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Cuba’s covid response

Written By: - Date published: 7:49 am, November 9th, 2021 - 114 comments
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Well paint me red and call me Josef Stalin.  This post will probably invite SIS investigation of my background.

But I have been doing some reading into Cuba’s response to Covid and I must say that it is impressive.

Cuba is a not large island on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.  It is home to 11 million people.

It has an extraordinary health system as summarised by this passage from the National Centre of Biotechnology information:

In high-income countries there is no relationship between per capita GDP and either of these measures of health status. For mortality under five years of age, the relationship disappears above a per capita GDP of $15,000; for life expectancy, there is some suggestion of a relationship up to $20,000 per capita. But the relationship is unclear among countries at the very lowest incomes. A fitted trend line would indicate a very powerful relationship, but comparison of individual country observations shows very large differences in health measures for countries with the same reported levels of income. Inter-country differences in factors other than income are obviously exerting a very powerful effect on health – which is not the case for higher-income countries.

And then there is Cuba.

High up on the far left for life expectancy, and low down on the left for under-five mortality (expanded circles), Cuba’s health measures are comfortably within the band of the highest-income countries while its per capita income, at $3,438, places it 86th among the 139 countries plotted – roughly in the middle of the third quartile. The health of Cuba’s population matches or exceeds, on average, that of the United States. Among countries with similar income levels, the best achieve under-five mortality rates twice that of Cuba, and the rest are three, four or five times as high. The best life expectancies are five years shorter; others are 10 or more years shorter. The differences are extraordinary.

It has the third highest number of doctors per head of population, behind the rich person enclaves of Quatar and Monaco.  And this is despite the fact that it has suffered a US imposed trade embargo for the past sixty years.  Who knows what could have happened if Cuba US trade had proceeded normally.  The embargo occurred because Cuba wanted to do what the US wanted European nations to do, which is to host nuclear missiles as a deterrent to the opposition starting a nuclear war.  The idea was crazy but the lack of balance is also crazy.

Cuba’s Covid response appears to be exceptional.  Because of its economic circumstances it has had to develop its own vaccines but results have been that promising that it has been able to export the vaccine to nations such as Vietnam and Venezuela.  The Nature website had this earlier description of development of the vaccines:

If everything goes to plan, Cuba could be the first Latin American country to develop and manufacture its own vaccine against COVID-19.

Vicente Vérez Bencomo, director-general of the state-owned Finlay Institute of Vaccines in Havana, where one of Cuba’s most advanced vaccine candidates was created, thinks the chances are good. The candidate, called Soberana 02, entered phase III trials in people in March. It’s one of the country’s two homegrown vaccines — the other is called Abdala — to make it this far.

And not a moment too soon. Although Cuba had few infections for most of 2020, COVID-19 cases began to rise in the 11-million-person island nation after it reopened its borders to tourism last November. Infections peaked on 24 April, with nearly 5,800 active cases.

Cuba is one of the last-remaining communist countries in the world, and has endured decades of trade embargoes imposed by the United States, cutting off its access to essential supplies. Vérez Bencomo says it is this history that has given the Cuban people an independent streak, spurring them to create their own COVID-19 jab rather than joining the international COVAX initiative, which aims to deliver vaccines fairly across all countries.

Even Soberana 02 has an independent streak, working differently from other vaccines in play. The jab is a ‘conjugate’ vaccine, one that links a weaker antigen with a stronger one to ensure a vigorous immune response. To make Soberana 02, Finlay scientists coupled fragments of the coronavirus spike protein to a deactivated form of tetanus toxin, a powerful antigen that can boost production of immune cells and antibodies.

Cuba was a late starter to vaccinating its population but as can be seen from these graphs its vaccination roll out has been superb.

As it has reached high levels of vaccination the infection rate has declined.

And deaths from the disease are well below those of wealthier more advanced nations.

Cuba recently announced that children as young as two years of age would be vaccinated.  I suspect other nations are contemplating the same response in an effort to reach herd immunity.

There is a strong message here.  Respect for the science and making sure that no one is left behind can work.  America could learn a lot from the Island nation south of its borders whose economy it has sought to ruin for the past six decades.

114 comments on “Cuba’s covid response ”

  1. weka 1

    Quick google and I can’t see what if any vaccine mandates Cuba are using.

    but that sound is liberals rushing to stand with the Freedom protestors, lol.

  2. Sabine 2

    Cuba has a good export business, they export medical personal. Maybe that has something to do with it, they actually train doctors, nurses, and the likes in large masses for their country and to send elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, we pull ICU nurses from elsewhere to staff Aucklands ICU beds, never mind there are now ICU nurses missing elsewhere, and the few that still train as nurses are saddled with debts for the largest part of their life. – and that was / is a bipartisan decision by our lawmakers.

