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Chau, Che

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This Cuban news item says that Argentina's Ruben Felgaer has dropped out of the Capablanca tournament at the last minute for "personal reasons." He'll be replaced by a Cuban classic, Jesus "Chuchi" Nogueiras. He was the token Latin American representative at dozens of elite tournaments in the 80's (I'm thinking of the GMA World Cup events in particular) and was always dangerous. I've had the pleasure of being stomped by him twice, if I recall. The 47-year-old gets in as the third highest-rated Cuban, if a distant third.

The main Cuban/Capablanca website doesn't have much up on the tournament yet. This is the 41st edition of the event. One of the many Cuban news items says the first Capablanca Memorial tournament was the idea of Che Guevara himself. Maybe, although loyal Cubans tend to credit Fidel and Che with inventing the wheel, too. Another note says Guevara (who was Argentine; "Che" is just a universal Argentinism for "dude" or "guy" so they are often called that abroad.) first heard about Cuba from reading about Capablanca's exploits when he was eleven.

The drawing of lots is tonight and the first round tomorrow. Ivanchuk arrives in Havana the day of the first round, which will likely result in it being delayed a little. Yesterday was national fitness and sports day in Cuba, btw, and this year the tournament is part of the festivities. Other events include baseball and very long distance swimming.


The probable reason Felgaer pulled out is that he finished the Sao Paulo tournament yesterday - and with a loss, which would give him neither much time or inclination to head for Cuba.

I would have thought otherwise: being the lowest rated player, he was in the best of positions to play to win precious ELO points. Everyone would be playing "to win" against him, giving him chances to reap draws and wins left and right...

Donner spoke well of Guevara as a chessplayer--
he said that Fidel had no use for the game.

Who has use for Fidel?

A hell of a lot of Cubans, chesstraveler.

Go to South Florida and ask the Cuban-Americans about Fidel...Charley.

Yeah, because Cuban-Americans living in South Florida aren't the most biased group on the planet about Fidel...

Are American chessplayers prevented from playing in Cuba?
Trade embargos are a shameful thing for a supposedly free country to engage in. If you wanted to destroy Castro, 50 years of free trade would have done the trick. Why do we let stubborn idiots in positions of power - or is that like asking why flies hang around manure?

Go to Cuba and ask the Cuban-Cubans about Fidel...chesstraveler.

I hope Chuck nails in this tournament.

"Go to Cuba and ask the Cuban-Cubans about Fidel...chesstraveler."

Wow, that is really profound, congratulations! So, could you perhaps share your expert opinion: does Cuba measure up to the lofty standards developed by your heroes Stalin and Enver Hoxha? There must still be some room for progress, right?


Cuban-Cubans? Sounds redundant to me. Anyway to save further argument, I don't like Castro, I have never liked Castro and I will never like Castro. I'm also well aware of the fact that I'm not alone in that opinion, so say what you want. Besides, he won't be around much longer.

dz, chesstraveller,

Give it up. Castro is so popular in Cuba that 98% of the country regularly turns out on election day and EVERY SINGLE VOTE is cast for Castro and his party.

"...98% of the country..."

My point exactly. How come the rest 2% is still alive?

OTOH, Castro has learned at least this lesson from his great teacher:

"The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."

(as quoted at http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Joseph_Stalin )


When an oligarch is in power that's how the votes are always tallied. So, other than more trolling on your part, what's your point? Also, what has happened to your buddy tommy, I noticed that he no longer posts.

Tommy still posts, he just changed his handle to "Frank H".

The Stalin quote about the people who count the votes having all the power sounds applicable to another large country I can think of...

If Americans are prohibited from playing in Cuba, it is due to America's policy, not Cuba's Americans participated in the Olympiad in Cuba in 1966 (at the height of the Cold War). Fischer went 15/17 and played Castro in a game. I believe that was also the tournament where Tal was hit in the head with a bottle in a bar fight and Fischer went to visit him.

The anti-Cuban propaganda isn't working here.

If we are talking about counting votes, why not talk about the 2000 & 2004 elections in the U.S.?

Ahhh, I was wondering where the flame wars went...


For the record, I'm not anti-Cuban and I don't appreciate the implication on your part. I never once spoke about the people of Cuba in a derogatory manner. Needless to say, I am anti-Castro just as an one can be anti-Bush without being anti-American. I hope you can understand the difference without catagorizing.

"If we are talking about counting votes, why not talk about the 2000 & 2004 elections in the U.S.?"

We (some of us, anyway) were talking about counting votes IN CUBA (which is an island geographically close to U.S., but a different country nonetheless.)


Thanks for the update. It's strange but I thought "Frank H" and Greg sounded similar in their thought processes, I just never put together.

I guess the perception of Cuba and Fidel Castro is not shaped by biased comments from people who does not know Cuba (well, I can give them some credit, maybe they went there as turists or because they know somebody from Cuba) and talk about how good or bad is a regime or how people think about it like chesstraveler or dz (although acirce is conciliatory, I would include him in the list)...

