Bodenheimer: Sanders' ill-advised Cuba comments weren't wrong

Cuba Feb 28, 2020

Rebecca Bodenheimer is an expert on Cuba. At least, that's how she presents herself. She's a freelance writer who was contracted by CNN to write an article (archive) about Sanders' recent Cuba comments.

Sanders' and Introduction

First, just for background, Sanders said:

We are very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But, you know, it’s unfair to simply say, ‘Everything is bad.’ When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing, even though Fidel Castro did it?

I'm going to skip a background on Cuba. However, I'd encourage you to ask anyone who emigrated from Cuba about Castro and that idea. I don't claim to be an expert on Cuba. I've just talked to a lot of Cubans and heard a lot of stories.

Bodenheimer: Sanders' ill-advised Cuba comments weren't wrong

First, we'll look at Ms. Bodenheimer's article on the opinions of Cubans. Next, we'll look at Ms. Bodenheimer's final proposition. Finally, we'll look at how to identify truth and what questions to ask about Cuba.

Starting with her presentation of the opinions of Cuban people. From the previously linked article:

I don't disagree with [a Miami Herald journalist's] point that Sanders' comments will be taken badly in south Florida and that, if he's the Democratic nominee, Florida will likely go for Trump. It probably wasn't the wisest idea for Sanders to say something that he must have known would alienate so many Miami Cuban and Venezuelan exiles, given that Florida is likely to be a crucial swing state in the general election.

So, according to Ms. Bodenheimer, Cubans dislike what Sanders said. Perfect, that's that then... But, wait... Further along:

Obama and Sanders were essentially recognizing what many Cubans on the island believe: they appreciate the gains of the Revolution and the ways it raised the standards of living for the poorest Cubans, many of whom were black or of mixed race, and yet they're also frustrated with the lack of freedom of speech and of free and fair elections. The Cuban education system overlaps with all of these concerns.

Oh, so, many Cubans agree with Sanders? But, only those on the island. Why would those without freedom of speech, those still in Cuba, claim that the revolution brought good things?

From The Guardian:

Over ensuing decades Castro used threats, jail and banishment against critics, including intellectuals, journalists and former allies. State media became a mouthpiece for the leader.
Officials heavily censored books, newspapers, radio, television, music and film, stunting discourse even while promoting arts and culture. Only a few Cubans were trusted with full internet access. Havana ranked near the bottom of Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index.

Why would those in Cuba claim good things from the revolution?

A Conversation about Cuba?

Ms. Bodenheimer finishes her article with:

I desperately wish we could have more nuanced conversations about Cuba like the ones Obama was ushering in, but sadly, in the Trump era we've backtracked. Even after 60 years, we still aren't ready for a truly transformed relationship with Cuba.

I did read the original article to my wife. And, I attempted to have a conversation with her about the actual issues.

You will see a lack of response. I guess she doesn't "desperately have a more nuanced conversation." And, that's an issue, the idea of criticism.

Truth and Authority

Truth can withstand being questioned. Truth is the thing that goes into the fire and comes out while all the lies burn up. When someone presents information, if they're presenting truth their behavior demonstrates it.

Now, this is how Ms. Bodenheimer responds to criticism:

To be fair, one can argue the criticism wasn't constructive. However, her argument is "believe me". That's the argument of one who doesn't have faith in their opinion. The argument of someone with facts on their side? "Talk to Cubans. Ask them about life after the revolution and how it changed."

Her response? That's a simple appeal to authority. It holds no weight.

Final Thoughts

Castro implemented great literacy and healthcare programs in the 1960s. So, how's Cuba doing today? They've had the same government type for more than 60 years, almost 50 with Fidel at the helm. The excellent changes should mean that the country has flourished and prospered.

Furthermore, Ms. Bodenheimer's in-laws live in Cuba. She should be able to move, right? Why not? Cuba implemented socialist policy well before the US even got it to a vote. Certainly, life there would be substantially better than in the poor and miserable United States where she currently resides.