5 ways the Cuban revolution has failed the people of Cuba

Man crossing a street with blue car driving past (© Desmond Boylan/AP Images)
A man crosses a street in Havana as a classic car drives past on November 16, 2018. (© Desmond Boylan/AP Images)

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, yet citizens of this small socialist nation continue to wait for their government to deliver on promises made in 1959. A new constitution that will go up for a highly scrutinized referendum on February 24 may rein in their rights further. Here are five ways that the Cuban Communist Party has failed its people.

Restricted expression

Man holding T-shirt with Cuban slogan (© Mariana Bazo/Reuters)
José Daniel Ferrer leads the Unión Patriótica de Cuba. The T-shirt he is holding says “God, Fatherland, Freedom” in Spanish. (© Mariana Bazo/Reuters)

Ahead of the February 24 constitutional referendum, the Cuban government has stepped up repression of political opposition figures, such as José Daniel Ferrer (above), leader of the Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU), the largest dissident group in Cuba. Opposition figures such as Ferrer have pressed the regime for a more transparent and fair process. On February 11, Cuban police raided multiple homes and offices of UNPACU activists, confiscated property, and beat and detained several dissidents, including Ferrer. As a result, dozens of UNPACU activists have initiated a hunger strike.

Economic stagnation

Two women behind a grocery counter (© Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty Images)
A government-subsidized grocery store, or “bodega,” in Cuba (© Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Empty shelves are a common sight in Cuban stores. Most economists agree that poor centralized management is the cause and that the Cuban government doesn’t allow the private sector to reach its potential. As a result, citizens use their meager state-issued salaries — which can amount to less than a dollar a day — to pay astronomical prices for groceries on the black market.

Unfair working conditions

People sitting in an airport terminal waiting for their plane (© Eraldo Peres/AP Images)
Cuban doctors wait to fly home at the airport in Brasilia, Brazil, on November 22, 2018. (© Eraldo Peres/AP Images)

Cuban doctors are a major export. The Cuban government takes in roughly $11 billion annually from the salaries of health-care professionals participating in its overseas medical missions. Recently, the Cuban government recalled its doctors working in Brazil rather than agree to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s demand that Cuba pay the doctors a fair wage. Eight of these doctors filed a lawsuit in Miami against the Pan­ American Health Organization, claiming forced labor.

Limited access to information

People sitting on a curb outside their home looking at their cellphones (© Desmond Boylan/AP Images)
(© Desmond Boylan/AP Images)

Independent media in Cuba only exists online, yet accessing the internet is prohibitively expensive for most Cubans. A paltry 600 megabytes of data a month — enough for a few Skype sessions with family overseas — can cost 25 percent of a worker’s wages. Users get 300 “bonus” megabytes for using domains on the state-sanctioned, censored “intranet” that is more readily available and affordable than the global internet.

Artistic censorship

Man playing guitar on the sidewalk in front of a colored mural (© Desmond Boylan/AP Images)
(© Desmond Boylan/AP Images)

Cuba’s musicians, dancers, artists and writers – celebrated around the world for their creative output – now suffer the indignity of Decree 349, requiring them to seek government permission to perform, sell or display their work or else face consequences.