In March of 2014, I did what my left-wing foes always challenged me to do–I traveled to a Communist country to see “real existing socialism” for myself. My two weeks in Cuba, traveling the countryside and staying in working-class Cuban neighborhoods, confirmed that everything I believed about the oppression and poverty of Communism was correct.
The first thing I noticed about Cuba is that there are billboards on every city block and every few miles in the countryside. And every single one of them is about the “Revolution” and its “achievements.” It is almost as if they are trying to sell it to the people, who don’t have a say in the matter.
What it does do, however, is offer a stark contrast between the regime’s promises and their reality. My personal favorite was a billboard on the highway announcing “La Salud Es La Revolución”(“Health Is The Revolution”), before getting off at a bus stop that, like about 95% of the other public facilities I encountered, had no soap or toilet paper (I had the foresight to bring my own everywhere I went). Another billboard saying “Los Cambios En Cuba Son Para Más Socialismo” (“The Changes In Cuba are for More Socialism”) was sitting on top of a nearly empty “super market” where Cubans go to queue for their allotment of rationed food.
Another irony is that there are many billboards of the so-called “Cuban Five”–five members of a 10 man spy network who were arrested in Florida for their many crimes, most notably the murder of four civilian search-and-rescue pilots. The “Five” were also in the state-controlled press almost every day. The regime insists they are “heroes” to the Cuban people, yet almost no one I spoke to knew who they were. The regime wasted its paint and ink, because it is being ignored.
However, the most revealing thing about the billboards is that they are the only thing that is freshly painted. The places where people live are so worn down that if you didn’t see people in the doors and windows you would have thought they had been abandoned for 60 years.
Bottom line: No amount of billboards can cover up what a failure the Castro regime is.