As they watch the US flag being raised over the Embassy in Havana that was closed for 54 years, (by the same Marines who lowered it then), Americans will hear news reports that emphasize the lack of certain individual rights that drove many Cubans to flee to the US. What they don't know is that Cuba is recognized the world over for the quality of its free health care and education system, which is also free from nursery to post-doc. When I returned to Cuba four years ago I saw that many newly minted engineers and scientists could not find work in their fields. But this problem is not unique to Cuba: it is true in most developing countries, and will only disappear by cooperative efforts rather than by American-led trade agreements that increase the wealth of the 1%.[tag]
Tourists from around the world have been visiting Cuba throughout the five decades in which Americans were banned by their government from doing so, as those who are now able to go there will notice. Personally, I'll be curious to see whether three generations of Cubans who have been educated to the idea that life should not revolve around 'stuff' will be transformed into avid consumers. I'm wagering that the educational system as well as government messages will have succeeded in creating, if not Che's dream of a 'new man', at least a population aware of the planetary consequences of an American-style consumer-society.
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