Cuba has never been a home of liberal democracy and liberal values, liberal utopia, or what have you. Similar to Iraq, they’ve always been ruled by one authoritarian regime or another and that includes America. So there’s never been this one grand moment or time in Cuban history that you can point to and say this was a great period for Cuba where their people lived in freedom and flourished. Because they’ve never had freedom and have never flourished as a country.
But given all of that and has much as Fidel Castro and his communist regime screwed up the Cuban economy, (and that might be putting it lightly) Cuba isn’t a hell hole, rat hole if you need a stronger word and I’m sure you can come up with a stronger one than that. Unlike Haiti, one of Cuba’s neighbors, there are some things that Cuba has done and does today very well and they’ve only gotten better and are going to get even better at that. As much as Fidel Castro was a communist dictator, he is a true Socialist, not democratic obviously, but certainly a Socialist, but unfortunately in the Marxist sense.
Cuba has a very good and developed social insurance and social welfare system. They have good schools, their kids get educated, but then have a hard time finding good jobs because of the Cuban state-owned industries. But that is improving thanks to the Communist State opening up the economy and allowing for private business’s, private property and private enterprise in general. And they have good health care and health insurance, especially considering we are still talking about a third-world country.
I think the direction that Cuba is headed into now, is like that of China and Russia. Where you’ll have a private enterprise economy, but with a generous welfare state like that in Scandinavia. And a country that will probably be even further advance when it comes to some personal freedom and civil liberty issues, just not guaranteed by a constitution. But where the country is still ruled by the Communist Party, without any real opposition to it. And where most of the political power is still centralized in Havana. So no to liberal or even social democracy in Cuba for now, but they are still further along than they ever have been.
The Daily Conversation: The History of U.S. Cuban Relations