When a person writes anything, they have to have a point of view, or their work will be boring. It is said that a POV is a factor of a person's perspective. So what is mine?
Cuba is very, very confusing - almost nothing is as it seems.
While the people are about the poorest in the Americas, they do manage to survive, in a fashion. They have apparently excellent health and apparently can be well educated.
But again, it is not as it seems.
First off, the Castros lie. I write about this in Mojito!. So anything you read from there is untrue; appatchiks will always write that whatever the Great Chief or his brother say or do is terrific and any civilian that is interviewed knows that they can only tell things that reflect positively on the revolution.
The health care success is at least partly due to the paucity of money to buy drugs or even rum or for that matter food that makes us obese. Local residents have a little access to health care, but even aspirin is unavailable without a special source of cash. But it is for sale to foreigners.
Young kids only get 1/2 day of school a day and a lot of this is devoted to Young Pioneers propaganda training. A person's family or personal history decides whether they can get a post-secondary education. Children of dissidents have no chance of seeing their kids becoming more highly paid anythings. Lucky people in the right families might get the opportunity to see other parts of the world by having their services sold in USD, while they are paid in pesos plus benefits like a better place to live or a coupon to allow them to buy a car, if they can somehow come up with the money.
So, compared to many of the so called intelligentsia here in Toronto, I would be seen as an anti-Castroite, or is that anti-Castroista. I suppose I wear that badge with a degree of honour, but from a lot of knowledge.
Somehow we plumb forgot that January 1st, 2009 was different this year - it will be marking the 50th anniversary of the replacement of a capitalist despot in Cuba with one of the Marxist ilk.
Brian Lloyd French
I am a great admirer of the strength and talents of Cuban people and will share some of my experiences here.