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Six Weeks of Communists, Libertarians, Capitalists and Socialists

I’ll avoid the conclusions; they are for you to reach. I’ll just present the observations. Over a period of six weeks, I spent my time in roughly equal parts in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Cuba proudly proclaims itself a communist state. For fifty years, it has delighted in being the booger on the lapel of Uncle Sam’s fine and festive coat. Billboards all across the island remind Cubans of their communist and socialist heritage and strength.

The Dominican Republic appears to be as libertarian as any state in our hemisphere. Government regulation is minimal. The regulation that does exist doesn’t seem to be strictly enforced unless it serves to protect the individual rights of those in power. The common man in the D.R. has individual freedom whether he likes it or not.

Puerto Rico is a “possession” of the United States and shares our capitalistic ethos, system of government and economic structure (whether the people want it or not). It is exactly as it is in any other part of the United States except that the climate and geography are completely different, the history and heritage bear little similarity the rest of the U.S., its culture, music, dance, food, etc. are Latin, it is more racially homogenous and the people speak a different language. Other than that, it’s Ames, Iowa all over again.

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On the Failure (Success) of Cuban Communism

The first time I visited Cuba, I was just three years old. A young man named Fidel Castro had just graduated from college with a degree in law. Carlos Prío was president of a corrupt Cuban government. Bautista had not yet taken power. Even though I was a small child at the time, I still have some vivid memories of the Cuba of 1950, the narrow streets, the open stores and markets with meat hanging overhead, the sandy beach and a friendly police officer who carried me on his shoulders. This early experience in Cuba undoubtedly had a great impact on my lifelong love and intrigue with this beautiful Caribbean island.

Less than twenty years later, I had embarked on a career as a news reporter, writer and broadcaster. Thanks to the acrimonious relations between the United States and Fidel’s communist Cuba, I could no longer visit the island. Propagandists on both sides of the fence painted lurid pictures of their evil neighbors ninety miles away. As a reporter, I learned pure, unbiased, objective reporting was sometimes a noble goal, but was impossible to obtain. As often as not, it wasn’t even the goal. The news was and continues to be distorted with intent by the government, corporate sponsors and biased news reporters. I can guarantee you that our views of Cuba, the embargo and the people of Cuba are colored by the lenses we’re forced to look through as we try to interpret the island that has been taboo to Americans for more than fifty years.

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Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down this Wall!

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan delivered his now famous “Tear Down this Wall” speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin.  It wasn’t long after that the wall came tumbling down.  Jingoists and myopic right-wingers declared the end of communism.  Many said capitalism had triumphed over communism and proclaimed the end of the Cold War.

There can be little doubt that communism had indeed suffered a failure of sorts, but only the foolish declared it dead.  I have been to Russia and have observed firsthand the products of the rise of Soviet communism and the mechanism of its decline.  Although I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, I feel confident in making two statements.

  1. Communism in its purest Guervarian form will not work.
  2. The failure of Soviet communism was in fact the result of capitalism, but not in the sense most people believe.

The brand of communism espoused by Che Guevara and others like him doesn’t work because it is an ideal, a concept, a theoretical condition.  It is a completely selfless system where everyone works hard for the common good.  In its purest, hypothetical form it is as close to a perfect system as can be imagined.  Unfortunately, it falls apart when you introduce one additional variable to the equation – humanity. Continue reading

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