Cuba's Greatest Disaster

Thursday, May 15, 2014

City Journal presents an absorbing portrait of Havana by Michael Totten, who managed a visit there despite being a journalist. Taking a conversation with a visiting Cuban-American couple as his point of departure, Totten thus aptly describes the city, as well as the cause of its decline:

"His family is from here," she said, "but mine's not, and I will never come back here. Not while it's like this. I feel like I'm in Iraq or Afghanistan." I visited Iraq seven times during the war and didn't have the heart to tell her that Baghdad, while ugly and dangerous, is vastly freer and more prosperous these days than Havana. Anyway, Iraq is precisely the kind of country with which Castro wants you to compare Cuba. It's the wrong comparison. So are impoverished Third World countries like Guatemala and Haiti. Cuba isn't a developing country; it's a once-developed country destroyed by its own government. Havana was a magnificent Western city once. It should be compared not with Baghdad, Kabul, Guatemala City, or Port-au-Prince but with formerly Communist Budapest, Prague, or Berlin. Havana's history mirrors theirs, after all. [bold added]
Totten also presents us with a leftist he encountered who is the very portrait of the sin of evasion:
If he were still around, [Ernest] Hemingway would be stunned to see what has happened to his old haunt[, the Floridita bar]. Cubans certainly aren't happy about it, but the tourists are another story--especially the world's remaining Marxoid fellow travelers, who show up in Havana by the planeload. Such people are clearly unteachable. I got into an argument with one at the Floridita when I pointed out that none of the patrons were Cuban. "There are places in the United States that some can't afford," she retorted. Sure, but come on. Not even the poorest Americans have to pay a week's wage for a beer.
Totten does Cuba and the rest of the world a great service by straying from the tourist areas and into those he likens to Detroit to describe the brutishness of the Communist regime and the impoverishment it has brought to everyone under its thumb. This article deserves a very wide audience.

-- CAV

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