The Real Crime of Cuba

by Mark Chmiel

The following comes from a 1990 discussion among U.S. and Canadian activists with Noam Chomsky. It may provide food for thought given the current focus on Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro.


Look, the real crime of Cuba was never the repression, which, whatever you think about it, doesn’t even come close to the kind of repression we have traditionally supported, and in fact implemented in nearby countries: not even close. The real crime of Cuba was the successes, in terms of things like health care and feeding people, and the general threat of a “demonstration effect” that follows from that–that is, the threat that people in other countries might try to do the same things. That’s what they call a rotten apple that might spoil the barrel, or a virus that might infect the region–and then our whole imperial system begins to fall apart. I mean, for thirty years, Cuba has been doing things which are simply intolerable–such as sending tens of thousands of doctors to support suffering people around the Third World, or developing biotechnology in a poor country with no options, or having healths services roughly at the level of the advanced countries and way out of line with the rest of Latin America. These things are not tolerable to American power–they’d be intolerable anywhere in the Third World and they’re multiply intolerable in a country which is expected to be a U.S. colony. That’s Cuba’s real crime.

Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, edited by Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel.