the courage to learn lessons from his or her past mistakes; this world would have been a much better place to live together.

    Accordingly wish the entire Noble General Public of Cuba to embrace change to overcome all their difficulties at the shortest possible time to set an example to others from all across the Globe to follow it to enjoy the beautify of living together where hatred is absent.


    (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm sure they are not quite up to our levels of capitalist wastefulness, stupidity and contradiction. Though I am sure they will get there, passing a nice sweet spot on the way.

  • Comment number 22.

    There has never been communism in Cuba. They have tried a form of socialism, managing the island like one huge enterprise of the Americas. But the country was poor and the management was not up to the task as Castro realised that. It was/is a honest society however, with real health care, free education, ambitious social network and much less greed than we get used to.

  • Comment number 23.

    One of few remaining bastions of communism is finally coming to it's senses. Only NK and China will remain resolutely devoted to worshipping their 'Dear Leaders' and the bankrupt philosophy that is communism.

  • Comment number 24.

    The end of communism was inevitable once the Cuban government relaxed its stance. Communism can only be maintained through enforced isolation and state oppression. I for one welcome the Cuban move towards a more economically liberal society.

  • Comment number 25.

    13. At 11:56am on 14 Sep 2010, crash wrote:
    Socialism has never been viable,the more rules and regulations you put on a person and then take away the rewards of hard work destroys a persons individuality and drive.Communism is recipe for failure always will be.

    Tell that to the Chinese.

    The problem with capitalism is that the 'free market' doesn't exist. Whether formally or informally prices are fixed, wages are fixed, working conditions are fixed. The enormously high cost of education in the US means that advancement is not equal. A poor man with George Bush's intelligence (and I don't think he's dumb... just average) would be doing well to earn $20,000 a year. With the family millions paying him through Yale and the family connections helping him in politics he's worth millions. At least in 'socialist' countries like Britain and France anyone can afford a world class university education.

  • Comment number 26.

    Cuba was fed resources by Russia for years and once it stopped it was the beginning on the end for Cuba's political leaders.Cuba has a great deal to offer a free market and if it has to go through pain to get there good luck to them.The future looks bright.

  • Comment number 27.

    23. At 12:39pm on 14 Sep 2010, Simon Morgan wrote:
    One of few remaining bastions of communism is finally coming to it's senses. Only NK and China will remain resolutely devoted to worshipping their 'Dear Leaders' and the bankrupt philosophy that is communism.



    You forget the republic of Moldova (which democratically elected a communist govt) Belarus, Laos, Venezuela (effectively) and Vietnam. 'Dear Leader' complex is just as prevalent in non-communist regimes and while its certainly true of North Korea it isn't true of China. Chinese philosophy may be bankrupt but their bank aren't!

  • Comment number 28.

    Is this the beginning of the end for communism in Cuba? Only the management of Castro Incorporated can answer that.

  • Comment number 29.

    23. At 12:39pm on 14 Sep 2010, Simon Morgan wrote:
    ///One of few remaining bastions of communism is finally coming to it's senses. Only NK and China will remain resolutely devoted to worshipping their 'Dear Leaders' and the bankrupt philosophy that is communism.///

    Well China abandoned any ideas of being a communist country years ago.....have you not seen what is happening in China? More capitalism and free enterprise there, than in any other country on earth! Calling Chinese 'resolutely devoted to their communist leaders' is pushing it a bit! Resolutely devoted to free market principles is more accurate!

  • Comment number 30.

    The left wing must be in mourning. Not only has Castro hinted that Communism isn't right for Cuba anymore, not only are they possibly going to lay off up to 1 million public sector jobs, not only have they rolled back some welfare policies (such as subsidising smoking for the elderly), not only are they slowly moving towards capitalism - but Castro also vigorously defended ISRAEL.

    Ahahah The left wing must be stunned. One of their idols starts to turn.
    Old age tends to make one reflect on their mistakes.

    Another nail in the coffin for the global left wing movement. Looks like that nutcase Chavez will have to be their new hero.

  • Comment number 31.

    Remarkable. In the last few months, Europe and even Castro's Cuba have turned away from unbridled socialism, the notion that governments grow and nurture economies and create wealth yet the United States under Obama embraces these decredited ideas with newfound passion. Perhaps Cuba's millions of layabout "public sector" employees will be allowed to come to the USA where they will find plenty to do as Obama spends us into the oblivion of debt and dependency.

  • Comment number 32.

    JohnH wrote:

    "The Cubans know that change is coming. They are not afraid of the USA and do not believe that if the country is opened up they will be swamped by rich cubans from Florida wanting to buy up everything, (though I predict the Cuban world-class hospitals will be the first to be snapped up)."

    Why should they be afraid of America? America doesn't persecute, imprison and murder its own people for merely expressing opinions like the Cuban government does.

    As for their "world-class hospitals" when was the last time you were in one?

    "There is almost no political indoctrination among the people. There are posters and murals everywhere but the revolution was a long time ago."

    Nonsense.

    "One thing I believe, (and hope) is that the USA does not invade the island with tourists who then go on about the 'dark days of Fidel' and how 'they' are going to improve the island."

    Oh I see, so you simply holiday in Cuba but American tourists would be invading? Interesting.

    And obviously trade with other countries throughout the world has not helped improve their way of life.

    "One thing I do know for certain, the Cubans do not want the american backed gangsters back."

    I thought you said "the revolution was a long time ago?"

    Cuba's troubles were primarily their own doing through their own corruption, their own infighting and ultimately culminating in the disaster of communism.

  • Comment number 33.

    ----------------------
    Socialism has never been viable,the more rules and regulations you put on a person and then take away the rewards of hard work destroys a persons individuality and drive.Communism is recipe for failure always will be.

    ----------------------

    Just as much as capitalism is a recipe for failure. There needs to be a healthy balance between the two.

    Mind you, the fact that Cuba has been so impoverished has more to do with the fact that the USA have refused to lift their crippling trade embargo since the 60s (for petty political reasons) rather than the political system

  • Comment number 34.