    Cuba also has an exceptionally well organized 'civil' defense system, with bloc wards and people in neighborhoods being organized to help with floods, hurricanes etc. So i would simply guess that Cuba has something that we no longer have, a sense of Citizenship and responsibility towards their communities and country.

    • AB 2.1

      they actually train doctors…

      We restrict entry to medical school – including people capable (intellectually and otherwise) of being perfectly competent and committed doctors. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that the resulting scarcity is deliberate – especially when it comes to specialists (as opposed to GPs). The scarcity creates the opportunity for the private medical insurance business to sell priority access to specialists to whomever can afford it. And it enables large salaries for the private specialists themselves. You only need to look at the fancy private medical clinics lining the lower end of Remuera Rd and similar places in Auckland to see the result. Marketised access to healthcare tends to be crap.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    As an internationalist I have long supported the right of Cuba to exist and the people prosper, which has been a difficult endeavour indeed with US Imperialism’s foot on the Island’s throat for six decades.

    Good on them for continuing on their independent course. Oh that Western Govt.s had laid it down in war footing style for the pharmaceutical corporates re COVID drugs–no patents, payment from taxpayers at cost only, drop the “worried well” and vanity pill production until global vaccination is achieved–but that would have been s-s-socialism…

    • garibaldi 3.1

      Yes, full marks to Cuba. They have have strong social services for all their people and have always been very helpful in helping out in overseas medical disaster needs.

      It's a pity we are not "allowed" to admit and emulate Cuba's successes. Another mark against Western wall to wall propaganda.

  4. Byd0nz 4

    Cuba has always stood firm to Communist principles, and shown the way for people first as it's health system atests to. Not only does it train their people in the medical field, they have also trained for free people from other poorer countries to become Doctors and others in medicine.

    They have not yet been userped from within or without despite having a fascist neigbhor who has tried to kill the Communist experience for decades.

    Long live true Communism, long live Cuba.

  5. Patricia Bremner 5

    Cuba is a real thorn in American's hide loldevil The Bay of Pigs invasion CIA trained group of American based Cubans to topple Fidel Castro was a complete farce. After the trouncing by the locals 17-20th April 1961 Relationships were strained. The USA embargoed trade with Cuba from the 60s and have voted with Israel to continue that at WHO each occasion. Good on Cuba. Well done.

  6. RedLogix 6

    Interesting but selective with your data points. For instance I note with wry amusement how no-one mentions Sweden anymore.

    Frankly this entire pandemic has been politicised enough as it is.

    • KJT 6.1

      Yep. The right wing and "centrist" apologists who were all about "Sweden's freedoms" not long ago are rather silent about it now.

      "Politicised?

      Annoyed that your USA good, commies bad narrative has been shown up, eh?

    • Blazer 6.2

      60 years of making the economy' scream'-Red,after invasion failed.

      • RedLogix 6.2.1

        If the US had ever really wanted to crush Cuba they could have done it by lunchtime. The Bay of Pigs fiasco was just that – a fiasco because there was no broad commitment to the project and it was abandoned as soon as it became public. Instead the US has in it's usual somewhat ruthless fashion settled on a policy of containment of anything that looked communist to them.

        And once the nuclear missile issue was settled – they've more or less tolerated a socialist Cuba ever since. Indeed all Cuba really ever had to do was repudiate the extremism of it's communist past and move away from it's overt political and human rights oppression and the embargoes would likely have ended.

        Of course you might want to consider that the embargoes served a political purpose in Havana as well.

        • KJT 6.2.1.1

          Rubbish.

          If Cuba even looked like becoming an example of a successful "Socialist" State on the US border, the USA would have doubled down.

          As they have done everywhere else from Indonesia to Bolivia.

          The embargos and saunctions are calculated to keep Cuba on the back foot just enough, so the USA can pretend it is "Communism" and not the USA, which is keeping Cuba down.

          • RedLogix 6.2.1.1.1

            Typical marxist blaming everyone and anything else for the obvious, repeated and catastrophic failures of his ideology.

            • georgecom 6.2.1.1.1.1

              it's not that simple RL. sure the bloqueo works for both Washington and Havana, it lets Havana distract from some of the failures of it's centrally managed economy. It's not just ideological for the US however, it's also personal. Were it ideological the US would have dismantled it's embargo stance years back when the USSR split. They would treat Cuba the same as they do China and Vietnam. It's personal for the US, the leading Miami families still holding a grudge, US corporates who missed on on continued wealth extraction from the country and the US in general who still believe a small island who told the US to piss off must be taught a continuing lesson. In 2021 it's pretty much just bullying from a bigger country.

              • RedLogix

                Yup. That's a reasonable analyis – logically the sanctions should have ended ages ago. There is no justification for them and indeed under Obama they were substantially reduced. Trump as usual buggered this up to some extent – but overall the relationship continues to thaw slowly, piecemeal from the frigid recesses of the Cold War.

