Currently there is a concerted redbaiting campaign to demonize Bernie Sanders for having said something nice about Cuba, in particular, praising Cuba’s well-known world class education and health programs. Sanders recently said, in response to criticism of his 1985 praise of Cuba: “it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad” in Cuba, citing the internationally acclaimed literacy campaign. Alongside others in the political establishment of both capitalist parties, Michael Bloomberg piled on with a full serving of redbaiting tropes: “forced labor camps, religious repression, widespread poverty, firing squads, and the murder of thousands of his own people.”
Now the first thing you should ask yourself about this critique is: when it comes to Cuba, who do you really trust to tell you the truth? Michael Bloomberg? Or Nelson Mandela?
Honestly if it’s Bloomberg, you may as well stop reading now. If, however, you think Nelson Mandela is the better judge of Cuba’s character, you should know, he said that Cuba’s revolution was “a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people.”
Mandela also noted on a visit to Cuba in 1991:
“We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious, imperialist-orchestrated campaign…We, too, want to control our own destiny…The most important lesson that you have for us is that no matter what the odds, no matter what difficulties you have had to struggle under, there can be no surrender…It is a case of freedom or death.”(LA Times)
Also notable is that at Mandela’s first inauguration in 1994, Fidel Castro was the most lauded guest among the South African masses, as the Christian-Science Monitor reported:
“Cuba’s Fidel Castro Ruiz…was given the most enthusiastic reception…President Castro, one of the last dignitaries to arrive before Mandela, acknowledged the chants of “We want Castro” from the ecstatic ANC section of the crowd.”
No surprise people love Cuba
The above statements certainly are no surprise when you know that Cuba’s military intervention in Angola played a massive role in ending apartheid. In fact, it really is no surprise that Cuba is one of the most well respected nations on earth when you consider what the country has accomplished in its 61 year revolutionary history.
Despite a criminal blockade by the United States which makes all trade and economic activity for the country extremely difficult, Cuba has racked up some important achievements. In 1991 the United Nations, the International Union for Conservation and the World Wildlife Fund created a definition for sustainable development: “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems” as something to be measured by countries having a high Human Development Index and low Ecological Footprint. In 2015 Cuba was only one of 8 nations on earth to meet the definition for having a sustainable development model.
In 2006 the World Wildlife Fund actually stated Cuba was the only country with a truly sustainable development model, praise which followed their 1999 report that declared “Cuba is setting an example to the whole of the western hemisphere with its enlightened environmental policies.”
According to the World Health Organization Cuba has the highest density of doctors (doctors per 1,000 people) on the entire planet. Belgium, a rich nation with about the same population as Cuba, is 31 on that list,while the United States is 56.
Cuba has a higher Human Development Index than Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jordan, Indonesia, South Africa and Egypt among others. (Wikipedia) None of those countries are ever subjected to the same level of hatred from the media and politicians in the United States, and no politician is ever called “unelectable” for having ties to them.
Cuba’s literacy rate is 100 percent according to the World Bank. A percentage point higher than the alleged rate in the United States (whose numbers the bank doesn’t even report). Cuba’s literacy rate is better than countries like Qatar, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, who have resources the Cuban government could never dream of.
Just scratching the surface
The above statistics just scratch the surface of why Cuba is so well-respected around the world: that a small country, totally under siege, could produce social indicators that rival so-called “first world” nations is clearly deeply inspirational.
Cuba also has gained enormous respect for extending solidarity abroad, particularly in its tens of thousands of doctors that help support public health programs around the world and are on the frontline of natural disasters from ebola to earthquakes. This is not to mention as well their massive program of training doctors, and other professions, from every corner of the earth.
The targeting of Bernie Sanders for saying that Cuba has positive features is a giant misdirection play. It attempts to turn the reality of Cuba entirely on its head in an attempt to discredit socialism.
Cuba has much to herald and celebrate as huge chunks of the world consistently acknowledge and affirm. Not only is it not wrong for people to stand up for Cuba, but they can be proud doing so because the rightwing talking points of billionaires like Bloomberg and Trump are mostly lies, propaganda designed to protect their massive profits and prevent a government like that of Sanders, or one any further left, that would actuallyl start to try to meet the needs of the broad majority of people suffering under U.S. capitalism.