    -----------------------
    The left wing must be in mourning. Not only has Castro hinted that Communism isn't right for Cuba anymore, not only are they possibly going to lay off up to 1 million public sector jobs, not only have they rolled back some welfare policies (such as subsidising smoking for the elderly), not only are they slowly moving towards capitalism - but Castro also vigorously defended ISRAEL.

    Ahahah The left wing must be stunned. One of their idols starts to turn.
    Old age tends to make one reflect on their mistakes.

    Another nail in the coffin for the global left wing movement. Looks like that nutcase Chavez will have to be their new hero.
    ----------------------------

    i am sure the rightwingers around the world are beating themselves on the chest about crippling our economies at the cost of poor people for the benefit for the few greedy rich. You guys are SO MUCH better!

  • Comment number 35.

    Get facts straight first. UK-US economies are in a mess. UK-US education, healthcare & crime are in a mess. Cuban economy has suffered in recent years & is NOW in a mess

    BUT:- Cuba has educated its population & has some of best health care in the world.


    WORLD LITERACY TABLE 2009 (ie people who can read 6 write)

    — United Nations Development Programme
    Rank Country Literacy rate [b]
    1 Georgia 100.0
    2 Cuba 99.8
    2 Estonia 99.8
    2 Latvia 99.8
    5 Barbados 99.7 [j]
    5 Slovenia 99.7 [l]
    5 Belarus 99.7
    5 Lithuania 99.7
    5 Ukraine 99.7
    5 Armenia 99.7
    10 Kazakhstan 99.6
    10 Tajikistan 99.6
    12 Azerbaijan 99.5
    12 Turkmenistan 99.5
    12 Russia 99.5
    16 Hungary 99.4 [j]

    So CUBA has done a good job with EDUCATING IT`S Population

    UK & USA are languishing in 21st place = simmilar low value on education.

    re:HEALTH = Cuba attracts patients mostly from Latin America and Europe by offering care of comparable quality to a developed nation but at much lower prices. Cuba's own health indicators are the best in Latin America and surpass those of the US in some respects (infant mortality rates, underweight babies, HIV infection, immunisation rates, doctor per population rates

    Conclusion = Socialism may not be the best system but it is a better system than capitalism. Capitalism has never worked & when it fails big time, the poor are made to pay (By Poor = anyone who is not a millionaire).

  • Comment number 36.

    Havana dismisses government workers due to a lack of revenue. The country must vitalize to an economic level. The technological revolution is an answer. Cuba easily grows fruit, vegetables, coffee, sugar, spice, and tobacco. Computers facilitate simple international sales.

  • Comment number 37.

    I wouldn't mind betting that the White House is thinking of adding another State to it's collection sometime.

  • Comment number 38.

    Aziz Merchant wrote:

    "It took many decades for the Castro brothers to gather their senses. Socialism has failed to deliver as do American efforts at democratizing Cuba."

    Those "efforts" are now obviously working or otherwise we would not be having this discussion.

    "The privatization galore in offing is a welcome move forward. What I wish for is that there should be capitalism to an extent. In fact, what Cuba requires as do most world countries is a benevolent dictator that is a rarity."

    LOL. How can you be at the same time "benevolent" and a "dictator?

    "Full democracies like India has its pitfalls in rampant bureaucracy and corruption although India is making rapid economic progress. According to an eminent economist, 30% of the Indians are utterly corrupt, 50% borderline corrupt and only 20% honest."

    Considering there are many other examples of non-corrupt democracies then obviously you are bringing up cultural differences between countries.

  • Comment number 39.

    We all know communism doesn't work.

    Its a fine ideal in a perfect world, but experience shows that the market knows best.

    Shame the union leaders in the country are re-acting to the cuts as if we are in the 1970's.

  • Comment number 40.

    Now hold on a second!
    Fidel Castro has said tha this comments about the Cuban economic model no longer working were “misinterpreted by a visiting American journalist”. He was not taking back his statement; he said that he had been “misinterpreted”.
    In fact, Fidel Castro said that he was not misquoted but meant "the opposite" of what the reporter (Atlantic Magazine, Jeffrey Goldberg) understood.
    Goldberg wrote that he had asked Fidel Castro if Cuba's Communist System was still worth exporting to other countries. Goldberg said that Castro replied: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."
    Note: Fidel Castro did not say that communism didn’t work anymore; he said very specifically: "The Cuban Model doesn’t even work for us anymore."
    Fidel Castro: "I expressed it to him without bitterness or worry. It's funny to me now how he interpreted it, word for word, and how he consulted with Julia Sweig, who accompanied him and gave a theory. The reality is, my answer meant the opposite of what both American journalists interpreted about the Cuban model."
    Sweig, a Cuba expert from the (Washington) Council on Foreign Relations, said that the “American” interpretation was in line with actions by Raul Castro’s gradual but widespread economic and labor reform. Goldberg blogged that Sweig told him Raul Castro "is already loosening the state's hold on the economy."
    Cuba has implemented reforms such as allowing the unrestricted sale of cell phones, licensing more private taxis and distributing fallow government land to private farmers.
    Fidel Castro: "My idea, as the whole world knows, is that the capitalist system no long works, not in thee United States nor the world, which it steers from crisis to crisis, which are ever more serious, global and repetitive, and from which there is no escape. How could such a system work for a socialist country like Cuba?"
    Fidel’s tone was bemused, questioning. At one point Castro said, "I continue to think that Goldberg is a great journalist. He doesn't invent phrases, he just transmits them and interprets them."
    1. The Cuban reforms are not yet "radical".
    2. Fidel Castro would never begin, far less implement capitalism in Cuba.
    3. All Fidel said was that his economic model was flawed and needed to be fixed - just like western countries (e.g. US and UK) are trying to fix capitalism.



  • Comment number 41.

