Can the death of former Cuban President, Fidel Castro, reinvigorate U.S. – Cuban relations?
Fifty-six years ago, U.S. President Eisenhower placed an economic embargo and severed diplomatic relations with the newly recognized Castro regime, in hopes to “build an open and democratic country.”
Over the subsequent decades, U.S. policy on Cuba is best described as complacent – rarely altered and ineffective. Consequently, the United States faces backlash for the failed policy by other countries in the Latin American sphere – citing “Washington’s isolation of Cuba increasing proved counterproductive.”
Relations remained unfettered until 2014 when President Obama and President Castro simultaneously announced a diplomatic rapprochement.
A fresh slate for U.S. – Cuban relations conjures the prospect of increased benefits for both countries – particularly the isolated health care in Cuba.
Cuba, however, is associated with the appellation, the “Cuban Health Paradox”, which defies the conventional wisdom of associating the health of a country with its overall wealth.
Health care in Cuba is remarkably robust. In 2014, Cuban life expectancy was slightly higher than that of the United States. The centrally-planned government heavily invests in the Cuban Health Paradox, which is exemplified by high childhood vaccination rates and a swath of doctors.
The Communist government has also ensured that health care in Cuba is a fundamental right afforded to all citizens. Moreover, the Cuban health paradox has produced a citizenry that is “more likely to die from the maladies that kill rich people – cancer and heart disease – than the communicable disease that kills in most poor places.
That being said, the Cuban people still contend with grave health risks. Many important medicines are not available and specialized medical care is nearly non-existent. Even basic disinfectants are sparse.
Beyond health care in Cuba, the Cuban economy has demonstrated a rapid decline in standard economic measurements over the last 60 years. The underwhelming performance is highlighted by the reduction of independent newspaper among Latin American countries. Additionally, Cuba is increasingly more dependent on outside sources of funding. In 2013, remittances accounted for $5.1 billion, which was enough to provide every Cuban with $1,000. The figure is striking when compared with the average annual salary of $260.
– Adam George