From an island paradise
This time it’s a “report” filed from Havana by Ross Anderson, identified as a correspondent for The Times in London, one of the world’s oldest and best known English-language newspapers.
Mr Anderson, who lives in Havana and appears to be married to a Cuban, starts from the old premise that while not everything is perfect in Castro’s island paradise, there is free health care for everyone. And free education. And music everywhere!
And in any case, the alternative is much, much worse – that is, for the country to revert to capitalism and become a US colony.
Now, where have you heard that line before?
In fact, I got the impression that Mr Anderson had managed to summarise a year’s worth of headlines from Granma, the Communist Party’s daily propaganda sheet, into his article, which has the heading: “Cuba the 51st State? Close but no cigar”
The Cuban health system? It’s “among the best in the world”. Better than the British. Education? A little rigid, perhaps, but it’s all free. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry? One of the best in the world. Cheap medicines for everyone. Arts? It’s not “the icing on the national cake, but a vital ingredient.” The economy in trouble? Blame the Americans who can’t wait to invade Cuba.
As for those Cuban Americans in Miami, well, they are mostly “swivel-eyed, spittle-flecked, bile-spewing octogenarians who believe that Fidel Castro is the anti-Christ and that as soon as he dies they can return to reclaim their Miramar mansions.”
As I said, straight from Granma.
Still, you shouldn’t get the wrong idea.
Buried in the second half of his dissertation, Mr Anderson admits that “despite all of the above, this is not a homage to Cuba”.
“Its successes could just as easily have been achieved under a system of genuine political accountability, with public access to print and broadcast media free to question and criticise the government, with an independent judiciary and a police force that didn’t make up the laws as it went along,” he writes.
On that point at least, he is spot on.