    If Cuba is caving in to American demands, it is moving in the wrong direction. The danger from the type of changes that would become quickly irreversible, in terms of the social and physical environment, would rival the negative changes that are afflicting China, but with the added concern that they occur in a relatively small geographic space and threaten to be far more concentrated and pervasive. Clearly the danger is a move in the wrong direction, moving away from the potential for a model society built on principles of conservation and preservation rather than yankee style progress which may prove completely inappropriate to the Cuban situation.

  • Comment number 42.

    Icebloo wrote:

    "I'm not a supporter of Castro but we do have to acknowledge that some of his policies were of great benefit to Cuban society - for example their education standards are extremely high and the number of physicians they produce is incredible."

    LOL. It's not like the people ultimately have a choice.

    "They also have one of (it not the) lowest number of HIV infections due to better sex education programs than almost any other country."

    No, it is due to the forced isolation that its population is subjected to.

    "The Cuban people have suffered greatly under Castro so I really hope there is not further suffering imposed on the Cubans when there is the inevitable rush for power when Casto dies. I hope the US is able to resist from interfering. The Cubans themselves need to sort out their own future."

    Nothing America can do can even begin to equal the damage of the persecution, imprisonment and murder of Cuban citizens by their own government. America's aid and influence can only help.

  • Comment number 43.

    "23. At 12:39pm on 14 Sep 2010, Simon Morgan wrote:
    One of few remaining bastions of communism is finally coming to it's senses. Only NK and China will remain resolutely devoted to worshipping their 'Dear Leaders' and the bankrupt philosophy that is communism."

    China bankrupt who are you kidding? neithr philosophically or financially on the other hand North Korea maybe but there again Britain is close to bankruptcy as is the USA. We can but hope for the Cuban people that the criminals and detritus that left for the USA stays there or are the Mafia now a legal organisation?

  • Comment number 44.

    If the Cubans want change, then change they should have. If they don't, that's their choice too. No external forces should try to make them change, or maintain, their system.

  • Comment number 45.

    JohnH wrote:

    "The main reason the Cuban people have suffered in the 50+years since Castro came to power is the attitude of the USA who are outraged that a blatently anti-american government can exist on their doorstop."

    Cuba had the rest of the world to do trade with. Obviously it still wasn't good enough to sustain their communist system.

    Besides, America was and is not obligated to trade with anyone.

    "Without an enemy the USA cannot ignore it's failures at home with 40% of americans in almost 3rd world poverty, (my boss recently went on holiday to LA, San Francisco and Las vegas and said he had never seen so many beggers, I went to Cuba last year and did not see a single begger)."

    LOL.

    Your "boss?" You mean you have never even been to America. :)

    "Cuba is not your usual corrupt communist country like Eastern Europe or the far east. There is little evidence of leaders with big houses and an expensive lifestyle."

    No, they just persecute, imprison and murder any Cuban that expresses an undesirable opinion.

    The reveloution is old history. The Cuban people are not indoctrinated, indeed they are very well educated (100% literacy - better than us!). The future really looks good for the country, just wait and see!

  • Comment number 46.

    15. At 12:08pm on 14 Sep 2010, JohnH wrote:

    If a communist country, like Cuba disn't exist on their doorstep the USA would have had to invent one. Without an enemy the USA cannot ignore it's failures at home with 40% of americans in almost 3rd world poverty, (my boss recently went on holiday to LA, San Francisco and Las vegas and said he had never seen so many beggers, I went to Cuba last year and did not see a single begger).
    ------------
    Cuba isn't a communist nation; she is a dictatorship run by the Castro brothers.

    Your boss went to three US cities, which hardly represents 40% of the US population and can't logically be used as the basis to make such a broad generalization.

  • Comment number 47.

    Are radical reforms the beginning of the end of communism in Cuba?

    Nonsense.

    Radical reforms to capitalist systems directly after WWII and ever since and the emergence of socialist policys have not ended capitalism, same vice versa.

  • Comment number 48.

    8. At 11:20am on 14 Sep 2010, Icebloo wrote:
    I think the death of Castro will spur different political groups to fight for control.





    Castro's death will make little difference as he has not been in power for a long time. The amazing thing is that there has not been a struggle for power years ago. Throughout the world as soon as a dictator shows signs of weakness there is revolt. This lack of dissent leads to one conclusione, much as the US might not like it, the Cubans are not unhappy with their lives. Since the revolution their life expectancy has risen more rapidly than any other country. They have one of the highest literacy rates, many from Spain go there for higher education. They have one of the best health services in the world and send medical workers to many other country's. The crime rate is very low and there is a great equality of wealth and opportunity.
    Perhaps this capitalist myth that people are only happy if they have material possessions and can watch the rich feathering their own nests at the expense of the poor is not true. If we put aside our predjudices and had some sense we would learn from the Cubans, but we won't, because we have all been indoctrinated and brainwashed by the American propaganda machine

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm not a fan of obtaining power by force so the take over of Cuba by Fidel Castro didn't sit happily in my mind at the time. Having seen a documentary programme about 12 months ago that looked at the lives of ordinary Cubans, I came to the opinion that Fidel Castro tried to look after his people, some of the social and welfare schemes do look after the population, particularly the least fortunate. I tried to compare what I saw on that programme with what we have here in Britain and it's not good for capitalism. We have a nation of greedy capitalists, corruption in government, local government and business is rife, every which way you turn someone is jumping on the band-wagon with imposing unlawful fines and getting away with it. I would say to Fidel Castro, well done, had you not been persecuted by the USA, what you tried to do could have been a model for the rest of the world to follow. Don't go down the road Britain is on, capitalism has destroyed our manufacturing base (multi nationals shifting factories abroad, not content with making a profit, they want to make obscene profits like the banks), we've allowed the EU to dictate our laws, how many fish we catch, how much milk we can produce etc;etc. We are a doomed Island, we need a Fidel Castro to save us.

  • Comment number 50.

    35. At 1:15pm on 14 Sep 2010, the_Sluiceterer wrote:
    Get facts straight first. UK-US economies are in a mess. UK-US education, healthcare & crime are in a mess. Cuban economy has suffered in recent years & is NOW in a mess

    BUT:- Cuba has educated its population & has some of best health care in the world.