Instead of talking about a "truth" what we don't have idea (BTW, I went in Cuba for study reasons and stayed there for six months and I keep some Cuban friends in Cuba and in the US, but this does not give me enough authority to state what is the "most popular opinion"...), I found good from Mig to mention the tournament.

With respect to the chess...

- Lenier Dominguez showed in Barcelona great level (his +7! performance, including wins over Bologan and Ivanchuk, for example), his current Elo is 2655 approx, but for next January's list, he will gain 27 points, plus what he will get from Capablanca Memorial.

- Lazaro Bruzon is returning from Spain, when he won the first "Iberoamerican Chess Championship", a tournament with a similar style to the 2005 Fide World Cup (with 32 players), his chess there wasn't spectacular, he lose rating points there (currently he has 2648) because of many draws in the classical games -he won most of his matches in rapid tiebreaks-; he was in trouble in the openings quite frequently. For example, in the final, he was much worse in a Ruy Lopez against a 2500 player-Candelario-, but the Spanish player pressed too much (afraid of facing Bruzon in the rapids tiebreak) and lost. In the semifinal, against another 2500 player, he was in trouble since move 10 in the black side of an English and spent more than an hour in the first 12 moves -which is impressive given the fact he plays 1.c4 frequently- but, he was able to equalize in time trouble. I guess for rating points was not the best business for Bruzon, but some money was useful (maybe strictly necessary).

In other words, Ivanchuk would be the clear favourite (last year he smashed the field) and unlike last year, seems that this time would be Lenier and not Lazaro the one who can make a good performance (and Lenier has also experience playing with Bareev, in the Karpov tournament, if I am not wrong). Lenier is mostly a 1.e4 player (Bruzon plays 1.c4, 1.d4 more frequently than 1.e4), so with Bareev we will see good battles in with the French defense... good. These Cuban guys are really good and they need opportunities to improve (it is hard when there is not too much money and opponents or trainers around).

My "forecast": 1. Ivanchuk 2. Dominguez 3. Bruzon 4. Bareev (despite his rating, I imagine him losing against the younger cubans) 5. Milton 6. Nogueiras

Speaking of Bareev, what has he been doing recently? I don't recall him losing bushels of rating points in any one tournament, but I know he was the number four not that long ago (and the winner of Corus-A!) but I know he's fallen a good distance from there. He's down 56 points from his peak and out of the top-20.

What happened to him? Any Kramnikesque health problems, or is it just a slump? Anyone know?

Castro is still a nice guy, chesswise of course.
Compare for instance with the beloved murdeder ayatollah Khomeini who ruled out chess as unislamic. Kirsan would have made been quick to make Iran the heart of international chess if given a chance.

>Bareev...What happened to him? Any Kramnikesque health problems, or is it just a slump? Anyone know?

Kramnik said, in one of his press conferences in Elista, that Bareev started a chess school and he was very busy with it.

I think Bareev mentioned some time ago that he was close to abandoning his career of a professional player and channeling his energies into the chess school he is heading.

On Bareev, yes, you are right. For this reason I consider his presence in the Memorial a good addition; first, because of his current activity and priorities, he is more likely to underperform against his more "energetic" opponents, but on the other hand, he is an excellent player and given the fact he is involved in the pedagogical and training process more than in active competition, Cuban players might be very interested in keeping close communication with him.

Note: I should make some precisions/corrections on my previous post, about Bruzon and the Iberoamerican Championship. I read my post again and realize I was mistaken with my concept on Bruzon and rapid matches, actually now I remember the matches instance was only in the semifinal and final; to arrive there, round robin qualifiers were played (like some soccer tournaments, separating the field of players in four groups). Still, Bruzon played there last week -he did not won a lot of rating points (actually he might lose, because of the difference of rating with his opponents), so he might be exhausted (returning on Sunday from Spain). Definitely, the in-form and rested Dominguez has some edge here ... I believe he can even challenge Ivanchuk for the title!

"If we are talking about counting votes, why not talk about the 2000 & 2004 elections in the U.S.?"

Good one :)

I posted this in the other thread about the tourny, it should be seen here be a few Castro lovers.

I cannot believe how many Castro lovers there are out there. You know how Castro controlled the AIDS outbreeak in Cuba? Sent all infected to "treatment" camps, nothing more than a prison camp, where they waited to die. Know how Castro brainwashes you when you are 6, 7 ,8 years old? Your teacher asks you if you like cake and cookies and ice cream. your teacher says go home ask your parents for cake and cookies and ice cream. Of course, they have none so you don't get it and the teacher says "gee, maybe your parents don't love you, but thats ok, close your eyes, ask God for them". Of course you pray but you don't get any. Then teacher says ok, now close your eyes, ask the spirit of Che Guevara, ask the revolution, ask Papi Fidel for cake and cookies and ice cream and all of a sudden a army man appears with all the freakin ice cream and cookies and cake. Yeah, viva Fidel and the revolutiuon and Che. Whatever.


