I’m late to the party here, but I just wanted to draw attention to this post by Brad deLong:
You take a look at the standard Human Development Indicator variables–GDP per capita, infant mortality, education–and you try to throw together an HDI for Cuba in the late 1950s, and you come out in the range of Japan, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Israel. Today? Today [2003/JC] the UN puts Cuba’s HDI in the range of Lithuania, Trinidad, and Mexico. (And Carmelo Mesa-Lago thinks the UN’s calculations are seriously flawed: that Cuba’s right HDI peers today are places like China, Tunisia, Iran, and South Africa.)
The point here is of cause that in evaluating Castro’s performance as the leader of Cuba for half a century, we should ask ourselves:
- Which countries are the relevant comparative cases when we look at Cuba’s performance in 1959?
- How have Cuba and the comparative cases developed economically, socially and politically since 1959?
- How can the US embargo explain deviations between the development in Cuba and the comparable countries of 1959?
- How can Castro’s policies explain deviations between the development in Cuba and the comparable countries of 1959?
Anybody…? Anybody…? Svante Ersson?
This, of cause, does not in any way constitute an endorsement of the US embargo. That the US held on to the embargo since 1991 can be explained relatively easily by looking at US domestic politics, but here the question is if both the US and Cuba could have reached a more optimal outcome with a more flexible US foreign policy towards Cuba.