    The Cuban healthcare system is remarkable in what it delivers for how much is invested in it, however it isn't a patch on western healthcare. if you need the latest cancer drugs or organ transplants you are not going to get them.

    Also if you think 100% of Georgians are literate think again. What certain countries claim and certain countries actually deliver are two different things.

  • Comment number 51.

    Western capitalism virtually collapsed two years ago. Only extensive socialist intervention prevented this. We now have a pseudo capitalism funded by the people for the capitalist bankers who continue to gamble, sorry invest, in areas such as commodity trading, impoverishing and starving the poorest of this world.
    Am I a communist, no, am I a pragmatist, yes. What I hear are continual falsehoods regarding the world economy and the push for growth. The western economies are bust, eastern economies will prosper, until they too exceed the limits of natural consumption and they too will fail. Capitalism is a pyramid scam, it trades for a period of time, a crisis ensues, the clever money has already jumped ship by the time the markets crash and your pension disappears. Then they just reset the game and start all over again. Cuba is at least evolving which is something we cannot do because of so many vested interests.

  • Comment number 52.

    Under the 'Golden Age' of Batista, Cuba was a typical Banan Republic. Illiteracy rates of 98% and 3rd world infant mortality rates. The government was in partnership with US organised crime and the farmed out their rural population to work for US sugar and fruit growing conglomerates.
    Once the US realised that Castro was serious about land reform and buying out US companies, he was demonised. His turn towards the USSR was a foregone conclusion.
    One hopes that the Cubans will be allowed to re-order their society on their own terms.
    A concern is that the Florida Cuban exile community will(with US support)attempt to re-order Cuba to their agenda.

  • Comment number 53.

    #49 Our manufacturing base has disappeared BECAUSE of places like Cuba & China that'll do the work for peanuts and not worry too much about health and safety or what gets dumped in the water supply.

    Likewise your comments about the EU.... fine, catch as many fish as you want. What are you going to do when the seas are completely fished clean? Remember most fish caught by British trawlers gets sold to Europe anyway because Brits only eat about 3 types of fish.

  • Comment number 54.

    Yes - it is the beginning of the end of Communism in Cuba. Communism does not work and Cuba (even with the billions Hugo Chavez steals from his own people and pumps into the Cuban economy to try to disguise the failings)is now having to face reality too. To quote Churchill: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

  • Comment number 55.

    It's good to see the weakening or removal of a political ideology that requires its population to "submit" to its "doctrine" over all aspects of their lives.

    I wish the Cuban people well now that they have the opportunity to think for themseles and pursue their own lives.

    There is, of course, another political ideology that blights people's lives and requires "submission" by entire populations. That is the political ideology that is Islam, an ideology that controls every minutiae of its adherents' lives.

    Its weakening or removal would benefit the entire world.


  • Comment number 56.

    45. At 1:36pm on 14 Sep 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    Cuba had the rest of the world to do trade with. Obviously it still wasn't good enough to sustain their communist system.

    Besides, America was and is not obligated to trade with anyone.

    #####################################################

    No; the USA just made it a requirement of trade with them that other countries were not allowed to trade with Cuba. The USA kept a blacklist of products and companies trading with Cuba and came down hard on anyone who did. Most of the worlds trade realised to trade with Cuba was to loose US markets, so they avoided getting into the bad books of the US by ending any ties with Cuba.

    I spoke to a waiter in our hotel, he proudly showed me the pre-birth scans of his new son. I also know that Cuba has been one of the worlds centre for medical research and has developed several treatments used by our 'modern' hospitals.

    The figure of 40% is the number of americans who cannot afford any medical insurance and can only be treated in the basic 'county' hospitals that every documentry I have seen about would never be allowed here.

    If Cuba is a communist country with a socialist system I did not see any of it. The government may be communist, the people are just like people all over the world, just trying to get by. I saw very little police (I was told the most common crime was animal rustling and even this was small scale).

    The problem that people who believe in the communist peril have to face is that the cold war is over. Cuba will emerge from it's isolation with a well educated people and with the desire to better themselves. For the USA the dream is over. The rampant capitalism has resulted in a banking system that basically robs everyone for the select few. Big business that relies evermore on cheap labour from China et al.

    And yes I have been to the USA, one time we had a stop over in Florida where we were kept waiting in one room (300 people including kids) and forbiden to leave by a policewoman with a very big gun.

    The question I have is this, who will you say is the bad guy when all the 'communists' are history?

    Who then will be blamed by america for all it's failures?






  • Comment number 57.

    "Are radical reforms the beginning of the end of communism in Cuba?"

    I don´t think it is the beginning of the end, for the same question might go on some reforms made by the Government of the PR China and there is no official sign that they are likely to share their power.

    To make reforms on the economy tells just that they do it for various reasons. Among them, to prevent attempts by the people for uprisings and not at least, to participate in an flourishing economy and get the money.

    Cuba as well as China may learn from history about the reasons why the former East-Bloc-States collappsed when the USSR has reached its nearly end. The difference to the times 20 years ago is, that in that time, the western industries were not so present on the Asian market, including China, as they are since the times of "Globalism". But Cuba is very small in compare to China and what they can achieve is, that they might get on better economic relations with the American Countries, as far as the USA will re-consider their doctrine towards Cuba.

  • Comment number 58.

    Communism is nothing more than a captivation of the merit. A merit at freewill has the power to innovate. The economic meltdown in the west may have proven that neither capitalism is a good theory. But it is true that capitalism has served humanity more wisely than communism.

    Cuba is still run by a dictator. If Cuba follows the path to democracy, first they need reform their political system. Free and fair political system is the key to social reform.

    Latin America is a peaceful continent in the world and they can promote their ideals to other parts of the world. Corruption has ventured and taken away the rights of the people by only a few ruling elites.

    Cuba has more to offer than to recieve and it is not a nation in crisis.

