Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Then there were the real achievements that endured even in the worst years of desperate hunger and privation for the island: the much-touted education and health systems; an end to de facto apartheid; the priority given to infants and children, who grew up as healthy as their counterparts in the wealthiest nations; an early interest in environment-conscious urban development; and adventurous research in the field of medicine. The standards he set raised the bar for the hemisphere’s primitive and rapacious ruling classes and showed the poor what they could aspire to.
Close up, the picture darkened: squalid, crammed prisons that were the result of fifty years of clumsy effort at mind control; an economy that might have worked better were it managed by monkeys; families torn apart by an official intransigence that became part of the national mindset; children who lost their mothers and mothers who lost their children to the sea in their attempt to flee their suffocating homeland; the reckless waving about of nuclear warheads during two terrifying weeks that threatened the world with annihilation. There was, too, the unspeakable boredom of the later decades; the claustrophobic misery of living in a country that its ruler had tried to subordinate to his fantasies.