Cuba has long been hailed as a “socialist workers paradise.” It is anything but that. Instead it is a nightmare for workers and a fairytale dream for Raul and Fidel Castro, who have ruled the island prison for over fifty years.
In the socialist utopia, the goal is to redistribute the wealth of the rich equally among the poor. “Take from the rich! Give to the poor,” was the classic communist mantra. Equalize wealth and there will be plenty to share around.
It has not quite worked out this way for the poor in Cuba.
The minimum wage in Cuba is five cents an hour. A nickel! Compare this to neighboring countries. The Dominican Republic’s minimum wage is thirty-nine cents an hour. Haiti stands at thirty-six cents an hour. At a nickel an hour — it’s unclear if that is taxed — Cuba ranks as the second lowest minimum wage in the world.
A Cuban earning minimum wage would need to work seven times more just to match his neighboring Dominican or Haitian counterpart.
Meanwhile, the same “paradise” has treated the Castros with largesse, for whom the redistribution of wealth has worked out quite handsomely.
Forbes Magazine reports the Castro brothers’ net worth at $110 million in 2003, $550 million in 2005 and $900 million in 2012. This had put them, in 2012, well above the combined fortunes of Queen Elizabeth of England and then Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands.1
The British newspaper The Guardian reports on the book, La Vie Cachée de Fidel Castro (Fidel Castro’s Hidden Life), written by Juan Reinaldo Sánchez, his former personal bodyguard. The book gives an insight into the opulence the dictator of this workers’ paradise enjoys. The Guardian sums it up well; “Fidel Castro lived like a king with his own private yacht, a luxury Caribbean island getaway complete with dolphins and a turtle farm, and travelled with two personal blood donors…”
This socialist workers paradise is not a classic fairy tale of rags to riches. Much to the misfortune of the poor and the workers, it’s more like tale of rags and the richest.