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The Last Communist City A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see
City Journal ^ | Spring 2014 | MICHAEL J. TOTTEN

Posted on 05/13/2014 3:55:45 PM PDT by Hojczyk

I had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist.

Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished.

Housing is free, too, but so what? Americans can get houses in abandoned parts of Detroit for only $500—which makes them practically free—but no one wants to live in a crumbling house in a gone-to-the-weeds neighborhood. I saw adequate housing in the Cuban countryside, but almost everyone in Havana lives in a Detroit-style wreck, with caved-in roofs, peeling paint, and doors hanging on their hinges at odd angles.

Supposedly, the maids get about $1 per day for each room. If they clean an average of 30 rooms a day and work five days a week, they’ll bring in $600 a month—30 times what everyone else gets. “All animals are equal,” George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm, his allegory of Stalinism, “but some animals are more equal than others.” Only in the funhouse of a Communist country is the cleaning lady rich compared with the lawyer. Yet elite Cubans are impoverished compared with the middle class and even the poor outside Cuba.

(Excerpt) Read more at city-journal.org ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Cuba; Government
KEYWORDS: cuba

1 posted on 05/13/2014 3:55:45 PM PDT by Hojczyk
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To: Hojczyk

In Stalinist Russia conditions were much the same.


2 posted on 05/13/2014 3:57:33 PM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: Don Corleone

But they didn’t have old American cars to work on.


3 posted on 05/13/2014 4:02:55 PM PDT by Misterioso
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To: Hojczyk
Wanna see the ultimate socialist dream...

Just look at Detroit. That is what the future has in store for you!

The powers to be want to turn the US into a third world wasteland, solely for exploiting the intrinsic wealth of the land, like colonial times of old.

We've come full circle; now the colonial oligarchs have come home to roost, and their ambitions include the US, Mexico, and Canada.

Our federal government has less legitimacy than Venezuela or Zimbabwe for that matter.

That's what happens when you sell your soul and sell your country out to the highest bidder. In the end, all of those worthless dollars will not save you from a certain, horrible death.

4 posted on 05/13/2014 4:16:15 PM PDT by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: Don Corleone

Not that much better In Putin’s dump


5 posted on 05/13/2014 4:18:29 PM PDT by Nifster
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To: Hojczyk

The heretic must be destroyed. Cuba is a workers paradise with free stuff for everyone.


6 posted on 05/13/2014 4:18:37 PM PDT by Organic Panic
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To: Hojczyk

bm


7 posted on 05/13/2014 4:20:58 PM PDT by Para-Ord.45 (Americans, happy in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own dictators.)
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To: Hojczyk
Cuba isn’t a developing country; it’s a once-developed country destroyed by its own government

good point

8 posted on 05/13/2014 4:23:20 PM PDT by blueplum
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To: Hojczyk

“Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto, would be appalled by the misery endured by Cuba’s ordinary citizens and shocked by the relatively luxurious lifestyles of those who keep the poor down by force”

Bull. Marx and Engels would have been pretty satisfied with the consequences of marxism as long as they were among the elites whose rules didnt apply to them.


9 posted on 05/13/2014 4:26:22 PM PDT by lowbridge
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To: Hojczyk

He overstates the physical decay of the city — it’s not that bad, and that photo is highly selective — but not the condition of its citizens. And the elites do live in luxury, and send their families to hospitals in Europe when they get sick. On top of which it’s highly racist — heavily black population and almost none in the government. Oh, and that not-allowed-to-leave thing.


10 posted on 05/13/2014 4:37:49 PM PDT by Nationale7
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To: Hojczyk

Another thought — he’s absolutely right that Cuba had a thriving middle class and thriving economy in the 50’s. But the populace absolutely wanted to get rid of Batista, because corruption had invaded everyday life and because civil freedoms had been suspended, and Castro had huge popular support, because he told them what they wanted to hear — that there would be freedom of the press, honest elections and transparency of government. A million people turned out to cheer him the night he marched in Havana after the war, in a genuine outpouring of support and excitement. But alas, there was just one catch: he was lying the whole time. The secret communist government began meeting within the first week, and the murders of the honest rebels began around the same time.


11 posted on 05/13/2014 4:37:49 PM PDT by Nationale7
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To: Nationale7
But the populace absolutely wanted to get rid of Batista

Not necessarily doubting you but I'd like to see the evidence for this. Where are you getting this?

A million people turned out to cheer him the night he marched in Havana after the war...

A million people according to who? Communist sources or trustworthy sources?

12 posted on 05/13/2014 4:47:21 PM PDT by Yardstick
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To: Hojczyk

But haven’t Michael Moore and Sen. Tom Harkin both sung Cuba’s praises? Didn’t Moore say the Cuban health care is superior to ours and Harkin claimed Cuba’s life expectancy is greater than in the US. Useful idiots.


13 posted on 05/13/2014 5:13:19 PM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: Hojczyk

Quickly coming to America, courtesy of Obama and his liberal nut friends! Guaranteed if Hillary is elected President!


