CubaBrief: The Economic Cost of Cuban Communism

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting” – Milan Kundera

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Front page 7 Aug. 1969 Caymanian Weekly shows Caymanian repatriates making their way down the steps of the Cuban plane that brought them home.

The Castro dictatorship’s six-decade long propaganda campaign has sought to rewrite Cuban history to present pre-1959 Cuba in the most negative light possible to cover up its own failures.

Two articles over the past week break this narrative.

The Cayman Compass yesterday looked back 50 years ago to August 7, 1969 when their precursor, the Cayman Weekly, reported on the repatriation of 162 Caymanians. The Compass cited the original article that read:

“One hundred and sixty-two Caymanians, some of whom have lived in Cuba over 50 years, were repatriated to their homeland and tears of joy flowed as they were reunited with their families at Owen Roberts airport on Monday.” […]

“Many of those returning have lived in the Isle of Pines and all appeared to have enjoyed life in Cuba until 10 years ago when the Communists took over, and from then ‘Cuba was finished’, in the words of Mr. Watler who had previously spent only one month in Cayman in 67 years. ‘I’m just glad I got out alive,’ said Mrs. Alice Watler who had been in Cuba 64 years. Another lady was heard to remark, ‘I’ve lived in hell for 10 years and I don’t want to even think about it any more.’ “

That same year Fidel Castro boasted that “Mr. Nixon will have to endure…watching this country emerge from underdevelopment, achieve levels of agricultural production that no other country in the world has ever achieved. What in heaven’s name will the imperialists say in 1970?” “Imagine thinking that the blockade could have any effect nowadays! At best it makes some people laugh in scorn. Because, besides, we have to pay for the purchases we have made. The countries that have sold us a lot want to sell us a lot more. Who could think that they would want to lose this business by submitting to the blockade? It makes one laugh,” he said.

The reality has been far different.

Daniel J. Mitchell in the Foundation for Economic Education wrote on August 2nd “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.”

Below are excerpts and links to the full articles.

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Foundation for Economic Education, August 2, 2019

The Economic Cost of Cuban Socialism

By Daniel J. Mitchell

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.

For a while, it was subsidized by the Soviet Union, but that communist system eventually collapsed. More recently, it’s been subsidized by Venezuela, but now that socialist system also is collapsing.

And this means extra hardship for the people of Cuba.

[…]

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My contribution today is this chart showing per-capita economic output in various Latin nations, derived from the Maddison database. At the time of the revolution, Cuba (orange line) was one of the richest nations. Now it has fallen far behind.

https://fee.org/articles/the-economic-cost-of-cuban-socialism/

Cayman Compass, August 6, 2019

50 years ago: 162 home from Cuba

By Staff

In the 7 Aug. 1969 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the front page carried a report on the repatriation of a large group of Caymanians from Cuba. It read:

“One hundred and sixty-two Caymanians, some of whom have lived in Cuba over 50 years, were repatriated to their homeland and tears of joy flowed as they were reunited with their families at Owen Roberts airport on Monday.

“The first flight by the Ilyushin 18B of Cubana Airlines from Havana under Capt. I. Tiomno and his crew of five, including a stewardess, made two flights, arriving at 1:35pm with 99 passengers and at 6:35pm with a further 63.

“On the passenger list were many familiar surnames – Ebanks, Carter, Rivers, Tomlinson, Powery, Watler, McLaughlin, Crowe, Hill, Whittaker, Hydes, Parchment, Nixon, Smith, Terry, Borden, Brown, Thompson and Diaz – appearing to indicate that the repatriates originate from all over Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

“To officially greet the homecomers were His Honour the Administrator (2nd flight), the Asst. Admin. Mr. Dennis Foster, the Hons. B.O. Ebanks Jr. and W.W. Conolly, Members of the Legislative Council, and Inspector Roy Archer.

“Freemasons and their wives provided much needed and greatly appreciated refreshments in the receiving area. Most of the returnees had been in Havana and without food from the previous day.

One lady just did not manage to gain her freedom – Mrs. Donie McKenzie is reported to have died at Havana Airport on Sunday while waiting for the flight to bring her home.

“Many of those returning have lived in the Isle of Pines and all appeared to have enjoyed life in Cuba until 10 years ago when the Communists took over, and from then ‘Cuba was finished’, in the words of Mr. Watler who had previously spent only one month in Cayman in 67 years. ‘I’m just glad I got out alive,’ said Mrs. Alice Watler who had been in Cuba 64 years. Another lady was heard to remark, ‘I’ve lived in hell for 10 years and I don’t want to even think about it any more.’

“‘Do you know what it is like to live without being able to get anything to eat, or to wear, or to put on your feet?’ asked another lady. ‘Well, it’s terrible, I can tell you,’ she added.

“The many children are, of course, Spanish speaking and it will perhaps be more difficult for them to adjust to a new life in Cayman, but we rejoice that they will know what freedom means in their tender years.

“All those returning were vaccinated at the airport by nurses from our hospital.

“Our Government had to pay about $1,650 for the two flights but much of this will eventually be repaid by the repatriates as it becomes financially possible for them to do this.

“Both flights were handled by the staff of BWIA.

“Monday, 4th August, 1969, was certainly a ‘Gala Day’ for many in the Cayman Islands and the sight of the huge welcoming party at the airport must have been heartwarming to those who came home at last and a surprise to the Cuban crew of CU-T832.”
https://www.caymancompass.com/2019/08/06/50-years-ago-162-home-from-cuba/