To the same post, "Old Men Forget," Wallace Stevens offers the following comment:
"I wonder whether any of those artists and academics are still around." Indeed. The regime has not been kind to independent academic inquiry and thought, or to free creative expression, although in those early days, and given how bad the previous regime was, you can understand their initial enthusiasm. I never supported the embargo and I think that the Castro regime was ridiculously demonised. There are lots worse places--Iraq under Saddam, when he was a US ally against Iran, for just one example. But still. The good things that the regime did in health and education were transformative, but really no more "progressive" than what any middle of the road liberal democratic (or even 1960s Republican) government would have done. And the rest of it, I think the Cuban people could have done without.
I ask only one question: Suppose, when Castro and his comrades overthrew the Batista regime, that the United States government had responded not by assembling a ragtag collection of die-hards for an invasion, but instead had offered the new government massive aid and support for their professed aim of turning Cuba into a socialist paradise. What would Cuba look like today?
Impossible, of course. It was the Cold War. The United States was totally committed to undermining and if necessary overthrowing every government that embraced socialist ideals. But suppose we had done precisely that. And suppose we had combined that with a program of vigorous economic and political support for every progressive government in Latin America.
In those circumstances, what would have been the fate of "independent academic inquiry and thought" or "free creative expression." I simply do not know, but I would give a great deal to have watched that scenario play out, as they say in the War College.