                And what you say about it having become personal makes a lot of sense.

                • georgecom

                  The big Orange Blowarse appeased his paymasters in Miami. Bush was very good for Fidel, easy to blame the imperialista. Obama was more problematic for Raul. I would hope Biden picks up the work Obama started and re-establish more normal relations. A huge improvement he could make I think is to remove the Helms-Burton act. Do that and finally the onus falls on the Cuban socialist system to sort itself out and deliver some tangible improvements for it's people. Cuba and Cubans can then decide their own course in the world

                  • RedLogix

                    One hopeful trend is that Mexico is now the US's largest trade partner and is on track to become something of a success story – despite the obvious issues it still faces.

                    With time I can see both the US and Cuban govt realising they have more to gain than face to lose by normalising relations. It might take the old guard on both sides to retire first.

    • Patricia Bremner 6.3

      RL, Selective data points
      wry amusement.
      Yes. ……. Right Tui.

  7. KJT 7

    Cuba is hardly "Stalinist".

    Just saying.

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    One of the things Confucius said was that if he took the time to listen, he could learn something from the stupidest man in any village. Without slating Cuba unnecessarily, we could certainly learn things from their approach to health. Had neoliberalism not made our few remaining civil services so defensive that dissent is unthinkable.

    As we welcome Christmas with Covid, vicious and ignorant media hacks, and 'freedumb' antivaxers recruited by US Trumpist web narratives, quite a few reigning assumptions are likely to be brought into question – and just as hastily hushed by our faux technocrat insiders.

  9. Bearded Git 9

    I spent a month in Cuba in 2012 and because I speak some Spanish and stayed in casas familiars in out of the way places was able to talk to the locals. It is not paradise on earth by any means …one guy told me his friend was jailed for 7 years for killing a cow. Pensions are two thirds of bugger all. Almost nobody can afford to own a car yet public transport is chaotic. There were massive queues at the bakeries for bread, or even broken biscuits due to shortages. There was very little in the supermarkets and people were not allowed to travel abroad (somebody hijacked the ferry in Havana harbour once to try to get to Florida….there are no boats at all sailing/motoring in Havana harbour).

    But as you say in your superb post Mickey the health service seems excellent, and many of Cuba's economic problems can be layed at the door of the USA.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      Yes I've had the privilege of working in Latin America in recent years and what you're saying here makes sense. Anyone I know of who has actually been to Cuba comes away both impressed and appalled. Life is tough for the ordinary people, and their unaccountable regime maintains power by ensuring no politically powerful middle class can ever flourish.

      The Cuban embargoes are a relic from the Cold War and should have been abandoned decades ago – but persist because they serve a political purpose on both sides. Still as you say, the Cuban adaption to it's peculiar circumstances does have lessons to learn from if we cared to listen.

      • KJT 9.1.1

        Given the example of the "middle class" of Batista's theives, that was removed, the atitude is understandable.

        • RedLogix 9.1.1.1

          So should the 'thieving middle classes' everywhere be 'removed'?

          • KJT 9.1.1.1.1

            The theives. Who take without contributing.. CGT, inheritance taxes and a realistic progressive tax rate will do it. With jail terms for tax dodgers!

            Before you come up with the obvious "Lefties say" "Strawman".

            Surely you are aware of Cuba’s past history. Batista made Putin and Koch look honest.

      • Blazer 9.1.2

        'but persist because they serve a political purpose on both sides. '

        You can't be serious !

        Without sanctions Cuba may have made the U.S look bad.

        • RedLogix 9.1.2.1

          Legitimate Cuban socialism does indeed in some aspects make the US look a tad shabby. But then much the same could be said if you compared NZ with the US, or any number of other well governed democratic nations.

          As I've written to elsewhere, the political centre of gravity in the US has always been closer to the individual than the collective – so when it comes to their public sector they tend not to be terribly efficient.

          And while I don't think its useful to over-romanticise 'communist Cuba", nor does it serve much purpose to demonise the 'capitalist Yanks'. There's just so much more to the contrast between the two nations, than a simpleton tale of good vs evil.

          • Blazer 9.1.2.1.1

            You'll never have much chance in an arse kicking contest with one leg …strapped up.

          • Patricia Bremner 9.1.2.1.2

            What we admire is Cuban tenacity, their huge enjoyment of arts and life and their very pragmatic view of a McCarthy-ised American attitude towards Communism.
            Over time all Leaders and States usually shelve hurts and bitterness grow and change. Not the USofA. They hold slights and hurts right out there, to excuse their bloody minded pursuit of any opposition to the ends of the Earth.

            The biggest laugh I get is when serious Americans tell me "Communists would take over the World" They are so damned serious, and don't see the parallel behaviour by their own chosen State.

          • Patricia Bremner 9.1.2.1.3

            RL, “over romanticise "simpleton tale" There you go again.