Look up the word "irony" in your dictionary, then reread my "EVERY SINGLE VOTE" post.


That comment was directed at the tone of the discussion. I believe it is unfair and we should appreciate Cuba's committment to chess and its strong chess legacy. That's what's important. I would also like to point out that Cuba has normalized relations with most other nations (except the embargo by the U.S.). Cuba is not as isolated as we think.

I remember a speech by a Cuban respresentative and she noted the statistics in terms of how many embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions they had with other nations. If you listened to the American press you'd think the only external relations Cuba had were with N. Korea, Iran, Libya and Afghanistan.

> Other events include baseball and long distance swimming.

lol, don't forget the 90-mile innertube marathon

Cuban's remarks reflect the angle of Miami Cuban exiles, the most psychopathic political lobby in the US, crazier by half than their Israeli and NRA counterparts. Not to tarnish the deliciously evil sheen of the mythic education tale, but a lot of Cuban parents have access to sugar, which was not a casualty of the revolution and similarly unaffected later by the Pepperidge Farm/Mr Christie embargo.

Castro is neither benevolent nor evil (nor for that matter is any world leader). But no one should rule a country for a half-century, let alone a brutal communist dictator; so those who believe that his "illness" was a quiet miltary coup are probably correct. Castro won't be back, but I bet chess in Cuba will always be valued and nurtured.

Moreover, for all you embargo fetishists quick to finger Castro for Cuba's policy of AIDS virus quarantine, here's a mote 'n' beam: today there are 47 million Americans without health insurance. In addition, the infant mortality rate in the US stands at #42 in the world. That's behind all of Europe, Slovenia, Cyprus and hey, even Cuba! US life expectancy is at #34, also running behind Cuba. Heck, I guess sometimes even thugs can do a wee bit of good. The Kalmykian thug helped unify the chess world title, for example.

And here's another thing about Castro that won't be missed:



Whatever your opinion of the fairness of the 2000 election result, it was a remarkable spectacle of a diverse American government and society in action. American voters split almost evenly between the two candidates. In the dispute over ballot-counting, the Florida legislature took one position and the Florida Supreme Court took the other.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided the case on a 5-4 vote. All involved abided by the result with tolerably good grace.

Daaim is no doubt impressed by Castro's 100% victory totals. I'm more impressed with how the U.S. handled its most controversial election in recent history.

If only chess had such a balanced, resilient government.


Your first short sentence and track record led to my interpretation. A little happy face at the end of the second sentence would have helped clarify the ambiguity. Then again, all the fun would have been lost.


You're grabbing for straws. I have never referred to the Cuban voting apparatus. You have the typical neo-con political philosophy... if you're not outwardly denouncing someone, then you must be in support of them. Since I am pointing out flaws in the America system of governance, you take that as supporting Castro.

The 2000 election was a complete disaster of a so-called 200-year democracy. It was not an example of a diverse society... quite the opposite. There are only a few people that will call a stolen election a success. George W. Bush is one of them. Are you proud to have a President who makes off-color jokes on serious matters and garbles the English language at press conferences? Maybe I should point you to the "Bush Bloopers" to show you how tragic of an event it was. Tragic indeed.

I live in Florida and this state was nearly torn apart over this debacle. Eighty-thousand votes were discounted (primarily Blacks) and Bush won the state by a bit over 500 votes. You should rent the movie "American Blackout" and we'll see how proud you are of what happened in 2000. In fact, what happened in Florida (and Ohio in 2004) was far worse because America touts itself as a model democracy... Cuba doesn't.

Cuba doesn't claim to be a model democracy because it isn't one; it is a totalitarian dictatorship. Had the 1959 revolution never happened Cuba would now be the Switzerland of Latin America. Nearly 50 years of Stalinism have resulted in the dire poverty you see there today, with Havana the one-time jewel of a city fallen into shabby disrepair and Cubans from end to end of the island living in daily fear for their livelihoods and lives. If we opened our gates and let them all come to the U.S., and Cuba let them go without restriction or threat of punishment, the stampede of Cubans landing in Florida would be overwhelming. So much for the Worker's Paradise.

It is really quite ingenious of any political party to cheat by a very small margin, in few races and in few elections. That is a surefire effective way to dominate the electoral process.

Adults understand that there is a difference between starving to death (no democratic elections, years of single party domination, suppression of political opposition) and pointing out there might have been a hair in your soup (in every close elections there will be accusations of cheating, and it is probably impossible to precisely determine the victor to everybody's satisfaction when the difference in votes falls within hundreds out of millions cast).

Well done, Cato, Yuriy.

Cuban and Cato,

Thank you for expressing what it is about Castro that I dislike. I have never been to Havana, but my father spent time there before the insurrection, and according to him it was a great city.

See what happens in the absence of a classical chess world championship cycle? We are forced to discuss inanities and occasionally agree with each other.

Just one more reason to vote Kirsan.


