Was the Cuban revolution a failure?

The opening of the US toward Cuba seems a good moment to evaluate Castro’s 1959 revolution. The impression I get from the media and comments by even liberal friends is that it is widely considered a failure.

Those of a liberal bent give Castro credit for getting rid of the dictator and the dominance of Big Sugar. Many acknowledge the revolution’s achievements in education and medicine. But did Castro need to jail all those dissidents? And given the austerity of life for most Cubans in the last 20 years, how can the revolution be considered anything but a failure?

But failure compared to what? The previous 56 years for the island nation (Batista and predecessors)? Compared with life in the US (say, in Miami for the self-exiled exploiting class?) That wouldn’t seem fair.

It’s surprising we don’t hear attempts to answer the question by comparing Cuba with, say, Grenada, the other Caribbean island whose 1979 revolution the US managed to nip in the bud and which has presumably been basking in our approval ever since.

Apples and oranges, of course. Cuba is a much bigger island; Grenada is only the size of Martha’s Vineyard. It took a lot more—lives, time, determination—to unseat Batista than Grenada’s dictator, Gairy, and his little army of thugs called the Mongoose Gang. But there are similarities. Both revolutions started with ideal of bettering life for the great majority. Both revolutions first turned for help and support to the US, whose response in both cases was to do its best to crush both revolutions, infamously failing in the case of Cuba, but succeeding witgh tiny Grenada with the help, it is widely believed, of a CIA- engineered coup.

So: the revolution we failed to abort vs. the one we did: How has it been working for both? It would be interesting to have a detailed comparison including both economic statistics and other quality-of -life factors.
How have those Grenadians Reagan rescued from the clutches of socialist idealism been doing the last 30 -plus years?

Would Cuba have been better off if Batista had never been challenged? Would Batista-sponsored capitalism have reformed itself?

You would think we would at least be curious about the question.


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