          • garibaldi 9.1.2.1.4

            The wall to wall pro Western propaganda fed to us everyday has worked in it's aim to vilify anyone who disagrees with the USA.

            The old mantra of "God bless America" has been proven time and time again( by the meddling fingers of the CIA and covert/overt interventions) to be a total farce.

            Actions speak louder than words and the USA (being the "exceptional Country" ie the rules are made for everyone else other than them) never seems to have to answer to the World for all it's foul play in every corner of the World.

            • RedLogix 9.1.2.1.4.1

              Communism has had two hundred years in which to demonstrate it's innate moral and economic superiority. Yet all it took was for a bunch of evil, violent, perfidious yanks to keep it down – amazing.

              • Patricia Bremner

                Those are your words, not ours. RL

                Both Cubans and Americans have been shafted by the behaviour and the long held grudge. There are more truly poor in the States you so admire, who can not get medical help… just saying. Neither system is perfect, but I don't see Cubans infiltrating other countries systems.

                • RedLogix

                  The 'oppression of the evil Yanks' in keeping down 'true communism' is the perpetual whining excuse of marxists everywhere.

                  I merely paraphrased.

                  • Tiger Mountain

                    Comes across as supreme toadying to me–“his masters voice”–personified

                    Just admit it, the Cubans have done well with COVID against great odds.

                    You are just like Dubya during Katrina storm, the Cubans offered to land several thousand para medics with backpacks within 24 hours to assist, and Bush refused the offer while the domestic response dragged on and on for days…

                    • RedLogix

                      There are no utopias. The post WW2 US led world order was merely the least worst of all the all the alternatives on offer at the time.

                      And the remarkable thing is that unlike all the other alternatives, here you are, well fed, comfortable and still free to type out all your objections to how evil the yanks are on the internet.

                    • In Vino

                      Redlogix: Communism was ruined by the autocratic, totalitarian culture of every country it was ever tried in. Instead of achieving utopian paradise, each revolution devolved back to the tyranny that had preceded it. Communism was never tried in any industrially advanced country with a tradition of democracy.You are wrong in saying Communism has had 200 years to prove anything. It has not had a fair chance because all advanced, rich countries have opposed it.

                      Capitalist USA has consistently done its best to make Communism fail wherever it thought it was rearing its ugly head…

                    • RedLogix

                      It seems you are arguing that in order to have a successful communist one party state – you have to start with a successful capitalist, democracy first.

                      Or have I misunderstood?

                    • In Vino

                      Yes you have. You blindly follow the assumption that a one-party state can only be totalitarian, and that communism must be so because that is how God made it. (?)

                      A country with education, advanced industry and democratic institutions could well have made a totally different beast of Communism from your preconceived vision of Stalinist evil.

                      It could not happen because, as I said, Communism was tried only in poor countries with a culture of cruel totalitarianism. In those countries Communism was always doomed to become the evil beast you seem to delight in portraying.

              • Subliminal

                You really are the petfect "yank" RL. Little tiny insignificant Cuba completely pulls your chain. A tiny nation who is being congratulated for a successful response to a terrible disease and you really cant find it in your heart to say well done? Rather, you take it as a personal affront and refuse to relent. The parallels would make me laugh if it weren't so sad.

                • RedLogix

                  There are a number of countries that can be congratulated for their COVID response. Linking it to their politics is however stupid.

                  • Subliminal

                    Oh right. Their health system just sprouted up out of the ground?

                    • RedLogix

                      Most properly governed nations have a substantial socialist component to their governance – this is a good thing. It's not in the least surprising that Cuba has developed a capable medical system and contrary to what you imagine I'd not diminish that accomplishment in the least.

                      And as I mentioned elsewhere – if there are lessons to be learned I really don't mind where they arise from.

                    • Subliminal []

                      Right. So National/Act would probably develop a different health system to Labour/Greens. Obviously when discussing a country's health system politics is the most obvious driver of what type of health system is built. A tiny nation as poor as Cuba that nevertheless has a high number of doctors AND the ability to mass produce vaccines that have been designed themselves have a high degree of efficacy as shown in the results of their populations statistics wrt covd requires a very unique set of political circumstances. We can do the RL / US thing and ignore, downplay and disparage or be startled into a realisation that when we are told that we cant afford a proper health system and that TINA, we are being lied to.

                  • Brigid

                    "Linking it to their politics is however stupid, because the majority practise communism or socialism to some degree. And it's just not fair to show capitalism up in such a bad light"

                    FIFY

              • KJT

                The country with the most money and bombs on earth.

      • Bearded Git 9.1.3

        Fine comments Red….of course the people and music in Cuba are marvellous ….one of my fondest memories is sharing a bottle of Havana Club along with a line of people on benches while chatting…..but it worries me that the non Spanish speaking people who visit Cuba for 10 days come away with the idea it is paradise where the people dance and drink rum all day…as you say the reality is much more complicated

    • georgecom 9.2

      no es facil BG.