My point exactly! Cuba does not PRETEND to be a model democracy, but America does! It is not and at 41 years old it is struggling. Cuba proclaims to be exactly what it is... a socialist nation.

There is no way for you to extrapolate events, but I understand your Switzerland point. I have heard Cuba compared with Japan (see other thread). Certainly Cubans have been hurt by at least three things... (1) the U.S. embargo and (2) the fall of the Soviet Union and its generous subsidies (3) decline of sugar cane industry.

You may also remember the U.S. tried to bully other Caribbean nations who were friendly with Castro. They offered all types of favors including a Caribbean Basin Initiative (under Reagan). We should not act as if America is not complicit in Cuba's problems.

Cato... if you opened the flood gates of America to most developing nations, the outcome wouldn't be much different. However, these other nations are democratic. Thus, democracy is no silver bullet.

Right Daaim, it's all America's fault. I do find it perplexing though that you are living in Florida when you could be living in Cuba and helping all your socialist compatriots raise their standard of living under Castro's communist regime.

Very sad Daaim. Very sad. You are enjoying all the freedom in the world and still blame America. If you don't like it, why not leave and go to a real democratic country?

"Cuba does not , but America does! It is not and at 41 years old it is struggling."

Just curious, Daaim, who is it exactly struggling at 41 years old? Does not seem to apply to either America or Cuba. Although, I certainly understand by now that figures (or any other facts) don't matter for you and your "reasoning".

You guys have your head so far in the sand it's really incredible.


Who said it's all America's fault? As I stated, it is a multitude of factors. America has had an embargo on Cuba since what... 1961? There has been an impact. Cuba would be economically better off if trade relations were opened, but it is America that has the embargo, not Cuba. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba also lost their reliable supply of oil... many, many factors.


Again... neo-con philsophy. If you don't agree with American foreign policy, live elsewhere... you're against us.

A truly democratic country does not exist. America is not one man, one vote. All systems use some type of a hybrid. Many European countries still have strong socialist characteristics and mix with democratic ideals that suit their needs.



America is a struggling 41-year old democracy. Clear? Ever heard of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by Lyndon B. Johnson? Why was this necessary? Because America was not a democratic nation at the time. It was in total contradiction of what this country was promoting around the world (during the Cold War). Clear?

Cool. But then, I think, you should in all fairness subtract six years of the Bush (43) presidency and probably eight Reagan years as well. That would make it, what, 41 - 14 = 27?

Your posts remind me of a well-known dictum (attributed to Steven Wright, I believe):

"42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot."


Okay, you showed your true colors in your previous posts. Cuba, under CASTRO, is the great paradigm for world order and it supports chess too. How can we lose! Is citizenship difficult to obtain for foreigners? I'm sure as the multitudes (world wide) see the light, the shores of Cuba will be inundated with peoples from all walks of life. All hail Castro and God Bless Cuba. Can hardly wait for your spin on this one.

I think perhaps the moderator should hurry up and clear my blocked post from about noon today, since it's topical, it responds to posts of others in this thread, contains an interesting URL link, mentions chess and is free of profanity, obscenity or fifth-column subliminal content.

Censorship may be irrational but it has a long history, and this post should not belong to it.


As a non-American watching the 'remarkable spectacle' of the Florida election outcome and dispute in 2000, I did not see a big victory for the democratic process.

The ONLY form of dispute (on all sides) was about who could prevail through one or other legal trick.

In a real democracy, you would think people would be saying "hey how can we find out who really got the most votes?".

Do you think the 'winners' would lose any sleep if they thought they got less votes, but cleverly managed to have some ballots excluded? Gore too wouldn't care if he won the same kind of way.


Florida 2000 featured some of the world's pre-eminent weasels and rascals fighting over the world's highest stakes all the way up to the Supreme Court. When it was all over the loser graciously congratulated the winner and expressed his faith in his country's institutions. Not bad.

I tell ya, this clubfoot cracks me up. Always entertaining.. As the saying goes, you can excuse anything except tedium. Koster, hear?

Clubfoot, your post was moderated by the anti-spam system for including the word "insurance," which I've now manually removed. Seems like a bit too common a word to put on such a list, but it happens. I cleared it as soon as I saw it, which was around 4pm, iirc.

> In a real democracy, you would think people would be saying "hey how can we find out who really got the most votes?"

Here's the deal, imho. The 2000 US Presidential elections were essentially a tie. The electoral and vote-counting systems in place were not able to determine a clear winner. But other parts of the US system worked to declare a winner and the transition of executive power happened as scheduled with no major difficulty, as per usual.

Imagine the same situation in, say, any Western country with a parliamentary system. Do you think there would have been a clear "winner" in charge of the machinery of government by the fall of 2001, when such was sorely needed?

Of course, we do in fact know who got the most votes in the 2000 election. Al Gore got about a half-million or so more than George W. Bush. The whole controversy was over the Electoral College, which it can be argued has run its course and ought to be reformed or eliminated.

