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Thanking Castro
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February 26, 2008, 10:39 PM
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All nostalgic Americans should thank Fidel Castro for preserving for us a slice of the Eisenhower Era. From pictures I`ve seen of Havana today, it looks like a set from "West Side Story," with ladies hanging their wash on lines from their tenement windows and big Detroit cars with giant tailfins somehow kept running. And people still seem to care about Hemingway. (Too bad, of course, about the folks who have had to live there.)

The American Conservative recently sent Fred Reed to Havana:

The country is poor and run down, and itself almost a museum. Sitting in the DiMar is like visiting the Fifties. The American embargo makes it hard to get new cars, so many Cubans still drive cars from 1959, the year of the revolution, and before. Some sport jazzy paint jobs, and others don’t. It was remarkable to watch the rides of my adolescence go by, charting them mentally as one did in 1964—’54 Merc, ’57 Caddy, ’56 Chevy, on and on. Around me the other customers, down-scale Cubans in all shades of nonwhite, laughed and chatted. ...

The island could use some investment. While I found neighborhoods with nice-looking modern houses, said by taxi drivers to belong to governmental officials and employees of foreign firms, the rest of the city needs paint, repairs, and new sidewalks. Countless once-elegant houses with pillared porches and tall windows are now discolored and crumbling.

Why communists imagine themselves to be revolutionary is a mystery. Whenever they gain power in a country, it comes to a dead stop and sits there as other countries pass it by. I do not think that communism generates poverty; rather it finds it and preserves it. It has certainly done so here. Cuba seems firmly mired in 1959.