      There is or was a cafe on the corner of La Rampa and Avenida de los Presidentes if I recall correctly. I had one of the worst ever meals in my life there. A cuban frend explained the situation of the cafe. One ministry ran the actual cafe. Another ran the bookstore and a third something else I cannot recall. 3 government departments all with fingers in the pie, efficient and economic it was not.

      Summed up some of the pressing problems with the economic model for me. Es Cuba no.

    • Should be "casas familiares" BTW. Typed on my phone as was travelling around the Mainland at the time.

  10. PHB 10

    I too spent some days in Cuba a few years back, mostly in Havana. I had sort of hoped that I would see a socialist nirvana but was sadly disappointed. Food was in short supply, poverty very apparent. Shops were empty and one guy that ferried us around was amazed at our freedoms and life style in New Zealand. We talked a bit about riding on an elephant in Cambodia (I know, I will never do it again) and this clearly seemed to him like a possibility that was beyond his wildest dreams. His Dad had been lining up for three years to try and move to the USA to live by his brother who had gotten to Miami, but without success. The mojito's were great and it was so depressing that I had too many, got depressed by it all and made the waiters day by giving them all my Cuban peso. Going to get money out at the hotel was a nerve wracking experience including the archetypal scowling woman smoking in a small cubicle and being watched by a security guy with what looked like a machine gun. Its all anecdote of course but a shining light for a better system, Cuba was not.

    • In Vino 10.1

      PHB – I don't mean to attack you personally; just the majority of Kiwis who do OE and tourism, but see only enough to confirm their original preconceived ideas and prejudices, and return here claiming to be experts because they have been there.

      I went to Europe in the late 70s, did a quick bit of tourism through West Germany and France, and many of my best photos of castles, cathedrals etc are from that trip. Later I worked for 15 months in a West German city that I had visited. I soon realised that my previous quick visit had taught me nothing at all.

      I later spent 2 years living in France: same thing. Being a brief tourist teaches you next to nothing at all.

      As I say – not attacking you personally PHB, but I do not highly value the testimony of people who briefly passed through a place, whether they speak the language or not.

      I want to hear from someone who lived there for an extended period.

      It still galls me (but I tend to bite my tongue) when I hear 'well-travelled' Kiwis say, "Oh yes, the French are… " or, "Oh yes, the Germans tend to be…"

      Fortunately, not all Kiwis who have done OE have remained insular and prejudiced!

  11. UncookedSelachimorpha 11

    Thanks Micky, great post. I had missed most of this.

    I spent some time in Poland around the end of Communism there. People didn't like the Soviet system (and in effect being occupied by the Russians) and the economy was laughable, but many came to dislike aspects of the developing Westernisation also. One thing I noticed before Westernisation became dominant – people other than businesspeople and the wealthy were highly respected. Being a teacher, doctor, academic etc brought high social status (but not necessarily good pay!), rather than owning a Porsche, which is more the case today.

  12. Lukas 12

    Curious as to why NZ was not included in your second chart?

  13. bwaghorn 13

    It sounds like the best thing that can happen to a country is for the mighty USOf A to have no access to them .

  14. Sanctuary 14

    Cuba's success should come as no surprise, it is what communist countries do well. The Soviet Union inherited a literacy rate of just 40% (and less than 15% amongst women) in 1922, and despite being exhausted by eight years of war and suffering an investment boycott from capitalist countries lifted literacy to 99% in 1939. In other words, the Soviet Union effectively eliminated illiteracy in just fifteen years, something that had eluded the Tsarist regime for centuries.

    This success story was reflected everywhere in the USSR. For example, child mortality rates dropped from over one in four (260+ per 1000 live births) to 80 or so per thousand on the eve of WW2 – still about double that of the USA (although the US figures for the period are only reliable for the white population) but a huge improvement, especially against the background of war, famine, purges and capitalist hostility.

    Because the west tends to focus on the purges of the urban bourgeoisie and the intelligensia, particularly their use as slave labour in the Gulag system that underpinned the USSRs incredible industrialisation program, it is usually missed that for the vast bulk of the Soviet population the USSR was a massive improvement on what had come before. After all, who doesn't want to go from being the the illiterate and abjectly poor property of some cruel and absentee aristocratic landlord to being a free, literate factory worker making wages? The Soviet Union didn't defeat Nazi Germany because it soldiers were all dumb peasant cannon fodder motivated by nothing more than an animal lust for revenge and fear of the NKVD blocking squads (the popular image put about ex-Nazi German generals post WW2). Plenty of Soviet soldiers fought because they didn't want to return to Tsarist times and, heaven forbid, they were committed communists because Stalin had done OK by them.

