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Fidel Castro’s 13 Most Notorious Failures

Fidel Castro’s 13 Most Notorious Failures / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 30 November 2016 – Cuba’s official press
and, oddly, a good part of the international media, never stop repeating
that Fidel Castro brought Cubans free education and healthcare for all.
Cuba was already, however, one of the most developed countries on the
continent before the Revolution, much more so even than some European
countries such as Spain. Currently, the healthcare system is in a
calamitous state since the USSR and Venezuela suspended their enormous
subsidies for Havana, and education, despite being universal and free,
is totally at the service of an ideology.
These are the 13 most notorious failures of the last 57 years, all
attributable to the Maximum Leader.

1. One of Fidel Castro’s first promises in 1959 was to drain the Zapata
Swamp, the largest wetland in the Caribbean islands, and to use it for
planting rice. After investing substantial resources and mobilizing a
large labor force, the project was abandoned. The failure of this idea
of Castro’s was fortunate for the ecosystem, and today the area is
included in the National System of Protected Areas and is a breeding
ground with more than 10,000 rhombifer crocodiles, a species native to
Cuba. A natural resource that would have been lost with the expansion of
agricultural crops.
2. In a public speech in the sixties, Castro said that in a short time
there would not be a single marabou bush to be found anywhere on the
island. Five decades later, the advance of this invasive plant has
hampered agriculture to the point that his brother Raul re-issued the
promise in a speech in July of 2007, during the annual commemoration
ceremony for the assault on the Moncada Baracks, but the problem remains
unresolved.
3. In the early sixties Fidel Castro promised that milk production in
Cuba would be so great that although the population was expected to
triple, Cubans would not be able to consume all the milk that was going
to be produced. Currently, milk is a rationed product distributed only
to children under seven (and those with special medical needs), who
receive a kilogram of powdered milk every ten days. In 2007, Raul Castro
expressed a desire that all Cubans would be able to “drink a glass of
milk” every morning.
4. The October Crisis, also known as the Missile Crisis, represented a
major defeat for the Maximum Leader, when the Soviets ignored him and
made an agreement with the United States to withdraw their nuclear arms
without considering his opinion. The Cuban people were barely aware of
how close they came to perishing in a global cataclysm. In the streets
of the island people chanted, “If they come, they stay,” and “Nikita,
pansy, what is given isn’t taken back,” (in a rhyming version in the
original Spanish), an allusion to the withdrawal of the warheads.
5. Starting in late 1968 the island began preparing for a 10 million ton
sugar harvest in 1970, but managed to produce only 8.5 million tons. The
country turned its entire attention to the cane cutting, with the end of
year holidays suspended to concentrate on harvesting and sugar
production. The economy was left in ruins, fields dedicated to other
crops were turned over to sugar, and the damages to the environment were
never revealed.
6. The Alamar neighborhood to the east of the capital, built through a
system of microbrigades – people diverted from their normal workplaces
to construction brigades – was exposed as the Cuban model of socialist
architecture. In Alamar’s concrete blocks would live the “New Man,” an
individual without ambitions who would know nothing of markets or
exploitation. Today the Alamar apartments represent the lowest price
point in the capital’s housing market. Not only for their architectural
ugliness, but because this bedroom community lacks an adequate cultural,
economic and commercial infrastructure.
7. In 1967 it was proposed to create what would be called “the Havana
cordon” around the capital, with the planting of coffee interspersed
with pigeon peas, a miraculous bean to feed cattle. Thousands of Cubans
were mobilized for the cultivation and the official press predicted a
notable improvement in food supplies. The project was abandoned and its
final fate never explained. [Ed. note: Among other problems, Havana does
not have a climate conducive to coffee growing.]
In the late seventies it was planned that the Isle of Youth would be
8. Cuba’s first communist territory. Experiments were established to
eliminate money and extend free goods and services. Numerous schools
were built to welcome students on fellowships from 37 countries. Today
most of these schools are abandoned, their hallways and classrooms
overrun by vegetation.
9. The genetically superior cow was one of the most persistent
obsessions of the Comandante en Jefe. Crossing Holsteins with native
cattle would create the F-1 and later F-2 animals that would guarantee
the national cattle herd. The emblematic animal of this project was a
single cow named White Udder, which set several records, producing more
than 100 liters of milk a day. The year 2015 closed with slightly more
than 4 million cows on the island, almost two million fewer than in
1958, while the population had doubled.
10. In 1983, Cuban troops surrendered to United States troops in
Granada. Cuban official television said that the Cubans had been slain
wrapped in the national flag before falling into the hands of the
“enemy.” Shortly afterwards they returned to the island, safe and sound,
along with the officer in charge of the mission, Colonel Pedro Tortolo.
Popular humor named a kind of tennis shoe sold in the rationed market
after him, because they were able to “run well.”
11. The Juragua nuclear power plant, in Cienfuegos province, was
proclaimed the “work of the century” in Cuba, but never completed. The
project started in 1982 with technical and financial support from the
Soviet Union, and was to have four Russian VVER reactors, with a
capacity of 440 megawatts each, which should have become operational
between 1995 and 1996. After the disappearance if the USSR, the project
was paralyzed for lack of financial resources. The works were 50%
complete at that time, with an investment of some 1.1 billion dollars.
12. In 1983, Cuban troops surrendered to United States troops in
Granada. Cuban official television said that the Cubans had been slain
wrapped in the national flag before falling into the hands of the
“enemy.” Shortly afterwards they returned to the island, safe and sound,
along with the officer in charge of the mission, Colonel Pedro Tortolo.
Popular humor named a kind of tennis shoe sold in the rationed market
after him, because they were able to “run well.”
13. As a solution to the food shortages of the Special Period, the
so-called Food Plan was launched. Thousands of Cubans were mobilized to
agricultural camps to produce, in particular, the so-called “microjet”
banana. With a system of intensive irrigation they were planted as a
solution to increase the food supply, but the costs of production and
the low quality of the bananas ruined the plan.
14. In the environment of the “Battle of Ideas,” the idea was generated
to create a social worker initiative, a kind of “Red Guards” of the
Revolution who were assigned multiple tasks. They distributed
energy-saving light bulbs during the so-called Energy revolution,
controlled the sale of gasoline at gas stations, but also served as the
shock troops in acts of repudiation against dissidents or ideological
reaffirmation. With the coming to power of Raul Castro, they were
demobilized and many of them ended up joining the ranks of the Ministry
of the Interior.

Source: Fidel Castro’s 13 Most Notorious Failures / 14ymedio, Zunilda
Mata – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/fidel-castros-13-most-notorious-failures-14ymedio-zunilda-mata/

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