Castro's Legacy - An Economic Basket Case

It's worth looking back at Fidel Castro's legacy now that he's retired. I think I can safely say that he had very few high points and more than a few thousand low points during the 49 years of his reign.

Fidel's legacy includes ruthless oppression, but less widely appreciated is that he was also an economic incompetent. In January 1959, Cuba had the third highest per-capita GDP in Latin America. Today the island is a malnourished backwater where staples like milk, sugar and eggs are rationed, severe shortages exist in the medical system and electricity is a luxury. Formerly a dependent of the Soviet Union, Cuba now begs at the feet of Venezuela, which gives it as much as $2 billion in aid annually. The nation nonetheless struggles to get by, and young Cubans routinely take their chances with the security police and shark-infested waters rather than face life under the Castro brothers.

Forty nine years of misery visited upon the Cuban people by a government incapable of understanding the basics of economics, the same government which cared little for basic human rights. The same government that built a cult of personality around Fidel Castro. (At least they never carried it too far as has been done in places like North Korea, just to name one.)

Cuba had the potential to be an economic power house until Castro took Cuba down the road of failed socialist ideologies and economic policies. Even as other Latin American countries see their economies grow and flourish, Cuba remains an economic basket case and would be in even worse shape if Hugo Chavez wasn't pissing away billions of dollars of Venezuela's oil wealth propping up his mentor's nation. So that begs the question: What happens to Cuba's economy if/when Chavez loses power and the Venezuelan petrodollars are no longer available?

Will the Cuban people become even more victimized should this scenario come to pass? Will economic collapse become Fidel's legacy to the Cuban people?

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