    • RedLogix 14.1

      Well at least this thread is flushing out all the vile mass murder apologists.

      Your argument is selective and void. Most nations on earth were achieving much the same things – lower infant mortality, longer lifespans, improved education and health care have been common features across the entire planet for much of the past two hundred years.

      To attribute these to the 'successes of communism' is weak minded to put it politely.

      • Blazer 14.1.1

        I find his argument remarkably similar to yours RL.

        The U.S.A, ugly warts and all has delivered security and prosperity across the globe in a way that any alternative could not achieve….because um…we will never know.

        As for 'mass murder'…what a can of worms that is!

        • RedLogix 14.1.1.1

          Maybe I am biased. But then I've visited the site of not one but two gulags. Has the same impact as being at one of the Holocaust sites.

          • Blazer 14.1.1.1.1

            I can imagine that would be like visiting Dresden,Hiroshima,Nagasaki….or Vietnam after they had been impacted.

            • RedLogix 14.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes. This is precisely why war is to be utterly deplored and why effective politics to avoid it are so vital.

              Not the same thing as a political system that has internalised horror as a tool of power.

          • Sanctuary 14.1.1.1.2

            Oh please, spare us your unique experience. You are not the only person to have visited a death camp or a gulag. I visited the USSR and East Germany, I have no illusions about those countries.

            Your attempts to censor debate on this site – a left wing one – have veered into the clownish.

        • Sanctuary 14.1.1.2

          I am not making any value judgement on the USSR, just pointing out that the Bolsheviks made massive and genuine improvements in the health outcomes of the average Soviet citizen – a pattern repeated in China and other countries that experienced socialist revolutions like Cuba. For example, Nicaragua, another country exhausted by civil war, wracked by debt and subject to punishing US sanctions and a US funded insurgency, launched all sorts of public health measures that had a dramatic impact on vaccinations rates, child mortality and disease control. When the Indians kicked out their imperialist oppressors the smallpox vaccination rate was less than 20%. Within thirty years, India elimnated smallpox and polio using communist style public health measures.

      • aom 14.1.2

        "Well at least this thread is flushing out all the vile mass murder apologists."

        This statement is obviously inclusive of yourself!

    • Alan 14.2

      yea, that Joseph Stalin was a top guy, those 20 million dissidents that he killed ………

  15. higherstandard 15

    I was lucky enough to visit Cuba in the early 2000s off the back of a conference in the USA.

    The people are lovely and I enjoyed Havana, I found the people are quite open, the myth that Cuba has some brilliant healthcare system seems to be regularly promulgated by people in the USA highlighting the difference between their healthcare system and that in Cuba.

    From my discussions with people in Cuba and what I saw first hand our local healthcare in NZ is far superior to that available in Cuba for the average person.

    • Patricia Bremner 15.1

      20 years ago. They have trained many Doctors since then Higherstandard, but you are probably right then.

    • Scott 15.2

      Yes higherstandard the Cubans are lovely family oriented people and very proud of their healthcare and education systems. Resilient is the best description.

      I have had many genuine conversations with ordinary Cubans who were committed to and inspired by the revolution but most have now lost the faith and are disillusioned.

      The government decides where you live – and you can marry and have 3 kids before you are allocated an apartment. Raoul announced the end of rationing but still today the "libreta" operates. You can queue all day just to find essentials sold out. Basic medicines are unavailable and buildings regularly fall over.

      I was told some years ago that Cuba's biggest export is doctors and the country relies heavily on selling their services to other countries.

      Government officials and tourists get looked after. The political class get the best doctors and hospitals. Often families provide bedding and food and toilet paper etc for those in hospital.

  16. SPC 16

    Better job managing the pandemic in Cuba than the farm collectivism in the Ukraine Joe.

  17. Patricia Bremner 17

    RL, The last murder of innocents happened by drone in Afghanistan. Guess by who? We are not fans of communism, we just don't buy some rhetoric/putdowns.

  18. Sanctuary 18

    Well the same pattern can be seen in China. Prior to 1948 China was a byword as a cesspit of disease. Bubonic plague, malaria, typhoid, you name it China had it in spades. Despite decades of war, the botched great leap forward, and again a boycott on everything from aid to investment lifespan in China rose by 21 years between 1950 and 1970, child mortality fell from 195 per thousand in 1950 to 47 per thousand in 1970 (which, BTW, puts into context how horrific the Tsarist child mortality rate was).

    It isn't hard to grasp that removing a ruling class that doesn't give a shit about ordinary people and replacing it with one that does, eliminating corruption, motivating the population with a revolutionary idea that offered hope, [deleted], eliminating bourgeoisie opposition, and bringing order will most likely lead to great public health outcomes.

    [RL: I am contemplating a permanent ban for advocating open class violence and mass murder. You have 30 min to explain why not.]

