Why Did The 1619 Project Author Praise Cuba’s Miserable Equality?

Why Did The 1619 Project Author Praise Cuba’s Miserable Equality?
Why Did The 1619 Project Author Praise Cuba’s Miserable Equality?

If there is one issue that unites the left, it is support for the communist regime in Cuba. Leftists can see the most appalling misery on the island and magically turn it into a workers’ paradise.

This transformation continues even as unrest in Cuba erupts. Leftists everywhere are doubling down on their support as the regime cracks down on protesters. Cuba is a sacred cow of the left that must be protected at all costs.

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One defender of Cuba is the left’s current high priestess, Nikole Hannah-Jones. She is the “journalist” who assembled The New York Times’s infamous 1619 Project, to which she also contributed as a writer, and for which she “won” a Pulitzer Prize.

About the time that The 1619 Project debuted, Mrs. Hannah-Jones gave an interview to fellow leftist Ezra Klein, who hosts a podcast called Conversations. According to The National Pulse, which unearthed the two-year-old recording, the topic was school desegregation.

Praising Cuba

Mr. Klein asked her to name the least segregated countries. She laughed uncomfortably and disclaimed any special knowledge of race relations on the international stage. Then she made a remarkable statement.

“Cuba has the least inequality between black and white people really in the hemisphere. I mean the Caribbean—most of the Caribbean, it’s hard to count because the white population in a lot of those countries is very, very small, they’re countries run by black folks. But in places that are truly at least biracial countries, Cuba actually has the least inequality, and that’s largely due to socialism, which I’m sure no one wants to hear.”

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While the last line was disingenuous—leftists are happy to hear praise for Cuba—the rest was entirely accurate. Most Cuban people are economically equal, regardless of skin tone.

Social and Economic “Equality”

Racial equality is bred into many Cuban families. For five centuries, mixed-race children in most of the Caribbean have been common. These mixtures have become so complex that it is common to see a wide variety of skin tones in Cuban family photographs. Cubans have long lived in racial harmony, largely due to the ancient truths of the Holy Catholic Church that unify humanity. Her message of love and concern for all, inspired by the Christian charity, is the only one that brings peace. The Marxist premises of Cuban Communist Party can bring only hatred and division.

At the same time, Fidel Castro’s communist revolution imposed a regime of brutal economic equality. Except for a tiny ruling clique, everyone in Cuba is equally miserable. Food, housing, clothing, medicine and most other commodities are in short supply for most of the population. Even its cash crops—sugar and tobacco—are difficult for the average Cuban to buy. Instead, they are sold on the international marketplace or to well-heeled tourists who can pay with the stable currencies that Cuba badly needs.

Equality and Decay

Indeed, no socialist economy has ever prospered, and this should be evident to Mrs. Hannah-Jones. However, despite a media uproar over her statement supporting Cuba, the celebrated anti-racist has yet to retract her past support. Despite the brutal violence against black protesters in Cuba, she has yet to demand action against the regime.

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The deterioration of the Cuban economy is on full display so that even a reluctant observer like Mrs. Hannah-Jones could not mistake the true state of things. Many photographs show buildings that project a faded grandeur. These are the remnants of a once prosperous land fallen on tough times.

The Hotel Astor

Consider Havana’s Hotel Astor. A vintage postcard shows a nine-story building towering over its neighborhood with an ornamented façade and arched windows. It evokes memories of first-class hotels in many American cities during the nineteen-twenties.

After the Castro Revolution, the government confiscated it and every other privately owned building “in the name of the people.” Its two hundred plus luxury hotel rooms were converted into apartments and allocated to Havana’s residents.

The Astor has nothing of luxury today. One resident, Yanelis Flores, lives on the eighth floor. In 2018, she described the condition of the building to USA Today. “This is worse than a pig pen. It’s rotting.”

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Miss Flores was not indulging in hyperbole. In 2017, one of its third-floor staircases collapsed.

“It was a tremendous explosion—boom!” second-floor resident Yuslemy Díaz recalled. “People on the third and fourth floors were stranded because they couldn’t get down. It was a madhouse.” However, Mr. Díaz still lived there a year later because he could not find a better place to live. He continued, “The moment it starts to rain and a little stone falls next to you, you think it was the building. You live with fear. A building doesn’t tell you, ‘I’m going to fall tomorrow at 3 p.m.’ It falls—boom!—at any time, day or night. It doesn’t warn you.”

One factor in the stairway collapse was the theft of its valuable marble tiles—symbols of the building’s former opulence—from the walls below it.

A Personal Narrative

This author has no trouble believing Mr. Díaz’s story. When his wife’s parents came from Cuba in 1961, her paternal grandmother remained. When “Abuela Caridad” finally came to Miami in 1992, the elderly lady had running sores on her left leg. Some months earlier, she had been struck by a bicyclist. Cuba’s vaunted medical system refused to treat her because she could no longer contribute to society. If she could care for the injury herself, fine. If she succumbed, then there would be one fewer mouth to feed.

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After coming to Miami, an over-the-counter antibiotic cream application healed the wounds in a couple of weeks, although unsightly scars remained.

Yes, there is economic equality in Cuba. The misery is freely distributed. It is time to rid the island nation of communism once and for all. It should be obvious, even to Mrs. Hannah-Jones.

Photo Credit:  Keith Ruffles CC BY 3.0 (Superficial Changes)