American Elephants


When Socialists Promise a Utopian Paradise … by The Elephant's Child

Gutted Yellow Building Havana

We have people out protesting about the minimum wage. They seem to think it is right and proper for the government to decide what employers should pay their employees, no matter what skills the employees may possess.  Seattle has just decided on a $15 an hour minimum wage, to be reached gradually. In the socialist paradise of Cuba, they don’t have a minimum wage. They have a maximum wage. Nobody gets to earn more than $20 — but that’s a month, not an hour. Doctors and lawyers get an extra $10 to bring them up to $30 a month.

Fidel Castro declared that his salary was about 900 pesos per month, or $36. But Forbes magazine included the Cuban ruler in its 2006 list of the 10 richest “Kings, Queens, and Dictators.” Interesting revolutionary ethics.

Now Fidel Castro’s former bodyguard has written a book that says Castro’ claim that he lived a life of exemplary revolutionary frugality was a pack of lies. Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, 65, served as a bodyguard for the Cuban leader for 17 years and has published a memoir that portrays Fidel as a sort of feudal lord who ran the island like a personal fiefdom.

Castro controlled about 20 luxury homes, a Caribbean island getaway with a pool and dolphins, at Cayo Piedra south of the Bay of Pigs, where he kept the 88 foot yacht Aquarama II, several fishing vessels whose catch was sold to fatten his bank account. Like most dictators, there were several numbered bank accounts, as well as the finances of several state enterprises including a small gold mine. There were a couple of other large yachts, one a floating hospital. Only special friends like the Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Márquez and CNN owner Ted Turner were invited. And there was a complex of Havana buildings and grounds, including a basketball court, a fully equipped medical center, rooftop bowling alley.

It isn’t just socialist paradises, but apparently Islamic paradises as well. Saddam Hussein was well equipped with palaces and luxury. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has been found to control a financial empire worth an estimated £60bn. An empire which includes businesses as wide-ranging as an ostrich farm, a birth control pill factory, oil and telecommunications.

The big-shots in charge always talk a good game about caring for the poor, and helping the middle class, serving the people, but when you lift up the covers and peek underneath, they all seem remarkably intent on enriching themselves.




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