    Still the world depends on the west, whatever one might think of the future endeavour or the prospect.

  • Comment number 59.

    Talk about 99% of statistic made up on the spot... I don't think there's one quoted figure on this entire board I believe. Apparently Cuba has gone from 98% illiterate to 99.9% literate in 50 years (and given that plenty of people from Castro's generation are still alive that'll be some impressive adult education classes).

    Incidentally its about 40 million Americans lack health insurance, not 40%. Thats about 15% of the population (which is about 300 Million). Still very bad but not THAT bad when you realise how many are recent migrants (and plenty aren't even legal). The Cuban health service is good, especially basic dentistry etc but give me a US hospital over a Cuban one anyday for major surgery or oncology.

  • Comment number 60.

    There are few good economic models in the world. Communism isn't one that has been overly successful.

    It's simple.....people will only do what they have to do, and if they can get by with doing less, they will.

  • Comment number 61.

    #56 The question I have is this, who will you say is the bad guy when all the 'communists' are history?

    Who then will be blamed by america for all it's failures


    Muslims?

    Chinese?

    Illegal immigrants?

    International bankers?

    The EU?

    Basically the usual suspects on HYS....

  • Comment number 62.

    It's always difficult to judge Castro as he seems to be the typical good bad man or bad good man depending on your outlook. Reports of his brutal treatment of dissidents (which of course we rely on Western outlets for) are laid against the undoubted improvement in education and healthcare that everyone in Cuba has experienced since their revolution. Is the repression of dissidents ever justified if in the long term it benefits the vast majority of people? As a libertarian I guess my answer would be no but guess that's an ethics question and one you could argue we face in Afghanistan and Iraq as tens of thousands of civilians are killed or wounded (obviously not all by us) but as a result of our forces being there trying to keep order.

    As for what this means for Communism and Capitalism we stand in a world where a socialist state is introducing more private enterprise and the leading capitist economies had to invest state money/part nationalise their major private banks so the current recession is probably not the best time to judge what the lasting effect is as both look to have failed.

  • Comment number 63.

    "Are radical reforms the beginning of the end of communism in Cuba?"

    seems that we can now welcome the Cuban people to 'our' club of (wage-)slaves, they can learn from our 'stiff upper lip' spirit in the face of being sold out by one's own government.

  • Comment number 64.

    --------------------
    The question I have is this, who will you say is the bad guy when all the 'communists' are history?
    --------------------

    The Muslims of course. And if that fails, it's back to the good old 'immigrant' again

  • Comment number 65.

    Oh, please, spare us the "I went on holiday to Cuba and it's a paradise". Vacationing in a country is different from living in one or is that too obtuse a concept? And if it's not true now, it certainly was recently that ordinary Cubans aren't even allowed in tourist hotels and restaurants and certainly couldn't afford to eat in one. This is a country where the most appreciated gift remains meat for a rare meal treat.

    One of the reasons Cuba has encouraged tourism is to have precisely the propaganda effect it has on folks here. And the same reason Nazi Germany was thronged with happy and delighted tourists up till summer 1939. It's clean, it's tidy, everything works and everyone smiles. And it's still a prison for its citizens. Try looking at the world without an ice lolly in your hand and sunglasses on.

    And if the USA is so horrible, why aren't Americans getting in little boats and emigrating to Cuba? I rather think the traffic is in the opposite direction.

  • Comment number 66.

    53. At 2:17pm on 14 Sep 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    #49 Our manufacturing base has disappeared BECAUSE of places like Cuba & China that'll do the work for peanuts and not worry too much about health and safety or what gets dumped in the water supply.

    Likewise your comments about the EU.... fine, catch as many fish as you want. What are you going to do when the seas are completely fished clean? Remember most fish caught by British trawlers gets sold to Europe anyway because Brits only eat about 3 types of fish.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hi Peter, You are a clever fella, you are as aware as I am that thanks to shareholders (and I'm talking about the ones that hold majority shares, the casual shareholder just goes along for the ride), most of Britains family silver has been sold. We, as a nation, in the past have given huge grants to foreign owned companies to set up here, only to find a number of years down the line, when their economy gets tough, they pull out. The big companies that are still here could go at any time (Vauxhall came close). I don't blame the workers of Cuba or China for taking jobs that were once done here, we welcome jobs from, wherever. The problem is, we've been fed cheap imports of everything from underwear to cars and everything in between. Now the chickens have come home to roost, those third world countries that took our jobs are still way behind us in wages, but the price of the products doesn't reflect the change in their overhead costs ( a certain vacuum cleaner manufacturer a point to note, you still pay a lot of money for a few plastic parts and a small electric motor with a plug on the end). The wages in Britain are gradually creeping down to third world country values. Working in supermarkets and packing food and components are not skilled jobs, we were once the engine of the worlds manufacturing, where are we now? Fishing, remember the cod war with Iceland? Our fishing fleets have been decimated but the Icelanders seem to be doing alright. We should be self sufficient with fish, I don't pretend to know the exact figures of who supplies and buys what, what I do know is Britain had a huge fishing fleet in the 60's we don't have that fleet now, and their are huge foreign owned factory ships trawling off our coast that we don't seem to have any control over thanks to the EU. As a nation we should be aiming for self sufficiency, the global economy nonsense that we are constantly fed is the spin of the multi-nationals and their cronies in governments and the EU that help them achieve their stranglehold on peoples lives.

  • Comment number 67.

    --------------------
    Cuban health service is good, especially basic dentistry etc but give me a US hospital over a Cuban one anyday for major surgery or oncology
    --------------------

    until you receive the bill from the US hospital and you have to declare yourself bankrupt like millions of Americans who can't afford even basic insurance. The American capitalist 'free market' model made sure that the pharmaceutical companies and big medical corporations hold a stranglehold on healthcare.

  • Comment number 68.

