I don’t care what anyone says, the changes Fidel Castro instituted in Cuba to provide healthcare for all, to provide education to such a degree that the Cuban literacy rate is the envy of most nations, to provide food sustenance to a much greater degree than ever before are good, good, good.

Go ahead–compare this healthcare accessibility, the literacy rate and nutritional viability to any other country in Central and South America. Cuba easily comes out on top.

It is also a positive that Cuba is no longer a ‘play thing’ for other nations, foreign investors and organized crime. Cuba is run by Cubans, of course, one in particular.
Whether many want to admit it or not, aiding the least in their society is also part of the reason that the current leaders of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and Bolivia. Evo Morales, are in power today. Despite allegations and accusations, especially against Chavez, these two are provinding much greater services to the poor and the powerless than ever before.

And in Chile, newly-elected President Michelle Bachelet, a socialist and someone who was tortured during Chile’s darkest days, defeated a multi-millionaire businessman to win the position.

These are nothing but positive moves in my mind.

However, on the flip side, my hope is that Chavez, Morales and Bachelet do not succumb to the dark temptations that Fidel Castro has–the restrictions of personal liberty, the torture. Of course, Chavez, Morales and Bachelet.were all democratically elected, a major difference than what takes place in Cuba.

That is the downside and the unacceptable part of Castro’s rule. His human rights abuses cannot simply be explained away as necessary to continue his network of social care. It doesn’t have to be an either/or equation.

But it also doesn’t make moral sense that the United States continues to hammer away at Cuba while embracing a country, China, whose leaders endorse similar abuses and fail to supply social services to large numbers of the population. The difference: China is a military power and a burgeoning economic market. Hypocrisy and moral relativism abounds.

Here is the latest on Castro:

    Mar. 18, 2006
    Cuban activists under siege
    By Gary Marx
    Chicago Tribune

    SANTA CLARA, Cuba – Three years after the harshest crackdown on dissent in decades, human rights conditions in Cuba have deteriorated as authorities intensify a campaign to disrupt and intimidate the island’s small opposition movement, according to dissidents, diplomats and political analysts.

    Elizardo Sánchez, an opposition activist who heads the Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said the number of political prisoners in Cuba increased from 306 in early 2005 to 333 in early 2006.

    Sánchez said that about 100 pro-government crowd actions, known in Cuba as “acts of repudiation,” and other attacks have occurred against opposition figures since July 2005…

    …Last week, a U.S. State Department report and U.N. expert Christine Chanet each criticized the human rights situation in Cuba. Chanet also said tightened U.S. sanctions have created “extreme tension” between the two nations “which is far from conducive to the development of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly..”

    ….One of the activists targeted by pro-government groups is Noelia Pedraza, who was participating in a vigil in September for political prisoners when, she said, an angry crowd cut the lights to her apartment, shouted insults and threw rocks and eggs.

    Since then, Pedraza, a leader of a small opposition group in Santa Clara, 165 miles east of Havana, said she has been detained by police and assaulted by pro-government demonstrators while distributing human rights material in a park.

    Cuban officials defend the island’s human rights record by saying they provide universal education, health care and other services. They portray the acts of repudiation as spontaneous outpourings of support.

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