Have you wondered what socialist ideas can do to a society? I’ve met two men in my life who were born and spent their youth in Cuba, then had harrowing immigration stories about how their parents got them to America. What a difference this family sacrifice made upon their lives.
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #62 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
Ever think much about Cuba? My guess is that if you have thought of Cuba, it was through the lens of Castro and Communism, or similar negative images. And that’s the sad point. Cuba is a story of what might have been.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, about the size of the state of Virginia. Actually, there are 4,000 smaller islands plus the larger island. The islands feature powdery white sand beaches and a turquoise-colored ocean. The main island is mostly grassy plains but also features beautiful mountains.
“Cuba was once known as the “Pearl of the Antilles” as it was the Spanish empire’s most-important source of raw sugar during the 18th century… Cuba is famous for its birdwatching, with over 350 different varieties of birds, two dozen of which are endemic...” And, of course, famous for its cigars.
Cuba is an incredibly beautiful environment, average temperature per year in the 70s and 80s. It’s another Florida – except for one critical difference.
Florida is free, democratic, and operates with a free enterprise capitalist economy. Cuba, since 1959, has been governed as a socialist country following Marxist-Leninist ideology.
“Those who crowded the streets of Havana in 1959, hoping that the fall of (Sergeant Fulgencio) Batista’s crony capitalism would usher in a period of human progress, have been sadly disappointed. Anyone interested in what prevents economic and human progress can learn many lessons from Cuba’s stagnation. Cuba joined the long list of countries where central planning and state ownership have turned out to be a detour on the route to progress and prosperity.”
“The government in Cuba is a self-described socialist-Marxist regime, as proclaimed by Fidel Castro himself. It is a murderous, perennial abuser of human rights…
(And note that) the American embargo does not prevent the world’s 195-plus other countries from trading with Cuba. For example, Canada and Spain have for decades prolifically traded with Cuba. The American embargo has never prevented food and medicines from reaching Cuba...What is shocking to me (in the face of this evidence) is how some Americans and one dominant U.S. political party actively advocate for socialism.”
“All these measures and actions of the government were accompanied by a demonization of capitalism, private enterprise and money making. Business enterprises, as well as money, were considered evil…Two years after the beginning of the revolution the economy entered into a major down spiral.
Massive unemployment developed; inflation became out of control; all commercial and industrial production was paralyzed. The country rapidly followed this socialist phase with a Marxist-Leninist period with rationing of most products, militarization of society, alliance with the Soviet Union, conflict with the United States and the migration of more than 2 million Cubans. The economy never recovered. The middle and upper classes were destroyed, and the workers joined the ranks of the unemployed, underemployed or of the state, working for miserable wages.”
I mentioned my Cuban-American friends. One man noted that his father was a successful businessperson, a beachfront property owner, a man who later lost everything. His father saw it coming and with heavy heart made an incredible sacrifice for the good of his son, putting him on a boat to America, knowing he’d likely never see him again. The freedom, well-being, family, and faith my friend enjoys today would literally not have been possible without the irreversible gut-wrenching decision of his father.
Look at Florida and imagine what Cuba could have been. A free and democratic Cuba with a free enterprise economy would today be one of the wealthier nations in the world. Think of the resorts and villas in the Caribbean—celebrity and vacation homes in Jamaica, The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, St. Barts, not to mention scores of privately held island getaways. But for socialist control and decimation, Cuba could be enjoying the same investment, the same prosperity.
Instead, Cuba’s experience is one of food rationing, fuel shortages, electricity blackouts, severe energy shortages, including gasoline and diesel, other petroleum derivatives, decreased use of automobiles, and an overall shrinking economy that introduced hardships and misery to the declining middle class and the poor.
All of this was made decidedly worse during the so-called Special Period, “an extended period of economic crisis in Cuba that began in 1991 primarily due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.”
“People were forced to live without many goods and services that had been available since the beginning of the 20th century.” The period lasted to about 2000 when Venezuela emerged as a new trading partner.
“Cuba has a very sad history. It traded a regular dictatorship for a communist dictatorship six decades ago, and the results have been predictably awful. Oppression, persecution, rationing, spying, deprivation, and suffering are facts of life.”
Socialism, the false ideology that markets the supposed genius of government leaders is nothing more than a masquerade for coercion, tyranny, and theft – what’s yours is mine.
Many debate whether the United States is today a socialist economy and country. “More recently Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a handful of other politicians have breathed new life into the label, injecting a radical alternate vision for the U.S. economy into the mainstream political debate.”
“Many think of socialism as no private property whatsoever, complete equality and the government controlling everything. That's communism - socialism is government control of only certain industries such as healthcare, education, or energy. In a socialist country, people privately own most things, but the government owns some other things. While communism promotes complete equality, socialism works to curb inequality with higher taxes on the wealthy.“
In America, the odd thing about socialism is that it seems to have the nine lives of a cat, never seeming to go away even though its historical record is one of abject suffering, misery, and failure, and in some cases evil.
The reason is that socialism is a litany of wrong ideas, values, and corruption. Governments that control capital are a half step from controlling people. Since socialism depends upon government, the ideology usually leads to authoritarianism. See North Korea and Venezuela.
Socialism destroys competition, and with it, incentive, accountability, and a fair determination of value. Socialism creates large bureaucracies that soon operate for their own concerns, emphasizing means over ends.
“Force, and all of the negative consequences that it inspires, is inherent to a system that is so much at odds with individual values and human nature. This, probably more than anything else, is what explains the atrocities associated with socialism in the 20th century.” The bottom line is, socialism does not work, and Cuba is exhibit #A in the Western Hemisphere.
Cuba is a story of what might have been. God grant that the US remains a story of what ought to be.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023
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