Cubans are unhappier than ever -

Cubans are unhappier than ever

Raúl has used ‘draconian laws and sham trials’


When Raúl Castro replaced his ailing older brother Fidel as president of Cuba in February 2008, Cubans looked forward to an era of greater freedoms. They would be able to rent cars, use cellphones, buy consumer electronics and even have a sex change if they pleased. Or so they thought.

A series of new reports paints an ominous picture of the island nation 144 km off the southern tip of Florida. One, from Human Rights Watch, says Raúl’s government is using “draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores who have dared to exercise their fundamental freedoms,” and notes that people are being punished before they even commit a crime. With details obtained by the New York-based group in a clandestine mission this past summer, the report highlights some 40 cases in which individuals were jailed for the fuzzy offence of “dangerousness.” Their crimes include staging rallies, writing articles that are critical of the government, and attempting to establish independent unions. Those unfortunate enough to be rounded up are serving time in “overcrowded, unhygienic and unhealthy” prisons where malnutrition and illness are rampant.

Even for non-“dangerous” Cubans, life isn’t much better. A survey released by the International Republican Institute found that four out of five Cubans are unhappy with the overall direction of the country. “Cubans are as frustrated and pessimistic as they’ve ever been,” noted Alex Sutton, the institute’s Latin American programs director. Of the 432 Cuban adults interviewed for the survey, 75 per cent said they would vote for democracy and 20 per cent suggested the political system should be changed altogether.

And Cubans don’t expect things to improve: just 15 per cent believe Raúl’s regime will solve Cuba’s biggest problems—low salaries, high cost of living and food shortages—in the next few years.


Cubans are unhappier than ever

  1. So… a population that has been subject to a criminal trade blockade for a half-century, has been invaded by the hemispheric superpower, that continues to be subjected to internal interference and dissident-creation to the tune of several million dollars per year, feels – in a poll of rather suspect methodology conducted by, of all things, the International Republican Institute (hardly impartial) – that life sucks. Imagine that. I wonder how Canadians would feel, subjected to the same overt aggression that Cuba has had the courage and dignity to withstand for so long?

  2. Human Rights Watch? International Republican Institute (IRI)? Couldn't Macleans find less biased organizations? For the last 15 years I have traveled to Cuba numerous times for research purposes and I have collected my own sample of Cubans. In no way I get the percentages you report – not even close. On the other hand I don't need to rely on statistics to know that Alex Sutton, has recently been closely involved with many of the organizations that have backed the recent Honduran coup and that the IRI has reportedly financed coup in several countries including Venezuela in 2002. Where is your notion of “impartial researcher”?

    • Right on Nino! Macleans is in the bussiness of selling a product this is how they chose to do it! thums down in my book he he .

    • Why don't you enlighten us with some of the samples you collected?

      • Because this is not a debate about statistics as Macleans wants us to believe. 432 carefully selected Canadians will also have a large percentage of “unhappier than ever” people with the current government. All I have to do is go to certain areas in my city! This is a debate about attitude towards Cuba. If Macleans is not biased, it should print another article presenting the Cuba I (and others) know. I could suggest quite a few names of people (professional journalists etc.) willing to write one. Would Maclean accept the challenge? Would you? That's what I am talking about!

        • That's a really weak answer. You also haven't done your research on Maclean's and are assuming they have a bias. The same author wrote a piece in October 2008 about Cuba, called Cuba Loosens Up, that perhaps you should read.

  3. Ah yes Cuba not democratic.
    let's look at the third world great democracies. India, Mexico, Brazil.
    hundreds of thousands of children dying in the streets. Corruption, social inequality etc etc.
    lets do the trendy thing and criticize Cuba. What a huge brainwash!

  4. What a useless piece of propaganda. I'm sure that close to 4 out of 5 in the US are not pleased in the direction we are going. Having been to Cuba numerous times in the last decade (illegally- since my government has no right to tell me where I can travel or spend money), I have not found Cubans as pessimistic as you claim. Cubans are not as upset about jailed dissidents since many were on US payrolls. US paid agents. Don't we also imprison Cuban funded agents.
    This article was probably written by a member of the terrorist supporting Miami Mafia.

  5. Before the communist dictator F.Castro came to power,Cuba was 3rd richest country in Latin america,only behind Argentina and Uruguay.Also had bigger GDP than Italy & Greece.And now is just above Haity in living standard ,the average monthly wages being around $20,that's less then $1 per day.I just wonder how many so called
    "Canadian friends if Cuba" would actually like to live there!
    Case closed!

  6. redbiter repeats a half-truth from pre-1959. Cuba's broad economic indicators did indeed appear to reflect a successful economy. But this does not take into account the *distribution* of that wealth – Cuba was hugely inequitable prior to the Revolution. Health care was an urban, upper-class phenomenon. Most rural workers were highly seasonal, with an atrocious quality of life. Racial discrimination was the norm. Opportunities for non-white, non-capital Cubans were extremely limited. The country was the caribbean brothel for the U.S., with gringos running the economy, expatriating profits and empoverishing the country. Cuba today certainly has its problems, but it is sovereign and is held in high esteem by the rest of the world, where Cuba's selfless contributions have not gone unnoticed.

  7. I hope the embargo is removed soon, so I can wait and see who the Castros will blame for the country's woes.

  8. Cuba is notorious for many human rights violations and Castro has a long and distinguished track record as a friend of terrorist regimes: Fidel Castro has maintained Havana as the center for international terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. He maintains close ties with every recognized terror regime–Iran, Syria, North Korea, Libya, Algeria and Lebanon as well as with Russia and China. He was one of Saddam Hussein's most loyal allies and defenders.

    Following the 9-11 attacks, Castro hosted a global terror summit in Havana that included representatives from the "axis of evil" regimes and top terrorist groups.

    Just recently the US has announced tougher air screening for 'terror-prone' countries. Here's a partial list of countries known to sponser or train terrorists: Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Cuba . Yet our lefties don't seem to have a concern in the world about human rights violations in these countries. In fact, many of them vacation in Cuba, where they can spout off about Americans with the locals.

  9. And what about Young Trudeau, the great god of the lefties? he was and still is worshiped by Pink Floyd Axworthy,The Toronto Star, and all kinds of artsy-fartsy university students.

    While our fathers were dying in Europe fighting Hitler, this intellectual narcistic Marxist refused to fight. In fact he adored the dictators and raced about Montreal on his motorcycle while wearing a German war helmet.

    It's little wonder he wanted to snuggle with Castro, a man close to Trudeau's heart.