Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cuba - The Holodomor Next Door

Cuba: The Holodomor Next Door
Cuba's starvation policy is a crime against humanity.
By Robert Zubrin

I just got back from a business trip to Mexico. While there, I met with
some Mexicans who had recently traveled to Cuba. What they told me was
shocking. The Cuban people are being held on the edge of starvation.

According to my Mexican friends, ordinary Cubans are not allowed to eat
beef. Instead, what beef there is in Cuba is reserved for the nation's
rulers and for tourists who can pay for it with foreign exchange while
staying at the all-inclusive resort hotels. It is in fact illegal to
sell beef to a Cuban — not that any of them outside the ruling class
would be able to buy much, since the average wage in Cuba is about 50
cents per day, or one-tenth of the minimum legal wage in Mexico. With
this pittance, Cubans must subsist on the subsidized rations made
available to them by the government. These comprise 5 pounds of rice, 5
pounds of sugar, 1 pound of salt, 10 ounces of beans, 8 ounces of
cooking oil, 0.15 ounces of coffee mixed with unknown stuff that isn't
coffee, 6 ounces of very-low-quality fish, and 1 pound of a disgusting
product made from unsalable animal parts, per month. No fruits or
vegetables are included. I repeat: These rations are not free, but must
be paid for, with the total bill consuming most of a Cuban's monthly
salary. This leaves almost nothing to spend on additional food, which is
available on the black market or in "dollar stores," where reasonably
good food, donated by Western aid agencies, is sold at (non-Cuban)
supermarket prices to foreigners or government elites holding dollars or


When Cubans found out my friends were Mexicans, they would frequently
beg them for food.
I should add, by the way, that my Mexican informants are not right-wing
Cuban émigrés looking to badmouth the Castro regime. On the contrary,
they are individuals of generally left-leaning sentiments who voiced
nothing but praise for the Cuban school system. Yet they saw what they
saw, and they were willing to bear witness.

After hearing their report of North Korean–like enforced hunger in Cuba,
I decided to search the Internet to see if I could find confirmations
from others. I found several. Apparently this situation has been going
on for some time. An excellent account reporting many of the same
observations was published by the intrepid Canadian blogger-traveler
Ruby Weldon in 2009. A study published by the U.S. National Institutes
of Health in 2005 reported that 41 percent of patients encountered in
Cuba's hospitals suffered from malnutrition, and 11 percent were
"severely undernourished."

Yet such is not the dominant account given by the global media. Far from
it. If you search the Internet for "malnutrition in Cuba," you will see
innumerable postings citing favorable reports from UNICEF and the World
Health Organization that go so far as to claim that Cuba is leading the
developing world in the complete elimination of malnutrition. "Cuba has
no such problems," trumpets "It is the only country in Latin
America and the Caribbean that eliminated severe malnutrition due to the
government's efforts to improve people's diet, especially those most
vulnerable." Such "big lie" blanket denials remind one of the
international left-wing media's willful blindness to the genocidal
famine, or Holodomor, that the Stalin regime imposed on Ukraine in 1932–33.

While denying the existence of Cuba's mass starvation, many regime
apologists don't hesitate to simultaneously blame it on the United
States. This is nonsense. The U.S. trade embargo on Cuba is almost
completely ineffective, as many other countries, including the European
Union, do not honor it. The goods of the world market are available for
Cuba to purchase, but all the foreign exchange is monopolized by the
regime, which uses it for its own power and pleasure. This allows the
government to enforce starvation wages on the enslaved populace — who
have no choice but to work on such terms as the regime dictates, because
the rulers ban private enterprise, and the country has no other employer.

Yet even more shocking, perhaps, than the deniers are certain current
Western commentators who actually acknowledge the government-organized
starvation but praise it. Some say that "the Cuban diet" is a great way
to lose weight. Others see it as a key step forward in the fight to save
the planet: "[T]hey have created what may be the world's largest working
model of a semi-sustainable agriculture, one that doesn't rely nearly as
heavily as the rest of the world does on oil, on chemicals, on shipping
vast quantities of food back and forth," wrote environmental ideologue
Bill McKibben in his 2005 Harper's article "The Cuban Diet: What you
will be eating when the revolution comes": "​They import some of their
food from abroad — a certain amount of rice from Vietnam, even some
apples and beef and such from the United States. But mostly they grow
their own, and with less ecological disruption than in most places. In
recent years, organic farmers have visited the island in increasing
numbers and celebrated its accomplishment."​

Indeed, organic farmers are not the only ones celebrating. In 2006, the
international "Living Planet" report of the World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) and the Global Footprint Network declared: "Cuba is the only
nation to achieve sustainable development."

However, such glorious strides can be accomplished only under socialism.
As the Pulitzer Center's Kassondra Cloos put it in her glowing April
2013 Huffington Post article:

[F]arming won't significantly change for the better, until the world is
forced to reckon with the diminishing supply of nonrenewable resources
that power the engines that transport food across scores of time zones
before it hits the dinner table. It's cheaper to burn gas using machines
to plow, plant, harvest, and haul food than it is to sit down and think
about how to more efficiently manage resources.

Under a dictatorship like the one in Cuba, change can be forced or
necessitated overnight. . . . In a democracy, there's great freedom to
choose the easy way out — but it has hidden costs for everyone along the

Such endorsements place their authors beneath contempt. The Cuban
government's brutal food-denial program is not a benevolent attempt to
fight obesity, save the environment, or demonstrate the wonders of
organic farming. It, like Stalin's Holodomor, the Nazis' "Hunger Plan"
for the territories they occupied during the war, and the current North
Korean regime's enforced starvation policy, is an effort to destroy the
will of a population to resist tyranny through denial of the most
essential substances necessary to maintain life and strength. The use of
hunger as a weapon of political control is a crime against humanity. The
well-stuffed slave masters currently gorging themselves in Cuba's halls
of power need to be held accountable.

—Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Energy of Lakewood, Colo., and
the author of Energy Victory. The paperback edition of his latest book,
Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal
Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, was just
published by Encounter Books.

Source: Cuba: The Holodomor Next Door | National Review Online -

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