    [MS: Peace and mung beans everyone. I am fine with the comment and Sanctuary is addressing the post and the reference to China is valid]

    • RedLogix 18.1

      See mod note.

      • Sanctuary 18.1.1

        Oh my God, get a life.

      • Sanctuary 18.1.2

        Dude you are out of control. I expect you might be the one losing here, not me.

        • Brigid 18.1.2.1

          It is ironic when one displays behaviour that he so vociferously criticises.

          An ego of cut glass perhaps?

          • In Vino 18.1.2.1.1

            Agree – who here is the Pharisee, looking at the letter of the law rather than the spirit?

            No way was Sanctuary advocating violent policy: he was quoting some things that people could conclude from history. Not advocating a way forward now.

            I would add guillotining the aristocracy. And maybe burning the heretics.

            How about that?

            • Brigid 18.1.2.1.1.1

              "'I find that offensive. ' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that. ' Well, so fucking what."

              Stephen Fry

        • RedLogix 18.1.2.2

          OK your 30 minutes are up and I see you've doubled down. There is an obvious response but you choose not to take it.

          One of the iron-clad rules of this site is that there will be no advocacy either open or indirect of political violence. You know this perfectly well yet you deliberately flirted with that line as an intentional provocation.

          • Dennis Frank 18.1.2.2.1

            rules of this site is that there will be no advocacy either open or indirect of political violence

            The thing hinges on indirect, eh? Since the onsite lawyer sees no problem, could be it hinges on competing meanings of indirect, eh? Lawyers are trained in competing interpretations whereas kiwi males are trained to call a spade a spade.

            I suspect the credibility of the outcome will depend on the collective judgment of the kiwi males rather than the sole lawyer. However we ought to wait & see how many female commentators here are keen to approve indirect advocacy of violence. devil

            • RedLogix 18.1.2.2.1.1

              Well the onsite lawyer really only addressed the China aspect of the comment. It avoided the obviously objectionable.

              As for this absurdist admiration for the CCP's achievements – lets take a look at the real-life comparison with Taiwan that was going on at the same time.

              For almost thirty years the Maoists inflicted one callous, ideologically driven bungle after another on the Chinese people, directly leading to the mass starvation of tens of millions, and subsequently the cruel eradication of traditional Chinese culture. As a result by the 70's they had become one of the most dysfunctional nations on earth. During a post war period when every other significant nation (even the Soviets) had made substantial development gains – the PRC was barely holding pace with some of the poorest most backward places on earth.

              It was only after Deng opened the nation up to the global trading order that what we see as modern China could develop. But even now it remains a fragile one party authoritarian ethno-state, prone to proto-genocidal oppression of it's minorities.

              In the meantime Taiwan, after a deeply unpromising start under military dictatorship and despite it's relatively small size, has evolved into an energetic democracy and one of the more successful nations in Asia.

              The contrasting trajectories of the two could not be more stark. If I had to choose one the two nations to live in – the decision would be obvious.

              • Dennis Frank

                shooting the landlords, eliminating bourgeoisie opposition, and bringing order will most likely lead to great public health outcomes.

                I notice he didn't suggest that Aotearoa apply this policy. Wonder why? Shooting our landlords and eliminating whichever members of the middle class oppose the govt might not actually improve our public health?

                Obviously readers will ponder this thought. Perhaps an experiment to test the proposition could be applied to a selected urban center.

                Any suggestions which one would be best? Thinking Face on JoyPixels 6.6

          • Tiger Mountain 18.1.2.2.2

            Get a grip. Class violence is the 26 richest individual capitalist moneybags owning as much as 50% of the world’s population.

            https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/21/world-26-richest-people-own-as-much-as-poorest-50-per-cent-oxfam-report

            Class violence is US Imperialism spending 20 years and trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives to replace the Taliban with the Taliban!
            It is not class violence to discuss 20th century history.

            • RedLogix 18.1.2.2.2.1

              Class violence is the 26 richest individual capitalist moneybags owning as much as 50% of the world’s population.

              These people are beyond class. This isn't your grandfather's proletariat vs bourgeoisie dynamic. It's probably better described as unconstrained neo-liberalism, in that while nations have many developed various internal mechanisms to moderate the extremes of wealth – nothing comparable has arisen at the global scale which is the domain these people operate in.

              It also speaks to the fact that while the poorest 50% of the world have escaped extreme poverty – just how much potential development remains to get them into full modernity.

              • roblogic

                Who would have imagined that the promise of the information age, and artificial intelligence, would enable capitalists to weaponise their plundering to a global scale, reducing democratic governments to their handmaidens

                • Tiger Mountain

                  Jeez, maybe Marx and Engels had a glimmer…with their theories & investigations on the tendency of the rate of profit to fall driving expansion and speed up and exploitation of new resources including labour, and concentration of ownership into monopolies replacing previous multiple competing capitalists, and…the rise of non productive finance capital as a major force.

