If you know Spanish, watch the video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=873589819731339
The woman in the video and still image above, Lola, provides a moving soliloquy regarding the ongoing pandemic. She opens with the realization that “common sense” is not as common as we think. She goes on to say that those who have common sense are worthy of admiration because it’s so hard to find these days.
Her sarcastic tone is about the absurd claims being made by Cubans on the island regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. They will make claims like, “Your president (Donald Trump) is setting up dump trucks outside all of the hospitals because so many people are have died. Your health system can’t handle all the sick and dying!” Solicitously, these folks ask, “Are you doing OK in those grim conditions?”
Yes, we are in a health crisis. Many people are dying. There are a ton of old and sick people not only in the US but in the whole world. We’re in a scary situation.
However, the concern over the well-being of friends and family members in the US amid the crisis is misplaced. Despite the health care system’s current state of over-capacity, it beats out Cuba’s system by much more than a longshot. The health crisis of the US emerged quickly and is most likely short-lived. Hospitals are immaculately clean, have staff who are well-trained, and are, during normal times, filled with the resources necessary to address virtually any health issue effectively.
Besides, folks in the US have the capacity to actually assist the health system. We have easy-access to masks, hand sanitizer, and a multitude of goods necessary to combat the pandemic and overcome the lockdowns with ease.
Not in Cuba.
Cubans are stuffed in a multi-generational household because nobody has the means to buy a house of their own. Your home is also falling apart because there are no tools or supplies to repair anything. If you are one of the lucky few to have a car, it’s at least 40 years old, and there’s no gasoline to fill it up. Going to a grocery store is out of the question as there are none. Before, during, and after the crisis, you will continue to wait in line for your scant ration of essentials each month.
In the US, we can take $50 to the store and buy whatever we need or–wait for it–want. Gasp! Plenty of stores are open during a pandemic with people buying more toilet paper than they need and all the food they could possibly hoard in their modern refrigerators. Not to mention, Amazon and the many other online retailers that will deliver virtually any product we need to our doorstep.
Allow us, citizens of developed countries, to take the punch on this one. We are doing alright during this crisis. But how about Cubans?
Hospitals in Cuba would not even come close to passing a regulatory audit performed by the Department of Health and Human Services, let alone during a pandemic. Cuban hospitals are short of countless resources. Well-trained doctors are limited continuously in their ability to treat patients because of the conditions of their clinics. Cuba is not a great place to live, as evidenced by the swaths of people escaping by any means available.
For more than 60 years, Cubans have been enduring a crisis. Many of them are oblivious to this reality due to the stringent control the government has over the Cuban media. But, many of them stubbornly perpetuate Cuban propaganda, knowing otherwise.
I witnessed this bizarreness when I met extended family members visiting from Cuba. They matter-of-factly say to me, “Oh, well I don’t have to buy a house, like you guys. My government provides a house for me,” and other ridiculous claims. They’ll be amazed when walking into a grocery store, visiting Disney World, or hopping into a nice car to go anywhere, and still speak of Castro as if he was a god.
They exalt the ideology and glorify the very leaders that have kept them in this relative misery for decades. And, this is what brings the woman to tears. Not only are Cubans thoroughly brainwashed, but they are also afraid to say, “We were wrong. This life does suck. Socialism doesn’t work.”
However, this behavior is not all that surprising. The cost of speaking out against the government in Cuba is still very high. Whenever a Cuban dissident makes a little noise, they disappear. The exchange of ideas is not allowed, especially if those ideas are in any way a threat to socialism.
This post is a message of gratitude toward the political and economic institutions of the US. And, a reminder that “common sense” is not as common as we believe. It’s not only a rarity in Cuba where it is actively suppressed but increasingly uncommon among Americans, where free-speech is a pillar of the society.
The COVID-19 pandemic is being used as a weapon to push the US closer to the Cuban way of life. The current health crisis is “proof” that our healthcare system requires some drastic reform. Folks are calling for the immediate adoption of socialist policies like “Covidcare for All,” a public job security program, and universal basic income. Moreover, “tax the wealthy!” of their “excess profits” that are to be arbitrarily decided by the state.
If we desire for poverty to be eradicated, and standards of living to increase for everyone, policies that move us closer to socialism are not the way to go. This was common sense, even if we skipped out on political economy 101. Our parents knew it. The Chinese know it, for crying out loud!
But, it seems like we have forgotten. So, as a reminder, take Lola’s words to heart: “If in the US you come down with a stuffy nose, in Cuba, you’re getting pneumonia.”