There was, to be sure, a great deal that was wrong—badly wrong—with Cuba before Castro’s revolution, but it’s worth noting this extract from a useful PBS summary of the position the island before Fidel brought disaster:
On the eve of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, Cuba was neither the paradise that would later be conjured by the nostalgic imaginations of Cuba’s many exiles, nor the hellhole painted by many supporters of the revolution, who recall Cuba as “the brothel of the Western hemisphere” — an island inhabited by a people degraded and hungry, whose main occupation was to cater to American tourists at Havana’s luxurious hotels, beaches and casinos. Rather, Cuba was one of the most advanced and successful countries in Latin America.
Cuba’s capital, Havana, was a glittering and dynamic city. In the early part of the century the country’s economy, fueled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown dynamically. Cuba ranked fifth in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. The literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Many private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba’s income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. A thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility….
The promise that Castro was to shatter.