Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Cuban Heels Are Dancing - in Miami

The news that Fidel Castro, the world’s longest-presiding political leader, is stepping down from the helm in Cuba is not entirely unexpected. When, in August 2006, he handed power, albeit temporarily, to his younger brother, Raul, there were many who thought he would never return. Those who danced on the streets of Miami must have had cause to shudder when Raul’s older sibling re-assumed the reins.*

Nevertheless, it was always evident that Castro’s ill-health meant his return to power might be brief and, less than two years later, the Cuban exiles have once again dusted off their dancing shoes. Rumours are rife that another change in leader will herald a loosening of grip of the state on the country’s socialised economy.

It’s a marvel at all that a tiny country like Cuba has been able not just to withstand the constant opposition of the United States to it’s communist economic planning (dressed up as pro-democracy), but that it has done so for almost half a century. Castro’s achievement has been to see off nine US Presidents and their pernicious sanctions.

Now, I fear, the door will open slightly, and before we know it we’ll see the dismantling of one of the world’s finest primary health care systems. One where you don’t book an appointment to see the doctor, but where he or she comes knocking on your door as part of their regular rounds to see if everyone in every home is well. I’ve no doubt that once this is gone, and replaced by a US-style pay for healthcare system, there’ll be many who look back fondly on the days of socialised medicine, and wonder how they came to lose it.

As is so often in life, the words of the slogan of that great British company, National Car Parks, ring true: “You don’t know what you’ve got, ‘til it’s gone”.

Here’s wishing Fidel a few more years of health, anyway. Adiós, amigo querido!

* All mixed metaphors are the intellectual property of Bill Blunt.


sylvie d said...

I visited Cuba a few years ago, it felt amazing to see a country totally
free of ads, people were amazing and so friendly too. I still remember this woman telling me how two nights before her husband who was a teacher had been send to Bolivia to work. She would not see him for two years. When I asked her if he had a choice she said yes but we knew she meant the opposite. I wonder what happened to them and what they make of the recent event.

Bill Blunt said...

Yes, sylvie d - you're right that people have made a lot of sacrifices in Cuba. And I am sure not always willingly. An enforced separation is a tragic thing for a couple to have to endure...

70steen said...

join Daddy Papersurfers fan club and make an old grumpy git happy :-)

Frankie said...

As for myself, surely I'm not alone in believing that now the 'bogeyman' as Castro has been portrayed by all US administrations since the revolution, has retired, indubitably all other leaders will adopt the socialist model, not only of health but for all policies. (Apart from the alleged 'democracies' of course.) Or am I in fact alone?