When I don’t go to California on weekends I feel bored. This weekend I was so bored that I kept changing channels on the TV with nothing interesting to watch, so I decided to troll around the Internet and came across an article written by someone named Ana Simon. I don’t know who the woman is but she published an article called, “The Cuba that Castro found in 1959.”
This woman, Ms. Simon, has the audacity to write that the Cuba that Castro found in 1959, when he seized power at the head of a populist revolution, was not a Haiti, or even a Guatemala. Of course not; the Cuba before Castro was much better than any other Latin American country.
I will add, not even Dominican Republic. According to this woman, Ana Simon, Cuba was the most underdeveloped country in Latin America before Fidel Castro. She claims that Cuba ranked third in life expectancy at birth, fourth in electricity consumption per capita and fifth in annual income per capita. Ana Simon also claims shocking inequalities between white Cubans and black and mulatto Cubans.
I was totally shocked by her statistics that before Castro: —More than 50 percent [of the people] had no toilets of any kind. (I wonder where this woman got her figures or what people she visited in Cuba because the Cuban people were the first to even get bidets in their bathrooms.) —85 percent had no inside running water. (Excuse me!) —91 percent had no electricity. (I wonder if the televisions that were in Cuba ran on batteries because almost every household had at least one television set.)
Maybe it was this woman who, in 1960, asked my mother if Cuba has electricity or any type of transportation. My mother, who was as cynical as I am, told the person: “Oh no, we have no electricity, and we transported ourselves on donkeys like you.” This Simon woman continued, saying: There was only one doctor per 2,000 people in rural areas. How stupid a person can she be? She also said that only 4 percent of Cuban peasants ate meat regularly; only 1 percent ate fish, less than 2 percent eggs, 3 percent bread, 11 percent milk; and none ate green vegetables. I have met “stupid,” but no one to this degree.
She went on, saying that 45 percent of the rural population was illiterate and 44 percent had never attended a school.
The people of Cuba who were illiterate were so because they chose not to go to school. There were public schools, even in the mountains of Sierra Maestra.
How can this woman explain the numerous medical doctors, attorneys, engineers, architects and several other professionals that left Cuba after 1959 to come to the United States? Where does this lady believe they went to school?
And she stated that racial discrimination was widespread. The Cuban people never discriminated by so-called race; a black Cuban and a mulatto Cuban were simply Cuban; we never heard the “n” word used in that regard.
In Cuba, that kind of discrimination did not exist until January 1959, when this woman Simon’s idol began to destroy that beautiful island with magnificent architecture and elegant buildings as beautiful as the ones we saw in Las Vegas 55 years later.
And this woman, Ana Simon, concluded her article “What Castro found in 1959” by saying that police brutality and tortures were common. Apparently she has never bothered to investigate the brutality of police in any other Latin American country, much less the United States of America, or specifically the City of Las Vegas, State of Nevada.
When people don’t know facts, they should never ever make a fool of themselves by writing about issues of which they know nothing.
Regardless of what anyone may say about President Fulgencio Batista, they have to admit that he was not a good dictator. First, it is very important to know that a dictator is the one who takes power for more than ten years.
Batista is the only person in the world that has taken the power of his country two times without spilling one drop of blood. Once in 1944, when he was in power for four years until he turned the power over to Dr. Ramon Grau San Martin; the next time was on March 10, 1952 when he walked (yes, walked) through gate number 6 on the Military Base of Columbia and the guards at the gate saluted him and asked, “What can we do for you, General?”
Dictator? No way! Stupid? Maybe. Otherwise it is inexplicable why after Fidel Castro attacked the Moncada Military Base and he was sent to prison, he lived there like he never lived before in his life.
Fidel Castro was always a coward. I remember when Senator Rolando Mansferrer made him run for twenty blocks until he (Fidel) hid inside of the building of the University of Havana because he was afraid of the Senator.
Why doesn’t this witch, Ana Simon, who loves Fidel Castro so much ask him how he lived while in prison? Did Fidel ever tell anyone that while in prison under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista he had his own telephone line, a television set (oh, I forgot… Cuba did not have electricity before Castro) and his own library, furnished by the second in command on Isla de Pino Prison, Lt. Roger Perez Diaz?
If Cuba did not have electricity before Castro, the Cuban Power Company was taking the Cubans for a ride because the Power Company, the Telephone Company and many other utility companies, were making money in Cuba from the Cubans.
Doesn’t this woman, Ana Simon, know that Cuba was the first country to have television? Doesn’t she know that the Cuban peso was worth one penny more than the American dollar?
Those beautiful buildings that have been erected on the world famous Las Vegas Strip were normal in Cuba 55 years ago. In Cuba, there were almost more cars than people until 1959, when Castro took over that beautiful and happy island. From Packard to Cadillac to Oldsmobile; from Buick to Pontiac to Mercury, Nash, Ford and Chevrolet, they all existed in Cuba before Castro, and they all drove around in the dark because Cuba, according to that woman Ana Simon, did not have electricity or street lights.
And the Cuban people could not read road signs anyway, since they could not read, or write, because there were no schools —despite the fact that in a short area of the El Vedado there was the Trelles School as well as the Edison School and Academia Military Del Caribe and the Havana Military Academy and Baldor School and Colegio de Belen, where Fidel Castro went to school — all private educational centers besides the public schools and the Instituto del Vedado, among many other public schools. My cousin Jorge Quintana was the president of the Colegio Nacional de Periodistas (National School of Jounalists), but yet none of us knew how to read or write.
I am not speaking through my opinionated mouth; here in Las Vegas there are a few people that can tell if I am lying with this report or not; one of them could be Attorney Waldo De Castroverde, a distinguished member of our community, and a brave member of the Brigade 2506 of the well known Bay of Pigs incident. I am not bringing all this up because I was a fan of President Batista; in fact, I was friends with lots of the members of the Federation of Universe Students, like its president Jose Antonio Echevarria, Vice President Fructuoso Rodriguez, Joe Woodbrook and many other university leaders that were not with Castro.
Before anyone talks about the political views and life of any country, they should learn the truth about that country. God Bless the United States of America where everyone is free to speak whatever they want, truth or not, but the fact is that Cuba was a very beautiful country that Cubans — and everyone else — were able to enjoy with its wonderful weather, music, women and the best reviews and shows as have ever been seen, even in this nation.
My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.