As has been pointed out there is rarely such controversy over "election" results in many other countries of the world. I'll take the problems of the US system, thanks all the same.

Hey, how about a FIDE President elected by popular vote?


I'm posting this here instead of the Nov 22 update. Did you really think that you could use Che Guevera in a heading and then go on to talk about Castro; and not silicit a reponse outside of chess? C'mon, lets get real here. I will honor your request as stated, but censorship is the father of revisionism and political correctness; and as of the last 20 years or so, the panacea of the liberal agenda.

Waahhhh! Go run your own blog then. Or go to the "off topic" message board and ramble on all you like. Some people actually want to talk about the items at hand and should be able to do so without wading through endless hijacks. If you guys can't figure out the difference between topics and asides I'll do it for you. And go look up "censorship" in the dictionary while you are attempting to learn the first thing about politics and Cuba.

yezza mazza.

Stonewaller2 got it right. The coin was tossed to elect a president, and it landed on its side. This could NEVER happen just about anywhere else -- not in Cuba or China, obviously, not in any African or Latin American country, not even in Russia (which despite Putin's exertions, has come remarkably far toward a having a viable electoral system and free press in a remarkably short period of less than 15 years).

America's cynical critics and enemies (cynical because only the dumbest 5% of them actually believe their own arguments) cite our 2000 electoral tie vote as evidence of the bankruptcy of our system.

Meanwhile, anyone in or out of the US who ever either attended or understood Democracy 101, knows that it meant exactly the opposite. A nation split down the middle, expressing its preferences in state after state in numbers "too close to call" (a phrase that became TV news' standard logo for 2000 election coverage), is the best possible proof that our system is truly democratic. Or as a well known human rights activist professor (I forget who it was) once put it: "The real test of whether an election was democratic, is whether you knew in advance who was going to win. If the result couldn't be known in advance, then in all likelihood the election was democratic."

As Stonewaller2 correctly pointed out, a tied election places great strain on any system.

While in the abstract it might have been still MORE democratic to let the vote-counting proceed as the Democrats demanded, clearly there were practical (not to mention legal) obstacles to extending the process indefinitely and placing democratic/philosophical substance over legal form (the authority of the courts and/or legislatures). By analogy, the theoretically best way of determining a chess champion may be a head-to-head match with UNLIMITED games and draws not counting; but for practical reasons almost nobody advocates that any more either, do they?

I too am proud of the process by which our US political / legal system resolved the tie vote in 2000 (without necessarily approving of the result). Those who insist on viewing it as a "stolen" election are exhibiting all the political sophistication of a junior-high school student.

One other thing: I voted for Gore in 2000 but had some misgivings after the way his side handled the aftermath. He did not exactly accept the Supreme Court ruling with grace, as someone wrote above. Rather, his side continued to protest it for some time afterward.

Contrast his behavior -- placing his own political interests over those of his country -- with that of Richard Nixon. Faced with similar circumstances in 1960, Nixon DID gracefully accept defeat, even though (unlike Gore in 2000) he KNEW (not merely suspected) had been stolen from him, due to fixed votes by the Daley machine in Illinois.

I don't mean to praise Nixon as a loyal American in general; quite the contrary, he is surely the only President ever to commit treason against his country. Properly speaking, the Watergate break-in was an act of treason: trying to overthrow our system and replace it with a different system.

Yet even Nixon showed more loyalty to his country than Gore did, when the chips were down.

"He did not exactly accept the Supreme Court ruling with grace, as someone wrote above. Rather his side continued to protest it for some time afterward."

Both Nixon and Gore took their narrow defeats with grace. Nixon and Gore partisans, on the other hand, whined up a storm.

Gore's extraordinarily moving concession speech was by far his best performance of the campaign.

"Other disputes have dragged on for weeks before reaching resolution. And each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation.

So let it be with us."


Amnesty International annually cites Mig's anti-Kramnik atrocities, but they give him a clean bill of health on censorship. In his management of this blog, Mig makes a good case for benevolent despotism.

To whom it may concern: Just because I know nothing about politics or Cuba but my chess rating is higher than yours, does'nt make me a bad guy.

Hey Mig, you ever been to Cuba? If so, can you give us some personal chess observations and anecdotes from there?

This may be a loaded question since it is not exactly legal for U.S. citizens to visit Cuba.

I've been to Cuba; I was there with a group of fellow teachers I was working with in Mexico. Don't remember any chess, but I wasn't really into it at the time anyway. Friendly place, people were delighted to talk to Americans who could speak Spanish. I almost went back many years later on vacation from Argentina. Cuba is a popular tourist destination from there.

Just about all of Latin America and many other people in the world have a misty-eyed romantic notion of Cuba because of Castro's spat with the United States. The US has become increasingly unpopular over the past, oh, say six years, and so anyone who overtly "stands up to the bully" gets an automatic vote of favor in many circles. This has long been true in LatAm, where the US has been the bully for a century, but is relatively fresh in most of Europe, at least as a majority opinion.