    62. At 3:21pm on 14 Sep 2010, RoyaltyinTheChampionship wrote:
    As a libertarian I guess my answer would be no but guess that's an ethics question and one you could argue we face in Afghanistan and Iraq as tens of thousands of civilians are killed or wounded (obviously not all by us) but as a result of our forces being there trying to keep order.

    That statement implies both countries were at peace before we arrived. Neither were. Afghanistan hwas fighting a ten year civil war between the Taliban and Northern Alliance and Saddam's sunni's had brutally supressed the Shia and Kurds (with some estimates of deaths in 7 figures). When Saddam died of old age or assassination (and given his waistline that could have easily been before 2010) we'd have seen exactly the same violence but without 250,000 western troops to stop it turning into a proper civil war.

  • Comment number 69.

    You can also ask if capitalism is winning in China? Yes in a way making China's economy now the second largest in the world overtaking Japan but that has not toppled China's communist government in fact it has made it stronger because people look to it to bring more economic progress for more Chinese even though most Chinese still struggle in a rural based economy with the young wanting to leave for the higher paying cities where the jobs are. Cuba clearly intends to step cautiously in the direction of China's model otherwise it will become frozen in time as has happened to North Korea where only brute force maintains the populace in check and wanting even for food. In Cuba there will be no Berlin Wall moment no overnight toppling of the old order. The ridiculously long US emargo on Cuba maintained at the behest of the rabid Miami Cuban lobby so courted by US politicians especially hypocritic Republicans is singlehandedly the cause for much of the suffering of the islanders. Cuba might have changed long ago to a more liberal socialism with open boarders had not foam at the mouth local US politics intervened in such a belligerent confrontational manner. Obviously cooler heads and wiser council have not prevailed in the US where Cuba is concerned only political hysterics and theatrics just like the Tea Party. Cuba is inviting foreign investment and private land ownership which already is a radical change in internal policy. The regime sees the need to ease the situation for Cubans but not by selling itself out to Gringo Imperialism wholesale. The US refuses to end the embargo even under Obama. Why? Because the US wants regional ownership of Cuba not full liberation. US corporations eye Cuba as a new source of cheap labor and off shore investment even a tax haven if a "business freindly" government a la Batista is installed there again. Even the American mafias have plans for Cuba. But that's all dreaming as long as Castro lives and the Cuban lobby like the Israeli lobby has political clout in Washington to affect policy. To end the US embargo on Cuba means cutting off the head of the imperialist hydra. Only then will communism in Cuba be on the wain.

  • Comment number 70.

    50. At 1:58pm on 14 Sep 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    Also if you think 100% of Georgians are literate think again. What certain countries claim and certain countries actually deliver are two different things.
    ===================================
    My stats were from the UN, sorry if it annoys you.

    Fact is that USA is basically a 3rd world country witha few rich people who live on the NE, SE & W coast (go & visit the interior). The UK is fast becoming a failed state (poor education, population addicted to reality TV, gang culture ruling the streets). A right wing govt ensures rising crime & rising illiterracy.

    Do I have a solution? Yes, A socialist police state for 10 years to bring education up & erradicate all crime. Then return UK to a republic democracy (royal family lost its legitimacy in 1700, check it out)


    68. At 3:54pm on 14 Sep 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    When Saddam died of old age or assassination (and given his waistline that could have easily been before 2010) we'd have seen exactly the same violence but without 250,000 western troops to stop it turning into a proper civil war.
    ====================================

    USA (Reagan) & UK (Thatcher) gave Saddam all his weapons during the 1980`s. Only when he cut his puppet strings, did Daddy Bush invade. Babby Bush & poodle Blair finished the invasion process - leaving a state of internal terrorism for the next 100 years

    Well Peter, that`s my response to both comments. Have a nice evening, I`m off for some drinks by Lake Geneva.

  • Comment number 71.

    33. At 1:11pm on 14 Sep 2010, wok wrote:

    "Mind you, the fact that Cuba has been so impoverished has more to do with the fact that the USA have refused to lift their crippling trade embargo since the 60s (for petty political reasons) rather than the political system."

    It is not the fault of the US trade embargo that Cuba is impoverished. After all, Cuba is free to trade with the rest of the world, including the EU. Hardly a "crippling" embargo. It is the Communist political system that is crippling to both body and soul, just as it was in the former East Germany, with neighbors informing on each other and the persecution and imprisonment of dissenters who espouse human rights. That's why thousands of Cubans braved shark-infested waters to get to Florida.

  • Comment number 72.

    I’ve been to Cuba & Dominican Republic many times. I’ve lived in the US & have been to Europe, Mexico & Jamaica. There seems to be just as many poor & destitute people in other Caribbean countries as there are in Cuba. Why is being poor in those other countries so much better than being poor in Cuba? Is it because Coca Cola, GE, GM, DelMonte, etc.. can make money in those countries?

  • Comment number 73.

    As Cuba acknolwedges the failure of Communism laying off the army of Government workers they had employed,
    Obama the Magnificent leads America headlong into Communism with massive government borrowing and spending to employ an ever growing army of useless Government workers.

  • Comment number 74.

    There are a lot of misconceptions among the commenters, especially those who've touristed in Cuba and believe they're qualified to opine on the basis of anecdotal information. Cubans are forbidden access to any tourist enclave, except to work. Those with access are very careful what they say.

    How many people commenting here are actually Cuban?

    I'm pretty close with some expat and native Cubans and what these folks tell me is quite different from what's reported in mainstream news. Sorry, I have to laugh or maybe cry knowing what I know is missing information from say, the Wikipedia entry on the Economy of Cuba.

    Here are a few facts from the street some may find interesting.

    The "world class" hospitals and doctors trumpeted about: window dressing. There is no proper health care for the average Cuban. The regime has been very, very good at one thing: propaganda and presenting mis-information to outsiders.

    Cuba's living conditions portend anything but a long life. MSM reports often misinterpret the data provided by the regime. "The average Joe reading these stories doesn't have all the background, and can be fooled by propaganda,": Cuban author Humberto Fontova.

