Cuba is a dictatorship that uses terror and propaganda to repress its people. It locks citizens up, strips them of the most basic human rights, silences them, and confronts families using extortion and threats. The regime’s constant practices of illegal detention, the personal ruin of political dissidents, and limitation of fundamental rights have nothing to do with any blockade or embargo but everything to do with the totalitarian Communist dictatorship.

All the propaganda that whitewashes the Cuban dictatorship is based on two lies: the nonexistent “blockade” and the allegedly excellent “public health.”

Cuba only suffers from one blockade: that of the dictatorship against its people, which limits imports of food, medicine, use of the internet, and freedom to travel. We have seen the evidence this week, when the regime “temporarily lifted” the limitation on imports of food and medicine.

Dismantling the lie of the so-called excellent Cuban public services is easy. You just have to go to Cuba to see it.

The healthcare system that the regime advertises so much is a failed and dilapidated system that only provides quality service to wealthy foreigners and to the regime’s leaders. Cuba suffers the “most expensive free healthcare in the world,” as they told me in Havana.

The myth of the quality of healthcare has been debunked on several occasions. María Werlau, from the NGO Archivo Cuba (Cuba Archive), explained that “healthcare in Cuba is terrible for the ordinary citizen. There is an apartheid that favors the ruling elite and foreigners who pay in US dollars,” and it has been shown that “the Cuban health system lacks transparency and capacity.” Its health policies not only have not yielded good results but also limit the basic rights of patients; “it is hardly a model to follow.”

Anyone who travels to Cuba can see that the often-repeated “nonexistence of child malnutrition” that some say UNICEF shows is a lie and only masks a regime that still uses ration cards and misery as tools to keep the population under its boot.

However, UNICEF never stated that Cuba had ended child malnutrition, but that the “incidence of underweight children has dropped to 4%,” a record that was broken by Costa Rica and Chile, for example, which reached 1 percent. Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition: A Survival and Development Priority (UNICEF, November 2009, p. 102 et seq.) shows clearly how other countries have done significantly better than Cuba.

The actual data on infant mortality is twice the official figure and much worse than in countries such as Chile or Costa Rica, according to studies (for example, “Infant Mortality in Cuba: Myth and Reality,” by Roberto M. Gonzalez).

The myth of the blockade is even more hilarious. The nonexistent blockade is a lie that serves as an excuse to whitewash the dictatorship.

Cuba’s international trade over GDP was 27 percent of GDP in 2020, compared, for example, with Brazil’s, which is 32 percent. Its exports are 14.5 percent of GDP compared to 16 percent in Brazil (World Bank data).

The United States is Cuba’s ninth-largest trading partner, with 3 percent of imports. Cuba has more than twenty-seven bilateral treaties with more than ninety countries, and exports to Canada (22 percent), China (21 percent), Venezuela (13 percent), Spain (11 percent), Holland (7 percent), Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Cyprus (2 percent each), and France (1 percent) among others (Cuban Statistical Office, 2020 ed.).

The exports of food and agricultural products from the United States to Cuba increased by 74.7 percent in March 2021, an increase of 54.3 percent annualized (Cuba Trade).

Cuba, in turn, imported in 2020 from Venezuela (crude at cost or free), China, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, the United States, and Germany, among others. Some “lockdown.”

The only thing Cuba has is an embargo on those items that the dictatorial regime uses for military purposes.

What the Left hides about the embargo: the embargo was implemented in 1958 with the Batista regime to limit the sale of weapons. The 1960 embargo on US exports to Cuba did not include food or medicine. Since 2000, there has not been any type of embargo on US exports either in food or in medicine.

More than ninety North American multinationals have exported to Cuba since 2001. Since 2014, sixty North American companies have been operating directly in Cuba (Cuba Trade Economic Council)

Cuba exported $14.9 million worth of goods to the United States and imported $176.8 million in 2020 according to the Department of State. Imports and exports to China are also particularly important.

The United States is the largest supplier of food and agricultural products to Cuba, according to the Department of State, with exports of those goods valued at $220.5 million in 2018. The United States is also a major supplier of humanitarian goods to Cuba, including medicines and medical products, with a total value of $275.9 million in 2018. Remittances from the United States, estimated at $3.5 billion in 2017, are the dictatorship’s largest source of foreign exchange.

What has destroyed Cuba is communism. A destructive and wasteful dictatorial regime.

The Castro regime is a machine for squandering subsidies. It consumed aid from the Soviet Union between 1960 and 1990 equivalent to six Marshall Plans and failed to improve its growth pattern or take advantage of huge subsidies to improve productivity. Between 1960 and 1990, Cuba received more than $65 billion from the Soviet Union, not counting what it received from other socialist countries.

The Cuban dictatorship has also squandered subsidies and aid from China, Russia, and Venezuela.

For the Cuban medical program, Misión Barrio Adentro, alone the Havana dictatorship received $120 billion dollars in sixteen years, an official figure revealed by Nicolás Maduro in 2019 and confirmed by Julio García, head of the Cuban missions in Venezuela.

Cuba obtained more money from Venezuela for other concepts, other missions, for sales of power plants, for triangulation in food imports, and even for the sale of millions of light bulbs.

In the past eighteen years, China has forgiven nearly $5 billion in debt to Cuba, nearly half of the total debt it has forgiven its trading partners. Of course, trade with China has declined due to the constant defaults of the Cuban dictatorial regime.

Russia has donated billions of dollars to Cuba, with donations through, for example, the representation of the World Food Program (WFP) and the write-off of 90 percent of the debt contracted with Russia (2014), about $25.8 billion.

Between 2011 and 2014 alone, Mexico, Japan, China, and Russia together exempted the Cuban dictatorship from $40 billion dollars of debt, which is equivalent to 50 percent of Cuba’s current GDP, according to Forbes.

The Paris Club creditors in 2015 also canceled $8.5 billion in outstanding debt

The Cuban dictatorship always does the same: borrow, squander money, impoverish the population, and default on its commitments. And then it complains about a nonexistent “blockade.”

If we add donations, debt cancellation, and financial support, Russia, China, Venezuela, and Cuba’s main trading partners have given financial aid and donations to the Cuban dictatorship that exceed $200 billion in the last sixteen years. 

Despite all this, and with a monetary policy as destructive as that of Venezuela, printing Cuba pesos without value or demand while squandering the reserves it receives, inflation in 2021 will reach 500 percent according to Reuters

What has the Cuban dictatorship done with all this money? Fritter it away while condemning the Cuban people to misery.

Cuba has a poverty level that, calculated independently, reaches 50 percent. According to figures from the ONEI (Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas e Información), 35.6 percent of the working-age population is unemployed or underemployed. The monetary and economic disaster would lower the Human Development Index position for Cuba from seventy-three to the last places among the countries of the world.

What is it that destroyed Cuba? Communism, not the nonexistent blockade. Author:

Daniel Lacalle

Daniel Lacalle, PhD, economist and fund manager, is the author of the bestselling books Freedom or Equality (2020),Escape from the Central Bank Trap (2017), The Energy World Is Flat (2015), and Life in the Financial Markets (2014).

22 thoughts on “Cuba: The Dictatorship and the “Blockade” Lie”
  1. Well, it looks like Cuba’s back to doing what Cuba does. Too bad they just can’t seem to get a good government in place. But hey, I guess there’s no complaints coming from those who are actively “employed” in the upper echelons of their government. Fidel had a cure… albeit a bit heavy handed. Here’s hoping it doesn’t slide all the way down that slippery slope again. Though, it doesn’t appear to be that far of a slide. They’re already back there, or so it seems.

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