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Imagine a country where housing, health, and education are free, without drug reps or private medicine, where the average consultant neurologist earns US $30 per month and a mobile phone is rarer than hens’ teeth. This is not Arcadia, but a real place, where I was privileged to spend a week as a guest of the Department of Neurology, Santiago. This is Cuba.
Cuba is an anachronism in these days of the “new world order” and clings tenaciously to the tenets of socialism, emphasising social justice at the expense of economic freedom. As a consequence, although in close geographical proximity to the USA, political relations between the two nations have been anything other than neighbourly. Although the “Bay of Pigs” invasion and the Cuban missile crisis seem long ago, the US continues to impose a punitive economic blockade. Cuban nationals working in the US have severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. Any ship, of whatever nationality, that docks in a Cuban port is quarantined from US waters for a period of 6 months. US citizens can be heavily fined and theoretically imprisoned on their return merely for visiting Cuba. The Cuban Democracy Act prohibits foreign subsidiaries of US companies from trading with Cuba.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and removal of various trade subsidies, …