    It's not possible for anyone to buy any medication without a prescription; there is no such thing as OTC. Have a headache? Too bad. Make an appointment with a GP and wait. Migraines? Good luck. If you're lucky, you'll get 6 tablets at a time.

    Need a specialist? Only if you can get past the GP and most of the time, the GP will tell you you don't need one. By the time you're diagnosed with, say, cancer, it's too late. There is no such thing as screening or preventive medicine. Death rate from diseases preventable in the USA or developed countries: almost 100%. Life expectancy: around 76 if you take out the suicide rate, highest in Latin America, and among the highest in the world (To Die in Cuba, Suicide and Society, Louis A. Pérez Jr., winner 2007 Elsa Goveia Prize, Association of Caribbean Historians).

    Wonderful education access: nowhere to go. "Somewhere along the way, the potential generated by Cuba's well-developed education system gets truncated": Gallup 2006. If you plan to be student all your life, your satisfaction level will be 100%.

    Educated, upwardly mobile? Can't get there: you may not own a car. There are barely any roads.

    The regime has pissed away 60 year's worth of foreign loans (from those who would loan them) and revenues from JV's with nothing to show for it. See Castro regime foreign debt here:
    http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu/FACTS_Web/Cuba%20Facts%20Issue%2037%20February.htm

    Where did the money go?

    Recent article by Humvberto Fontova on Cuba's real finances: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/26231

  • Comment number 75.

    Communism is a stage societies seem to go through on their way from revolution to democracy with a more mixed economy. The French did something similar, as did the Russians, though the latter case appears yet far from settled. So it's hardly surprising Cuba should seem to be doing something akin.

    Considering the US's embargo and its high-handedness to any other country with sympathy for Cuba, it shows the system is perfecly workable with the support of enough of the people, and what character and resilience the Cubans have shown all these years. Good luck to them, and well done for ridding yourselves of the shackles of the American gangsters.

  • Comment number 76.

    >> 68. At 3:54pm on 14 Sep 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    >>That statement implies both countries were at peace before we arrived. >>Neither were. Afghanistan hwas fighting a ten year civil war between the >>Taliban and Northern Alliance and Saddam's sunni's had brutally supressed the >>Shia and Kurds (with some estimates of deaths in 7 figures). When Saddam died >>of old age or assassination (and given his waistline that could have easily >>been before 2010) we'd have seen exactly the same violence but without >>250,000 western troops to stop it turning into a proper civil war.

    Afghanistan has almost always been in civil war and it is more than likely it will continue long after we've left so I agree that's not a great example thinking about it.

    I certainly don't agree civil war of the scale or destruction we have witnessed in Iraq was certain if Saddam had died naturally and I'm not sure how you can come to that conclusion. There would more than likely have been a power struggle between leading members of his party, perhaps even assasinations but the terrible way he surpressed the Kurds after they were inspired to rise up by George Bush (senior) I think persuaded them of the futility of trying to challenge what was the fourth largest army in the world. It was the dismantling of that army that I believe set in train the events for Iraq to descend into anarchy because it allowed hundreds of thousands of young men to enter a broken economy all at once. That was a big mistake by the Coalition forces and so unnessary because we should have learnt from previous wars that government must be maintained to handover the power.

  • Comment number 77.

    Cuba currently has a lower infant mortality rate than the US due to it's socialised health care system. When Cuba reaches the same level of infant mortality as the US, and people can't afford basic medical treatment, then they will know they have reached capitalist nirvana.

  • Comment number 78.

    "
    23. At 12:39pm on 14 Sep 2010, Simon Morgan wrote:

    Only NK and China will remain resolutely devoted to worshipping their 'Dear Leaders'
    "

    And the Catholic Church.

  • Comment number 79.

    I have never seen so much twaddle written about the relative advantages and disadvantages of capitalism and communism. Cuba was a dictatorship that sold itself to the highest bidder and the political hue was irrelevant. Hopefully the Cubans will revert to a normal Caribbean lifestyle with only philantropic foreign investment.

  • Comment number 80.

    "
    79. At 7:32pm on 14 Sep 2010, mikeriverside wrote:

    Hopefully the Cubans will revert to a normal Caribbean lifestyle
    "

    You mean a life of drug dealing, people smuggling and hit squads?

  • Comment number 81.

    Well with the revolution going on for more than 50 years now and still the same people at the helm, something will inevitably change soon. The aging of the Castro brothers, the economic crisis, the new, slightly less aggressive administration in the US - there are probably many reasons why now is the time for some changes. The main goal at this time is probably to convince the US to lift this terrible embargo that sucked the from Cuba's lungs for many decades now. The big worry is that the island that the Castros and their comrades once liberated from American Mafiosi will fall back into the wrong hands.

  • Comment number 82.

    The Cuban model of communism has passed it's sell by date and neds an overhaul, not unlike the capatalist model of western europe and the US. The Cuban people now have a chance to find that illusive middle ground.

    I do hope they don't aspire to the gluttony and crazy consumerism that the US (only 90-miles from their shore) will no doubt try to export. It really is wonderful to see acountry with such high literacy and such a great health care system and it would be a great shame to see them lose this due to the greed of a few.

    I have travelled extensivly in the US and in Cuba too, the Cubans who want to leave are brainwashed by Hollywood nonsense and the ever present hard sell by the multinational conglomorates. The vast majority aren't daft enough to be sucked in to it.

    The Cuban people have all that they need, just not all they want. Really do we need big screen TV's and SUV's to be happy?

    The US press have certainly done their job convincing the so called free world that anyone who has anything to say against Fidel will be silenced, when this certainly is not the case.

    I too hope thet Cuba can find that illusive middle ground that neither communism or capitalism can.

  • Comment number 83.

    As soon as the Cubans are freed from the shackles of communism they will prosper and thrive. They deserve it after years of oppression and one sided indoctrination. The champagne socialists in the UK have always sang the praises of Castro and his henchmen, but the utopia never materialised. One party states never work, whether its the communists or their mirror image, the fascists.

  • Comment number 84.