I have all sorts of Cuban acquaintances, and not just the Miami exile version. Argentina, because of Che, has long had a special relationship with Cuba. (This started changing under the Menem administration in the 90's because he wanted closer ties to the US.) The only people crazier than the brainwashed "Castro and Communism forever" crowd are the Miami nutballs and their terribly destructive influence on American policy on Cuba and beyond. The embargo is idiotic and counterproductive and has been for at least a generation. That doesn't mean Castro is a nice guy, or that making comparisons is helpful. It's often the case that both sides are wrong. What does the Florida election have to do with a lack of elections in Cuba? The guy jails journalists, poets, and so-called dissidents. And any place that doesn't let its citizens leave is clearly not to be idolized. Those voting with their feet have decided time and again that good health care isn't worth living in a police state.

Mig, when you are saying "good health care", is it a figure of speech or do you really mean it? I would imagine that "the Miami nutballs" might have a different version altogether.

That's because "a communist system demands the collaboration of all citizens, not only men of politics but art as well."
Sergi Prokofiev


According to the Harvard Public Health Review, Cuba does, indeed, have a first-world health care system:

"Socio-economic development is typically measured by health indicators such as infant mortality and life expectancy at birth. However, in Cuba, a nation beset by severely limited resources and political tensions both internal and external, these health markers are essentially the same as those in the United States and other parts of the industrialized world. Cuba also boasts the highest rate of public health service in Latin America and has one of the highest physician-to-population ratios in the world."


As Mig said, the question is whether it's worth living in a police state to take advantage of it.


I don't really have any firsthand knowledge of Cuba but my intimate familiarity with some other totalitarian countries makes me rather skeptical. I have no doubt that there are some excellent doctors in Cuba but whether or not their services are readily available to, say, people who can not pay in hard currency (Maradona comes to mind) - that remains to be seen. And what about modern equipment, medical and pharmaceutical, how many hospitals have access to it? That is, other than the one where Castro had his surgery, of course.

Actually access is free and much more readily available than in many big industrialized countries, certainly more so than in the US. They don't have the widespread access to the latest super-fancy gadgets; it's a poor country. But for 99% of health care needs it's excellent. And universal. And free. As for hard currency, it's still halfway illegal. The problem is that you have a lot of doctors and such working as taxi drivers and in other jobs where they can make hard cash instead of being paid in vouchers.

There was an American TV show that followed a patient with a broken leg through the health care systems of Canada, USA, and Cuba and the Cuban system won with the USA last. (Based on speed, quality, and cost.) But the network was so freaked out they made the producers tweak the result and say Canada won.

Americans have a very strongly ingrained "you get what you pay for" ethos (and a "you get what you deserve" and "the strong survive" too) that makes them easy marks for the health industry and others who wouldn't want to see a vastly more efficient single-payer system. Even most poor-ish Americans firmly believe that the rich deserve every penny because, deep down somewhere, they all think they too will someday be rich. So national healthcare, education, transportation, and other fundamentals of civilized society are decaying rapidly as we vote ourselves more tax cuts and more instant gratification. Because there's always that tiny chance you'll be the one on top. There are few things more remarkable than a 22-year-old Rush Limbaugh listener who makes $20,000 a year with no health care being crushed by debt after breaking a leg and still insisting that universal health care would be the downfall of society.

Mig, "free" health care (or free anything, for that matter - with a possible exception of cheese in the mousetrap) is a nice joke; works especially well on gullible foreigners. Why won't you ask your friend Garry about equally free (and universal) health services in Soviet Azerbaijan? I am sure he would be able to tell you how much it used to cost.

Ah, so another convert to "everything is equal." Azerbaijan under the USSR = Cuba now. Case solved. Kudos. You asked people who know for information. We can give it to you but we can't understand it for you.

In the UK our experience is rather the reverse, that is that gullible free health care works rather well on foreigners.


Referring to "free" Cuban health care, Mig simply indicates that the individual Cuban patient doesn't have to take money out of his pocket. He's already stated that for this "free health" care, Cubans pay a price in personal liberty.


I did not say that "everything is equal" in Azerbaijan and Cuba, did I? I think I only mentioned that health care was equally free. Of course, I am ready to take all that back if I am only allowed to compare Cuba with Canada or America (which seems very silly to me since I think I know what society Castro tried so hard to imitate.) And I did indeed ask "people who know" for information. You don't seem to be one of them. Don't take it personally, you don't have to be a left-wing American to be easily duped by the communist agitprop.


I think it would be interesting to hear from people who actually experienced this fabulous Cuban health care. Again, I have no clue about Cuba but happen to know quite well how things used to work, say, in Azerbaijan. A patient certainly did not have to take money out of his pocket. But then somehow a doctor did not feel obliged to perform any work on him. There was in fact a price list for everything, unofficial, but well-known nevertheless. Kasparov or anyone else who grew up there would certainly be able to provide the actual prices.

