How Cuba was destroyed

In From Other Parts by Michael Rae

Now that President Obama has opened relations with Cuba, and plans to visit this month, Canadians are saying, “Let’s get down there before Americans ruin the place.” Too late: the ruin began with the 1959 revolution.
Many Canadians’ understanding of modern Cuba come from scenes in Godfather II where the mafia, and a military dictatorship ran the country into the ground. To paraphrase George Santayana’s aphorism, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to have Hollywood teach it to them.
Life under dictator Fulgencio Batista certainly wasn’t a proud time for Cuba. But here’s what we forget: Cuba had an economy that grew throughout the 1950s with rising industrial and agricultural wages comparable to those in Europe. Workers were entitled to one-month paid holiday, an eight-hour workday (going back to 1933), and mothers were given six-weeks leave before and after childbirth.
Although GDP per capita was one-sixth that of the U.S., pre-revolutionary Cuba enjoyed Latin America’s highest per capita consumption of meats, fruits and vegetables along with high levels of ownership of cars, telephones and radios. There were 58 different daily newspapers.
By the late 1950s, Cuba had more doctors per capita than the U.K. and the lowest infant-mortality rate in Latin America and the 13th-lowest in the world. Today, hard currency is earned by sending talented doctors abroad while their families are held back to discourage defections.
The Castro government boasts about its education system, but according to the UN, pre-revolution Cuba already had a literacy rate higher than Spain’s at the time.