14 posted on 05/13/2014 5:21:59 PM PDT by ExTxMarine (PRAYER: It's the only HOPE for real CHANGE in America!)
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To: Yardstick

Hard to point to one source as I’ve done years of research on this and spent much time in Cuba, had many conversations with Cubans young and old there and in Miami (where they don’t have to lower their voices and turn the music up louder when they are talking to you.) The tragedy isn’t that he bulldozed an unwilling populace, the tragedy is that they gave their lives for him willingly. Endless footage of people cheering and weeping with joy and embracing the revolutionaries as they came down out of the hills (where they kept themselves safe while others risked their lives). Tad Szulc’s biography is a good source. Even better is Georgie Geyer’s Guerilla Prince because she was a conservative and saw the betrayal with a clear eye, and spent time with Fidel himself without being fooled for a second the way so many other journalists were. The million people or at any rate an enormous crowd is something you can see on archival film — it’s staggering — I’ve stood in the square that the crowd filled, and it could hold an entire city. And not only that — a few white doves flew from seemingly nowhere and landing on Fidel’s shoulders while he was addressing the crowd. One of them stayed there for an hour. A magnificent piece of theater. It took almost a year before people started to catch onto the truth.


15 posted on 05/13/2014 5:23:35 PM PDT by Nationale7
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To: factoryrat

The powers that be....


16 posted on 05/13/2014 5:55:28 PM PDT by Bigg Red (1 Pt 1: As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct.)
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To: Nationale7
Okay, I hear you. I'll check out the sources you mention. I agree that one of the great tragedies of socialism, if not the great tragedy, is that people bring it on themselves. The square you mention is in Havana?
17 posted on 05/13/2014 6:05:36 PM PDT by Yardstick
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To: Hojczyk

No wonder the Cuban people make the perilous and dangerous journey across the Florida straits to try and live like a human being....


18 posted on 05/13/2014 6:26:25 PM PDT by Popman ("Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God" - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Hojczyk

Totten is an excellent self-employed, independent, journalist/photographer. He has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan and, recently, from Thailand. He has a blog under his name where you can read past reports and donate for support.


19 posted on 05/13/2014 6:53:00 PM PDT by RicocheT (Where neither their property nor their honor is touched, most men live content, Niccolo Machiavelli)
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To: Hojczyk

Last Communist city? Pffffffft!!

20 posted on 05/13/2014 6:55:18 PM PDT by uglybiker (nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-BATMAN!)
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To: RicocheT

He does great work. The times I’ve donated I’ve gotten a personal thanks from him.


21 posted on 05/13/2014 7:32:40 PM PDT by Yardstick
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To: Hojczyk

I went to Cuba and stayed at the Havana Libre. I also traveled outside of the bubble many miles from Havana. The author nailed it.

Makes me sick when liberal politicians come back from their government controlled tour and brag on Cuba. Micheal Moore is an idiot. Party members and tourist go to good hospitals, everyone else is screwed.

A guy showed me his ration book; when his son turned 7 no more milk. All the Cubans I met were great people, all were very cynical of the government


22 posted on 05/13/2014 7:49:43 PM PDT by fungoking (Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks)
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To: Popman

There’s a reason why doctors get $20 a month but the police get $40-50.

Take care of the people who keep you in power.


23 posted on 05/13/2014 7:52:42 PM PDT by fungoking (Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks)
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To: Hojczyk
This is a beautifully written piece, a pleasure to read compared to some of the illiterate pablum offered by the privileged journalistic class in America, whose own expectations with respect to lodging were starkly revealed in their reaction to the journalist hotels in Sochi at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Unboxed gymnasium gear - the horror!

But Cuba is a vision of the future of the United States as imagined by the current social architects of the Left: widespread equalization of income which is, in fact, equalization of poverty, a middle class destroyed by it, a rigid police state enforcing it, and an elite ruling class living off it. Freedom only for the nomenklatura at first; freedom for no one in the end. What is astounding to me is that despite the clear examples of Cuba and North Korea, they still can sell the lie.

24 posted on 05/13/2014 8:22:37 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Yardstick

Yes. Now I think it’s called Plaza Jose Marti. Not sure what it was called then — it wouldn’t have been named for a hero of the revolution! My most vivid sources were my interviews with old warriors in Miami who had fought with Fidel in the mountains during the war because they believed he was going to bring justice and democracy to the island, and then after the victory, when they said to him “Um, about those elections?” he had many of them arrested and imprisoned for years without trial. One of them, Mario Chanes De Armas — you can look him up — was in jail for 27 years, longer than Mandela, making him the longest-held political prisoner of modern times. He’s my main source for stories about how bad Batista was. Garden variety corrupt strongman. Even Eisenhower hated him, which is one of the reasons Fidel was able to win — Eisenhower pulled the plug on support. You can tell that I am little obsessed with this thing, even though it’s been almost twenty years since I did this research.


25 posted on 05/13/2014 8:33:47 PM PDT by Nationale7
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To: Hojczyk

Ex Governor Charlie Christ is thinking about visiting Cuba. He is now saying that Americans should travel to Cuba. Another one of his flip flops...


