The Castropedia: Fidel’s Cuba in facts and figures

Fidel Castro 1978.

From The Independent comes a fascinating assortment of information about Cuba.

Quote attributed to Castro: “If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.”

Size of the original rebel army led by Castro and including Che Guevara that sailed to Cuba in 1956, eventually toppling President Batista on 1 January 1959: 82

Most were killed quickly upon landing. Just eleven, I believe, escaped to the mountains, on the run from Batista’s forces. Three years later the rebels marched on Havana as victors with hundreds of thousands following them. This could not have happened without huge and genuine support from the populace.

In 2004 Cuba passed a law forbidding private citizens to access the internet. It is illegal to buy a computer without government approval, which is rarely granted to ordinary Cubans. Similar restrictions apply to the ownership of mobile phones.

Cuba declines all requests from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to visit the island.

Castro, on abolishing general elections in 1961: “The revolution has no time for elections. There is no more democratic government in Latin America than the revolutionary government.”

Democracy means the people elect their leaders, and not a privileged inner council only vaguely beholden to the population. If Cuba wants to stop US criticism cold, having open elections of the president would be the best way to do it. And let AI and HRW in too.

Healthcare, Cuban
Life expectancy at birth: male 75.11; female: 79.85 (US: 75.02; 80.82).
Infant mortality rate: 6.22 deaths per 1,000 live births (US: 6.43).

Number of “organoponicos” (organic urban allotments) in Cuba: more than 7,000, totalling about 80,000 acres.

Number of such gardens in Havana: more than 200 (which supply the city with more than 90 per cent of its fruit and vegetables).

In health care and organic, locally grown food, Cuba absolutely shines. They’ve made huge friends worldwide by sending highly qualified doctors everywhere at no charge. When the USSR collapsed, they were forced to create organic, locally grown food and are now a world leader at this.

Cuba has been described as the largest American car museum in the world.

Ah. when the embargo is lifted, and I expect this will be happening sooner rather than later, will a Cuba that survived decades of CIA plots be able to survive the invasion of Wal-Marts, iPods, and collectors willing to pay huge bucks for a cherry ’55 Chevy Bel Air convertible? Time will tell…