The other day I had a conversation with an exiled Cuban doctor. He was refilling a soda machine as now he has a business here. Not  yet able to become certified as a physician in America, he is still happy to be out of the island-prison. He makes more money now with a vending machine business than he could dream to make as a doctor in Cuba. Here, he does not need to try and acquire an old Russian car to moonlight as a taxi driver to feed his family.  Yet, for long, our Media has praised Cuba as a model of socialist harmony and “social justice.”

“They have such a great health care system” they have told us so many times. Michael Moore used that system as an example for us (or better, the fancy part of that system the Cubans showed to him and that is only available to party leaders and foreigners)  When you talk to Cubans who actually suffer that system, the picture is very different.

The reality I see after many conversations with people who have lived under real  Cuban socialism is one of decaying and graying societies, where pluralism is absent, fear is always there, each person distrusts the other, and all are engaged in hoarding as much as they can from the falling parts of a machine that does not work. They grab this and steal that, trying to survive the nightmare. Most offer outward support to the regime as a way to survive and turn on their radio loud when they are playing the never-ending Castro speeches to assure others they are loyal to “El Comandante.”

The parades show a sea of people chanting under the scorching sun. You bet, as the government grabs you, places a flag in your hand and buses you there directly from your workplace. If you are not there on that day you will be called by the boss to ask why. They do not place a gun on your head, they simply compel you using intimidation and the threat of losing even the meager rations and the lousy job they have for you. But what about the “heroes of the revolution”? Isn’t it great to work for the common good at the expense of individual wants? Isn’t that demonstrative of a higher cause?  Yes, if you cut enough sugar cane they give you a cheap medal and you get on the platform with the comrades of the vanguard, or something. In America, if you work hard you get more money in a day than a Cuban gets in six months. I think that is better for the common good than all the medals in the world! They fear individual achievement even more than a defeat of Chavez in Venezuela.

But why are we moving in that direction?

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