26 posted on 05/13/2014 8:53:12 PM PDT by ExCTCitizen (I'm ExCTCitizen and I approve this reply. If it does offend Libs, I'm NOT sorry...)
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To: Pride in the USA; Stillwaters

A most interesting read for when you have a few extra minutes.


27 posted on 05/13/2014 9:22:46 PM PDT by lonevoice (We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality)
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To: fungoking

-—Take care of the people who keep you in power.-—

Sounds like Obama MO....


28 posted on 05/14/2014 4:10:52 AM PDT by Popman ("Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God" - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Organic Panic
Cuba is a workers paradise with free stuff for everyone.

And, worth every penny!

29 posted on 05/14/2014 8:04:01 AM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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bkmk


30 posted on 05/15/2014 8:45:42 AM PDT by AllAmericanGirl44
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To: Yardstick

Batista, a mixed race “mulato”, as it is Obama, was a populist who enjoyed the support of the Blacks and many in the working class. The revolution was supported by the students, the professionals, and many in the middle class. We repudiated the fact that Bastista gave a Coup d’état 90 days before a democratic election where he also was a candidate for the presidency.

Batista was in power in 1930’s after being overthrown president Gerardo Machado by a revolution that was followed by a military junta headed by then an army sergeant, Fulgencio Batista. Batista won the presidential election in 1940 and called for a new Constitution in which were represented delegates of all the parties, including the communists. It was a very advanced constitution.

In 1944 Batista delivered the presidency to the opposition and Ramon Grau San Martin, a professor of medicine, was elected in a landslide. Batista left the country to later come back and was elected senator in democratic elections.

In the ominous March 10, 1952, Batista took power by a military coup 90 days before the elections. He remained a de facto president till December 31, 1958, when he left the country in the middle of the night leaving the country in the hands of Fidel Castro, a gangster during his student time in the Habana University, and his communist comrades. Although there was corruption in his regime, nevertheless, Bastista left over $500 million in the Treasure in dollars and gold, and did not left internal or exterior debt. The Cuban peso was accepted internationally on par to the dollar.

The rise and fall of the Republic of Cuba is well documented. From being a country with the highest standard of living in Latin America, in spite of all the crisis and pains common at the birth of a new republic, Cuba became a giant prison island under the boot of a totalitarian Stalinist regime that brought to its knees a proud people who fought for more than 15 years a bloody war to gain its independence from Spain, and valiantly resisted the takeover of the country communist. Under the communists tyrants, more Cubans were assassinated by the regime and more patriots suffered long years of brutal jail imprisonment in proportion to its population than during the regimen of Stalin.


31 posted on 05/21/2014 10:23:41 AM PDT by Dqban22
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To: RicocheT

Mr. Totten article is one of the best written by a non Cuban in the quest for the truth behind the Cuban tragedy.

Top sources of information are Armando Valladares, “Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag” a vivid portrait of his 22 years imprisonment in the regime dungeons. Humberto Fontova, books and articles are also first class source for historians.

The English left-wing historian Hugh Thomas wrote one of the most comprehensive studies of the history of Cuba since its discovery by Columbus to the Batista government, “Cuba, The Pursuit of Freedom.” He wrote a follow up book in Spanish in 1982: “Contemporary History of Cuba, Batista to the Present Day.”

“In Cuba, communism has not brought fraternity, nor wealth, nor justice”... Categorically said English historian, Hugh Thomas.


32 posted on 05/21/2014 10:53:29 AM PDT by Dqban22
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To: Dqban22

Let us read Armando Valladares’ first hand depiction how well Communism works

Torture in Castro’s Cuba:

“I know the taste of the urine and the excrement of other men… that practice does not leave marks; marks are left by beatings with steel rods and by bayonet thrusts. My head is still covered with scars and you can feel the cracks.

Armando Valladares, is a Cuban poet released (because of international pressure) from Castro’s political dungeons in 1982 after serving 22 years of a 30 year sentence for publicly opposing the Communist take over of the Cuban Revolution.

Valladares was liberated thanks to international pressure and the personal intervention of French president Francois Mitterant. Lagter, President Reagan made him U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation’s Commission on Human Rights. As Head of the U.S. Delegation, Valladares successfully brought Cuba before the Commission for its human rights violations and for the first time the Cuban regime was condemned after so many years of indifference towards the crimes committed by the communist regime. President Reagan would later confer on him the nation’s highest civil honor, the Presidential Citizens Medal. Valladares’ Memoirs, “Against all Hope”, was a best seller in the United States and around the world and has been translated to numerous languages.

Valladares vividly expressed how much it meant the international reaction to the Cuban political martyrdom: “During those years, with the purpose of forcing us to abandon our religious beliefs and to demoralize us, the Cuban Communist indoctrinators repeatedly used the statements made by some representatives of the American Christian churches. Every time a pamphlet was published in U.S., every time a clergyman would write an article in support of Castro’s dictatorship, a translation would be given to us, and that was far worse for the Christian political prisoners than the beatings or the hunger. Incomprehensible to us, while we waited for the embrace of solidarity from our brothers in Christ, those who were embraced were our tormentors.”


33 posted on 05/21/2014 11:12:14 AM PDT by Dqban22
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