Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Castro's $1 Billion Net Worth vs. $628 Avg. Income

Elian Gonzalez's home town of Cardenas, but not the block where Elian lives, that was fixed up:
Typical refrigerator in a Cuban home, all food is rationed.
Pictures are from TheRealCuba.com, a website mentioned in today's IBD editorial:

Castro's partying offspring can be seen in photos on Web sites such as TheRealCuba.com. He has a lifestyle that's the envy of any billionaire who's ever fantasized about owning his own island.

Castro's net worth of $900 million, compared to the $628-a-year incomes of average Cubans is particularly damning.

Under his 49 years of rule, Cuba has gone from having the highest standard of living in Latin America to either the poorest or second-poorest.

The Heritage Foundation ranks Cuba rock bottom on economic freedom in the region, and second-worst in the entire world, topped only by another communist "paradise,"North Korea.


At 7/17/2007 8:48 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Not to worry though, we'll all be living like the real Cubans do if the nanny state nitwits get their way ...

At 7/17/2007 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I visited Cuba last year and wont deny that there is a lot of frankly shocking poverty in the rural parts of the island. The conditions of rural peasants are often very basic and attempting to make any economic comparison to western standards leaves you with such a ludicrous condition about their standard of living that you're best not thinking about it.

However. People were happy. People were welcoming. Their complaints were largely specific gripes (.e.g internet access = rubbish) rather than general problems about the regime; their worries remain about the US and its attempts at bringing Cuba into a 'sphere of influence' - the implications of this on their liberal way of life appeared somewhat troublesome.

Yet I think the point has to be made that there is an amazing level of hypocrisy here. There is stunning poverty in the US, in Europe- Christ all over the world and yet Cuba gets singled out. Go visit some of the slums in the US - i'm sure you'll find photos similar to that - without free healthcare, etc....

There is also a lot of wealth in Cuba. The idea that private commerce doesn't take place is mad. Cuba citizens happily circumvent their state by offering private services to the many tourists - and their fellow countrymen.

I'd also argue that efforts to measure 'income' dont really work very well here - when it comes to making comparisions between (nominally) socialist and capitalist countries I don't believe the numbers will add us as the comparison is not valid - they're not reaching to the same ends.

Castro as head of the cuban state 'owns' national assets- hence the idea of him being worth $1bn. However, in this context, the implication is that he corruptly gained these sums by abusing his position - which I dont think is fair and is something he (unsurprisingly) denies.

I'm no dreamy communist - but think we need to give some balance to these discussions. Cuba needs reform badly - but comparing it to North Korea is really quite offensive and not what I expect on this blog.

At 7/17/2007 12:22 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

See my new post on the Index of Economic Freedom - it is true that there is a pretty big difference between scores for Cuba and N. Korea, but it is also true that Cuba ranks #156 and N. Korea ranks #157, and Cuba ranks lowest for the Americas, etc.

At 7/17/2007 2:14 PM, Blogger happyjuggler0 said...

I agree that there are all kinds of poor countries in the world, with Cuba but one among them. It is one thing for a country to always have been poor and unable to improve somehow (e.g. Haiti), but when you go from being economically number one in your region (Latin America in this case) to either last or second last (I guess Haiti must be the other) on your way to poverty, then that is simply pathetic and inexcusable and very much needs to be pointed out. Venezuela seems to want to join that club, and if trends there continue they will have their wish.

If only to prevent more countries from self destructing, then the self imposed disaster of Cuba simply must be pointed out for moral reasons.

At 7/17/2007 3:05 PM, Blogger The H.C. said...

Hey Mark,
I'm lucky enough to have known a few people who came over during the mass exodus from Cuba and my Doctor Miguel Pasquel-Perez is from Cuba. They have all told me frightning stories of "Block Presidents" who run their neighborhoods like they own everyone in them. If they want to come in your house-they do. If they want your dinner-they take it. If they want your wife or daughter-they get that too. If you refuse, they make up a reason to arrest you and, as the saying goes, "You'll have a fair trial and then we'll imprison you." For people to assume that any Dictatorship is anything other than oppressive, is to me, illogical.


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