And in other parts of USSR there was a well-worn saying to the effect that Soviet health care does not cost anything because it is not worth anything (a pun in Russian, "cost" and "worth" being the same word.)

It is amazing that there are those who cannot accept that Cuba does some things very well. Some are the most cynical of cynics. It is common knowledge that Cuba has a world-class health care system and that much is not debated among informed people. People around the world travel there for medical procedures and there are about 10,000 foreign students studying medicine there.

Two years ago, Cuba entered an oil-for-doctor program with Venezuela where Cuba would send 17,000 medics in exchange for cheap oil. These doctors would cater to under-served area in areas of the oil-rich, but impoverished nation.

Interesting stuff on Cuba's medical diplomacy...


I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about Raul Castro's management style. It was said that in the 1990s, he used his position in the military to introduce some "free market" reforms to save the country a lot of money and has helped revitalized the sectors of the economy. Fidel Castro agreed with some reservations.

Some say that there will be economic reforms should Fidel Castro not return, but more along the "China variation" and certainly not the "Russia variation" (which proved to be busted after the ruble crisis). Cuba is sending diplomats to China and China is investing in Cuba. I would expect to see come chess diplomacy between China and Cuba soon!

I am sure the famous health care system improved still further (if at all possible) as 17,000 medics (the figure is Daaim's) got the honor to be traded for cheap Venezuelan oil.

For good measure, why don't we take a quick look at the outrageous lies concocted, no doubt, by the "Miami nutballs"?


Although, I must frankly admit that I find another page much more entertaining:


I wonder if they have any vacant slots...


You didn't even visit the link in the the post, but you noticed the number. The figure of doctors sent in the oil-for-doctors diplomatic mission is quoted as 30,000 in the link I sent. I first saw 10,000 two years ago and 20,000 in other reports. I saw 17,000 in a recent report... the one I used.

The links you sent were no doubt created by someone with an agenda and that is OK. That is what politics is about. Assuming that those are pictures of Cuba, that does not change the facts. You can continue your snide comments and useless campaign against Cuba and believe what you will. I'm certainly glad you admitted to not having a clue about Cuba... (or international affairs for that matter).


I have no problem admitting that "Cuba (or international affairs for that matter)" is not my area of expertise - quite unlike other discussion participants, of course. That is why I am trying to learn from experts in the field.

Having said that, could you perhaps give me one good reason why I should take your opinion over that of Miami Cubans? (Trying, of course, to stay on point, as you invariably do.) For the time being, I am just trying to understand which one is better researched and documented - and which side is more careful with facts and figures (the latter being something I believe I do have a clue about.)


Thanks for the photos. Although I found most disgusting, I did find the two of Castro and Rather...amusing. The purported "agenda" is called reality. Also, don't you just love Hollywood stars, there such fine actors and actresses.



I understand now.

In order to get around the propaganda the American mass media feeds the world about Cuba, it is necessary to read a wide variety of sources... including Cuban. I find that there are glaring differences between how American mass media covers events and how the rest of the world (ROW) covers it.

I looked at the links you gave with interest and viewed some of the other links. It gives a different perspective, but I always ask myself, "who's site is this and why did they creat it?" That helps me to understand their motives and their angle. This site was created by anti-Castro politicians... and that is OK. They are trying to prove the point of their politics. For example, chesstraveler takes that site as a total reality of the Cuban situation.

I would argue however, that all countries are beset by a variety of problems in this sector. We may all think of America as have a great healthcare system, but if you are poor, you are less likely to benefit from it. Healthcare is a burning issue in the U.S. and most people go uninsured. You have to pay for everything and prescriptions are outrageous. You'd better not get sick or have an accident, or you'll be in financial ruin.

While one may not see the same images of neglect in the U.S., we have different problems here... routinely botched operations and botched routine operations (!), doctors on drugs, doctors practicing medicine illegally, misinforming patients, pharma/med collusion, etc. All of this in a wealthy country. The motive of profit in the American healthcare industry is what has citizens here in trouble. This is OUR reality.

I don't consider US Elections to be great examples of Democracy.
For one, simply because of the structure of American elections, the electorate has little real choice. They can opt for one of two candidates: The Democratic nominee, who is on the right wing of the political spectrum, and the Republican nominee, who is on the extreme right wing. I don't see how a two party state can be called "diverse", especially when meaningful political options are absent.

I'd have been a lot more impressed with the results of the 2000 Election if the candidate who garnered the most votes was declared the winner of the election.

Whatever your opinion of the fairness of the 2000 election result, it was a remarkable spectacle of a diverse American government and society in action. American voters split almost evenly between the two candidates.
Daaim is no doubt impressed by Castro's 100% victory totals. I'm more impressed with how the U.S. handled its most controversial election in recent history.

If only chess had such a balanced, resilient government.

