Making My Own Play for the Stupid Title

I’m going to punt on the question of whether Cuba’s political oppression is outweighed by its social welfare provisions, and instead point to the psuedo-Soviet client state next door, Nicaragua, as a bizarro-Cuba where there was regular democratic elections after the revolution. The result: The US spent (spends?) millions of dollars influencing the elections, enabling the right-wing party to come to power. One conservative estimate* has the 1990 election spending at $26.5 million, which comes out to $7.50 for each of Nicaragua’s 3.5 million people. Equivalent per capita spending on US citizens would total $2.3 billion. And that doesn’t account for the difference in purchasing power.

Avoiding Nicaragua’s fate is hardly a justification for Castro’s dictatorship, but it does suggest that democracy wasn’t thwarted by his unique evil — the US was a key player in taking democracy off the table for post-colonial Latin America. (Go us!)

Given the Bush administration’s flirtation with a Venezuelan coup earlier in his term, and the less than clear foreign policy views of the Democratic nominees (Does anyone know their policies towards intervention in Latin America? Is it too much to hope for our first non-imperialist president?) it’s not exactly clear that any real step towards Cuban democracy has been taken.

I guess this cements my membership in the blame-America-first club, but let’s keep some perspective amidst the joys of shared Castro-hate.

(h/t to Pax Americana for airing the DeLong/Bertram fisticuffs, even if he also goes to bat against the red team.)

*This is covert spending, but see Robinson’s “Faustian Bargain: US Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections” for documentation, which less reputable appearing sources repeat in more accessible form.

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