Monday, December 29, 2008

Cuba Turns 50

January 1, 2009 is a doubly special day for Cuba. In addition to celebrating the start of a new year with the rest of the world, that date will mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. On January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro and his revolutionary army drove the dictator Batista away and set up the current government structure.

Cuba has changed a lot in the last 50 years. Batista had sold out to American corporations and criminal elements, and cared nothing for the Cuban people. Most Cubans were poor and lacked adequate food, access to even simple medical care, and had no hope of getting an education to try and better themselves.

Today, all Cubans are given a free education, and Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates anywhere in the Americas. They also have quality free medical care.

The island still has a lot of poverty, but government programs see to it that no one starves. Some blame the economic system (communist) for Cuba's current poverty. Others blame the American embargo, which has been in effect for most of the 50 years. The United States has intentionally tryed to destroy the Cuban economy in an effort to force them to once again submit to the tyranny of American corporations.

I suspect their economic condition is a result of both their system and our embargo. Now that we have a new president coming into office, I hope he has the good sense and courage to end the embargo. We can just look at the last 50 years to know we are not going to force the Cuban government to do anything. In addition, we simply don't have the right to try to force our system on any other country.

Does Cuba have problems? Yes (and so do we for that matter). They could use more freedom of speech and a better economy. But instead of trying to force them to change, we should remove the embargo and re-establish trade and contact with them. It's much easier to encourage change in a friend than an enemy. Also, the trade would benefit the economies of both countries.

Happy Birthday, Cuba!! I hope our countries can soon be friends, and that each of us can work out our problems and plan for our futures without interference from the other.

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