                • RedLogix

                  would enable capitalists to weaponise their plundering to a global scale, reducing democratic governments to their handmaidens

                  All human societies are hierarchical and a lot more so than we like to imagine. Consider the relatively non-political world of music, or literature, or any of the arts. What we always see is a tiny minority of hyper-successful individuals accumulate most of the attention and rewards. It's the natural consequence of a ubiquitous mathematical power law in action.

                  You can model this quite apolitically with some simple numerical modesl – but always the simplest and unavoidable rule is that success always generates the opportunity for more success.

                  Another example is Price's Law – that states "“The square root of the number of people in a productive domain produce half of its total output.”

                  In itself these are value-free observations – they are not justifications for anything. They do however tell us the nature of the problem we are up against – and for the most part it isn't a cabal of evil men in suits plotting how to rob everyone else into perpetual misery. Reality is a lot more banal than this.

                  The inescapable reality is that people are different – and we all live different lives. As a result small differences that prove advantageous will tend to amplify over time. And the more productive the environment the faster this will tend to happen. This is just reality – not ideological in any sense.

                  Where politics comes in is that we know humans are also very sensitive to status – and when we perceive the status gradient to be excessive we become very anxious and prone to violence. Capitalism may well have been part of the solution to poverty, but it speaks nothing to the question of inequality. Marxism put up a pioneering idea to address this challenge – but it also proved to be catastrophically wrong in that it sought to dismantle capitalism rather than address the more deeply rooted reasons why inequality both arises and becomes excessive.

                  • Dennis Frank

                    a tiny minority of hyper-successful individuals accumulate most of the attention and rewards. It's the natural consequence of a ubiquitous mathematical power law in action.

                    Yes, I've seen this asserted in more than one book by social scientists in the past. Somewhere in my archives I have a photocopy of a massive statistical validation encompassing many countries – both capitalist and non – produced by the UN or some related international org. One graph for wealth and another for income. Same law.

                    It's also been discovered in the scientific research into how networks grow, and is therefore part of current network theory. They measured hubs & links to websites etc to validate it.

                  • roblogic

                    As far as I'm concerned, Bezos, Musk, Gates and the rest of them are international criminals who routinely scoff at tax laws, exploit their workers, and abuse their monopolistic market power to aggregate even more obscene piles of wealth. They have impoverished the once-great American middle class, and they can go to hell.

                    • RedLogix

                      A couple of thoughts – I have no illusions that much of the hatred directed personally at this uber wealthy class is driven by resentment. And that largely precludes rational discussion.

                      Secondly you might want to note that while US based individuals dominate the top position in the lists – there are plenty of billionaires, many hundreds, in China and India. We just don't know their names as a rule.

                      Any useful conversation around the extremes of wealth and poverty are probably more usefully directed at understanding root causes and how our political institutions need to adapt to managing it in an uber-connected, global economy.

                    • roblogic

                      China does one thing right, when they decide someone like Jack Ma is getting too powerful they simply confiscate half of his stuff. Or if the bankers commit large scale fraud they are executed.

                    • roblogic

                      So the global suffering and oppression of the working class is all just "resentment" of the uber rich?

                      Look, if someone does well, that's great and good on them. But you can't tell me that Bezos amassed his incomprehensible fortune all by his own genius and hard work. He sits atop the collective effort of millions. And if he paid his workers a dime for every dollar he owns, they would all be millionaires.

                      But no, they are living on food stamps. That's not "resentment" it is a systemic evil of capitalism, that must be abolished for the good of the human race.

          • mickysavage 18.1.2.2.3

            @RL

            I read “shooting the landlords” as being rhetorical.

            @Sanctuary

            How about I delete those three words from your comment and we all get back to arguing the merits?

    • Patricia Bremner 18.2

      He is talking about history. How things come about…Like France.

      • RedLogix 18.2.1

        It read as an apology for it. If Sanctuary did not intend it as such then a simple clarification remains at hand.

  19. SPC 19

    New York's tradition of uncapping fire hydrants to beat the heat | 6sqft

    It's gonna be a long summer. Doctor WHO turns a dalek into something useful.

  20. georgecom 20

    Cuba has got 2 vaccines which look good. Abdala is a 3 jab protein vaccine (similar the the Nevervax vaccine seemingly half on NZ is waiting for) and has a 90% protection rate. Soberana 2 which is a 2 jab protein vaccine and has a 60+% protection rate but which reaches 90% with a third dose of Soberana Plus, which is a vaccine developed for people who have had covid but need a booster.

    They have another couple under development, Soberana 1 and Mambisa which is delivered through the nose.

    Cuba has not reached full vaccination yet, ranges from 1 dose to 3 doses per person. They are not yet all triple jabbed, but well on the way.

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