    Are you in Cuba? Yes.

    I was born and raised and I am now living in Cuba. To all those here that refer to "the Cubans" almost as strange beings from another planet, I know it is not your fault, it's the way the Western media has depicted us the past fifty years for not overthrowing a government that their owners (of the media, that is) didn't like. If you don't believe me check the percentage of news about Cuba that are negative. Most positive things are always considered not worthy of being published.

    Like everybody else in the world we Cubans dream of better lives, and if it's true that we do not enjoy the high living standards of the European middle class, at least we can live decent lives and we are not caught up in the middle of life-threatening social chaos like in Mexico, Colombia or Central America. Health and education are OK and we have no major problems with drugs and organized crime, so in all it is a pretty safe environment for our children to grow up and follow their dreams if they can manage to keep them realistic. Financial improvements are very welcome, still in our hearts we know for sure that "the best things in life are free" is not just a meaningless expression.

    What's the significance of the reforms? What effect will they have on the economy? Will they lead to political change?

    None of these questions can be answered until there is an official explanation of what is going to happen with the one million people laid off. Until then there's no use in giving an opinion because it would be nothing else but pure speculation.

    Whatever happens we hope we can improve our lives by keeping the positive achievements we have already attained.

  • Comment number 85.

    83. At 7:57pm on 14 Sep 2010, Hannibal wrote:
    "They deserve it after years of oppression and one sided indoctrination"
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I'd recommend some research into what life was like for the average Cuban pre 1959.




  • Comment number 86.

    ...anyway I've been to see the Buena Vista Social Club, twice, so I know all about it...




  • Comment number 87.

    4. At 11:04am on 14 Sep 2010, AuntieLeft wrote:

    All failed except democracy as per the western model we have at present. Socialist states and socialism in general, ALWAYS fails and always will as it is against human nature. It is the Path of the Fool which only ends in supression (usually by force and mass murder) of the human spirit
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You call the bank controlled State we line in a democracy?
    When the head of a bank can "earn" a ten figure salary shortly after what he and his ilk did to this country beggars belief.This wishy washy millionaire cabinet is not running the country - the bankers and offshore billionaires are!

  • Comment number 88.

    It is not at all certain that Cuba will shed all vestiges of Communism or even how much will be shed. If it transitions to a state involving more capitalism hopefully it will not go through what has taken place in the former Soviet Union, with the breakdown of law and order and the replacement of many government functions with gangs and privileged members of the old order, accompanied with worsening corruption. Also, hopefully Cuba will retain its independence through what could be a U.S. onslaught designed to return Cuba to essentially colonial status.

  • Comment number 89.

    No.

    Cuba is a remarkable Independent Nation: its capacity to improvise with Justice for All not just an elite Rich is unrivalled.

  • Comment number 90.

    Contributors are praising the merits of Cuban education and healthcare etc. 99% literacy; low infant mortality rates etc. Who produces these statistics? Are there any pressure groups in Cuba who can dispute these figures? Does Cuba have shadow ministers who can debate health and education in the so called Cuban parliament? We all know the answers to these questions. Cuban politicians are not held to account. Their policies do not come under any scrutiny, so therefore whats in place to stop them from lying? Personal integrity? Don't make me laugh.

  • Comment number 91.

    4. At 11:04am on 14 Sep 2010, AuntieLeft wrote:

    "...socialism in general... is against human nature"
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Well thank goodness something is, then.




  • Comment number 92.

    I have been to Cuba a few times and one of the attractions is their innocence. If they get the freedom to travel, speak freely, work for who they like etc it will become just like any other holiday destination.

  • Comment number 93.

    Syni_cal wrote: "The US could learn a lot from what Castro did"

    You bet. Communism and socialism is a failure and Obama's economics are no different than Castro's.

  • Comment number 94.

    I hope the people of Cuba rise up and purge their country of the vermin that plunged it into organized poverty.

  • Comment number 95.

    Does it matter? Its a small country with no influence. Reform wont change that fact.

  • Comment number 96.

    So are there any odds over at the bookies for how long it will take Cuba to end up like The Dominican Republic or Haitii once they open their doors to the USA?

    None of Americas carribean neighbours do well, it's a one way trip to squalor and poverty if they open up.

    In 30 years most Cubans could well view today as the "good old days"

  • Comment number 97.

    Communism was a laboratory experiment whose outcome contradicted the hypothesis, but the scientists refused to admit failure. So a whole scheme of propaganda, proxy wars and puppet regimes, high-falutine honor codes, grandiloquent styles of speech making and other institutions were invented to hoodwink the ignorants in the Communist states and the Third World, and "useful idiots" in the West.

    The popular slogan "From each according to his ability and to each according to his needs" is a blatant illogic as far as simple economics is concerned. It means demand can exceed supply and yet there be a perfect equilibrium between resources and needs.

  • Comment number 98.

    13. At 11:56am on 14 Sep 2010, crash wrote:

    Socialism has never been viable,the more rules and regulations you put on a person and then take away the rewards of hard work destroys a persons individuality and drive.Communism is recipe for failure always will be.


    The problem with socialism is that most people don't actually know what it is so it gets lumped in with communism. Socialism is NOT communism - they are very different. People need to educate themselves about the differences.

  • Comment number 99.

    64. At 3:34pm on 14 Sep 2010, wok wrote:

    --------------------
    The question I have is this, who will you say is the bad guy when all the 'communists' are history?
    --------------------

    The Muslims of course. And if that fails, it's back to the good old 'immigrant' again



    Excellent point. The right wing always have to have some "big bad enemy" so we vote them into power and let them use our tax money to buy weapons from the companies they own. Of course we always have the ever reliable scapegoat of gays and lesbians to fall back on if we run out of enemies.

  • Comment number 100.

    The Cuban system simply doesn't keep up with the world's demands. I mean free trade agreements, open markets and constant economic changes. Cuba's former president Fidel Castro dropped a hint about the Cuban system. it's outdated and need urgent reforms to ease its tremendous burden.

 

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