Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back to the future

Those retrospectives on the 50th anniversary of the Castro regime keep on coming.

The latest is by our old friend Anita Snow, the AP bureau chief in Havana, who has produced a surprisingly balanced summary of the past half century, even though all the old canards about free health, free education and the embargo get a fresh airing.

Among those supposedly ordinary Cubans interviewed for the report is Ernesto Plasencia, described as “a bony 76-year-old ex-rebel”, who says he remains eternally grateful to Fidel Castro and who blames the state of the economy on, you guessed it ... the US commercial embargo.

Mr Plasencia says that in the bad old days before the Revolution, his family was so poor his mother had to make ends meet by “washing and ironing rich people’s clothes”.

By way of contrast, he lives on a disability pension worth a grand total of USD6.70 a month which, the report tells us, he augments by “selling candy on the Malecon”, presumably to rich tourists.

And there, unwittingly, is a terrific summary of how far Cuban citizens have come in 50 years.


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