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Cuba's conflicts 

I applaud Lisa Sorg for her column saying that the destiny of Cuba is up to the Cuban people and that the U.S. blockade should be ended—and for having the courage to praise Cuba's successes ("Cuba's destiny," Up Front, Feb. 20). Morally and practically, it is up to the people of a country to decide how they will live, whether it is Cuba, Kosovo, Pakistan, Korea or the United States—and they will resist external pressure to act contrary to their wishes.

Ending the blockade would be economically beneficial for both countries. I disagree with one aspect of the column. Is socialism what has "in many ways failed"? Cuba under Castro's leadership made great advances in literacy, education and health—possibly beating the United States in some ways—and fights imperialism, but that does not equal socialism. If Cuba has really abolished capitalism, why is there still involuntary unemployment and homelessness? Cuba is supposedly socialist, yet capitalists were compensated for nationalized land and factories. Cuba was overly dependent on the former Soviet Union, leaving it with a one-sided agricultural economy. They liberalized the economy on Soviet advice in the '70s. Profitability is the main economic measure, and foreign businesses are allowed to have majority ownership in joint companies. In this country in April 1960, Castro said, "I am not a Communist, nor do I agree with communism," and in 1992 he praised Gorbachev as a socialist. I don't think U.S. policy explains all of Cuba's problems, though it certainly hurts its economy. Deeds, and not words, prove whether Cuba or any other country is socialist and governed by communists who really believe in Marxist-Leninist communism.

Michael Pollock

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