Posted by: greg koster at November 21, 2006 13:17

Cuba's realtively successful health care system demonstrates that a a fundamental level, decent health care need not be prohibitively expensive. Indeed, a socialized medicine model would almost certainly work better for 90% of Americans for 90% of their health care needs. The fact is that quality treatment usually only depends on access to a skilled practitioner, with basic medical equipment.
Ironically, America DOES have socialized medicine; however, the subsidies only benefit the medical-industrial complex and the Insuranc* Companies. Just look at the pharmaceutical prescription med bill that was touted by Bush


Quit trying to sensationalize everything. I do not take those examples as a TOTAL reality of the Cuban situation. After reading that, I couldn't help thinking that you must have a degree in journalism.

Regarding health care in this country, [which I was a part of for 19 years.] I agree with most of what you stated. Although I don't believe it to be the TOTAL reality of the American situation, I do believe it's headed for a serious trainwreck, especially when the babyboomers become the geriatric generation.

My point of much of my prior posts on this thread is that I don't believe that Cuba today is better off under its current form of government than before the insurrection. Believing that doesn't make me anti-Cuban, no more so than much of what you have proposed about America would make you a communist sympathizer. Hmmm.


Thank you for taking the time to reply. You did try to stay on point, at least for a couple of paragraphs, I appreciate your effort.

I would like to ask you, as a recognized expert on Cuba in general and Cuban health care in particular, a simple question. I don't know the answer and so am driven by pure intellectual curiosity (no hidden agenda, honestly.)

I think you and I are in agreement that there are some excellent doctors in Cuba. You also seem to agree with me that some Cuban hospitals are, how should we put it, in a somewhat better shape than others.

So, my question is: where would you a have a greater chance to find a truly outstanding doctor - in the sparkling hospital where Castro is treated, or in the bring-your-own-sheets variety serving a regular Cuban citizen?

To make things a little easier (but not too easy!) for you, I can give you a clue, although in a language you probably don't understand. In another country that introduced "free" universal health care way before Cuba, the grateful population used to describe those hospitals for the party elite with a succinct formula "полы паркетные, врачи анкетные". I am looking forward to your explanation as to how things work in Cuba.

Actually, I think you would find that almost any Western European regards America's healthcare system as pretty poor. Whether that's perception is correct or not, I couldn't say.

"It was said in the 1990's that he [Raul Castro] used his position in the military to introduce some free market reforms to save the country a lot of money and has helped revitalized [sic] the sectors of the economy."

For once I agree with Daaim and Raul Castro: the the introduction of free market reforms into economic and a health-care systems saves money and revitalizes those systems.


You agree with Raul Castro (and thus Fidel Castro). I merely reported what was in the article. The article did not refer to the health sector, but it did refer to the military sector and general business sectors.

Free market economics does not always do the trick (as we have learned from Russia), but Cuba has found a formula that worked in that particular situation... as has China.


I don't claim to be an "expert" in Cuban Affairs, but I am knowledgeable in many of the dynamics of its history. You said you don't have a clue... but many of us HAVE a clue. I have studied the Caribbean region extensively and do have an expertise in International Affairs... that much I can claim.

Your question... Where would you have a greater chance finding a truly outstanding doctor...? What a question! You will find the best doctors tending to the President (in any country), but you probably could find outstanding doctors all over Cuba. Can you compare the doctors for President Bush with those in a run-down clinic on the southside of Chicago? What would be the point?

Mig (and others) explained to you the access to healthcare in Cuba yet you keep going back assuming that Cuban citizens don't have access to quality doctors. Believe what you will. Certainly there are bad situations (as with any poor country), but there are dire situations in the U.S. as well... a country with no excuses.

When the most unfree economic systems begin running into trouble they almost always turn to free market solutions to straighten things out.


I agree, you don't seem to be an expert on Cuba either. It would have been wiser to limit your post to that clear statement. Attempts to compare Cuba with America (in any respect) are for the most part quite ridiculous, imho.

The point of my question was simple: things are not always as they might appear to less-than-knowledgeable observers (even those claiming to have "an expertise in International Affairs"). In communist Russia, to get a plum job at those clinics serving the top party bosses, the doctors had (first and foremost, some would say) to have a spotless biography and excellent knowledge of Marxism. And usually good connections as well. Not always the best criteria to find the most competent candidate. And thus some of the best doctors did indeed work in dilapidated provincial hospitals. (This phenomenon is well documented, for those interested to find out.)

I did not know how this worked in Cuba - and still don't after your "answer". Thank you for trying, anyway.


This doesn't mean that this is the best solution. I've already mentioned Russia. Was Russia straightened out? You remember 1998, right?

What about those free market economies that are already in trouble? More free market reforms have proven disastrous in many cases... mostly in developing nations. Have you ever heard of Structural Adjustment Programmes imposed by the IMF? The program is based on market reforms which have actually exacerbated poverty in many cases.


Having studied long and hard enough to earn a Ph.D. in International Affairs and Development provides me some legitimate insight. That should not matter though. I would suggest that you go and do your own research if you are seeking answers to those questions you are posing. You may find answers that are consistent with your preconceived notions.

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