Paraguay a paradise compared to Castro's Cuba

This article was originally published in the Macon Telegraph and News on February 21, 1989 and is republished here for readers of

Editors: There has been a lot of talk in the news media regarding the fall of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, the "longest-ruling dictator in Latin America." I am referring to the coup d' etat that took place in Paraguay in which one caudillo was overthrown and replaced by another. At least in Paraguay, the people had a stable government with a very small crime rate, low inflation and plenty of tranquility.

This drastically compares with Castro's communist Cuba. Castro is now the longest-ruling dictator (for the left or right) in the Western hemisphere. He rules Cuba because he rules with an iron fist. Parents don't trust their children, and children don't trust their parents. Cuba is an island prison. There are no civil rights, no liberties, no equality. More than a million Cubans have fled (that is 10 percent of the population). In truth, if Cuba's doors were open, a large empty raft would be left floating in the Gulf of Mexico.

Leftist elements in this country have apologized for the situation in Cuba often by citing progress in the area of health and education. They quote Cuban government statistics (which were not scrutinized by the rigorous standards which we are used to in the free world). We are now finding out that these statistics were "phony." Nevertheless, they were used in this country by reporters who knew better and even by congressional committees who should have known better. For example, a report by a House committee in 1977 stated that there were only 187,000 students in Cuba in the pre-Castro era and that the literacy rate was only 25 percent of the Cuba population. Cuba had a well developed health care delivery system. In 1958, Cuba had three times as many doctors as all of the Central Amercian countries combined. Life expectancy in 1950-55 was 58 years and rising. Infant mortality in 1960 was 35.4 per 1,000 live births, the lowest in Latin America. From 1950-55 to 1980-85, life expectancy in Cuba rose 25 percent about the same rate as three of the four Caribbean countries that started from about the same base. And from 1960 to 1984, infant mortality fell by 42 percent to 15 per 1,000 live births. This is no better than Honduras, one of the poorest coutries in Latin Aermica.

Armando Valladares, the Cuban poet who spent 20 years in Castro's jail and wrote about his experience in his book, Against All Hope, noted that 87.6 percent of the 10,756 Cubans in Holguin province, Cuba, had unfavorable comments about their health system. This effectively demolished the myth of the great accomplishments attributed to Castro in the last 20 years of dictatorial rule.

Despite the fact that Moscow still sends an estimated $2 billion of aid to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as $1.5 billion to Angola; and $1 billion to Ortega's Nicraragua, Cuba remains the No. 1 client in the Soviet empire. Castro receives $5.1 billion ($14 million per day) to Cuba.

It was left to The New York Times editoral of Jan. 2 to expose at least some of the monster — 30 years of communist tyranny in Cuba under Fidel Castro. Only the previous week 10 writers and actors had challenged Fidel Castro to follow the example set by Gen. Pinochet in Chili and submit to plebiscite. The Cuban foreign ministry had called this absurd and inconceivable. It said, "Our people had a referendum 30 years ago on the day of the triumph of the revolution."  Things have changed in Cuba. In 1970, Cuba rationed meat to three pounds per month. That ration has now shrunk to 10 ounces per month. 

Let us wait and see how the news media report the news from the "island paradise," home of the longest-ruling dictator.

Written by Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

Dr. Miguel A. Faria is a neurological surgeon in Macon, Georgia.

This article was printed in the Macon Telegraph on February 21, 1989, p. 7A.

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Paraguay a paradise compared to Castro's Cuba. Macon Telegraph, February 21, 1989, p. 7A. Available from:

Copyright ©1989 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD

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